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My Fast SAT Prep Guide: How I went 2080 -> 2340 In 10 Days

aussietechieaussietechie Registered User Posts: 156 Junior Member
edited December 2013 in SAT Preparation
After great feedback from many early readers, the highly requested guide is here!

This guide attempts to cover pretty much everything involving the SAT I. Much if it is links to resources, in a nicely organized format.

Why am I doing this? Because I found it annoying enough to have to study for the SAT, let alone search out the right stuff! Hopefully this will help you achieve the dream score you have been aiming for.

My scores (12 days apart!)

Step 1 - Which Books and Materials to Buy
Step 2 - Taking the CollegeBoard Official Practice Test Online
Step 3 - Resources for the SAT Math Section
Step 4 - Resources for the SAT Writing Section
Step 5 - Resources for the SAT CR (Critical Reading) Section
Step 6 - Tips for 800s on the SAT Math, Writing and CR
Step 7 - How to Use The Blue Book Effectively
Step 8 - How to Write a 12 Essay
Step 9 - Tips for the Night Before & Test Day
My SAT Study Schedule

The Best SAT Prep Books

Other things you need to buy (exceptions noted in brackets)

Note: add overnight shipping if the test is in less than 2 weeks.

Which version of the blue book should I get?

The second one, without question. It contains 3 actually administered tests, and you get free access to solutions for all the tests online.
Post edited by aussietechie on

Replies to: My Fast SAT Prep Guide: How I went 2080 -> 2340 In 10 Days

  • aussietechieaussietechie Registered User Posts: 156 Junior Member
    Step 2 - Take a practice test while waiting for your books/materials to be shipped
    Don't bother going over your wrong answers on this one.

    My scores:
    650 Reading
    - 85% Passage reading
    - 74% Sentence completion

    740 Writing (70/12 - note: no way the essay was a 12, 9 at best)
    - 78% identifying sentence errors
    - 100% improving paragraphs
    - 100% improving sentences

    690 Math
    - 90% algebra and functions
    - 83% Data analysis, stats, probability
    - 80% geometry and measurement
    - 100% number and operations

    Using the Best Books for the SAT I Math section - Step 3
    Simple instructions for this one.

    Once you have the Gruber's SAT Math Workbook(grab Gruber's SAT Guide if no math workbooks in stock - it has the same math section within it), go to the page that says 'How to Use This Book Most Effectively', and follow that.

    Make sure you follow their instructions and review your mistakes and any questions you are unsure about. I like redoing the questions I got wrong after to make sure I now get them right.

    Finish it in a day.

    Using the Best Books for the SAT I Writing MC section - Step 4
    In Barron's 2400, read the grammar section (page 125-187).

    Once you have done that, read the Sparknotes Grammar Guide.

    Optional (stuff I tried but didn't stick with - if you have more time, definitely give these a shot)

    Using the Best Books for the SAT I Critical Reading section - Step 5

    Read Direct Hits 1 & Direct Hits 2 for around 30 minutes each day. Read the words and paragraphs, then do the section tests. Then start testing with the big lists at the end of the book. Circle those you get wrong.

    The day before the SAT, I created flashcards of those I still didn't know, and tested with them.

    Each day at dinner I got my parents to test me with around 50 words from the back of the book to check I knew roughly (exact memorization is not necessary!) what they meant.

    Read Noitaraperp's guide on the CR section

    Optional (stuff I tried but didn't stick with)
    • Silverturtle's CR section
    • Google search: Mystery Tutor Critical reading (not sure If I am allowed to link this)
    • Google search: Mystery Tutor Sentence Completions (not sure If I am allowed to link this)
    • Sparknotes: SAT: Meet the Reading Section
  • aussietechieaussietechie Registered User Posts: 156 Junior Member
    Tips for 2400: How to get the highest score on each section - Step 6

    Don't forget to add your own as you practice.
    • All sections
      • Always guess. Some say don't - I say do. Do what you will.
      • Process of elimination - cross off the incorrect answers.
    • Mindset (need to apply this in practice sections and on the day)
      • Remember that the answer is in front of you, you just need to find it.
      • Act positive: avoid worrying about a hard question.
    • Math
      • Concentrate hard. Be very serious!
      • Read the problem, solve it, check your solution is an answer choice, reread the last part of the question to check what the asking for, and if still sure, pick that answer
      • Checking answers
        • Plug in your answer and test it out
      • Remember: if dividing by x, x cannot be zero
      • Don't grid 0 in a decimal number (grid .667, not 0.67)
      • Never grid mixed numbers
      • When you do questions, make notes on your common errors.
        • eg for me: Careful with ratios.... If 2:3 females:males, to find the total number use total/5*2=F, not 2f/3=total
    • Writing MC
      • If you scored decently on your practice test, then DON'T overanalyze and pick errors out of nothing! On my first practice test, I did well on the writing MC. After reading prep material for writing, my scores started going down and the majority of the incorrect answers were where I had selected an error, but the answer was 'no error'!
      • Read the sentences in your head
      • Go with what sounds best when you read it (only works if you speak/write well - otherwise, more grammar prep may be needed)
    • CR
      • Skim the questions for line references, and then indicate these on the passage.
      • As you read through, skim, but when you near a star/line, slow down, then once you have read it answer that question.
      • Act like you are super interested when reading the passages!
      • When you are about 1/2 way through the big passages, read the general questions (no line references). Try and narrow the answers down to 2 so you can then think about this as you finish reading the paragraph
      • If asked for the authors tone, avoid choices that indicate extreme tone.

