Note: This post has been updated with a study schedule for the NEW SAT that launched in March 2016.
This is the crash-course study schedule. I don’t recommend it to those who are scoring in the 1000 range and suddenly want to jump up to the 1300 range. For that, you’ll need more prep time (check out our 3-month study schedule).
However, if you’ve already taken the SAT and are taking it again, this will be the perfect refresher course. Or, if you are already a 4.0 student who has always excelled at standardized tests but want a little bit of “tune up”, then you’ve come to the right place.
A Quick Note on the New SAT
You’ve probably heard: the SAT has changed. There are a lot of rumors still swirling around about the new test, so I thought I’d quickly set things straight before sending you to the study plan.
First off, the new test isn’t as much about learning strategies as it is drilling concepts. So, this one-week study guide is about doing many practice tests, and not so much about learning a “system” that you have to apply to the test.
That said, try to understand the fundamentals at play in a question. If you don’t understand these, you’ll need to review them (that’s where the Magoosh lessons come into play) The Magoosh blog is also very helpful from a content standpoint. Also, you’ll want to understand why you answered a question incorrectly. Don’t just zip through these practice tests.
Finally, there is no guessing penalty on the new test. So along with far fewer trap answers, this is another reason to breathe a sigh of relief.
What the test will come down to is the following: knowledge of fundamentals and how well you can remain focused and be near the top of your game for three plus hours. That’s why this study schedule will have you do many timed practice sections and a full-length practice test.
Materials and Resources
- Magoosh New SAT Prep
That’s us! Our New SAT Prep includes lessons and questions that you will work through, thereby increasing your SAT efficiency.
- Magoosh High School Blog
An invaluable (and free!) resource. If you want extra help on a section or general advice, you can search for posts relating to the New SAT (make sure you don’t click on posts relating to the old SAT!). This section of the blog is completely dedicated to the Redesigned (New) SAT.
- *The Official SAT Study Guide (2016 Edition)
This is the SAT bible that has questions created by the writers of the test (the College Board). You’ll have four full-length practice tests, which give you a sense of the actual difficulty and complexity of the test (it’s more difficult than the content found in the other books).
You won’t have to go through all four tests in one week (I’m not that evil!) but, almost everything you’ll need from a practice question standpoint point is found in this book. Find it on Amazon for under $20.
We also have Official SAT Study Guide video explanationsto the College Board questions. Check them out!
- Official SAT Practice by College Board + Khan Academy
This is a free resource offered in conjunction with the College Board, which is the company that designs the SAT. Perhaps the best part of the College Board/Khan Academy partnershipis that it brings us practice materials that are completely free. These free materials include the same practice tests offered in The Official SAT Study Guide. Really, the only new things you are paying for when you purchase the The Official SAT Study Guide are the explanations that come in the back of the book (which aren’t that great anyhow). So…
*Unless, you like working offline and/or just love the smell of books, you might want to stick to the free practice tests, and not purchase The Official Guide — which, again, contains the exact same tests found on the Khan Academy site.
About this study schedule
There are two things that I want you to do on daily basis that will end up making a significant difference on your score.
Important thing #1
Okay, bear with me one second while I make an analogy. A few years ago, I did this crazy obstacle course challenge that involved jumping into a tub filled with ice and wading 20-feet through bone-chilling water.
I hate cold water. Like really hate. I knew I had to somehow build up my tolerance. So, a week leading up to the race, first thing I did each morning was make my shower as cold as possible and stand under it for three minutes. The first two days I almost died. By the fifth day, though, it wasn’t really that bad. On race day, I remember exiting from the tub, thinking (“that was it?”)
So what’s the cold tub of water in this analogy? The reading passage. The first thing you will do every morning is read a full-length SAT passage and complete the questions that follow it. This will take exactly 15 minutes. The first day it will be hellish, but come test day, and the first thing you’ll have to do when you open your test booklet is a 65-minute reading section, it won’t be that bad (you might even think, “that was it”).
