Proven SAT Study Plans [1, 2, 3, and 6-Month Schedules]

Proven SAT Study PlansOne of the most important aspects of preparing for the SAT is personalization. Sometimes, how your peers are preparing for the test just isn’t suitable for your style, schedule, and goals. For excellent performance on the SAT, you must have an SAT prep plan that is customized for your needs, skill and knowledge levels, and timeframe. 

What are the things that you should consider to create an SAT study schedule that matches your goals? 

Well, there are several things that will impact your SAT study plan. The biggest factor, however, is your target score. 

Are you looking to improve by just a little, say 30 points? Or do you aim to increase your score by a couple of hundred points? Your goal score will play a huge role in how a personalized SAT study plan is made. 

Here is a five-step process that you can follow to prepare a study plan just for you:

5 Steps in Preparing Your Study Plan

1. Identify your goal score

As already mentioned, your target score is one of the major factors to consider in creating an SAT study schedule. You would want an SAT score that is equal to or greater than the average score that your dream school deems acceptable. 

How would you know the average SAT score of your preferred college or university? Basically, you have to know the 50th percentile of the scores in that specific college. 

How do you interpret percentiles? A 25th percentile score would mean that you scored higher than 25% of the students. On the other hand, a 75th percentile score would mean that you outscored 75% of the students. 

Check out the chart below to know the 25th-75th percentile range in different universities. Take note of how the percentile ranges are segregated according to the sections of the SAT. This way, you will be able to set a target score in the ERW and Math sections of the admissions test. 

Abilene Christian UniversityOnce you check the average SAT score on the college of your choice, you will be able to create an effective plan to take down the challenges of studying for the admissions exam. 

2. Take a practice test to determine the baseline score

Now you know what your target score is, it’s time to find out what your baseline score should be. Doing so will give you an idea of how much you need to improve to get the average score you checked on step 1. 

It is best to use the College Board’s official full-length practice tests (1) to identify your baseline score. Although the questions in the practice tests are not exactly the same as the ones on the actual SAT, they measure the same set of skills and abilities that the real SAT does. 

In taking an official SAT practice test, go to a quiet room and time yourself with the official time allotment per section (2) set by the College Board on the SAT. After taking the practice test, you will be able to know your score, since most practice tests come with answer keys. Your score on the full-length practice test will be your baseline score. 

Say you got 21 for the ACT Comp section, which puts you in the 25th-75th percentile for the Abilene Christian University (see the chart above). Unfortunately, you want to study at Appalachian State University. From your baseline score of 21, you’ll know if you need a 30 day SAT study plan or an SAT study plan for 3 months, depending on your skill level. 

Decide on a schedule suitable for your desired score improvement

You know your target score, and now you know your baseline score. What’s next? The next thing to do is to know how long should you study for the SAT exam to attain the score improvement that you need. 

To do this, download this spreadsheet (3) and input the 25th and 75th percentile range that you got from step 1. 

If you don’t want to use the spreadsheet, use the table below as a guide to determine how long you should study for the SAT. Remember that these numbers are just estimates, and are best used as a guide.

Score improvement goal
Hours of study time
0-50
10-15
50-150
20-40
150-250
60-80
250-350+
100-150

How should you incorporate the number of study hours to your SAT prep schedule? Sure, there are a lot of hours in a day, but spending all of them straight to study for the SAT will overwhelm you. Your brain also needs to take a break, so it is highly recommended that you spread the hours throughout the week. 

Choose a test date

The next step after identifying the number of study hours you need is to pick an SAT test date. How many months before the SAT test date should you allow? 

Below is another guide to determine how many months you should spend studying for the SAT, depending on your desired score improvement.

Score improvement goal
Approximate prep duration
0-50
Less than a month
50-150
1-2 months
150-250
3 months
250-350+
3-6 months

On the other hand, note that your last minute preparation is also important if you want to ace the SAT.  Consider these 17 proven test day tips to help you ace the SAT exam.

Once you identify how many months before the test you should allocate for preparation, you will be able to choose from the SAT test dates (4) scheduled by the College Board. 

In picking one, you should also consider the college application deadlines (5) set by the college you are applying to. You should put an allowance between the SAT release date and the college application deadline. 

