SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

How to Build an SAT Study Plan: 4 Sample Schedules

Posted by Hannah Muniz | Aug 18, 2017 12:00:00 PM

SAT General Info

 

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To do well on the SAT, you’ll need to have an SAT study plan. This plan tells you what, when, and how to prep for the SAT. It also helps you manage your time so that you’re not focusing too much (or too little) on certain topics and skills.

In this guide, we give you four SAT study plans to choose from, based on your SAT score goals. Before we dive into those, though, let’s go over the benefits of having an SAT study schedule and the preliminary steps you'll need to take to get your SAT plan off the ground.

Feature image: danyeela/Flickr

 

What Are the Benefits of a Study Plan for SAT Prep?

Everyone who takes the SAT should have a study plan. But what exactly can an SAT plan do for you?

For one, an SAT study plan lets you balance your schedule so that you’re spending enough time prepping for the SAT but not overworking yourself. For example, if you’ve got two months until your test date, an SAT plan tells you how many hours per week you must study so that you’re prepping regularly but not squeezing in too many study hours each day.

An SAT study schedule also tells you when and how to study the topics you must master to get a high score. If you're not sure where to start with algebra, for instance, a good plan will show you when and how to study all major algebraic concepts you need to know for the test. Likewise, an SAT plan should give you time to review and strengthen any content weaknesses you have.

Finally, a solid SAT study schedule indicates whether you’re improving. By studying consistently for several weeks or months, you’ll be able to determine whether your SAT score is in fact getting higher, as well as whether you’re getting more questions correct in your weaker areas. The easiest way to check your progress is to use official SAT practice tests (we'll tell you how to use these later).

As you can see, an SAT studying schedule can greatly benefit you. With a plan, you’ll not only be able to manage your prep time better but will also be able to use your time more effectively to hone the skills and study the content areas you struggle with the most. What’s more, you can use your plan to help you track your progress and see whether you’re improving your likelihood of getting the SAT score you want.

 

Getting Started on Your SAT Study Plan: 5 Preliminary Steps

Don't jump into an SAT study schedule without a plan! These five preliminary steps will help you gather the info and materials you need to choose the right SAT plan for you.

 

Step 1: Set a Target Score

First and foremost, you'll need to set an SAT goal score. A goal score is the score most likely to get you into all of the schools you’re applying to. 

To get your goal score, you must find the 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores for each of your schools (excluding any safety schools). But what does these numbers mean? And where can you find them?

The 25th and 75th percentile scores represent the middle 50 percent of scores for admitted applicants, or the average range of scores. A 75th percentile score means you’re scoring higher than 75 percent of admitted applicants to a school, while a 25th percentile score means you're scoring higher than only 25 percent. The best way to keep track of your schools' SAT info is to make a chart (or download our pre-made chart).

Once you've got a chartget on Google and search for “[School Name] PrepScholar." Then, click the link to your school’s “Admission Requirements” page. On this page, you'll see a table listing your school's 25th and 75th percentile SAT scores.

For example, here is the SAT score table for the University of Hawaii at Manoa:

body_university_hawaii_sat_percentiles.png

Repeat this process for each of your schools until you’ve got all 25th and 75th percentile scores in your chart. Then, choose the highest 75th percentile score in your chart; this will be your SAT goal score since it’s the one most likely to get you into all of your schools.

Let’s say I am applying to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, UC Davis, the University of Oregon, and the University of Washington. Of these schools, the highest 75th percentile score is 1420 (for the University of Washington). This means my SAT goal score would be 1420.

 

Step 2: Find Your Baseline Score

The next step is to get your baseline score. This score is essentially your starting point; it’s the score you’d get on the SAT at this very moment, without any prep.

To find your baseline score, take an official SAT practice test. Official tests are the best resources for getting a baseline since they’re the most similar to the SAT. As you take your practice test, try to recreate real testing conditions as closely as possible: take it in a quiet room, use an SAT-approved calculator, and follow the official section time limits.

Once you finish, use your test’s scoring guide to calculate your scores for each section as well as overall (out of 1600). Your total score—that is, your Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) scores combined—will be your baseline score. So if I earned a 630 on Math and a 600 on EBRW, my baseline score would be 1230.

 

body_starting_line.jpgYour baseline score is your starting point in SAT prep.

