5 Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing for the SAT

To get into your dream college or university and qualify for a scholarship, you need to have a high SAT score. And to get an impressive score that reflects everything you have learned so far, you have to put in a lot of effort to sufficiently prepare for this test.

Aside from signing up for one of the most highly recommended SAT prep classes in your area, knowing the common test prep mistakes you have to avoid will give you higher chances of getting an excellent overall score.

If you are preparing for the SAT, here are the five prep mistakes you have to avoid making:

  1. Not spending enough time studying for the SAT

When you don’t review for the SAT sufficiently, you won’t have enough time to cover all the possible items that will be included in the test.

And because you know you haven’t reviewed enough, you will feel nervous throughout the exam. This can then cause you to get your information mixed up and forget certain concepts and the right steps and formulas for making computations.

To be thoroughly prepared for the SAT, start studying at least two months prior to your test date. Make sure you study for 12 hours per week. By doing so, you will be fully familiar with the exam which can lead to your improvement in subject areas you find challenging.

Aside from reviewing the right materials, make sure you improve your skill of using the process of elimination to arrive at the correct answer. Practice budgeting your test time effectively as well.

  1. Focusing only on your strengths

If you have always been good in reading, writing, and language, you may be tempted to focus only on these subjects and rely on the scores you get in these areas to get a high average. Although you can get high scores in subjects where you are performing well, this strategy won’t help you in other subjects like math or science.

As such, it is important to remember that the SAT is a well-rounded exam that requires the use of both left-brain and right-brain abilities. To perform well on the test, you should be knowledgeable about a wide range of fields and proficient in various skills.

  1. Taking practice tests without reviewing your wrong answers

After taking a mock test, don’t be content to simply see the scores you got for each area. Take the time to go over the online or paper test you completed. Review the questions you answered incorrectly and understand why the SAT answer is correct.

By doing this, you will lower your chances of making the same mistakes in the actual SAT. It is also a great mental challenge and exercise to understand where you went wrong.

Don’t be afraid about knowing and owning up to your mistakes. This mindset will help you get high scores in the actual test. It is also a skill that can mold you to be a great leader in the future.

  1. Planning to retake the SAT in the hopes of achieving a higher score

There are many students who do not prepare enough for their SAT since they plan on retaking it. This is because they are confident they will get a higher score when they take the test the second time around.

However, this is not a recommended strategy.

Retaking the test means paying for another exam fee – money that could go to your tuition fees instead. In addition, you will need to review again. This will prevent you from focusing on other important college preparation activities such as working on your essays, preparing for the admissions interview, etc.

The best thing to do, therefore, is to prepare well for your first exam. Work with your tutor to ensure you get the score you are targeting. Create a plan with your tutor and follow this plan to increase your chance of success.

  1. Not relaxing on the day before the test

Lastly, in a performance situation such as a three-hour test, you need to be calm and alert. You can do this by taking your mind off the exam the day before the SAT.  

This means doing something that will help you relax and distract yourself from anxiety. You can do this by watching a movie, eating your favorite foods, reading a book, or going out. However, don’t eat any sugary foods and play video games since these indulgences will make you feel over-stimulated and lethargic during the actual test.

Lastly, go to bed at your normal time, or earlier. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep will help you do well on your test the following day.  

The SAT plays an important role in determining where or not you will attend college. As such, make sure you do everything you can to get a score that will impress college admissions officers and give you a chance of earning a scholarship.


Maloy Burman is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Premier Genie FZ LLC. He is responsible for driving Premier Genie into a leadership position in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education space in Asia, Middle East and Africa and building a solid brand value. Premier Genie is currently running 5 centers in Dubai and 5 centers in India with a goal to multiply that over the next 5 years.