On the other hand, you can skip this part of the study schedule, but don’t blame me if your brain is still half asleep on Saturday morning and drifting off during the 18th century passage about competing systems of democracy.
Important thing #2
I’ll spare you an analogy here. Instead, I’ll come out and say it: Get a mental math app on your phone.
(If you are one of those very few armed without a smartphone, then use the Internet instead).
Whenever you have a down moment, start knocking out some mental math. Sure it will hurt at first (cue the cold shower metaphor), but in seven short days you can go from “my brain hurts from 17 + 9” to “bring it on 17 x 9”)
Of course, structure is great. So I’ll slip in a 15-minute mental prep for each day.
An all out sprint
You got to be pretty amped up to deal with this schedule. I’m not going to give you a couple of easy things for you to check off each day, telling you that’ll be enough to see a score increase in one measly week. So pedal to the metal, as they say.
You’ll be spending 2-3 hours on the weekend and about 90 minutes on the week days. I’ve set this up so that Day 1 corresponds to a Saturday, Day 2 a Sunday, and so on. Day 7 will be the day before the SAT (you’ll get a little bit of a study reprieve for that day).
If you can’t finish quite everything on a given day, don’t fret. Just do as much as you can. For the next day, always do just that days work. For example, if you don’t finish day 2’s work, on day 3 just do the work for that day. Don’t “carry over” one day into another.
This is the big day. Turn off all electronic gadgets and for the next three hours commit yourself to the SAT.
- You will do the first test in the Official Guide, pg. 334-388.
Give yourself the exact time for each section. If you finish early, you can move to the next section, but don’t go back. Test day you won’t be able to move on to the following section until the proctor has called time. This will give you time to rest if you finish early. Even if you finish early on this practice test, I suggest resting, but if you don’t finish with much time, avoid the temptation to rest. Remember, the ice cold shower? This will hurt the first time, but it will be invaluable preparation for the test you will take a week later.
After you are finishing do the following:
- Grade the test
- Figure out your score
- Review a few of the questions you missed trying to figure out why you got them wrong.
- Write down 2-3 things you’ll do differently for the next test.
- Write down a reasonable target score you hope to get on the real test. (Shooting for 50-100 points over, given the one-week constraint, seems pretty reasonable).
- “Wake-up Passage” pg. 119-126
- Watch three Magoosh lesson videos of your choice*
- Math section pg. 482-489
- Writing section 468-481
(Whenever you miss a question, go back and figure out, to the best of your ability, why you missed a question. Though you won’t always be able to do this, just by trying to work it out will help with your performance next time around).
*Based on practice test performance, choose an area or areas that you need the most work on. For instance, if you’re writing score was much lower than your reading score, you might want to focus on writing fundamentals.
- “Wake-up” reading passage, pg. 452
- Two more reading sections (pg. 455-463)
- Math section pg. 491-503
- Watch 2-3 Magoosh lessons of your choosing (it might be a good idea to find videos relating to any of the concepts or fundamentals you struggle with during the practice sets)
- Wake up” reading passage, pg. 466
- Writing section, pg. 578-584 (1-22)
- Math section pg. 595-601
- Watching 2-3 Magoosh lessons (in general, you can intersperse these videos anywhere in the day’s practice questions)
- “Wake up” reading passage
- Reading section, pg. 564-569
- Writing section, pg. 585-594
- Math section, pg. 602-617
- Watch 2-3 Magoosh lesson videos
- Mental math, 15 minutes
- “Wake up” reading passage, pg. 572-574
- Writing section, pg. 690-703
- Watch 2-3 Magoosh lessons
- Mental math 15 minutes
- “Wake up” reading passage, pg. 575-577
- Math section, pg. 704-711
- Mental math 15-minutes
- No studying!
- Eat a full breakfast before leaving home
- Read our SAT Test Day Checklist
- Remember to Pack:
- Several #2 pencils (NO MECHANICAL PENCILS &NO PENS)
- Your calculator
- A drink and a healthy-but-sugary snack
- NO PHONES ALLOWED
Good luck on your SAT! 🙂 Don’t forget to let us know how you do.