SAT Action Plan: From Stress to Success

Do you feel a sense of dread when you think about the SAT? It’s a challenging test that most young people and their parents associate with stress. The pressure to perform well and secure a spot at a dream school can make it seem like everything hinges on this one exam. It’s natural to feel anxious about such a significant event; that’s human nature. However, when this concern turns into debilitating fear, it becomes nearly impossible to perform at your best. That’s why having a solid blueprint or plan is crucial, as with any important endeavor.

I’m Pete Pecoraro, a test prep tutor at Educational Connections and in this blog, I’ll outline an action plan to help your child feel more confident and in control of their SAT journey.

Step 1: Establish Your Baseline

Take a practice SAT to determine your baseline score. You can find six free, official digital SATs at the College Board free Bluebook app (computers and tablets only, no phones.) You can also purchase the Official Digital SAT Study Guide with includes four practice tests. Taking the entire SAT practice exam in one sitting is essential and will require 2.5 uninterrupted hours.

Once you finish the exam, log in to the College Board here to review your results and the official explanations for each answer. 

Parents: You can also schedule a free score report review meeting with one of our Test Prep specialists. On this call, we’ll break down your child’s score report to help you understand the areas for greatest improvement, which test is best (SAT or ACT) for your child, and help devise a custom testing and test prep timeline.

Step 2: Set A Reasonable Goal

Most students can lift their SAT score by 80-150 points when they zero in on their weaknesses and adopt/learn basic rules, formulas, and strategies. Of course, depending on your commitment, seeing lesser or greater improvement is possible. 

Step 3: Prioritize Your Preparation

Commit to the project! My experience as a tutor has shown that the most significant single factor in boosting one’s SAT score is making test preparation a top priority. It’s no secret, yet surprisingly few test-takers actually do this. Instead, test prep often becomes just one project among many, frequently falling to fourth, fifth, or even sixth place on the priority list. 

Most students grossly underestimate the work level involved in mastering the test. To the best of your ability, try to bring test prep closer to the top of your list. The summer is the perfect time to get started and focus on test prep since there are fewer school and extracurricular commitments. The good news is prepping for the SAT only requires a narrow band of time – typically 2-3 months.

Step 4: Focus on Content Mastery

Work on the content of the SAT by taking more practice tests to bolster your content knowledge and mastery of reading, writing, and math. The most liftable parts of the test are typically found in SAT writing (grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation) and math. These areas are governed more by rules and formulas than reading and vocabulary. The latter areas are more about habit formation, so they tend to be more challenging to improve.

However, practice will help you get more comfortable with all of the subjects, the SAT’s unique scholastic question types, and the overall academic tone. 

Step 5: Seek Expert Guidance for Your Student

For additional help, consider an expert tutor like the test prep professionals here at Educational Connections. An experienced tutor can guide your child with personalized instruction, offering valuable tips, tricks, methods, and strategies tailored to their needs.

Working one-on-one with a tutor is the very best way to maximize your score for a variety of reasons:

1) You are given personalized attention, sessions tailored to fit your schedule, and the opportunity to discuss each question in depth until you genuinely understand.

2) Educational Connections’ test prep tutors are highly experienced in teaching each SAT subject area and question type.

3) A skilled test prep tutor will serve as a mentor who will hold you accountable, give you specific assignments, and work on any/all problem areas so that all you have to do is put in the effort. Simply talking about the questions with a tutor helps create understanding and fosters the best test-taking strategies.

Take the next step! Learn about our score increase guarantee and get your child matched with one of our SAT/ACT specialists by scheduling a free consultation.

About Our Guest Author:

Pete Pecoraro, Test Prep Tutor at Educational Connections

Pete Pecoraro has extensive experience in education as a former high school teacher and current Test Prep Tutor at Educational Connections. He graduated as valedictorian at his high school and then attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was honored with the Bronze Tablet Award and a bachelor’s degree in teaching. Pete’s had proven success with students who struggle with standardized tests to the academically gifted. Every student he’s worked with has been able to lift his or her SAT or ACT score.