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Creating an SAT prep plan

How to plan your practice for the digital SAT
A well-structured SAT prep plan can help you maximize your study time and achieve your best possible score. In this article, we'll discuss how to create an SAT prep plan using Khan Academy's free SAT prep courses, including suggestions for when to start studying, when to take practice tests, and how to use your prep time most effectively.

When to start studying

The ideal time to start studying for the SAT varies depending on your individual circumstances. However, a general rule of thumb is to start preparing for the test at least 3-6 months in advance. If you’re planning to take the SAT in the spring of your junior year, it's a good idea to start studying during the summer before your junior year if possible. This will give you plenty of time to cover all the material and to take several practice tests before the real thing.
You can also take the SAT in the summer before or fall of your senior year, but if you plan to apply for college, it’s generally a good idea to aim for the spring of your junior year anyway. That way, if you’re unsatisfied with your score, you’ll have time to practice more and retake the SAT in the summer or fall.

When to take practice tests

Taking practice tests is an important part of preparing for the SAT. Practice tests help you get familiar with the format of the test and identify areas where you need to improve. To make the most of your practice tests, it's important to take them at strategic intervals throughout your prep period.
  • Start your SAT prep journey by taking a practice test. Your first practice test will give you a better understanding of the test and show you your starting point. Based on that first test, you can build confidence on the parts of the test you performed well on, as well as identify the parts of the test where you need more practice. Learn more about taking practice tests here.
  • After that, you should plan to take a practice test at regular intervals leading up to your exam date. This will give you enough time to work on your weaknesses between tests while also allowing you to track your progress over time. It will also help you become comfortable with the timing of the test and build your stamina for test day.
  • Finally, take one last practice test a week or two before the SAT. While it’s tempting to cram a lot of studying and practice in at the last minute, you should take the last few days leading up to test day to rest and restore your mental energy. This final practice test will bring together all the preparation you’ve done and build confidence for the official test.

How to use your prep time most effectively

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your prep time:

Focus on your weaknesses

The SAT consists of a Reading and Writing section and a Math section. Khan Academy offers free SAT prep courses for both sections. Each course is broken down into three levels of difficulty: Foundations, Medium, and Advanced. Each level includes articles, videos, and practice questions for every skill you’ll see on test day.
In general, we recommend creating and following a schedule that allows you to complete the entire course before test day, breaking it down into a few lessons per week. However, you don’t need to go through the units in order: in fact, you should begin your prep with the areas in which you need the most improvement. Every time you take a practice test, you should identify the question types you missed on that test—especially any question types you consistently miss. Plan to spend extra time working through the lessons for those question types to ensure that you are fully prepared for the test.
If you’re not sure what skills you’re struggling with, and aren’t able to take a full practice test, you can take the Course Challenges in Math and Reading and Writing. Each Course Challenge will give you credit for skills you’ve already mastered and help you identify areas of weakness.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice is key to improving your SAT score. If you can, you should work through the practice problems in every lesson. This will help you become familiar with the material and improve your test-taking skills. If you’re ever unsure why an answer is correct, take time to read the rationales we’ve provided to help you better understand the reasoning that leads to the correct answer.

Time yourself

The SAT is a timed test, so it's important to become comfortable with the timing of the test. The practice tests in the Bluebook™ app are timed, and you should also be mindful of time while doing practice questions on Khan Academy. Different questions will take more time than others, so there isn’t a hard rule when it comes to timing. As a general rule of thumb, try to stick to a little over a minute for Reading and Writing questions, and a minute and a half for Math questions.

Take breaks

Studying for the SAT can be mentally exhausting. Make sure to take breaks as needed to rest and recharge. This will help you stay focused and motivated throughout your prep period.

Get help when needed

If you're struggling with a particular concept or question, don't hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to your teachers, the free tutors on Schoolhouse, or your peers for assistance. You can also use the discussion forum on Khan Academy’s SAT course pages to ask questions and get feedback from others.

Sample student SAT prep plan

Here’s a sample four-month prep plan, using Khan Academy’s free SAT Reading and Writing and Math courses. There is a lot of content in our SAT courses, and everyone’s prep process will be different. You might have more or less time to prep, and you might find you already perform well in some skills and decide to focus on the skills in which you struggle the most. That said, this is a strong, followable prep plan for any student that gets started at least four months before their test date!
As you go through each Khan Academy course, it’s best to read the lesson articles, watch the videos, do practice questions, and take quizzes when they arise. At the end of each lesson, try to “level up” (get at least three out of four practice questions correct) before moving onto the next lesson. When you reach the end of a Unit, you can take a Unit Test to review what you’ve learned and further level up your skills progress.

