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How To Raise Your SAT Score

Updated on October 2, 2019

Improve Your Score Without Breaking the Bank

With enough time and self discipline, you can improve your SAT score without paying hundreds of dollars to Kaplan or The Princeton Review. I improved my SAT score by over 200 points using these techniques. (I managed to get a perfect score!) Here's how you can do it, too:

  1. To improve your vocabulary, consider subscribing to one of the many available word-a-day email services. A good way to make sure you actually learn the words is to look at two emails each day, the newest one and the one from the previous day. This way you can test yourself on yesterday's word. One good service is Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day.
  2. Unfortunately, reading a couple of emails a day isn't enough if you are truly serious about improving your vocabulary (which is vital to scoring well on the verbal section). You must also make flash cards, hundreds of them, and go through them often. Try studying while on the bus or during car rides. Use mnemonics to make learning the words easier.
  3. There are plenty of SAT study guides out there that aren't very expensive. I recommend Up Your Score: The Underground Guide to the SAT.
  4. If you do nothing else, take as many practice tests as you can AND make sure that you go over the problems you got wrong to understand how to get the correct answers. There is no substitute for taking old SAT tests, which you can find in the Official SAT Study Guide published by the College Board. The tests published by Kaplan, The Princeton Review, and others are "fake" exams that attempt to emulate what the real test is like. Your scores from those tests might not be accurate, either. (My memory is that my scores on the fake tests were significantly different from the real thing, but I can't remember if they were higher or lower in general.) My advice is to stick with the real tests if possible. If you run out of real tests to practice on, then you can move on to the fake tests later (but you probably won't need to).
  5. If you find that you really need a tutor to help you out, I suggest looking on Craigslist first. Especially if you live near a university, and especially if it's summer, you should be able to hire a bright college student directly instead of purchasing a test prep package. This will probably save you money. Another possibility is to purchase a classified ad in a nearby university's school newspaper.

That's it! There is no big secret to getting a great SAT score, nor are there many shortcuts. You have to read the books, study, and practice diligently. But if you do, you will be rewarded. Good luck getting into your dream school!


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