 

Step 3: Calculate How Many Hours You’ll Need to Study

Next, use the info you got in steps 1 and 2 to calculate the approximate number of hours you’ll need to study to raise your current score to your target score. To do this, subtract your baseline score from your goal score. Then, match the difference you get to the numbers below to see how many total hours you'll need to prep for the SAT:

  • 0-30 point improvement: 10 hours
  • 30-70 point improvement: 20 hours
  • 70-130 point improvement: 40 hours
  • 130-200 point improvement: 80 hours
  • 200-330 point improvement: 150 hours+

As you can see, the bigger the point increase you want, the more hours you’ll need to study. 

In my example from steps 1 and 2, my goal score was 1420 and my baseline score was 1230. The difference between these two scores is 190 points. Using the conversions above, I find that 190 points translates to about 80 study hours.

 

Step 4: Choose a Test Date

When taking the SAT, always choose a test date that:
  • Gives you ample time to prepare for the exam
  • Fits well with your schedule
  • Ensures your scores will get to your schools in time

Let's look at time first. The amount of time you’ll need for SAT prep will vary depending on your baseline and goal scores. Simply put, the more hours you need to study, the more time you should give yourself before your test date.

Generally, anywhere from three to six months of study time should be enough. However, you might find you have less (e.g., a month) or more (e.g., a year) time than this. In any case, try to find a time frame that lets you easily fit in the total number of hours you need to study.

Secondly, pick a date that works well with any obligations or commitments you have (personal, school, or otherwise). For example, if you’re starring in a school play in April, a spring SAT probably wouldn’t work as well for you as a summer or fall SAT would.

Lastly, if you’re taking the SAT as a senior, choose a date that's guaranteed to get your scores to your schools before your college application deadlines. If your scores arrive after the deadlines, your application could get disqualified. In general, seniors (who aren’t applying early action or early decision) should be safe with all fall test dates and likely the December test date—but not anything later!

 

Step 5: Gather Study Materials

It's important to gather all of your study materials before you begin prepping for the SAT. This way you won’t waste any study time trying to find resources you can use.

Official SAT resources are by far the best ones to use. Luckily, the College Board has released many free prep materials online. Here's what we recommend using in your prep:

  • Official SAT practice tests: These full-length tests are exactly like the real SAT in terms of structure and overall content. They're the closest you can get to taking the SAT without actually taking it!
  • Official practice questions: You can access tons of practice questions for all SAT sections through the College Board website. Each question comes with a question difficulty and detailed answer explanation to help you understand how to find the right answer.
  • The Official SAT Study Guide: This is the official SAT prep book, covering everything you need to know about the format of the exam, what's on it, and how to study for it. There are also plenty of sample questions you can work through. The best part is that the College Board has uploaded the entirety of the book to its website, making it entirely free to download!
  • Khan Academy: A free partner website with the College Board, Khan Academy offers thousands of official practice questions, answer explanations, and video lessons for the SAT.

Furthermore, there are many high-quality, unofficial SAT resources you can buy. Our guide to the best SAT prep books offers a look at which prep books are worth investing in. As a reminder, always be a little pickier with unofficial resources since many are low quality and don’t contain realistic SAT practice questions.

 

body_four_stars.jpgWe give each of our four SAT study plans four stars.

 

4 SAT Study Plan Options for You to Choose From

Now that you’ve finished all preliminary steps for your SAT plan, it’s time to find the plan that’s right for you. Below, we give you four SAT study plans to choose from. These plans differ in both length of time (e.g., one month, three months, etc.) and intensity (that is, the total number of hours you’ll need to study per week).

Each SAT study plan gives you an overview of what to study for the week and comes with suggested time frames. These guidelines tell you (approximately) how much time you should spend on each activity. That said, you are welcome to tweak them if you feel you need more or less time with a certain topic.

Remember, a good SAT prep plan will adapt to fit your needs. If you're stronger at math and want more study time for Reading and Writing, it's OK to replace some of your Math prep time with Reading and Writing prep. Just know that by changing content focuses or time frames, you'll likely need to shift other days' topics or make up for missed time on other days. Ultimately, what's most important is that you're getting in the total number of study hours you need.

