The Surefire BUDGET SAT Test Prep Plan:

  1. At the start of 11th grade, 10 month calendar. Mark on the calendar every single SAT that takes place over the course of these 10 months — from fall of junior year, through fall of senior year. The official SAT test dates are posted on the College Board’s website.
  2. Mark down your school vacations, midterms, finals, AP exams, etc. onto this calendar so you can see which SAT dates fit best with your schedule.
  3. Buy The Official SAT Study Guide (aka “The Blue Book”).  It’s about $20.00 (less on Amazon) and includes 10 official practice SATs as well as solutions to every question.
  4. Get yourself a Ti-84 Graphing Calculator if you don’t already have one for school.  The price is $135 — but, you can find them for much less on discount sites.
  5. Check out the New SAT Practice page for practice questions, a free test prep app, and more!
  6. Block off a 5 hour chunk of time, every other weekend.  Put it down on your calendar well in advance. That’s booked solid time for you.  You’re not available then … because this is when you will be taking your full, timed, practice SATs. Use a timer, take your 5 minute breaks, and make every effort to mimic an authentic SAT experience (e.g. use the bubble sheets, an experimental section, etc.). The SAT is as much about endurance, stamina, focus, and performance — as it is about knowing the core material (cold).
  7. Correct your SAT, and spend the next two weeks hunting down the soutions to every-single-question you got wrong and go to the back of your Blue Book for solutions.
  8. It’s unlikely that you will do this, but I’m going to say it anyway: Look up every-single-word-you-don’t-know on each SATeven if you got the question right. (I know I know … everyone balks about that.)  Keep a list of the words on Wordnik, make flash cards, test yourself, have others test you — and in short, make abundant use of these words in conversation (expect looks of shock and awe), and weave them into your school papers…often.

Fringe benefit: you will get better grades while studying for the SAT.

One important point: This plan requires the student to be motivated and methodical, which can be a challenge for some of us.

If you think “methodical” and “disciplined” may be a problem for you, try calling the best test prep company and/or tutor in your area and ask if they offer scholarships or have a sliding scale.

The SAT Yellow Brick Road

You can now sign up for a FREE series of tailored emails that will lead you step-by-step through the entire SAT process:

1) Parent Series

2) Student Series

Each series includes links to SAT resources and articles that I highly recommend.