There are some great answers here but I wanted to add a few tips and tricks I personally found really helpful when studying for the SAT (I’m assuming the new one out of 1600)
Tip #1: Read smart stuff
I took the SAT twice, and the first time I took it, I bombed the reading section… I simply couldn’t understand some of the language that the passages used and lost interest in them.
The two months before I took the SAT (for the second time) I read at least one “smart” article every night. I would pick and choose these articles out of:
I read a very diverse selection of articles ranging from science to current day events to historical archives.
My English teacher once said that reading smart stuff would benefit a student in two ways. First, the student would get used to reading high-level articles and develop proficiency in comprehending various reading passages. Secondly, it could significantly boost a student’s vocabulary in a way intrinsic to learning. Whenever I was met with a word I didn’t know, I wrote it down, found the definition, and wrote the definition beside the word… eventually I compiled a list of about 200 definitions of high-level vocab (for SAT and future essay use)
Tip #2: Learn English grammar RULES
This one may seem really self-evident, but you’d be surprised at how many students don’t drill the grammar of the SAT and instead just do tip #1 … which in my opinion is ridiculous because the writing section is literally the easiest part / the part where you have the highest chance of getting perfect.
When I first took the SAT, I did not learn any grammar rules and instead based all my answers on my “instinct”: “hmmm, does this sound right? *reads the sentence out loud* yes, I think I’ll go with C.”
Don’t get me wrong, this is a pretty good strategy (especially if you’re a native English speaker), but there are definitely going to be a few questions where your “feel” isn’t going to be enough.
Tip #3: Tip #2 but with math
This section is going to be short because I personally didn’t struggle too much with math, but learning all the different question types and styles in the Math section (both calculator and no calculator) still helped boost my math score the second time around.
Like writing, you want to know every possible question type that may appear on the SAT math sections and know how to go about solving it.
Honestly, for math, I think that if you have your bases covered, you will do just fine.
Tip #4: Do as many practice tests as possible
These aren’t practice QUESTIONS mind you… I’m talking about real, full-length, timed tests that you do at exactly 8am Saturday and with the same amount of break time as the real deal. Khan Academy offers 8 of them (closest to real SAT I found), and you can find many more in Barron’s books, Ivy Global, Princeton Review, etc…. Should be enough to keep you company for a while.
Doing these tests will help you simulate what test day will feel like, and give you a good sense of what you are good at, and what you still need to improve when under time pressure.
I read this analogy somewhere else on Quora, but I don’t recall who it was that provided it (so I’m really sorry that I’m not crediting you whoever you are), but basically, if you were to practice for a big basketball game in a week, you wouldn’t READ about basketball, or take shots in the mini-hoop in your room… you would best improve by going out and having actual games with your friends. So get online (or on paper) and start drilling those practice tests!
Finally Tip #5: DON’T study the day/night before the test
This one will probably be met with the most objections: “Jeff, it’s the last minute, shouldn’t I be CRAMMING as much as possible???”, and I can’t lie, I have definitely done this on some of my school tests and even exams… but this is the SAT… probably the biggest test of your life… and I found that not studying the day before works to calm you down, let all your knowledge absorb, and sharpen your focus.
My advice for the day before the test is to review all the practice tests you did before (see how they come in handy now), and to do something that will make you tired before bed so you can sleep well. This being said, be sure not to do any new questions.
Another quick tip/side note is that when it comes to sleep… I find that almost always quality > quantity. I remember the night before the SAT I literally could not fall asleep out of nervousness, but I still stayed in bed sort of drifting in and out of sleep for an hour, until I got up and exercised for a couple minutes before returning to bed and reading over all my vocabulary notes two times.
In my opinion, my 10 minutes of hasty push-ups and squats (and another 10 minutes of trying to figure out if “quixotic” was an actual word) worked wonders as I almost immediately fell asleep when I turned off the lights. I know that if I had stayed in bed, I would have tossed and turned all night and wouldn’t have been able to focus in the morning.
Actual Last Tip: BE CONFIDENT
When test day comes, eat a good breakfast, get to the test center early, and be CONFIDENT.
You will have put in a lot of hard work that’s sure to pay off… and even if it doesn’t, don’t sweat it too much… it’s just a test ;)
Hope you enjoyed this answer, and good luck to all the Quorans reading this that are going to take the SAT!