    Practicing by using the SAT Blue Book Effectively - Step 7
    The SAT Blue Book is a godsend, provided that you use it effectively. Here's how to make the most of it.

    Do each section in 70% of the time. (if you can't make that, just go through once as fast as you can, no double checking)
    • 25->18, 20->14, 10->7 minutes (I was doing this and only going slightly over in practice tests - but on the test day, math was the only section I had more than a minute to go back and check over in)

    Do the non-administered tests first (so skip the first 3 blue book tests), so that you can take the real tests closer to test day

    You MUST do this: put a cross through all the question numbers you are sure of

    For questions you are very unsure of: put question marks (eg ??? might indicate no idea)

    Check your answers
    • Note which ones were wrong
    • Go back and try and work out the correct answer
    • Look at the online solutions for all questions that were either: wrong, or had a cross through them (if you took the same test again, you should score a 2400)
      • Work out what to do to avoid errors of a similar type. Was your error due to: lack of knowledge, incorrect understanding of the question, or a stupid mistake? Lack of knowledge: look it up. Incorrect understanding: make sure you now understand what it is asking. Stupid mistake: reread the question before answering it. Underline key words.
    • Solutions

    The level approach: if on a particular section you tend to only get the level 4/5 (hard) questions wrong, then only do those questions! By doing this, I was doing math practice sections in less than 5 minutes.

    How to Write a 12 Essay on the SAT - Step 8
    I only scored a 10 on the essay (though 790 overall on writing), so I am trying to link to other people's resources rather than give you my own.

    Use this! How to write a 12 essay in 10 days (check the accompanying videos). With this, I didn't bother creating my own transitional phrases - I just used the examples ones.
    • Write very neatly, but write super fast
    • Write 2 full pages
    • Try and include some advanced vocab (not necessary for a 12, but can help)
    • Be super focused on the prompt - don't wander
    • Choosing examples: pick ~10 you know from this list of 100 sat essay evidence examples (check out this and this if you want more examples)
      • The examples I studied were: Steve Jobs/Apple, Larry Page/Sergey Brin/Google, Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook, Peter Thiel, Dan Pink: What Motivates Us, the Global Financial Crisis, The Truman Show, Night, On the Waterfront, Lord of the Flies, Dan Gilbert: Stumbling on Happiness, Macbeth, and Fight Club
      • The ones I used on the day were: Google, Facebook, and On the Waterfront
      • I scored a 10. If I could redo it, I would have used 2 examples and fleshed them out more.
    • Once you have read the 12 essay/10 days guide and done a bit of research on your examples (I did about 30 minutes each on 4 of them, and about 15 minutes on the others):
    • If you have time, write a few practice essays. The only essays I wrote were 1 for the CB online practice test, and 1 the night before.

    Wondering what to look for when researching examples?
    My notes taken are here. (too long to post here!)
  • aussietechieaussietechie Registered User Posts: 156 Junior Member
    Thanks guys. This was posted before but disappeared, still not 100% sure why. Received many PMs asking for it to be sent to them, so I have posted it back up :) Don't forget to post to let the mods know to not delete it this time!
  • DreamChaser2013DreamChaser2013 Registered User Posts: 190 Junior Member
    I've been going crazy searching for this thread! Thank you so much Aussietechie :)
  • bfnk786bfnk786 Registered User Posts: 31 New Member
    Thanks for the marvelous guide!!! I just had one question? Should I get the blue book right now or get the blue book closer to January when I take it. Or should I just the Barron's I got from the library?
  • nothingtonothingto Registered User Posts: 1,347 Senior Member
    Still haven't read, but I will put this thread on my list to read soon.

  • FreedomEagleFreedomEagle Registered User Posts: 458 Member
    Thank you very very VERY much for your wonderful thread , It is very usefull .
    I don't know how to thank you enough for this .
  • jiieunjiieun Registered User Posts: 73 Junior Member
    Thank you very much for posting this! This thread definately provided the motivation that I needed to start on my summer SAT studies! : )
  • ncamylncamyl Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Thank you for posting this guide. Some of the books suggested seemed a little out of date. For example the latest edition of the blue book that I could find on Amazon was a 2009 version. Do you think that will matter?
  • BurtonElitistBurtonElitist Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    Ncamyl I just bought the second edition BB yesterday on amazon so it's there.
  • ZombieDanteZombieDante Registered User Posts: 3,895 Senior Member
    Is this a serious guide?! It seems kinda like a joke to me...
  • bfnk786bfnk786 Registered User Posts: 31 New Member
    I just had one question? Should I get the blue book right now or get the blue book closer to January when I take it. Or should I just the Barron's I got from the library?
  • creamaniacreamania Registered User Posts: 400 Member
    thanks a lot
  • iiBoGoiiBoGo Registered User Posts: 183 Junior Member
    Why do you recommend having a Ti-NSPIRE even if you already have a TI-89. Does it help that much more?
This discussion has been closed.