Preparing for the SAT independently

When I was in high school, I never heard about anyone getting tutored for the SAT.  It may have happened, but it was very rare.  Today, it has become the norm.  Part of the fact that everyone is doing it, makes it necessary for everyone to do it; yes, that is a catch-22. 

I probably shouldn't be giving away secrets but there are many things that students can do to prepare independently.  Even if a tutor has been hired,  these tips will improve a student's scores even further. 

There is a totally free practice SAT  on the College Board website.   It is timed and includes and the essay.   Getting these scores allows a student to see what needs to be focused on in order to improve their score.   The score is not the most important part though;  the analysis that shows how many questions were answered, how many skipped and how many wrong is the most important part.

After taking the test and reviewing the results here are some helpful tools.  I recommend that a student spends a minimum 45 minutes per day on all of the following tips.

The biggest difference between a student who does well in the reading section and a student who does poorly in the reading section is vocabulary.  So, first, sign up for WORD OF THE DAY at  But signing up and having the email arrive at a student's inbox doesn't get the word in his or her brain.  It is necessary to work with the word.  Read the definition and the examples.  Create a few sentences.  Create at least one way to use the word that day in a conversation.  Yes, it is fake, but using the word is the key.

Next, create an ID on FREERICE.ORG.  

Freerice is a non-profit website that is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme.

Freerice has two goals:

  • Provide education to everyone for free.
  • Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

This is made possible by the generosity of the sponsors who advertise on this site.  There are many quiz games and subjects that can be played, but for SAT practice, CHOOSE SAT and VOCABULARY as the subjects.  If a student spends 20 minutes a day on this site, he or she will get exposed to and be able to practice all the types of questions that are asked on the SAT. 


Last, go back to the College Board site and sign up for the SAT question of the day.   Do the questions daily.  Don't let them pile up.

Taking the SAT is a once in a lifetime experience.  By that, I don't mean that the test can't be taken more than once.  But, a student preparing for college should have the focus of just that.  When there is a skill gap it is the time to call a tutor, but for practice these tips can improve scores by 50-100 points for each section.  Dedication and focus are what is required to get through college; dedication and focus are what is required to do well on the SAT.




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