It’s that time of year again! SAT testing is right around the corner, and now is the time to prep. Check out these tips and tricks to make the most of your SAT prep.

1. Define a realistic target score
When defining a target score consider your practice test scores, aptitude for standardized testing, and SAT admission requirements for your top choice colleges. Moderately competitive Virginia schools like JMU, VA Tech, and GMU look for scores in the mid-1200s while more competitive schools, such as UVA and William & Mary, have average accepted scores of 1400-1500. Studying 8-12 weeks before taking the SAT test a second time can increase your score by 100+ points.

2. Identify your strengths and weaknesses
Do you love to solve math problems but hate to read a book? Or maybe you ace all those writing assignments and struggle with linear equations. Identifying your stronger subjects will boost your confidence and improving on weaker subjects will boost your test scores.

3. Plan ahead
Eight to 12 weeks before your test date, set aside two to three hours of study time a week. Review and understand what will be tested in the reading, writing, and math sections. Create a study plan that focuses on your weaker subjects and incorporates a variety of study materials. Then practice, practice, practice!

4. Know your resources
If you’re not sure where to begin your SAT studies, start with Khan Academy. They offer online subject courses and SAT prep materials for free and you can study at your own pace. College Board is another popular resource with SAT practice tests and featured articles about the test, including how to interpret your scores. Tri-Ed Tutoring’s test prep classes and 1:1 SAT tutoring provide students with more structured support and assistance.

5. Eliminate wrong answers
Sometimes the right answer is difficult to immediately determine, but one or more wrong answers are obvious. When you come across these questions, eliminate as many incorrect answers as you can. Some answer choices are intended to distract you from the right answer, but don’t be fooled! Cross out what you can and focus on what’s left.

6. Skip harder questions and circle back
Every question on the SAT test is worth one raw score point, even the hard ones. If you spend too much time answering a harder question, you might miss out on those easier ones later in the section. When you catch yourself stumped on a question, skip it and move on to the next one. You can always come back after you’ve answered all the questions in that section.

7. Answer every question
If you don’t know an answer, guess! When you don’t answer a question, you don’t earn any points. If you randomly choose an answer, your chances of earning a point increase by 25%. Since there’s no penalty for wrong answers, why not increase your odds by answering every question?

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