Now, let's take a look at our study plans. We offer the following four programs:

  • A three-month program of medium intensity (80 hours)
  • A three-month program of low intensity (40 hours)
  • A six-month program of medium intensity (150 hours)
  • A one-month program of high intensity (40 hours)

 

SAT Study Plan 1: 3-Month Program, Medium Intensity

This moderate, three-month SAT plan aims to get you as many as 200 points on test day. To reach this goal, you'll need to study a total of 80 hours, or six and a half hours per week. Since you'll be spending several hours a week prepping, this SAT plan is best if you're studying over the summer and taking the SAT in the fall.

As with any plan, you may spread out your hours however you like each week. Those studying in the summer should try to prep fairly regularly—two or three days a week is ideal. On the other hand, if you’re currently in school, it may be easier to study mostly on weekends. In the end, just do what works best for you!

 

body_building_blocks.jpgTo be successful, always start with the foundation.

 

Month 1: The Basics

This month is all about familiarizing yourself with the SAT's structure and content.

 

Week 1: Get to Know the SAT

1. Take a practice test to get your baseline score. If you haven’t taken an official SAT practice test yet, use this time to take one and get your baseline score. Try to take the test in a quiet room without distractions so that you’re getting an accurate representation of your current SAT abilities.

Suggested Time: 4 hrs

2. Score your test and analyze your results. Calculate your baseline score and take some time to  see what kinds of questions and content areas you struggled with on the test. 

Suggested Time: 1 hr

3. Learn the format of the exam. To do well on the SAT, you’ll need to understand the format of the test, including what kinds of concepts it tests and how these concepts are given as questions.

Suggested Time: 1.5 hrs

 

Week 2: Focus on Reading

1. Learn the Reading test format. Know what kinds of passages and questions there will be and how much time you’ll get.

Suggested Time: 2.5 hrs

2. Figure out the best passage-reading strategy for you. Take a couple of Reading practice tests (you can use official practice tests) to test out different reading strategies. When finished, choose the strategy that gave you the highest score.

Suggested Time: 2.5 hrs

3. Try out Reading practice questions with the strategy you’ve chosen. Put your strategy to the test and aim to get better at it the more you use it.

Suggested Time: 1.5 hrs

 

Week 3: Switch to Writing & Language

1. Learn the Writing and Language test format. Understand how it’s different from Reading, what kinds of questions it asks, and what sorts of grammar and stylistic rules you’ll need to know.

Suggested Time: 2 hrs

2. Review core English grammar topics and punctuation rules. Go over standard English conventions and familiarize yourself with the kinds of errors you’ll see on the SAT.

Suggested Time: 2.5 hrs

3. Find the best passage-reading strategy for you. This strategy might differ from the one you use for the Reading section. To figure out which one you like most, take some Writing practice tests, using a different strategy each time. Stick with the one that gives you the highest score.

Suggested Time: 2 hrs

 

Week 4: Move Toward Math

1. Learn the Math test format. Understand the differences between the No Calculator and Calculator subsections as well as the differences between multiple-choice questions and student-produced responses.

Suggested Time: 2 hrs

2. Review basic math concepts. Start by reading our guide to integers and our advanced guide to integers. Then, check out our fundamental guide to fractions, ratios, and proportions.

Suggested Time: 2 hrs

3. Go over major algebraic concepts, including:

Algebra plays a key part on SAT Math, so you’ll need to know what it is and how it looks on the SAT.

Suggested Time: 2.5 hrs

 

body_chess_game.jpgYou can't do well on the SAT without strategy.

 

Month 2: Strategies

For this month, you'll study additional concepts you need to know and learn basic test-taking strategies that'll help you attack questions effectively on test day.

 

Week 5: Learn More Math

1. Get to know other SAT Math concepts, specifically those in the realms of advanced math and problem solving and data analysis. Topics include:

Suggested Time: 2.5 hrs

2. Memorize important formulas. Get down the main formulas for SAT Math.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

3. Practice SAT Math questions and drill difficult topics. As you practice, check your answers and analyze your mistakes so that you can see which concepts you need to study more.

Suggested Time: 3 hrs

 

Week 6: Start Strategizing

1. Learn key SAT Math strategies, including plugging in answers and plugging in numbers. In addition, learn how to pace yourself and practice guessing strategically on Math.

Suggested Time: 2.5 hrs

2. Learn key SAT Reading strategies and Writing tips. Understand what to look for in different question types and how to rule out incorrect answer choices. Also, study possible vocabulary words.

Suggested Time: 2.5 hrs

3. Practice Math, Reading, and Writing questions. Put your strategies to the test with realistic practice questions for each section of the exam.

