One night, at a parent-teacher conference, another mother was asking me questions about the SAT as we waited our turn in the guidance office (she’d heard about the project from her son). But just as I was about to respond, the door opened and she was called in.

As she headed into the teacher’s office, she turned back and asked:

What’s the one thing I need to know?”

Having just finished my seventh SAT, here’s the first thing that came to mind:

The SAT is every bit as much about performance on test day as it is about the knowledge being tested.  Experienced tutors advise taking ten full practice tests before ever sitting down for the real SAT — some have their students take fifteen (or more) full tests-before ever taking an official test.

The College Board offers 21 practice SATs and plenty of extra practice problems, between the Blue Book and the online course.

A year+ after answering that question, I would add this:

  • Taking full, timed practice SATs using College Board material (only) is an essential ingredient for success on the SAT.
  • Mimic the actual test conditions as closely as possible, including the five-minute breaks and bubble sheets.
  • It’s critical to review all mistakes until you understand them so well that you are able to explain them to someone else.
  • Keep track of how many questions you got wrong, guessed at, and categorize them (e.g. three triangle problems wrong; four verb agreement mistakes, etc.). 



I’ve written a book about the SAT journey I took with my son called The Perfect Score Project. You can read more about the book HERE, see what people are saying HERE, or pre-order a copy HERE. The book will be published next February.

 Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis