How to Improve SAT Scores by 200 Points? | Actionable Tips Included

Is it possible to improve my SAT score by 200 points? The quick answer I, YES.

The long answer is YES, but it isn't as easy as you'd expect.

If you took a practice test and your score is still not near your preferred SAT score, then you might want to crunch your numbers and see if there is still enough time to cram and improve your scores (see lowest SAT points treshold for admission).

Ideal SAT Score

There is no standard for the ideal SAT score. However, having at least 1200 SAT scores could increase students' chances of getting into a particular college. For those setting their sights on one of the 8 Ivy League schools, the goal is to land an SAT score between 1500 SAT points and 1600 (see if 1400 is a good SAT score, too).

While some schools have decided to remove the SATs as part of their college admissions process, many universities still rely on this to gauge a student's knowledge.

As such, the first thing you must do is to research what SAT scores your top 5 schools consider "ideal" or check the College Board website to see average scores in SAT. If you learn about these scores early, you'll have an idea if you have a chance to get scholarships or if you need to work on studying more.

Take a full-length practice test and check the score. If you're nowhere near your ideal SAT number, read on to know what steps you can take to boost your score and how much time you need to invest in.

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Tips to Improve your SAT Score by 200 Points

1. Attend or take practice tests.

Some high schools provide practice tests weeks or months prior to the actual SAT date. Start appearing at these sessions and be serious about taking practice tests. This would help you identify weak spots (are you having trouble with math or reading? ).

2. Self-study and Self-Assess.

Aside from the guided practice exams, you also need to study by yourself and assess your progress regularly. If you can, record your scores and list down your mistakes.

3. Determine How Long You Need to Improve Your SAT Score by 200

If you decided to cram and increase SAT score goals a month before the actual test, how many hours should you study to bring up your score to 200 more? If you began two weeks before the test, will you be able to invest in 6 hours (or more) of study time to reach your goal of a 200-score increase?

You'll need two things:

  • the number of days you can study before taking the SATs, and

  • the number of hours you can commit daily.

Your answer to these two factors, along with the test date of your SAT, will dictate your studying strategy and help you create your study schedule. These will give you the most realistic plan possible because let's face it, a significant increase like 200 scores within a few days is difficult to achieve.

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4. General Study Guides

The following skills should help you with the SATs and in your career after college as well, so there's no harm in continuously working on these life skills:

  • Expand your vocabulary words. Evidence-based Reading and Writing will test you on your language skills, mastery of words, and comprehension skills. There are no specific practice tests for vocabulary, so it is best to just continuously read or download a word-of-the-day app to expand your vocabulary.
  • Master grammar rules. Things you learned in grade school could still pop up in the SATs. Do you still remember how to fix run-on sentences, misplaced modifiers, incorrect apostrophe placement, and other basic grammatic rules like comma splice?
  • Problem-solving. The math section can be a hit or miss, so one of the most valuable tips when it comes to mathematics is to learn how to solve problems mentally.

5. Focus on either Math or Reading and Writing

Generally, students good in math may have difficulties in language. Other students good in reading and writing might find math more challenging. If this is the case, it would be time-saving and efficient to focus on the section that needs a significant boost - learn more about SAT percentiles to be aware how your SAT score stacks against others.

SAT Math

If your problem area is mathematics, here's one major rule many students do not know: you shouldn't rely on a graphing calculator or any kind of calculator. Aside from this, follow these guidelines:

  • Identify mathematics subsections. The good thing about SAT math is that there are plenty of resources available, so content knowledge isn't a big secret. Instead, you could list down specific mathematics topics for every subsection. For example, data analysis, problem-solving, the heart of algebra, or passport to advanced math have many resources for students to use.

  • Formulas should be memorized by heart. Instead of relying on your calculator, make sure that you know the Pythagorean theorem, quadratic formula, and other key mathematic formulas by heart.

Once you've mastered the formulas and familiarized yourself with the mathematics subsection, practice continuously and identify your weak points. Go back to re-learning topics you have problems with until they're no longer your weak areas. 

SAT Reading and Writing

One of the most careless mistakes students taking the SAT make is underestimating the Reading and Writing section. SAT reading score and writing score is just as important as your math score.

However, don't waste time trying to rack your brain if you face a hard question either. Skip the question and go back later.

In the writing section, it is likely you'll be asked to answer concisely. Removing redundancy from writing can be challenging if you aren't aware that you are doing it. Download an app like Grammarly, practice writing using the app, and see if "redundancy" notifications pop up.  You'll be trained to remove wordiness from your writing this way.

6. Stick to Your Study Plan.

SAT preparation - see 'Best SAT Prep Book' - can be grueling, especially if you only have a week left to improve your target score. The less time you have before the SAT, the more you should follow a strict study schedule.  Here are some great tips on how to stay motivated and  stick to your plan:

  • Be realistic. Don't cram too many tasks in a day. If you only have 2 hours of available time where you could focus 100% on your SAT studies, don't force another 2 hours if it means your attention would go down to 20%.

  • Three to six hours of month-long preparation. If you’re aiming for a 200 point score increase, you would have to figure out how to juggle your time to accommodate 3 to 6 hours of studying. If you have more than a month, then you can relax a bit and allocate 1 to 2 hours of daily studying.

  • Combine practice with reviewing. Note that in order to improve on the subjects you're having issues with, you have to be familiar with main idea questions, complete testing on the section it falls under, and review your answers. This way, you'll be able to recognize your past mistakes whenever the subject comes up again on another practice test or the actual SATs.

Girl studying in front of a laptop

 Where to Practice SAT Practice Tests

The SAT has been around since 1926. You can find complete SAT resources on trusted websites like Khan Academy, private test prep companies,  and almost all high schools.

College Board Practice Test

College Board, the organization that administers the SATs, also has different kinds of practice tests freely accessible to any student who needs them.

Third-party SAT Prep Course

Many standardized testing prep companies offer their best SAT prep courses to help students achieve their goal scores. In most cases, they assess the student's knowledge, pinpoint weaknesses, identify goals and create a practice and reviewer the student will follow throughout the duration of the course.

Paid prep courses are available in pre-made courses such as "8-week SAT prep course" or "12-week SAT prep course." Others even include a guarantee, such as a "200-point score improvement guarantee."

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SAT Prep Expert Tutors

Tutors are great if the student is having difficulty understanding pre-made courses, or if they want to focus on additional topics.

The tutor could help address issues that keep students from getting the right answers or the high score they're aiming for (see how many schools accept 1100 SAT points).  

Do-it-Yourself Test Prep Course

Feel free to create your own course the way you see fit. This is ideal for students who are aware of their own issues and plan to address their weaknesses the right way. Many students who study by themselves create a comprehensive study guide and incorporate the 1,000 question rule.

With this kind of prep, you'll be able to answer 1,000 questions and review essential topics of all SAT sections.

If you took the time to prepare and worked hard to improve your score, you're halfway there. Hard work usually pays off, so trust that you've learned all you could learn and bring your A-game and confidence on the test date.

Leonard Haggin

I created this site to help students like you learn from the experiences my team had learned during our extensive academic careers. I am now studying Law at Stanford, but I also make time to write articles here in order to help all you fellow students advance in your academic careers and beyond. I hope our efforts on Study Prep Lounge will arm you with the knowledge you need to overcome whatever trial or test you find in front of you.

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