Get your SAT prep resources

The final step in creating your SAT study plan is getting the resources you will need for the preparation. You will need prep books, full-length practice tests, and, if you want a more intensive and thorough prep, an SAT prep course. 

Some of the recommended SAT prep books

SAT Prep Black Book
SAT PREP

Official SAT Study Guide 
The Official SAT

Recommended SAT prep courses

If you want a preparation that is structured, effective, and in-depth, enrolling in an SAT prep course is a great idea. There are a bunch of online SAT prep courses offered online that provide different programs. It is important for you to find one that is not just suitable for your style and goals but is also proven to have helped a lot of students to achieve their SAT goals.

Recommended SAT prep courses

Kaplan In-Person SAT Prep Course (6)

Kaplan In-PersonKaplan is one of the household names in the SAT prep course scene. It provides live lectures, practice questions and quizzes, instructional videos and even one-on-one tutoring to help you boost your SAT score. 

This prep course is famous for its quality and wide experience in helping its students perform well on the SAT. If you happen to live near any Kaplan in-person class session venues, that’s great! In-person classes by Kaplan are conducted usually 2 times a week.

The Princeton Review SAT Ultimate Live Online (7)

Princeton ReviewIf you want to have your SAT prep course in the comfort of your own home, The Princeton Review’s online course should be one of your options. Like Kaplan, it is one of the most well-known SAT prep courses online. It has a great reputation, and has helped thousands of students attain their goals. 

This prep course provides online instructional materials, books, and full-length practice tests that will help you bring your A-game on the actual admissions test. The best thing about this course is that they have a purely-online option, so you won’t have to experience the hassle of going to a prep center. 

Free full-length practice tests

One essential part of preparing for the SAT is answering full-length practice tests. They will not only measure your skills and progress, but they will also give you the feel of answering the real SAT. The College Board offers free official practice tests.

SAT Study schedules

If you reached this part of the article, you probably have a good grasp of what your SAT study schedule looks like. At this point, let’s look closely at your SAT prep plan and break down how you are going to spend your time depending on your goals.

1-month study schedule

You will need:

  1. Official SAT Study Guide
  2. SAT practice tests
  3. Kaplan SAT Prep Plus

If you’re looking to increase your score by around 50 points, you will need a one month SAT study schedule. View this in-depth and structured study plan by Kaplan (8) to figure out how to study for the SAT in a month. Kaplan will provide you a step-by-step process and strategies on achieving your desired score improvement through a 30-day SAT study plan

2-month study schedule

You will need:

  1. Official SAT Study Guide
  2. SAT practice tests
  3. Barron’s Strategies & Practice

Aiming for a 100-150 point score improvement? An SAT Study schedule 2 months long is ideal for you. Magoosh created a structured plan on how to prepare for the SAT in 2 months (9). 

In this study plan, different topics on Math and verbal skills are broken down each week. For this SAT study plan, the best book to use is Barron’s Strategies & Practice. 

3-month study schedule

You will need:

  1. Official SAT Study Guide
  2. SAT practice tests
  3. Barron’s Strategies & Practice

If you need to improve your score by about 200 points, you’re going to need more time to prepare. A study plan for 3 months should suffice. 

The 3-month study plan by Magoosh (10) shows you the full step-by-step process. It is almost identical to the 2-month study plan, except that you will take 5 practice tests instead of 4. 

6-month study schedule 

You will need: 

  1. Official SAT Study Guide
  2. SAT practice tests
  3. Barron’s Strategies & Practice

A score improvement of 250+ points will require more extensive preparation. So, at least 6 months will be needed for studying. 

Magoosh created this SAT study plan for 6 months (11) that you can follow for more efficient preparation. This SAT study schedule is broken down into 24 1-week SAT study plans. This plan includes Math and verbal review sessions and practice test sessions that will help you boost your SAT score drastically. 

Final thoughts

Creating a study plan parallel to your goals is essential in preparing for the SAT. Regardless of how much you want to improve in your next test, there is a SAT study plan that is suitable for you. 

Aside from having a good SAT study schedule, it is important for you to stick to it. After all, discipline is key in taking the SAT. 

With the right resources, practice tests and programs, you will be able to achieve your goal on the SAT. Good luck!

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