How Long Should You Study for the SAT Exam? Minimum …

Study for the SAT ExamTo get the most out of your preparation for the SAT, it is important for you to have an efficient study schedule. Before starting your preparation process, you are probably wondering, “How long should I study for the SAT?”. 

The length of your study time is determined by several factors. First, you need to know what your target score is, which is usually based on what the schools you are applying to requires. To be safe, aim for a higher score to have more options. 

From setting a target score, you will be able to estimate how much time you should spend studying for the SAT. The higher your target score is, the more work you have to put in.

Aside from your target score, the length of your study time also depends on how many days, weeks, or months you have before the SAT. If the test date is fast approaching, you probably would have to be more intensive in studying. Unless you just need a refresher.  

Other factors such as extracurricular commitments should also be considered in identifying how much time to allocate for studying. You might have enough or too little in between activities and studying. 

In this article, we will answer the question, “How many hours should I study for the SAT?”. Test Prep Genie will look closely at the factors that can affect your study schedule and the things that you can do to have a more effective preparation process. 

How long should you prepare for the SAT?

Let’s set it straight. The ideal number of hours you should spend studying for the SAT is 5-20 hours per week. However, this can change depending on your goals. 

When it comes to the length of the whole preparation process, it also varies from student to student, depending on their target scores and other commitments. For students who do not need much improvement in their scores, a month may be enough. For those that need a lot of improvement, 3 months or more may be required. 

What is your target score?

123Students’ target scores on the SAT are often based on which schools they are applying to (1). If you reach or surpass the average SAT score in a particular university or college, you will boost your chances of getting accepted. Thus, it is a great idea to base your target score on this.

How do you know what score you should target? Most colleges have the average SAT score of their students on their official websites.

The length of your preparation will then depend on this target score. How do you know where your starting point is or how much you need to improve? By taking an official SAT practice test (2). 

Try answering a full-length practice test. Time yourself according to the limit for each section of the SAT. Since most official practice tests include an answer key, you will know your score right away.

Now, let’s identify how much time you need to spend studying based on how many points you want to improve by.

Score improvement goal
Hours of study time
Approximate duration
0-50
10-15
Less than a month
50-150
20-40
1-2 months
150-250
60-80
3 months
250-350+
100-150
3-6 months

The numbers above are just estimates and can vary depending on your other commitments, study habits, and personal schedule. Each student has their study style and strategy, so this table might not be perfect for everyone. 

With these numbers, however, you will get an idea of how much time you need to spend to reach your target score.

0-50 score improvement

If you did relatively well on the previous SAT and you want to improve by less than 50 points, 10-15 hours of preparation may be enough.  Since you had a pretty good score on the practice test, there is really no need to have an in-depth and intense review of the concepts covered by the SAT. 

What you can do here is double down on the questions you answered incorrectly. Misunderstood a concept? Made a careless mistake? Try to find out where you got them wrong and study the concepts needed to correct them.

Another thing that you can do is to improve your time management. Maybe you missed some questions due to a lack of time. If that’s the case, you can practice answering questions more quickly. 

By the end of your preparation (approximately less than a month), answer a full-length practice test again. This way, you’ll know how much you have improved.

50-150 score improvement

If you want to improve by about 100 points, a month or two of studying is ample time to prepare. The ideal thing to do here is to review all questions on the practice test. You might also need to review the concepts behind each question. 

150-250 score improvement

To get a score improvement around this range, you are going to need one summer (3 months) to study. 

To have a 150-250 score improvement, it is essential for you to understand the concepts and fundamental skills. For this range of score improvement, we suggest taking a prep course. Self-paced courses are really helpful, but classes and tutoring will definitely boost your score. 

250-350+ score improvement

How long does it take to prepare for the SAT if you need to improve on many things? 250-350 points is a lot to work on. However, you have to understand that it is possible for you to improve by this much. By putting in work, practicing a lot, and having the right program, it is possible. 

If you scored below 1000, you might want to consider having a tutor for your preparation. You need to have an in-depth review of concepts on reading, grammar, and math. This is why a tutor or a coach will be helpful to you. Strategies and tricks will be helpful as well, but the concepts are essential.

To improve by 250-350+ points, you should spend more than 3 months studying. Prep courses will be super helpful to you. Some even have score improvement guarantees to ensure that you’ll increase your score on the SAT.

Develop a study schedule

MondayNow that you know how much time you would need to study for the SAT, you may be asking, “How long should I study for the SAT every day?” Developing a study schedule that is efficient and suitable for your day-to-day activities is key in boosting your SAT score. So, how many hours do you really need per day to study for the SAT?

Ideally, you should spend about 5 hours of studying per week. Whether you study for 1 hour every day during school days or you spend long hours on weekends, as long as you cover 5 hours per week, you’re good. 

This, of course, is the ideal number and can vary from student to student. There are several things to consider in setting your study schedule. 

When are you taking the SAT?

Another factor that will affect the number of hours you would have to spend studying is the test date. How far is the SAT test date? How many months do you have beforehand?

If you have ample time before the SAT, let’s say 6 months, you can have a preparation process that is not overwhelming. If the SAT is really near and fast approaching, you might have to spend more hours in a day to study. Again, it also depends on your target score and the amount of work needed to achieve it. 

The College Board has a lot of test dates (3) every year, so it’s not really necessary to take the SAT on the nearest date unless you’re trying to beat a deadline for submissions in a particular university.

What are the factors that will affect the length of your preparation?

Length of your preperationNot all students are the same. Some are into extracurricular activities, some have more free time than the others. Before setting your study schedule for the SAT, it is important for you to identify the factors affecting your preparation. What are the things that affect your study time?

Universities or colleges you are applying to

As mentioned, the schools you are applying to are major factors in identifying the required study time. The top colleges in the country have really high average SAT scores. If you want to be accepted into these schools, your SAT score should not be only above average, they should be really high. Thus, it requires more study hours and lots of practice.

Not every college requires very high SAT scores, however. Still, the colleges you are applying to should be considered in your preparation process.

Extracurricular activities

If you are involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, student government, band, and the like, you should consider which time of the day you are going to study. If you have training after classes, you’d maybe want to double down your SAT prep during the weekends. You can also spread the study hours during school days.

Scholarships

College can be a financial burden for some students and parents. This is why many colleges offer scholarships to students. Some scholarships require a specific SAT score. The higher your score is, the higher the chance will be for you to be offered or get a scholarship.

If you are looking to get a scholarship, getting a high score on the SAT will be advantageous for you. Spending more time studying for the SAT will help you boost your SAT score, giving you a competitive edge in getting scholarships from universities and colleges nationwide.

Tips on managing your study time

  • Create a study plan: It is important for you to have a schedule to follow.
  • Prioritize: Concentrate on the important topics or your weak spots first. 
  • Stick to your schedule: Discipline is key in studying for the SAT. Keep distractions away as much as possible.
  • Take breaks: Taking breaks between study sessions can improve your focus and attention.

Conclusion  

The number of hours you should spend studying for the SAT depends on several factors. What you should do to identify this is to answer an official practice test and determine how many points you want to improve on. The schools you are applying to should also be considered. From there, you will be able to know how much time you need to spend studying for the test.

We recommend you to set a study schedule that is suitable to your needs. A good SAT study plan will play a huge role to your goal score. Use the details in this article as a guide in setting a study schedule.

Aside from an efficient study schedule, focus and discipline are necessary for attaining your goals on the SAT. If you set a study schedule, try your best to stick to it. Commitment is key in improving your score on the SAT. Happy studying!

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