Taking the SAT and preparing for it can be a stressful time. No panic! Inspirus Education is here to help you out! With the pandemic situation affecting test centers, a few universities have made SATs optional in their admission process. However, this hasn’t deterred students from preparing for the exams, knowing very well that a good score in SAT will make them stand out from the competition as well as give them the best chance at a lucrative scholarship. Here’s a list of few do’s and don’ts to make your test preparation smoother. 


1. Start early

This pointer does not only apply to SAT but probably every other exam you ever take or have taken in your life. Starting early, no matter what the exam is, always helps. On one hand, while it gives you enough time to work on the areas you’re weak in, you also get to brush up on your areas of strength on the other.

2. Pick a test date that is suitable for you

For Class 12 students the best time to do the SATs is in May / June of your Class 12. Nevertheless, October and November dates are OK too, especially if you have decided that SATs are an important cog in the wheel for your admissions applications. 

If you are feeling the crunch and pressure of preparing, then seek expert help with a SAT crash course, such as Inspirus Education SAT Crash Course, available at: 


For Class 11 students, if you are the proactive kind, then preparing for SATs from the beginning of Class 11 and doing it in October / November / December is the most ideal. This kind of planning will give you ample time to prepare for Subjects Tests or APs and even help you concentrate on your Class 12 school work. 

3. Take full practice tests

While preparing for the SAT, it is extremely essential that you take full practice tests.
Here’s why.

Practice tests not only are the ideal way of taking a mock test for a full-fledged SAT examination, but they also prepare you for a lot of other things that you will have to face while taking the SAT. Time management, for example, is one such thing. It is extremely important that you take “timed” practice tests so that:

  • You know how your mind and bodywork in the span of three hours of continuous sitting and solving the paper.
  • You know if you can resist the temptation of sitting on one question if you are unable to solve it.
  • Which section you need to work on and which section you are most comfortable with.

4. Take a break

While it is understood that the SAT is quite a decision-maker for your dream of studying abroad, it does not mean that you put everything at stake for it. When we say that you should follow a time table and follow it to the hilt, nowhere do we mean that you need to sacrifice your social life, sleep, and peace of mind for it.You may have to compromise on a few things, like canceling movie outings, partying on Saturday nights or maybe even camping out with your group of friends, but you should always take some time out for yourself every day.

Devote a certain period of time to what you like to do. It can be taking a walk in the park, dancing or exercising to your favorite Zumba music, or maybe even playing with your pet.

5. Research and get an idea of SAT scores your colleges are looking for

Now, this is something you absolutely cannot miss out on. The day you decide that you want to study abroad, you have a college in mind – your dream university. If not a college, you definitely have a degree that you want to pursue from a foreign university. Every college has a certain SAT score that it accepts while admitting students. Generally, the mean section score is around 500, and the overall average score is around 1100.

However, you don’t really need to limit yourself to this score. While it is just fair that you target a certain score that your potential college expects, you should also keep other avenues open and try doing your best. Again, it is always good having at least five colleges on your list, that you think will be a good choice for your higher studies.

6. Preparation you must do the night before

Create a checklist of everything you need to bring to the test center, including arriving at least 30 minutes before scheduled arrival time. Things to keep in mind are:

  • Your printed admission ticket
  • Your Passport
  • An approved calculator 
  • No. 2 pencils and erasers
  • A water bottle and a snacks

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1. Don’t get worked up

Do not forget to breathe!

Yes, you read that right.

You might think that SAT is your last shot at getting admission into your dream university but that does not mean you spend the entire day (or the night) on your study table.

If you have started preparing for the exam six or three months prior to the date of the exam, the chances of getting worked up are bleak, because as human propensity would have it, you might tend to get anxious as the date of the exam approaches and might want to prepare more rigorously and in full swing. But if you have already started your preparations very late – which not appreciated – there are chances that you will burn quite some night oil in preparing for SAT, and end up getting really worked up!

Get up. Go out. Take a breather. Especially if it is the day or night before the SAT.

Ultimately, it is anyway not something you can cram for and prepare in one night.

2. Don’t get stuck on one question

If a find a question difficult, try it out, but leave some room to come back to that question. Every question in the SATs are scored equal amount of points, and hence be smart about finishing the easy ones first, and then come back to tackle the difficult ones. 

3. Don’t think you can skip the essay because it is optional

After the old version of the SAT overhauled in 2016, the SAT essay was made optional. This has created a major confusion in candidates as to whether they should attempt it or not. Some think that it is an added load to take on with everything that preparation for SAT already demands. However, you still might have to compulsorily take SAT if the college you’re aiming at demands so.

While the essay section scored separately there is value in completing it because – even if it is not required by your school – could slightly boost your application. There is also always the possibility that you may find yourself applying to other schools you have not yet considered, that may require the test. All other things being equal, it may be in your best interest to take the optional essay portion, even if you don’t think you’ll need it or if you know your school won’t require it.

4. Don’t assume that it is expensive

Taking private tuitions for SAT, if you are considering that, can definitely be a costly affair; because of course, it is tutoring. Plenty of study material is available online, like practice tests and every advice or information you need on SAT, so you can rely on this option if you’re sure about your dedication, and don’t feel the need of a second person to sit, teach and set schedules for you. College Board has some mock tests and free material that you can study from. 

A better option you have is of SAT coaching classes, like Inspirus Education SAT Coaching Classes or SAT Crash Course, which charge – if not a minimal, at least a reasonable amount. It is, however, worth it, given the quality of preparation material they provide, the time they dedicate and the way they teach, discuss strategies and analyse your mock tests.

5. Don’t try to analyze to find patterns in the test

Don’t look for pattern in the test. The questions papers are created with no set pattern and the numbering is random. It is possible to have four “B” answers in a row, but that does not mean that fifth will also be a “B”. 

6. Don’t compare yourself with others

The SAT looks to analyze your aptitude, which is your individual aptitude in Math and English. While it is a great idea to do group study, share common problems and discuss best practices; please remember that it is you, who as an individual, is giving the test. Work to improve your weaknesses and maintain your strengths, create your individual goals to achieve. Take help from a counselor or SAT tutor to guide you.