Month 1: Math + RW: Foundations

Week 1:
  • Go through Unit 1, Lesson 1 “About the Digital SAT” for both Reading and Writing and Math.
  • Create a College Board account and download Bluebook™.
  • Take practice test 1 on the Bluebook app
  • Get your practice test score and analyze the question-by-question breakdown. Read explanations and rationales for any questions you missed. Make note of any patterns: are there certain kinds of questions you missed more often than others?
Week 2:
  • Math Unit 2: Foundations: Algebra (including Unit test)
  • RW Lesson: Foundations: Command of Evidence: Textual
  • RW Lesson: Foundations: Command of Evidence: Quantitative
  • RW Lesson: Foundations: Central Ideas and Details
  • RW Lesson: Foundations: Inferences
Week 3:
  • Math Unit 3: Foundations: Problem solving and data analysis
  • RW Lesson: Foundations: Words in Context
  • RW Lesson: Foundations: Text Structure and Purpose
  • RW Lesson: Foundations: Cross-Text Connections
  • RW Lesson: Foundations: Transitions
Week 4+:
  • Math Unit 4: Foundations: Advanced math
  • Math Unit 5: Foundations: Geometry and trigonometry
  • RW Lesson: Foundations: Rhetorical Synthesis
  • RW Lesson: Foundations: Form, Structure, and Sense
  • RW Lesson: Foundations: Boundaries
  • RW Foundations Unit test

Month 2: Math + RW: Medium

Week 1:
  • Take practice test 2 on the Bluebook app
  • Get your score: how did you do compared to the last practice test? Be proud of any gains you’ve made—even small ones! Analyze the question-by-question breakdown. Read explanations and rationales for any questions you missed. Make note of any patterns: where have you improved, and where do you still need work?
Week 2:
  • Math Unit 6: Medium: Algebra
  • RW Lesson: Medium: Command of Evidence: Textual
  • RW Lesson: Medium: Command of Evidence: Quantitative
  • RW Lesson: Medium: Central Ideas and Details
  • RW Lesson: Medium: Inferences
Week 3:
  • Math Unit 7: Medium: Problem solving and data analysis
  • RW Lesson: Medium: Words in Context
  • RW Lesson: Medium: Text Structure and Purpose
  • RW Lesson: Medium: Cross-Text Connections
Week 4 +:
  • Math Unit 8: Medium: Advanced math
  • Math Unit 9: Medium: Geometry and trigonometry
  • RW Lesson: Medium: Transitions
  • RW Lesson: Medium: Rhetorical Synthesis
  • RW Lesson: Medium: Form, Structure, and Sense
  • RW Lesson: Medium: Boundaries
  • RW Unit 3 test

Month 3: Math + RW: Advanced

Week 1:
  • Take practice test 3 on the Bluebook app
  • Get your score: how did you do compared to the last practice test? Be proud of any gains you’ve made—even small ones! Analyze the question-by-question breakdown. Read explanations and rationales for any questions you missed. Make note of any patterns: where have you improved, and where do you still need work?
Week 2:
  • Math Unit 10: Advanced: Algebra
  • RW Lesson: Advanced: Command of Evidence: Textual
  • RW Lesson: Advanced: Command of Evidence: Quantitative
  • RW Lesson: Advanced: Central Ideas and Details
  • RW Lesson: Advanced: Inferences
Week 3:
  • Math Unit 11: Advanced: Problem solving and data analysis
  • RW Lesson: Advanced: Words in Context
  • RW Lesson: Advanced: Text Structure and Purpose
  • RW Lesson: Advanced: Cross-Text Connections
Week 4 +:
  • Math Unit 12: Advanced: Advanced math
  • Math Unit 13: Advanced: Geometry and trigonometry
  • RW Lesson: Advanced: Transitions
  • RW Lesson: Advanced: Rhetorical Synthesis
  • RW Lesson: Advanced: Form, Structure, and Sense
  • RW Lesson: Advanced: Boundaries
  • RW Unit 4 test

Month 4: Targeted Practice and Mastery

Week 1:
  • Take the RW Course Challenge. Go back to the lessons in which you struggled the most. Review the lessons and do more practice problems as needed.
Week 2:
  • Take the Math Course Challenge. Go back to the lessons in which you struggled the most. Review the lessons and do more practice problems as needed.
Week 3:
  • Math and RW: More targeted practice. Challenge yourself to get as many mastery points as you can!
Week 4 + (one to two weeks before your practice test):
  • Take practice test 4 on the Bluebook app
  • Get your score and analyze the question-by-question breakdown. Read explanations and rationales for any questions you missed. Compare your score to the score you got on practice test 1 and be proud of how far you’ve come!
Happy prepping—you’ve got this!