Suggested Time: 1.5 hrs

 

Week 7: Check Your Progress

1. Take an official practice test. You'll use this score to see how much you’ve improved since your baseline test. As always, try to recreate a real SAT-testing environment as you take the test.

Suggested Time: 4 hrs

2. Score your practice test and determine your weaknesses. Look at your results to get a clearer idea of what you’ve improved and what you’re still struggling with. Over the next month, you'll primarily study the weaknesses you find in this test.

Suggested Time: 2.5 hrs

 

Week 8: Hone Your Essay-Writing Skills

1. If you’re planning on taking the optional SAT Essay, use this time to go over the basic format of the essayUnderstand what kind of writing you'll need to do and how long your essay should be.

Suggested Time: 2 hrs

2. Read official practice SAT Essay prompts. This will give you a broad idea of the kinds of topics you might see on test day. Learn how prompts are usually worded and look at sample responses, too.

Suggested Time: 1.5 hrs

3. Write a few practice essays. Once finished, grade yourself using the official SAT Essay rubric. You can also get another person to grade your essays and offer suggestions for improvement.

Suggested Time: 3 hrs

 

body_test_chalkboard.jpgTest day is coming up, which means it's time to start reviewing.

 

Month 3: Review & Practice

Almost done! In this last month, you’ll focus mainly on reviewing and practicing what you've already studied. This means there will be no new content to learn.

 

Week 9: Strengthen Your Weaknesses

1. Use high-quality practice questions to drill any major weaknesses you still have. For example, if you’re struggling to get trig questions right, review the basic concepts you need to know and test yourself with more trig questions.

Suggested Time: 6.5 hrs

 

Week 10: Check Your Progress

1. Take your third and final practice test. This will give you a last-minute look at what kinds of weaknesses you still have at this point.

Suggested Time: 4 hrs

2. Score your test and closely analyze your results. Are there any areas you really need to improve these next two weeks? What confuses you or eats up your time? Learn what's holding you back and then attack it head-on.

Suggested Time: 2.5 hrs

 

Week 11: Practice Still-Difficult Concepts

1. Spend all of your time reviewing and practicing difficult concepts. Use practice questions to try out what you've learned and to ensure you’re making progress on the concepts you struggle with the most.

Suggested Time: 6.5 hrs

 

Week 12: Review as Needed

1. Keep reviewing concepts or strategies you still need to work on—but don’t overdo it. This week should feel more relaxed than other weeks. As you study, focus on staying calm and confident. Don’t study the day before the test or the day of your test; you’ll need this time to give your brain a break and calm your nerves.

Suggested Time: 6.5 hrs (with 0 hrs on test day and the day before the test)

 

SAT Study Plan 2: 3-Month Program, Low Intensity

Compared to the plan above, this SAT schedule is slightly more relaxed and instead targets those looking to make smaller gains—anywhere from 70 to 130 points. With this plan, you’ll study a total of 40 hours, or only about three and a half hours per week.

This plan is ideal for those studying for the SAT during the school year, though you can also use it during the summer. If you're any having trouble finding time to prep during the week, try opting for Saturdays and Sundays.

 

body_duplo_legos_blocks.jpgYou need to go back to the basics if you want to do well on the SAT.

 

Month 1: The Basics

This month familiarizes you with all of the main parts of the SAT, including how it’s structured, how it’s scored, and what kinds of Reading and Writing content you’ll need to know.

 

Week 1: Find Your Baseline Score

1. Take a practice test and score it. Although this test will likely exceed your weekly number of study hours, it’s important to get it done so you can see where you’re currently scoring. Once you finish the test, score it to get your baseline SAT score.

Suggested Time: 4 hrs

 

Week 2: Get to Know the SAT Format

1. Analyze your baseline test’s answers from the previous week. Just getting your baseline score doesn’t illuminate your weaknesses and strengths. Take some time to go over each of the answers on your practice test, and see if you can re-solve any questions you missed without relying on the answer explanations.

Suggested Time: 2 hrs

2. Learn the format of the exam. You need to understand the format of the SAT to know how to attack it on test day. This means getting to know the question types, what kinds of topics are tested, and how the sections are arranged.

