10 SAT Testing FAQs Answered by a Perfect-Scoring Pro Tutor
Written by Christian Heath on Feb. 17th, 2021
SAT Test FAQ Questions
Hi there - today I'm tackling 10 of the most common questions that students and parents have asked me over the course of my 10-year SAT prep tutoring career.

I've taught over 1,500 students to get higher SAT scores, so I've answered every possible question you can imagine.

These are 10 of the most-requested questions about the SAT test, and my honest answers to them - based on over 12,000+ hours of tutoring and teaching this test.

Let's get right into the top-10 frequently-asked questions about the SAT (and make sure to reach out if you have a question that isn't answered in this article!)

1. How many times should I take the SAT?

Three times is the magic number. 

It's not considered "bad" to take the test more than three times, but I'd question if you're really leaving enough time in between test dates to study and improve.

Colleges are mainly interested in your highest score. They know that students test multiple times. It's normal. Don't be afraid to test multiple times. It gives you more chances to learn from your mistakes and get higher scores next time.

Note - this does not include PSATs or mock practice SATs. In my experience, 1-2 official PSATs and 5-10 mock practice SATs are required for your top score performance and results.

2. When should I take the SAT test?

Derived from the previous question: if we are taking the official SAT test three times, let's plan out when those dates should be.

Most students take the PSAT in October as a Junior. This is your first major performance benchmark with actual scores. It's also a great time to start seriously preparing for your next test.

These days, the ideal first official SAT is probably March of Junior Year. You could also do November or December of Junior year if you want a very early test result - but in my experience, those scores will simply confirm your PSAT scores from a few months earlier. Make sense?

The second ideal date is either May or June at the end of Junior year. Choose based upon your external commitments, like AP tests, final exams, or end-of-year sports tournaments. Either test is fine. This represents your "End of Junior Year" performance benchmark.

The third - and hopefully final - SAT test date is either August or October at the beginning of Senior year. In my 10 years of experience, Seniors have almost always outperformed Juniors in SAT scores.

This plan gives you an entire summer before Senior year to prep as hard as possible - free of school commitments. (On the other hand, if you're going to relax all summer and get rusty, then the end-of-Junior-year test may be your highest score. Don't do this. Study hard for the SAT over summer.)

3. What is a good SAT score?

Ah, the million-dollar question. And the obnoxious classic answer: "whatever gets you into your favorite college."

Different high school students should have different target SAT scores. Remember, the SAT is merely a stepping stone to college - which is merely a step towards your career - which is merely a step towards a happy and successful life.

A good SAT score is one that is in the top 25% of SAT scores at your favorite college. At this point, your SAT score will not "keep you out" of your favorite school.

It's accepted wisdom that SAT scores don't "get you in" to colleges, but instead they "keep you out." At many colleges, you need a high-enough SAT score for your application to be seriously considered, but at that point, the focus shifts to your GPA, course load, leadership positions, athletics, fine arts, personal essays, etc...

Note: I am not a college counselor, just a (world-class) SAT prep tutor. Take this advice for what it's worth. This is just my opinion, not fact.

4. Do SAT scores even matter?

Hell yes, they do. (Pardon my French). As mentioned above, your low SAT score can easily keep you out of your favorite college. Imagine how much that would suck! :(

A low score can also cost you money - in missed scholarship opportunities - not to mention lifetime career earnings that add up from missing a more prestigious college education.

Also, the mere act of succeeding on the SAT will make you more confident and proud of yourself as you step forward into the coming phases of your life. 

I know, better than anyone, that an SAT score will not determine your whole life. 

However, I also know better than anyone that your SAT score will affect your life.

Don't you want a positive impact from your SAT score? Better colleges, more scholarship money, and higher self-confidence?

I know my answer.

5. Why is the SAT so hard?

It's not. The SAT test is incredibly overrated in terms of difficulty.

This test is not that hard. I promise on my life.

I'm not saying the SAT is easy - that would be taking things a little too far.

But it's not that hard. My SAT prep students realize this every single day - they even say it out loud in my lessons.

The hardest section of the SAT is the Reading test. Trust me. It really, really is. 

On the other hand, the SAT Math and SAT Writing & Language sections are waaaaay easier than you think they are.

