SAT Advice from High Achievers


Joanna Zhao

Kurt Tio ‘20 is one of the few students to achieve a score of 1580 on his SAT exam.

The first weekend of each month marks a stressful day for many juniors. After all, they are about to take one of the most important tests of their life, the SAT.

The Scholastic Aptitude Test, better known as the SAT, is an incredibly important exam because the scores are used as a standard by which selective colleges assess their applicants. Many parents pressure their kids to study, but poor test takers still have a hard time getting a good score. However, there are many tips and tricks to improve one’s score.

First of all, many students recommend using College Board materials for studying. The College Board allows students to link their accounts to Khan Academy for personalized test prep. As an added bonus, there are many practice tests one can take on Khan Academy. Joseph Moser ’19, who received a 1580 on his SAT, took many practice tests and said, “I look at the question, figure out why I answered it wrong, and write down the specific mistake I made on a piece of paper and how to correct it. It’s important that you do this soon after taking the [practice] test, so that you still remember why you picked the answers you did.”

Additionally, there are also many tips that one can use on test day that have been provided by students. For example, Jeffery Luo ’20, who received a 1570, said “Every question in the reading section is in sequential order, which corresponds to order in the text. If the answer to the first question is in one part of the passage, then you know that the other questions’ answers are after it. It’s really useful for determining what the answer has to be if you don’t really get the question, especially for questions that ask about where the answer is specifically in the text.”

“I look at the question, figure out why I answered it wrong, and write down the specific mistake I made on a piece of paper and how to correct it,” said Joseph Moser ’19.

Kurt Tio ’20, who received a 1580, also provides some advice for the Reading Section of the SAT, said “For the question pairs, you should probably look at the evidence first, in order to answer the first question [of the pair] easily.” He also recommends skimming the passages briefly to get the main idea, then reading the questions so one knows what is important in the text.

For the math section, Raymond Lin ’20, who received an 800, a perfect score on the section, said, “The Math section may seem straightforward, but there are a lot of trap and trick questions. Just because your answer choice shows up as one of the plausible choices, that doesn’t mean it is the right one. Read the question thoroughly before answering it, and always check your answers if there is time remaining.” He continued, “When preparing for the math section, I highly recommend taking previous SAT math sections because the questions that appear are often extremely similar to the questions on the previous or future SAT math sections.”

Along with using specific advice for each section, there is one thing one has to be mindful of throughout the entire test, timing. A student who has requested to remain anonymous, and received a 1600, said, “It’s pretty generic advice, but just don’t spend too much time on a question. If you’re really stumped, just move on, and come back to the question later, when you’re done with the rest of the questions. It’s better for your grade, and it may give you a fresher perspective on the question.”

Although the SAT seems like an extremely intimidating test, there are many tips and tricks that many people can apply to their test-taking experience in order to receive the best score possible. The night before the test, the best thing to do is to make sure to relax and sleep, as people perform best when rested. In the end, a SAT score does not define a person’s worth and there are more things involved in the college process that can help many people get into their dream school.