Suggested Time: 1.5 hrs

 

Week 3: Focus on Reading

1. Learn the Reading test format. Go over the different kinds of passages and question types on SAT Reading.

Suggested Time: 1.5 hrs

2. Figure out the best passage-reading strategy for you. Try out different strategies with a variety of Reading passages and question sets. Give yourself 13 minutes to get through each passage and question set. Once finished, calculate the number of questions you answered correctly to determine which strategy gave you the highest score.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

3. Practice answering Reading questions with the strategy you’ve chosen. You’ll need to understand how your passage-reading strategy works and how you can use it effectively on test day.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

 

Week 4: Switch to Writing & Language

1. Learn the Writing and Language test format. Go over the basics of what’s on this section, how it differs from Reading, and what kinds of passages and questions it has.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

2. Review core English grammar topics and punctuation rules. SAT Writing is all about channeling your inner editor, so be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the major grammar and punctuation topics tested.

Suggested Time: 1.5 hrs

3. Practice the graf-by-graf method for reading passages. This method is the best one out there for Writing section passages, so be sure to try it out on a couple of SAT passages to get a feel for how it works.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

 

body_calculator_notebook.jpgTime to get calculating!

 

Month 2: Math & Strategies

Next up, you’ll get to know the SAT Math section, what it tests, and how to strategize for it. You’ll also learn key Reading and Writing strategies.

 

Week 5: Move Toward Math

1. Learn the Math test format. Know what kinds of question types and math topics to expect. Also, understand the difference between regular multiple-choice questions and student-produced responses, or grid-ins.

Suggested Time: 1.5 hrs

2. Review basic math concepts. You must have a basic knowledge of integers (make sure to also read our advanced guide to integers) as well as fractions, ratios, and proportions.

Suggested Time: 2 hrs

 

Week 6: Learn More Math

1. Go over common algebraic concepts, such as linear functions, single-variable equations, and systems of linear equations. Since algebra plays a huge part on the Math section, you’ll need to understand how it's tested and how to solve these types of problems.

Suggested Time: 1.5 hrs

2. Review other major math concepts, mainly advanced math and problem solving and data analysis. Additional topics you should know include the following:

Suggested Time: 1.5 hrs

3. Memorize important SAT Math formulas. Focus primarily on the formulas you won't get to see on test day (though it’s a good idea to memorize all of them!).

Suggested Time: 30 mins

 

Week 7: Practice Reading & Writing

1. Learn key SAT Reading strategies and Writing tips. Specifically, you should know how to answer different question types and how to rule out an incorrect answer.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

2. Practice SAT Reading and Writing questions. Drill Reading and Writing questions until you’re comfortable with your passage-reading strategies. If you have extra time, learn some of the most common SAT vocabulary words, too.

Suggested Time: 2.5 hrs

 

Week 8: Practice Math

1. Learn key SAT Math strategies. These include plugging in answers, plugging in numbers, and the process of elimination.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

2. Practice SAT Math questions. Test out the strategies you’ve learned and try to drill questions on topics you struggle with. Use the correct answers to guide your thinking if you’re having trouble understanding how to solve something.

Suggested Time: 2.5 hrs

 

body_practice_skateboard.jpgYou won't get the SAT score you want if you don't practice, practice, practice.

 

Month 3: Review & Practice

This month is all about making sure you understand the major concepts tested on the SAT.

 

Week 9: Check Your Progress

1. Take an official practice test. Make sure to recreate a real testing environment as closely as possible. When finished, score your test to see how much you’ve improved since your baseline test.

Suggested Time: 4 hrs

 

Week 10: Strengthen Your Weaknesses

1. Use high-quality practice questions to drill any major weaknesses you still have at this point. For example, if you don’t understand how to answer big-picture questions on Reading or coordinate geometry questions on Math, focus on getting those concepts down pat.

Suggested Time: 3.5 hrs

 

Week 11: Practice Still-Difficult Concepts

1. Spend time reviewing difficult concepts until you can correctly answer practice questions on these topics. Keep using the strategies you’ve learned and review any other topics as needed, such as vocabulary words, formulas, etc.

Suggested Time: 3.5 hrs

 

Week 12: Review as Needed

1. Continue going over any topics you still need to study before test day—but don't overdo it. Your goal now is to feel calm and confident on test day. Keep reviewing any topics, question types, etc., you struggle with and then relax the day before test day.

