When to Start Studying for SAT | Start Your Scholastic Aptitude Test Preparations On Time

This is an excellent question. The fact that you are wondering when to start studying for SAT shows that you want to be fully prepared. If you start too late, you will not have enough time to revise.

Last-minute cramming is not good. Also, you will get a low score because you failed to prepare well. On the other hand, I would not recommend you start preparing very early.

You might forget many things by the time you begin your test. So, what is the best time to start studying? Keep reading to get a complete study plan.

To help with your preparation, I have reviewed top-rated SAT prep books in this article to help you make a great start. In addition, you should strongly consider taking one of the preparation courses that suits your style of studying and fits your budget. 

When should you Start Studying for the SAT? - The Complete Study Plan

Taking a very important exam like the SAT requires lots of time and dedication in order to score good marks. You will not have enough time to revise if you start late.

Starting too early is not good either because you will forget many things on the test day. The ideal time to start studying is 2 months before the test. First and foremost, you will need to get organized. Sit down and plan out a study calendar. As for the actual test date, we covered the essentials you need to bring with you here.

two girls studying

What is the SAT Test?

This is one of the recognized standardized tests used by many universities and colleges to make admission decisions.

  • Highest score: 1600
  • Average score: 1060
  • SAT length: 3 hours
  •  SAT cost: $46

Your SAT score will determine which college or university you will go to. If your goal is to attend Stanford, MIT or Harvard, you need to study harder and get good scores. No pressure if you are planning to attend colleges that do not require high SAT scores.

Keep in mind though that many colleges’ especially prestigious ones require good SAT scores. To get the idea of how you would do, you can take the PSAT first with the help of the best PSAT prep book.

When Should You Take the SAT?

Before you begin to study for your SAT test, you need to know when to take it so you can plan accordingly. Scores impact college acceptance and if it is your first time to take the test, I would advise taking the exam in the fall of junior year.

You will have enough time to retake the exam if you get a bad score.

Do you have a study plan? A solid plan will be able to guide you in your SAT test preparation journey. This means setting aside some hours per week. Your plan should be realistic, smart and comprehensive with all sections tested in the SAT test.

It will be of tremendous help if you can gather as many materials as possible to help with your study. You can get the best SAT prep books. These books have free SAT practice tests that you can take to familiarize yourself with the official test questions.  

They have answers to the questions. In addition, the books have guides to help get good scores. Good prep books have subjects that you will get in the test such as Mathematics, grammar, and literature.

an agenda and a watch


When Should You Start Studying for the SAT?

Like I mentioned before, you need to start studying for your SAT exam early especially if it is your first time taking the test. College admissions exams are always set in advance so you have ample time to study.

Know your needs and goals first. You need a target score that will get you into your college or university.


PSAT prep

Many high schools permit their students (sophomores and freshmen) to take the PSAT. These tests will help you familiarize yourself with questions of the SAT. We also wrote about is the SAT harder than the PSAT and we recommend reading about the levels of difficulty.

The PSAT tests also give high school juniors the opportunity to get a National Merit Scholarship.


Study plan

Do not forget to have a study plan. Consider your SAT goals, needs, and preferences when creating this plan. If you want to apply to Harvard University, the University of Washington or the University of Oregon, know their scores requirements.

Calculate how many hours per week you need to revise: To get your target score, you will need to set a number of hours per week for studying.

Choose a test date that is suitable for you: select a date that will fit with your schedule. If you need more time to prepare, give yourself enough time when selecting a test date.

Have study materials: Have enough materials to study for your tests. There are many SAT prep books that have been prepared for this purpose. They come with questions and answers that look like the real SAT ones.

Each question will have a detailed answer so you can know how to answer real SAT ones. Some have video lessons. They are worth buying since they are written by experts and are guaranteed to get you the biggest score gains.


Where Do You Want to Go to College? - Check Their SAT Schedule

SAT tests play a major role in college admissions. Colleges use the score to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of students.

