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Like millions of other students across the country, you’ve recently taken the SAT. You prepped well, arrived for the test feeling good, and now you anxiously await the arrival of your score report. While we all hope that our SAT score will exceed our expectations, this is the reality for only a small percent of test takers.

 

If your SAT score wasn’t exactly as you’d hoped, you’re not alone. This may not be surprising, as most students actually end up taking the SAT more than once. Retaking the SAT can be a smart idea, especially if you’ve only taken the test once already. To learn more about retaking the SAT, don’t miss this post.

 

 

The Greatest Score Gains Take Place Between Your First and Second SAT

Many students go into the SAT feeling nervous. After all, no number of practice tests can fully prepare you for the actual test day. A number of factors, including test anxiety, lack of familiarity with the test, and outside distractions can negatively impact your score, particularly during your first SAT.

 

If you’ve only taken the test once, there’s good news for you. The greatest score gains on the SAT usually happen between the first and second test administrations. A College Board study confirms this, noting that the students who scored lower on their first sitting had the greatest score gains. So if you feel you underperformed significantly on your first SAT, you have plenty of room for improvement.

 

 

Use These Three Simple Keys to Conquer Underperformance on the SAT

Many ambitious test-takers feel like they could have done better on the SAT. To determine if you truly underperformed, compare your test score to the scores you typically achieved on your practice tests. If your score is 100 points or lower than your average practice test score, you underperformed on the SAT.

 

While this can seem discouraging, these types of scoring discrepancies are often easily solved. Typically, underperformance can be linked to test anxiety or a testing error, such as reading directions wrong or filling in your answer sheet incorrectly. These are simple errors to fix. To review the format and instructions associated with the SAT, see A Guide to the New SAT.

Want to increase your SAT score?

Our students see an average increase of 250 points on their SAT scores.

Start by reviewing the test directions. Make sure that you know the instructions for each section of the test so that you will not have to read them in their entirety on test day. The test directions are identical to those given on the practice test, so familiarizing yourself with them is easy.

 

Next, employ a strategy to ensure that you fill out your answer sheet correctly. Double check each question number and its corresponding answer on your answer sheet. Make this a habit during practice tests so that it is second nature by test day. Also make a habit of checking at the end of each section that you don’t have any blank answer lines, nor have you any extra questions when you’re done filling in each line of your answer sheet. Filling in your answer sheet correctly is integral to optimizing your scoring performance.

 

Finally, boost your performance and bolster your score by conquering test anxiety before you retake the test. Employing common relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualization can help you to calm nerves and tune out distractions. To learn more about them and other keys to test anxiety, see our post Dealing with Test Anxiety.

 

 

Maximize Your Performance By Maximizing Your Preparations   

You may have heard the common alliteration, “Prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance.” In the case of the SAT, there is no excuse for not optimizing your test prep. First, test schedules are published literally years in advance, so you should know your test date well beforehand. Second, test prep tools are numerous, free, and varied for all learning types. Here, we’ll outline some of our favorites.

 

Make the most of your prep by becoming closely familiar with the College Board website.  Here, you’ll find all the information you need to know about test dates, test directions and guidelines, and common test strategies. You’ll even find a number of practice questions and full length practice tests to get you going.

 

Also make a point to optimize the numerous independent free study tools available online. CollegeVine offers free information and advice through our popular blog, including the following articles devoted to SAT prep:

 

Tips to Prepare Yourself for Your SAT Test Day

How to Pace Yourself on Every Section of the SAT

Five SAT Strategies You Should Know

10 Tips to Prepare for the SAT

 

For those of you who are more visually inclined, check out the free video tutorials provided by Khan Academy. This official partner of the College Board provides top tips about everything from test content to common strategies, all in simple video lessons.

 

Finally, consider enlisting the help of a professional tutor. Many students assume that the services of a tutor are outside of their budget, but consider the possible benefits in context before discounting the cost of a tutor. For example, at CollegeVine, we price our tutoring competitively and offer all services online so that your tutor is available anywhere that you have an Internet connection. Our customized SAT Tutoring Program boasts the brightest and most qualified tutors in the industry and guides students to an average score increase of 250 points.

 

If you’re considering retaking the SAT, these CollegeVine posts might also be of interest:

 

Should You Retake the SAT?

Ultimate Guide to the New SAT Math Test

Ultimate Guide to the New SAT Writing and Language Test

Ultimate Guide to the New SAT Essay

Ultimate Guide to the New SAT Reading Test

The Pros and Cons of an SAT Study Group

What Is a Good SAT Score in 2018?

The CollegeVine Guide to SAT Scores: All Your Questions Answered

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Kate Sundquist

Kate Sundquist

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.
Kate Sundquist