Although it’s indispensable for SAT prep, The Official SAT Study Guide from the College Board isn’t complete on its own… it really needs to be supplemented with more in depth lessons and explanations of questions. You can get that from us at Magoosh (or elsewhere), along with a healthy dose of more personalized practice, which every SAT prep book lacks. Books just can’t adapt to what you need as well as practice on a computer, sadly.
But if you do supplement it, The Official SAT Study Guide (we usually call it the “blue book”) is one of the best books for one incontrovertible reason: it has ten practice tests in it. And they’re real. No prep company makes questions that are absolutely 100% the same as what the College Board puts out. We try, and we come remarkably close, but nothing beats the real deal.
Ten tests, though? Who wants to sit down to take the SAT ten times? I mean, really. That’s absurd, right?
Take 3 to 5 mock exams daily (not really)
You’ll want to sit down and time yourself according to the SAT format at least three times before the day of your test. You can really get over the average SAT score hump just by getting used to the taking it. What’s more pick, out your “SAT calculator” and stick with it. I recommend using a solid five of those practice tests from the blue book as full length tests. Don’t do them all in one week; instead, spread them out over a couple of months. And save two of them for the last weeks before the test, when you won’t have enough time to build new skills.
Use five tests for section practice
Doing SAT practice for 30 minutes or an hour several times a week can make a big difference in your score. If you do one 25-minute section or a 20-minute and a 10-minute section from the book four times per week, you’ll go through about 5 of those official tests in two months. That’ll really get you used to seeing all of the SAT question types. Pair that with the five to use for full-length practice, and you’re golden. Again, you’d want to supplement that practice with some more focused lessons. You’ll grow a lot more if you sit down with explanations—not just questions—and concentrate on those subjects that you’re weakest in, rather than taking the mash-up that is a real SAT section.
Also, as you use those individual sections, keep track of the clock. When time’s up, stop. It’s good for getting used to the pressure, and it keeps you from spending hours laboring over problems which you won’t even get explanations for.
Do as many of the official SATs as possible
Really, doing them all is the best way to go. But remember to study, as well… don’t only take practice tests. It will definitely get you used to the SAT format, but it won’t get you the scores you want. Check out the One Month SAT Study Schedule for more focused practice. And if you’re really overly concerned about getting enough practice, try your hand at an ACT practice test. In comparing the ACT vs SAT, there are certainly disparities, but also plenty of similarities. You may find, using our nifty ACT-SAT score conversion chart that you’re more suited for the ACT.
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About Lucas Fink
Lucas is the teacher behind Magoosh TOEFL. He’s been teaching TOEFL preparation and more general English since 2009, and the SAT since 2008. Between his time at Bard College and teaching abroad, he has studied Japanese, Czech, and Korean. None of them come in handy, nowadays.
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