Are you prepping for the SAT and wondering how you can totally crush the test or maybe even get a perfect score? In this blog, we’re going to share how Brooke coached a student to a perfect 1600 on a recent SAT.
1. Started Tutoring in Seventh Grade
Brooke started tutoring this student in seventh grade in efforts to get him into the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program . What you need to do in order to qualify for the program is taking the SAT before your 13th birthday and getting over a 700 on one section. At that point in time, the SAT was still out of 2400 with three sections worth 800 points each. The student got his math score up to a 770 but most importantly this laid the groundwork for him. He familiarized himself with the approach and what studying for the exam entails.
2. Prepped for The PSAT
Brooke and the student prepped for the PSAT twice before he took it freshman year and sophomore year. To do that prep, they used practice PSATs, that are available from College Board, and some material on Khan Academy. In regards to math, Brooke just liked to use problem sets for anything the student needed to go over that he hadn’t seen before. For writing, Brooke recommends not doing any of the skill specific segments because they’re way too easy. The argumentative, narrative, and informative passage section of the writing practice is useful but the other breakdowns are not worth your time. Brooke practiced with those materials so that they did not have to burn real SATs for later when it counted. Whenever Brooke has a long term student, she likes to push the student towards Khan Academy first so that they get a handle on the skills. Then, as students get closer to the test, they can start going through the real tests to practice. The student scored well on the PSAT and would’ve qualified for the National Merit Scholarship Program but he wasn’t a junior yet. By his sophomore year, he was scoring in the low 1500s (out of 1600) on the full length SAT.
3. Prepped for Other Tests
The next thing they focused on was also prepping for other tests that he was taking that weren’t the SAT. The student took the SAT II Math exam, SAT Biology Subject Test, and the SAT Literature Subject Test. This helped him be comfortable with the process and just being in the environment of standardized tests.
4. Timing it Right
The game plan for the student was that the student took the SAT junior year in the summer to have as much time to actually study. He went to a competitive high school and was inundated with homework and it was important to him to keep his grades up. Brooke wanted the student to have a full round of prep in the summer, taking 8-10 practice tests over 2-3 months on average. Incrementally test by test, they would go over what he’d missed and then try to improve. At that point, the student was scoring 770-800 on his math tests but scoring 730-760 in the reading/writing & language. They knew what they needed to focus and improve on.
5. Focus on Strategy
They focused mostly on the reading section, given that he was already scoring high on the math section and was making strides on the writing & language section (for our tips for this section, check out this video). One of the strategies Brooke has for the reading section is looking for flags, which is anything in an answer choice that is a typical way the College Board tries to trick you.
6. Pacing Strategies
When you’re going for the perfect score, the thing that can kill you the most when you’re totally prepared on the content end is pacing. Pacing is how you divide your time and balance things out so that you have time to go over more difficult questions you’ve highlighted. You have to make sure that you have all your tools ready for test day (pencils, calculator, snacks, etc.). We have a blog for what to bring and how to pack for the SAT. No matter how good you are at the reading section, there will always be a question that will make your stomach drop. But if you’re ready for that feeling to hit you but you know how to deal with it and address it, you will be fine.
7. Prepped to a Perfect Score
Don’t expect to walk in and get a perfect score if it’s never happened to you before. It’s very unlikely to happen so you have got to prep to a perfect and have patience.