What is the Best Way to Prepare for the Digital SAT?
The SAT is going digital. Although you can prepare for the digital SAT in many ways, we, the College Board, creators of the SAT, believe these are the five best ways:
- Start early.
- Take a full-length practice test and review your results.
- Study for free with Official Digital SAT Prep on Khan Academy®.
- Pay attention in your high school classes.
- Know what to expect on test day.
What makes these tried-and-true methods even better? They’re free!
Follow the tips below so you’ll have the skills to understand SAT concepts and the confidence to achieve your goals.
We know that ideally you’d like all the time in the world to prepare for a test, but that might not be a luxury you have. Your junior and senior year are packed with significant events, so it’s important to plan where your SAT fits in. Choose an SAT date far enough in advance that you have time to prepare—we recommend 2–3 months. (Ask your counselor if your school offers the SAT on a school day.) Starting early lets you gauge how much you need to study each week and helps prevent the need for cramming. Students who start studying earlier do better on the SAT and have more confidence going into the test. And, good news, if you took the digital PSAT/NMSQT, you already know what to expect.
Take a Full-Length Practice Test and Review Your Results
Taking a full-length SAT practice test is one of the best ways to prepare for your digital SAT, and we make several full-length practice tests available for free in Bluebook™. (For students who’ll test with paper-based accommodations on test day, full-length linear practice tests are also available to download.)
Using the same login information you used in Bluebook, go to mypractice.collegeboard.org and review the questions you answered incorrectly, along with the explanation of the correct answer. By doing this you can focus on the types of questions and skills that you need to practice most.
Taking a practice test that follows the same timing parameters you’ll experience on test day gives you a strong indication of how you’ll score on the real SAT. Our research shows that your score on an official, full-length practice test taken after studying and within a couple weeks of your test date is highly predictive of the score you’ll receive on the actual SAT. Practice test results will also provide you with insight on what you need to work on as you approach the real test.
We recommend treating each full-length practice test you take as if you’re really taking the SAT. Download Bluebook on the device you plan to use on test day. Start at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, follow section timing guidelines, only take breaks as they are given on the SAT, and put away your cell phone. In addition to showing you what areas you’re struggling with, taking a practice test builds your SAT test-taking confidence because it shows how it feels to take an SAT. Taking a practice test familiarizes you with the structure of the test, pacing of test questions, and how you’ll feel at 8 a.m. on a Saturday—important things to know before you take the real SAT. Click here to download Bluebook.
Study with Official Digital SAT Prep on Khan Academy
It’s no surprise that one of the best ways to prepare for the digital SAT is to study, and we recommend you use the official resources created by the makers of the SAT. College Board has been partnering with Khan Academy for years to provide SAT preparation that’s tailored to you and absolutely free. It’s called Official Digital SAT Prep, and it’s the most comprehensive and official SAT study resource available. By clicking the button in myPractice.collegeboard.org you can explore every question in the specific practice test you took on Khan Academy. We recommend you spend 6–20 hours preparing for your first SAT. Make sure you give yourself time to review the concepts you’re struggling with.
Pay Attention in Class
The SAT is directly tied to what you’re learning in class and the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in college and career. What this means is that it’s even more important to pay attention in class and to your teachers. By the spring of your junior year, you’ll have three and a half years of high school coursework under your belt to help you succeed on the SAT. If there are any areas you think you need a refresher on, we recommend looking through our What's on the Test webpage to make sure you’re preparing for the right things.
Know What to Expect on Test Day
Knowing what to expect on test day is key. We know it can be intimidating to take such an important test, which is why we highly recommend getting to know what test day will be like. In addition to taking a full-length practice test so you understand the test format and timing, it’s important to prepare yourself to be on time and well-rested for the test. Plan how you’ll get to your test center, and make sure you know where your test center is. (It’s often not at your high school.) This reduces anxiety on test day because all you need to do is wake up, eat a good breakfast, and get to your location. Scout out the location of your test center to find enough (free) parking where you’ll be taking the test. Some tests are given at universities, which can have differing parking rules. Look up the rules before your test day.
(If you’re taking the SAT in school on a school day, your test day experience will be different. Ask your counselor for details.)
Though studying is important, we strongly suggest you don’t cram the day or night before your SAT. Instead, take the night before your test to decompress. Lay out your clothes, assemble what you need to bring, set an alarm for the next morning, and then just relax and go to sleep early. Taking the night before the test to prepare yourself physically and emotionally gives you more self-assurance and energy walking into the test center the next morning.
Starting early, taking a full-length practice test on Bluebook and reviewing your results in My Practice, studying on Official Digital SAT Prep, paying attention in class, and knowing what to expect on test day are five of the best ways to prepare for the digital SAT. Get ready for your SAT the way you’d get ready for a marathon: prepare purposefully and deliberately over an extended period of time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Being prepared won’t happen that quickly either, but it can be done if it’s done methodically. Follow these five steps, and you’ll find yourself on the best possible trajectory for success!