How I Improved my SAT Score by 220 Points in Just 5 Months to score 1490!
Updated: May 20, 2021
If your SAT scores are low, don't give up hope for getting into a good college. Read an amazing story of a student who defied all odds to improve his SAT score by 220 points in just over 5 months improving his score in both Math & English sections – truly an inspiring story for all the SAT Aspirants. A score of 1490 is 98th Percentile – a very competitive score for most schools in the world!
As scores for the March 13 SAT Exam continue to pour in, a large group of students will inevitably be left feeling disappointed and hopeless. If you're a part of that group, then this post is for you.
Back in October of 2020, one of our students – A. Hussain - was in the same spot. His score was lower than his expectations and he felt utterly incompetent and lost. I’m sure like many others, he would have Googled – “Is it possible to Improve SAT scores by 200 points?” or “How to Improve SAT Math Score by 100 points?” or even “How to Improve SAT English Score?” – well we’re glad to tell you that he was able to achieve all of that!!!
When the results of the March 13th, 2021 SAT Exam came out – his efforts were finally vindicated and he scored 1490 out of 1600, a very high score in this region! This is truly a story of great comebacks & has the powerful message of NEVER GIVING UP!
We are reminded of the momentous comeback by none other than the legendary icon – Michael Jordan - who overcame the emotional trauma of the murder of his father and returned to the NBA to lead the Chicago Bulls to three consecutive titles.
As students are always worried about how much SAT score is required for Harvard, or Yale, or Oxford or the university of their dreams - we asked Hussain to write a Guest Post for us, to inspire many others out there who are probably in a similar boat & drive home the message that with the right efforts a great SAT score is truly possible.
Improve SAT Score by 200 Points: 15 Key Strategies
Hussain: Let me start with a few disclaimers. I'm a humble person, and I don't like talking about my accomplishments. I know a lot of you are looking to score the highest SAT score possible, so I will share some strategies to help you get there. So whatever I say, please take it as advice from a mentor eager to help, not as a braggart strutting his stuff.
First, in my opinion, what matters the most in SAT preparation is quality over quantity. (I know it's cliched but it's true guys). Don't just work hard and keep doing thousands of sums without stopping to see what are you doing wrong. Try to keep a track of every mistake you make. These you can refer to a few days before the exam as revision and also understand what topics are you weak in the most.
I’ll share the main tips that helped me with each section.
Experimenting with reading strategies- There are honestly many strategies out there – I started with reading passage slowly understanding everything and then attempting questions – not only this made me slower – but also the panic of solving all questions was affecting my accuracy. I then tried the approach of skimming over and annotating the passage. Although this did improve my accuracy, what improved it the most was a mix of the 2 strategies & I immediately started scoring 2-3 points higher on passages.
Consistent Practice: One thing I did was a consistent practice that is at least 30-40 minutes of reading practice on Khan Academy/GuideMe’s books every day and analyzing and documenting the mistakes I made.
Approaching Answer Choices: Oftentimes, the answer choices in the reading section are designed to trick you. Something that helped me was to cover the choices with my hand when reading a question. I would first think about the correct answer, then try to find it within the choices - thus preventing the tricky options from leading me astray.
Material: I read GuideMe’s Grammar Guides word-for-word. Each lesson addressed a grammar rule for the test and had practice exercises.
Approaching Errors: Unless I could explain precisely what rule I violated by choosing an answer, I knew that I would make the same mistake again. I'd recommend thinking very carefully about the underlying concept that has been misinterpreted and drilling it right into your head.
Process of Elimination: When you don't know the right answer, it helps to get rid of the wrong ones. Read all the choices carefully and try to think about which ones certainly won't work – One of my go-to-strategy in English sections overall!
Understand your Mistakes: Every mistake you make on a test happens for a reason. If you don't understand exactly why you missed that question, you will make that mistake over and over again.
Master Every SAT Math Skill, Even the Rare Ones: The SAT has an uneven balance of questions by skill. Algebra dominates the test, taking up over 50% of the test. But you do get solid geometry & complex numbers questions, you have to know them all.
Don't Overly Depend on the Calculator: As you likely already know, Section 3 is a Math section forbidding the use of a calculator, while section 4 is Math with Calculator. There are quite a few questions in Section 4 where solving without a calculator is actually faster. Less use of calculator especially during practice will train your Math skills more rigorously.
Preparation Schedule - For 5 months, I tried to take one full practice test every weekend if not every alternate weekend. Two practice sections every day (Sec 1 + Sec 3 MWF, Sec2 + Sec4 TuTh.) Practice tests and sections must be taken in full testing conditions - this means no distractions, strict timing, and no breaks between sections (besides those allowed on the exam.)
Error Journal: This strategy was perhaps what made the biggest difference to my score. I kept an error journal wherein I would write down every single question that I got wrong. Find Patterns in Your Weaknesses, and Drill Them to Perfection
Benchmarking: Use some sort of benchmark whether it’s a practice test or a real one. It’s the best way of gauging your level and seeing what improvements need to be made.
Be dedicated: If you want something, you have to be willing to do it. Fortunately, I’ve always had that mentality with competing in tennis, so I naturally just want to get better every day. It’s fine to skip a few days here and there, but do not fall in a pattern of skipping days at a time.
Put The Phone Away: I cannot stress this enough, for school too. It’s sooo distracting. Just keep it in another room.
Don’t let it run your life: Don’t cancel plans on friends for studying or vacations. I went on a few long trips with friends or family, and I didn’t think about it once. Moderation is key.
Good luck, and don't forget to always keep pushing!
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