The Best Way to Improve SAT Scores

Improving the SAT by up to 400 points is possible. All it takes is a little hard work, and following the 5 steps below.

Not happy with your SAT scores? Don’t fret – SAT scores aren’t like IQs. They can move quite a bit. With a little work, it’s not unusual to lift a score 100 points or more. In fact…

The average improvement from one test to the next, according to ETS, is around 60 points.

Improving 150 points is a reasonable expectation for someone who puts in the work. A 400 point improvement is exceptional.

A swing of 500 or more points will usually trigger an audit – those sorts of improvements are so rare, ETS will check for cheating.  Learn more about how to increase your score by 203 points or more here.

Of course, you don’t need a 500-point improvement to help your odds. Even a small upward change can help – and, don’t forget, colleges will look at your best score for each section.

That’s why you could potentially get a lower score on your second test – but wind up with a better composite, if you improved in any one section.

For that reason alone, it’s worth it to take the test more than once. Here’s how you can make the most of a retake – or, better still, do well your first time around too.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Not in the test – you’ve got a finite period in which to finish your test. But in terms of study time. You have total control over when you begin studying – and, its been proven time and again – those who start studying early do better.

Focus on Vocabulary

Some things in the test are going to be more about innate reasoning ability, or complex skills that take years to master. Test study will only do so much in those areas.

Vocabulary is not one of those areas. This is, quite simply, all about study – and the better your vocab, the better you’ll tend to do in other verbal sections, like reading comprehension and writing. Simply put, improving your vocabulary is the fastest, surest way to a higher score.

Be Deliberate

Studies have shown – it’s easier to teach a careful student to speed up, than it is to teach a hasty student to be careful.

Which are you? If you tend to take your time, good – don’t worry about that so much. Speed will come with practice and pressure.

If, however, you tend to rush through problems, worrying more about the clock than the right answer – you’ll need to make efforts to slow yourself down.

Try taking an untimed test – and don’t move on from a problem until you’ve solved it.

In any timed test, mark any question you aren’t 100% positive about – and make sure you review your answers with any time left at the end. We all make silly mistakes here or there – we misread a word, or misunderstand a question if we’re going too fast.

Checking up after yourself, you’ll probably catch two or three questions that you know the correct answer to – but you answered wrong for one reason or another. Catch them.

This is true for everyone – but most especially for the speedy test taker.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Will You Get a “Fair” Financial Aid Award?

Well, the truth is — Most families never find out!  They’ll simply take what’s offered.  And many will pay more for college than they need to… sometimes up to tens of thousands of dollars more.

That’s one of the reasons we developed our Free College Funding Analysis.

One phone call with one of our education consultants can quickly identify a family’s college funding situation… and identify any number of ways that can help them.

Click here to learn more about our Free College Funding Analysis.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Know Your Strengths

In general, writing scores improve the most rapidly, followed by math, and then, finally, comes reading.

So, if your writing score is a laggard, great – focus a good bit of attention there, and you’ll see a fast, marked improvement. You should still have time to brush up on the other sections, as well.

If it’s your reading comprehension that needs work – you’ll probably want to put aside math and writing, and focus all your attention here. Improvements are harder to come by, so you’ll need to devote serious study in order to up your game.

Practice Practice Practice

This shouldn’t need saying, but of course – take as many practice tests as possible. Make the SAT ordinary. See every type of question there is – see a few curveballs up close, and then see how well you catch them the next time through.

The more familiar you are with the test, the less intimidating it will be. And the less intimidated you are, the better you’ll do.

To your college admissions success,

Scott Weingold



Related Articles:

How to Master the SAT Essay

The 5 Most Common Types of SAT Problems

5 Proven Ways to Increase the SAT Score


Return to College Made Simple's Free Reports

Find us on Facebook! Find us on Facebook!

Increase Your SAT Scores Learn How to Increase the SAT Score... By 203 Point or More
Just tell us where to send the full report...
We'll also send you - at no charge - the College Funding Made Simple e-Course, delivered to your email inbox in 12 parts, by topic. With each part, you'll come away with valuable, actionable insights proven to help parents and students in the college admissions and funding process.

NO-SPAM PLEDGE: We believe that your personal information should stay that way. Rest assured, your email address is 100% confidential, and under no circumstance will we ever rent, sell or give away your email address outside of our own network without you specifically requesting us to do so.

Leave a comment
Your comment

Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News,, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.