Luckily, all of your competition / peers also think the SAT is a hard test. 

That makes my job easier - which is to help you outperform your competition and get into your favorite colleges with higher SAT scores.

6. Is it even possible to improve your SAT score?

Yes. Absolutely. I've had students improve their scores so much, in such a short time, that they were flagged for potential cheating (long story, but we got it figured out with the test-makers).

I've seen SAT students improve their scores by 400+ points. This isn't common, but I've seen it with my own eyes.

More commonly, I've seen 100-300 point improvements. This is so common that - other than my pride in my students for their hard work - it doesn't even appear on my radar any more.

Note that the lower your current SAT score, the easier it is to improve. The higher your current SAT score, the harder it is to improve. This is because of "the law of diminishing returns."

Still, there is always something specific that you can work on in order to improve your SAT score even further. Part of my job is to help you figure out exactly what that thing is.

7. How can I get better at SAT Reading?

You want to get a higher SAT Reading score? I've got good and bad news.

Good news: it's simple.

Bad news: it takes a while.

How to get a higher SAT Reading score in....

Two words? Read more.

Three words? Read more consistently.

Four words? Read stuff you like.

The highest SAT Reading scores go to the students who read the most. It's SO simple and obvious. I can literally guess your reading habits by hearing your SAT Reading score.

See, the students who read the most are the ones who read for fun.

The students who read the fastest are the ones who read the most.

The students with the biggest vocabularies are the ones who read the most.

Always. There are no exceptions. No excuses.

Reading is one of my life-long personal passions, and I can help so much with making you a better reader. Contact us or schedule a consultation and we'll get to work on it.

8. How can I improve my SAT Writing & Language (Grammar) Score?

Phew! I'm glad you're asking how to improve your "Grammar" score instead of your "Reading" score.

The SAT Writing & Language test is based on 17 clearly-defined rules and 8 Parts of Speech. I've written an entire 300-page textbook on these topics.

I can teach you to absolutely DOMINATE the SAT Writing & Language test by teaching you to master those 17 rules. 

Now I'm just bragging, but I'm literally one of the most accomplished SAT Grammar teachers on the planet. That is not an exaggeration, it is the truth.

Side benefit - your grammar will improve for high school English, college courses, your career, and the rest of your life.

9. How do I get a higher SAT Math score?

OK, now you're just asking me to show off.

I spent 8 months in 2019-20 writing a two-volume, 1,000-page SAT Math textbook ("SAT Math Mastery" Vol1 & Vol2).

This textbook is my masterpiece. The crowning achievement of my 10 years teaching SAT prep full time.

I can break down each and every math topic tested on the SAT and teach them to you with such clarity that you will wonder how you ever believed they were hard.

Combined with my textbooks, you will utterly destroy the SAT Math section. Scores of 750+ aren't even surprising to me anymore.

I love teaching this test, but the SAT Math section is by far my favorite section. I would work on it for fun.

Contact me and we'll solve your SAT Math problems for good. Heck, you might even enjoy it :)

10. How can parents help?

Simple answer? Watch the case study on this website or sign up for a consultation to see if we're a good fit. I am one of the top-10 SAT Prep tutors on the planet and I will do everything in my power to see your student succeed with a massively-higher SAT score and increased confidence.

Long answer? Make sure they read every night, but allow them to read for fun. Books they choose, not your recommendations or opinions.

Then, have them drill HARD in official SAT practice materials. Make sure they correct their mistakes. Reward them for any progress - this is HARD WORK for a high schooler.

But honestly - just contact me. I've spent 10 years getting higher scores for families. Don't reinvent the wheel. You'll never have the time it takes to figure out all the riddles of this test. But I have.

Those are my honest opinions about the top-10 SAT Prep FAQs...

Did these answerS help? Can you tell that I've been doing this for a while? hehe...

I've helped over 1,000 families and I want to help your family, too. Reach out today or watch the case study on this website for more information about how I can help you get higher SAT scores and increased confidence.

Christian Heath

Christian Heath helps high school students get massively higher SAT test scores and confidence. He is an expert at teaching students everything they need to know to absolutely crush this critical college admissions test.

If you're interested in getting higher SAT scores or increasing your SAT testing confidence then definitely reach out and request a free strategy session today.
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