Along with other crucial necessities like grades and extracurricular activities, SAT scores are used as a screening tool to determine if a student is the best match for their university or not.

Plan to impress your dream school with high SAT scores. Perform well so as to earn admission.

SAT Scores for major colleges/Universities


25th %ile SAT Score

75th %ile SAT Score

Avg SAT Score

Boston College




American university




University of Washington




University of Miami




Wake Forest University




Villanova University




University of Rochester





Ivy League/Highly Selective School SAT Study Plan

Are you planning to attend a highly selective school like Yale, Stanford, Harvard, and Amherst? You need to study hard for your SAT score. A highly selective college is a school that does not admit everyone who applies.

According to a survey done by the National Association for College Admission Counselling, SAT scores are still important for many schools.

You need 1,500 and above if you are aiming to go to these schools. You will not be admitted with an average score. You definitely plan to study early and can start with the PSAT test which will prepare you to take the SAT.

Create the best study program in order to perform well in your test. Do not forget to familiarize yourself with each test section, there are already study materials with content that is tested during the exam.

Take the SAT test in your junior year (fall) so you can retake later if you fall short of 1,500.

Selective School SAT Study Plan

According to my research, selective colleges include Dartmouth University, California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Bowdoin College, Claremont McKenna College, just to name a few.

These are schools that only admit less than 50% of their applicants. However, they are not highly selective like Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Stanford. You will still need to study hard in order to attain the SAT score needed by these colleges.

Start by taking PSAT when you are a sophomore to help prepare for the SAT. You also need proper resources and a solid study plan to help attain an above-average score. For your study plan:

  • Start by setting a target score. Identify the selective college that you want to join and look for their SAT requirements.
  • Calculate how many hours you need to study per week. By doing this, you will have enough time to cover all of the content tested.

You need time to take quizzes. The more familiar you will become with questions tested, the more you will be prepared for your test.

  • Choose a test date and don’t forget to give yourself enough time to study for the test

For study materials, there are special books you must have. They have everything you need to study for your SAT test.

SAT prep material

Less Selective School SAT Study Plan

According to Chronicle.com, less selective schools include North Carolina University, University of Georgia, Virginia polytechnic institute, University of Washington, Ohio State University and many more.

These are schools that are easy to get into and have a high acceptance rate. You don’t need high SAT scores with these colleges. However, you need to be prepared in order to get an average SAT score.

You can start with PSAT though it is not a must. Preparing for your SAT test is what matters most. You also need study resources and a good study plan. Know how much time you need before taking your test so you can create an effective study plan.

Do not study only the week leading up to your test date because you will fail. Devote a few hours per week to study.


How Much Time Do You Need to Study for the SAT Overall?

How long you study for the SAT will depend on the college that you want to join or your target score. The more effort you put in your study, the more you will learn and improve.

a girl studying

Calculate how many hours you can study per week

  • First set an SAT goal score. Use this target score to calculate how long you will need to study.
  • Choose a test date. If you have 2 or 3 months until the test date, you will know how many hours you need to study.
  • You also need a practice test.  A full length SAT practice test has the same types of questions you will see on your test day. It will help you see what you can score plus show areas that you need improvement.

Use your practice test score to determine how many hours per week you need to set aside for studying. If your practice test score was 1340 and your target score is 1500, the difference between the two is 160 points.

You need to set like 80 study hours to improve your score.

  • You need to put 10 hours to improve by 30 points
  • You need 20 hours to improve by 30-70 points
  • You need 40 hours to improve by 70-130 points
  • You need 80 hours to improve by 130 to 200 points
  • You need 150 hours to get 200 to 300 points
Colin Ma

As the first hire of Study Prep Lounge I primarily help with growth strategy, but also assisted with managing our small team of writers and designers. Another aspect of work I've taken up is writing and I thoroughly enjoy it! I grew up in Arcadia, CA, and went to school at University of California, Santa Barbara before transferring to University of California, Irvine where I got my BS in Computer Science. I am currently working full time in software and am also fulfilling my prerequisites so I can apply to Medical School.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments