How to Prepare for the SAT

If you’ve started thinking about college, career, or life after high school, you’ve heard about tests like the SAT. Colleges—including those that are test optional use test scores to help them make admissions, financial aid, and course placement decisions. It makes sense to plan to do your best on the exam. Here are some tips to help you do that:

Best Way to Prepare

The best way to prepare for the SAT is to work hard both inside and outside the classroom. Take challenging courses, study hard, and read and write as much as you can.

Practice Tips

You can take some simple, smart steps to help you put your best foot forward.

Know what to expect.

Being familiar with the format of the SAT will help you feel more comfortable on test day. Go to our website to learn about each section. Talk to friends or siblings who’ve already taken the SAT. You’ll feel more confident if you know the test format beforehand, and you can save valuable time during the exam.

Take preliminary tests. 

Your school may offer the PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10 or PSAT 8/9. These tests are meant to be taken before you take the SAT. These preliminary, or introductory, tests are perfect practice tests because they have the same formats and question types as the SAT. The PSAT/NMSQT can also help you identify what knowledge and skills you need to work on, map your career path, qualify you for millions of dollars in scholarships, identify AP courses your likelihood to succeed in, and help create a personalized practice plan for you to prepare for the SAT.

Use our free, personalized practice tools.

We partnered with the Khan Academy® to create Official SAT Practice. This world-class test practice is free to all students, so there’s no need to spend a lot of money on test prep courses. It’s personalized just for you to show you the areas in which you excel and what areas need more work. By practicing with thousands of interactive problems, instant feedback, and video lessons, you can prepare for the test and keep track of your progress at

Take practice tests — for free. 

You can find free practice exams on our website and at, as well as in study guides in the library, bookstores, or your counselor's office. These practice exams can help you discover your strengths and weaknesses and learn to manage your time wisely during the test.

Check your timing. 

Time yourself while you’re completing practice tests using Official SAT Practice to make sure you experience real test day conditions. You can go to for a timed experience on demand. Admission tests are strictly timed, and their timing is different from regular high school tests. If you find you finished early and got easy questions wrong, slow down. Read the questions more thoroughly. If you didn’t finish in time, check out the test-taking tips and study aids on the SAT website. You can also ask your school counselor or a teacher for help.

Get to know the digital SAT

Starting in spring 2024, students in the U.S. will take the digital SAT (international students started taking the digital SAT already). Get to know the Bluebook™ digital testing application. Explore the exam preview or take a full-length practice test. Then, go to to review your results. Learn more about practicing for the digital SAT at

Last-Minute Tips

Taking the following steps will help you arrive on time and stay alert during the test:

Get a good night's sleep before the exam.

Set out your admission ticket, acceptable photo ID, acceptable calculator, No. 2 pencils, and erasers before going to bed. Set your alarm to be sure you wake up early enough to have time for a good breakfast.

Know where your test center is located.

Print out directions in advance. Review them carefully. Arrive at the test center early. Leave extra time to get there in case you run into delays.

Bring a snack.

Bring something handy to eat during breaks in order to stay focused and sharp.

Be confident.

If you’ve been working hard in your classes and practicing for the test, you have what it takes!