Suggested Time: 3.5 hrs (with 0 hrs on test day and the day before the test)

 

body_orange_kittens.jpgYou'll know you're almost done with this next SAT plan when these kittens are nearly full-grown cats.

 

SAT Study Plan 3: 6-Month Program, Medium Intensity

For this medium-intensity plan, you’ll study 150 hours over the course of six monthsthat’s six or six and a half hours per week. This plan can give you a maximum score increase of 330 points. So if your baseline score is far from your goal score, this is a perfect plan for you!

I highly recommend this plan to high-achieving sophomores, as it gives you a head start on SAT prep and dramatically raises your potential to get a high score on your first SAT attempt (which should ideally be in the fall of your junior year).

Juniors can benefit from this plan, too, by using it to prepare for a spring or early summer SAT. What's especially great is that you can spread out your study sessions across the school year, helping you to avoid overwhelming yourself with school work and test prep.

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Month 1

Find Your Baseline Score


Take an official practice test (4 hrs)


Score your test to determine your weaknesses (2.5 hrs)

Understand Structure


Learn the SAT format (3 hrs)


Learn the Reading test format (3 hrs)

Understand Structure


Learn the Writing and Language test format (3 hrs)


Learn the Math test format (3 hrs)

Learn How to Read


Find your preferred passage-reading strategy for Reading (2.5 hrs)


Find your preferred passage-reading strategy for Writing (2 hrs)


Study vocabulary (2 hrs)

Month 2

Learn Math Content


Review basic math topics and formulas (3 hrs)


Build algebra foundation (3.5 hrs)

Learn EBRW Content


Review English grammar and punctuation topics (3 hrs)


Build reading comprehension knowledge (3 hrs)

Learn More Math Content


Build problem solving and data analysis foundation (3 hrs)


Build advanced math foundation (3 hrs)

Check Your Progress


Take a practice test (4 hrs)


Score the test and review your answers (2.5 hrs)

Month 3

Learn EBRW Strategy


Learn how to eliminate wrong answer choices and practice (3 hrs)


Practice other EBRW strategies (3 hrs)

Learn Math Content & Strategy


Build additional topics foundation (2.5 hrs)


Practice plugging in answers and numbers (2.5 hrs)


Practice other Math strategies (1.5 hrs)

Focus on Your Weaknesses


Practice Math and EBRW topics and question types you struggle with (6 hrs)

Check Your Progress


Take a practice test (4 hrs)


Score the test and review your answers (2.5 hrs)

Month 4

Review & Practice


Practice Math and EBRW topics and question types you struggle with (6 hrs)

Learn the Essay Format


Learn the Essay format (2 hrs)


Practice writing essays (4 hrs)

Review & Practice


Practice Math and EBRW topics and question types you struggle with (6.5 hrs)

Check Your Progress


Take a practice test (4 hrs)


Score the test and review your answers (2.5 hrs)

Month 5

Review Needed Math Concepts


Review any Math topics you’re still struggling with based on your practice test results (6.5 hrs)

Review Needed Reading Concepts


Review any Reading topics you’re still struggling with based on your practice test results (6 hrs)

Review Needed Writing Concepts


Review any Writing topics you’re still struggling with based on your practice test results (6 hrs)

Check Your Progress


Take a practice test (4 hrs)


Score the test and review your answers (2.5 hrs)

Month 6

Review Needed Concepts


Review any Math or EBRW topics you’re still struggling with based on your practice test results (6.5 hrs)

Review Needed Concepts


Review any Math or EBRW topics you’re still struggling with based on your practice test results (6 hrs)

Check Your Progress


Take a practice test (4 hrs)


Score the test and review your answers (2.5 hrs)

Prep Lightly & Review


Practice any topics or question types you want to review and get some rest before test day (6 hrs)

 

 

SAT Study Plan 4: 1-Month Program, High Intensity

For this quick, high-intensity plan, you’ll spend 40 total hours, or 10 hours a week, studying for the SAT. By the end, you'll be able to raise your baseline score by up to 130 points.

In order for this plan to work, however, you must be willing to put in the time and effort to study each week. One month isn’t a whole lot of study time, especially if you’re trying to make gains of more than 100 points, but it’s certainly doable if you know how to use your time wisely.

For more tips on studying for the SAT in a month, check out our step-by-step guide.

 

Week 1: Study Structure

1. Take a practice test. First and foremost, you’ll need to have a baseline score. Make sure to take the test in a quiet room without distractions.