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user noob
    the videos and content are the same for medium and advanced and foundation only practice tests are different! why is that?
    (18 votes)
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    • boggle blue style avatar for user tkaur
      I believe this is because the same strategies covered in the foundation level will be used in the advanced level, so there isn't anything new to teach. The only difference is how easily you can apply the strategies, and that's what the practices cover. The lessons and videos show up again in the course so you can review them again before progressing to the next difficulty level. Hope this helps!
      (6 votes)
  • duskpin sapling style avatar for user maria.delaguardia
    'm a junior and im taking the test June 1st. I've started prepping a little late, but am working hard to improve my scores!
    To any other students reading this: Good luck! you can do this. You're smarter than you think!
    (18 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • starky ultimate style avatar for user Dhruvi Namdeo
    Would doing the paper and pen SAT questions on Khan Academy help with digital SAT as well?
    (13 votes)
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    • purple pi pink style avatar for user The Giza
      The digital SAT's questions are a little different than the pencil-and-paper SAT's. It might help, but it could also confuse you a little. I'd say do the paper SAT questions early in your timeline (if you can), then really focus on the digital SAT questions so you can have same-type exercises.
      (3 votes)
  • hopper cool style avatar for user Joshua Dawson
    this is a lot for one test its only 2 subject why the 6 month study period ?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user grainofsand06
    What does RW mean?
    (4 votes)
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  • male robot johnny style avatar for user batirbeksultamuratov
    Previously, I took 1320 last year in December. Now I'm taking SAT on August 26. Could you please tell me if is it possible to get 1500+ when I prepare for at least 4 hours a day starting from today, and what's the best way, what would you suggest to me?
    (3 votes)
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    • purple pi pink style avatar for user The Giza
      Sure, anything is possible. Try to set aside a few hours one day to sort out what material isn't easy yet, then work out the timeline and schedule each week and day's workload. You can start with the skills that are almost easy and get them down pat, then the skills you find most confusing to work at them until they're easy. After that it's really just finishing touches ; check to see if anything still confuses you, then do practice tests and same-type questions until a week before the SAT.
      The last week, you should relax, work through you notes a little at a time (no more than an hour a day, if you can), and go to sleep early.
      Hopefully this helps !
      (7 votes)
  • male robot johnny style avatar for user AdrianL
    In all the practice tests I've taken, I've scored over 750 on reading and writing. Do I need to take the reading and writing course?
    (1 vote)
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    • starky sapling style avatar for user jlee26
      I got a 1580 on the March DSAT last year and I would like to say everything counts. Every single drop of effort, even the few seconds of downtime after registering and waiting to be assigned to your test rooms can be used for studying and improving. Not only does it help you improve your overal skills, it helps you prepare your mentality for the big test you have ahead of you. So I would strongly suggest using the courses here to practice for the exams even if you're confident that you'll get a high score.
      (8 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user ivangel009
    Do I understand right that all SAT math lessons on all difficulties are all the same and the only difference is the difficulty of quizzes?
    (4 votes)
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  • stelly green style avatar for user Allie Gillmore
    I am in 8th grade, should it be important that I am taking SAT prep now, Is it better to be early? Or would I be stressing my self out?
    (3 votes)
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    • blobby blue style avatar for user joshua
      It's definitely better to prepare as soon as possible, but you should be studying gradually, and not stressing yourself out when you still have a few years before taking the SAT.

      I suggest you can do the following:
      1. Solidify your fundamental concepts
      2. Try to learn the entire syllabus for SAT
      3. Take practice test regularly to test your progress
      4. Do SAT past papers to familiarize with the exam

      Anyway good luck!
      (4 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Tanay Rakhunde
    So one question, does this mean that the SAT prep on Khan doesn't support connecting college accounts and helping students accordingly? Because before they had a schedule creator and everything? Like they also had personalized work that they would make us do then make us do a practice test?
    (4 votes)
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