3 Ways to Increase Your SAT Score

Scholastic Aptitude Tests, or SATs, are an important factor to have on your side when applying for college. Even with a strong grade point average, an impressive plethora of extracurricular activities and community involvement under your belt and a stack of teacher/administrator recommendation letters, the SATs are the one thing that is standardized across the board.

For example, a university may receive thousands of applications from students with 4.0 GPAs, but there is no way for them to differentiate between students who took advanced placement courses versus those who completed a standardized list of courses. Curricula may also vary from state to state, so having a standardized test score to use as a comparison is usually the best and foremost way to get their attention and get your foot in the door.

And even though a high SAT score won’t guarantee that you’ll get accepted to the school of your choice, it will improve your chances, especially if your GPA or other facets of your application aren’t as high as other applicants. Even more importantly, if you’re looking for ways to help finance your college education, a high SAT score can also increase your chances of winning scholarships. So it is important to invest some time (and maybe even some money) into making sure your score is the best it can be.

There are three ways to prep for SATs: self study, tutoring or taking SAT classes.

Self Study

When it comes to self study the internet can be very helpful. There are a number of free practice tests you can take, and there are several products you can order (for a fee) that will provide you with video tutorials and additional practice tools. The only negative aspect of self study is that you usually do not get a lot of feedback on what your weaknesses may be and how to strengthen them. You also need to have the willpower to actually sit down and do the lessons and continue through them if you start to get frustrated with the overall process.


There are private tutors that can come to your home to help you prep. This is an excellent way to get immediate feedback on areas that might need improvement and then receive one-on-one coaching to bolster those areas of need. A private tutor will also “force” you to actually be engaged in studying and practicing to improve your SAT score, and a tutor can come back as many times as you need to become a better test taker. Good tutors are also adept at taking the frustration factor out of the equation. On the negative side, private tutoring can be expensive, especially for tutors who have shown success in mentoring previous students to much better scores.

SAT Classes

The third method is to sign up for an SAT class. Classes are held throughout Coastal Virginia and usually cater to those who need help studying (as well as the motivation to do so) but who may not have the funds necessary for a private tutor. However, depending on the size of the class, personalized feedback may not be as strong as what you might receive from a tutor.

Combined Methods

The best-case scenario may be to combine options. Take a free online test to see how you do. If you feel that you are in pretty good shape but could use some help, look into other online tools (if you are self-motivated) or think about taking a prep class. If you feel that your skills are lacking and you really need someone to guide you, ask around about private tutors, and see if you can find one that works within your price range.

The important thing to remember about SATs is that you can take them repeatedly, and they are offered several times a year. It’s a good idea to take the official test once during the spring of your junior year in high school, then again during the fall of your senior year. If your scores are not improving or they aren’t as high as you’d like them to be, consider some of the options above and take the test again before sending out college applications.

Categories: Education, Issue Page Features