Suggested Time: 4 hrs

2. Score your test and analyze your results. To figure out what areas you struggle with the most, look closely for any patterns in your mistakes.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

3. Learn the SAT format. Go over what’s tested, all question types, and how it’s scored.

Suggested Time: 2 hrs

4. Learn the Reading test format. Get a feel for what the Reading section tests and what kinds of passages it contains.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

5. Learn the Writing and Language test format. Get to know the Writing section by learning how it differs from Reading and what kinds of passages it includes.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

6. Learn the Math test format. Familiarize yourself with the topics it tests, its No Calculator and Calculator sections, and the differences between multiple-choice questions and grid-ins.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

 

body_buildings_structure.jpgMake sure you understand the structure before focusing on content.

 

Week 2: Concentrate on Key Content

1. Review core English grammar topics and punctuation rules. You’ll need to know a variety of grammar rules for the Writing section, so memorizing these is critical for a high Writing score.

Suggested Time: 2 hrs

2. Review and practice core math concepts. These include the following:

Suggested Time: 5 hrs

3. Memorize important SAT Math formulas. Knowing these formulas will give you a leg up on test day.

Suggested Time: 1 hr

4. Choose and practice a passage-reading strategy for Reading. To choose one, practice different strategies using official SAT Reading tests. The one that gives you the highest score is the one you should use on test day.

Suggested Time: 2 hrs

 

Week 3: Strategize & Check Your Progress

1. Practice the graf-by-graf method for reading passages on SAT Writing. This is the best strategy for Writing passages since it is less time consuming than others and easy to learn.

Suggested Time: 1.5 hrs

2. Learn key Math, Reading, and Writing strategies. For Math, the best ones to know are how to plug in answers and how to plug in numbers. For Reading and Writing, learn how to eliminate incorrect answer choices and when to choose “No Error.”

Suggested Time: 4 hrs

3. Check your progress by taking a practice test. Once finished, calculate your score to see how much you’ve improved since your baseline test and to determine where your weaknesses lie.

Suggested Time: 4.5 hrs

 

Week 4: Review & Practice

1. Go over any SAT topics, question types, or strategies you want to practice more. You’ll need to get down the most important concepts if you hope to do well on test day, so focus on any glaring weaknesses you still have. Don’t study the day before the test, though, as you should take some time to rest your brain a bit!

Suggested Time: 10 hrs

 

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What to Remember When Choosing an SAT Study Plan

Before choosing an SAT schedule, set a target score, take a baseline practice test, choose a test date, and gather all of the materials you'll need for your prep. This will help you find an SAT study schedule that's perfect for you and your goals.

But which plan will work well for you? In short, the best SAT study plan for you is the one that'll help you reach your goal score on test day. As you consider what plans might work for you, keep the following points in mind:

  • Consider your obligations. Choose a study plan that doesn’t interfere with any major commitments you have. For example, if you have sports practice every day after school, opt for a plan that lets you get in all of your prep hours over the weekend.

  • Stick to a regular schedule. The plan you select will be most effective if you stick to a regular schedule each week. This means you should try to study on the same days each week and for the same number of hours.

  • Customize your plan—but don’t forgo critical steps. We encourage you to tweak our SAT plans to better fit your study needs. However, you should still follow the general order of steps we’ve given you so that you don’t skip crucial information or practice.

  • Don’t overwhelm yourself. Study plans can be heavy, but they should still be doable. Don’t choose a plan that’ll require you to pull all-nighters every week—exhausting yourself won't get you the score you want!

With that, I wish you the best of luck with your SAT study plan!

 

What’s Next?

Want more guidance on SAT study plans? Get tips on how long you should study for the SAT and learn how many times you should take the SAT.

Looking to get a perfect 1600? Read our expert guide to getting a perfect SAT score, written by a real full scorer!

Taking the ACT? We've got a separate guide to help you come up with your own ACT study plan today (coming soon)!

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We have the industry's leading SAT prep program. Built by Harvard grads and SAT full scorers, the program learns your strengths and weaknesses through advanced statistics, then customizes your prep program to you so you get the most effective prep possible.

Check out our 5-day free trial today:

Improve Your SAT Score by 160+ Points, Guaranteed

 

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Hannah Muniz
About the Author

Hannah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in English and East Asian languages and cultures. After graduation, she taught English in Japan for two years via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.



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