How to Create an Effective SAT Study Schedule

SAT Prep can be a daunting task. Still, a well-organized study schedule can make the process much more manageable.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss tips on creating an effective SAT study schedule that will help you achieve your desired score, based on my long experience as one of the most experience SAT Tutors in the business.

students studying


How to Prepare an Effective SAT Study Schedule

Start Early

Starting early is one of the most important things you can do to ensure success on the SAT. Here are some reasons why starting early is so important:

  1. More time to prepare: The SAT is a comprehensive exam that covers a wide range of topics. Starting early gives you more time to cover all the material and to identify and work on areas where you need improvement. This can help you feel more confident and prepared on test day.
  2. Avoiding last-minute cramming: Cramming at the last minute is not an effective way to prepare for the SAT. Starting early allows you to avoid this stressful and ineffective study method and instead focus on consistent, incremental progress.
  3. Taking advantage of your natural learning style: Everyone has a unique learning style, and starting early gives you more time to identify and take advantage of your natural strengths. Whether you learn best through visual aids, hands-on practice, or auditory instruction, starting early allows you to explore and experiment with different study methods.
  4. Reducing stress: Preparing for the SAT can be stressful, and starting early can help reduce that stress. When you start early, you have the time to create a study plan that works for you, identify and address areas where you need improvement, and build confidence as you work through the material.


Set Realistic Goals

When creating your study schedule, setting specific and achievable goals for each study session is important. Setting goals helps you stay focused and motivated and gives you a sense of progress as you work through the material. Here are some tips on how to set realistic goals for your SAT study sessions:

  1. Break down the material: Break down the material into manageable chunks, and focus on one topic or section at a time. This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and make tracking your progress easier.
  2. Identify your weaknesses: Take a practice or diagnostic test to identify your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you set realistic goals for improvement and focus your study sessions on areas where you need the most help.
  3. Be specific: Make your goals specific and measurable. For example, instead of setting a goal to "study for an hour," set a goal to "complete ten math practice problems" or "read and annotate two SAT passages." This will help you stay on track and make the most of your study time.
  4. Set a deadline: Give yourself a deadline to achieve each goal. This will help you stay motivated and focused and give you a sense of accomplishment as you work through the material.
  5. Be flexible: Be flexible and adjust your goals as needed. Adjust your plans accordingly if you need more time to work on a particular section or make more progress than anticipated.


Allocate Study Time Wisely

Sure, allocating study time wisely is critical to creating an effective SAT study schedule. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  1. Prioritize areas where you need the most improvement: Spend more time on areas where you struggle the most. If, for example, you find the math section challenging, allocate more time to studying math concepts and practicing math problems.
  2. Balance your study time across all sections: While it's important to prioritize areas where you need the most improvement, it's also crucial to balance your study time across all test sections. The SAT includes reading, writing, math, and an optional essay section, so allocate your study time evenly across these sections.
  3. Create a study plan that works for you: Everyone's learning style and schedule are different, so create a study plan that fits your needs. For example, if you work better in the mornings, schedule your study sessions for the early part of the day. If you have more free time on the weekends, allocate longer study sessions for those days.
  4. Utilize study resources: Take advantage of the many SAT study resources available, such as prep books, online courses, and tutoring. These resources can help you identify areas where you need improvement and provide you with targeted practice questions and strategies.
  5. Mix up your study techniques: Variety is key when studying for the SAT. Mix up your study techniques to keep things interesting and engage different parts of your brain. For example, alternate between reading and writing exercises, use flashcards for vocabulary review and practice math problems using both paper and pencil and online resources.
  6. Stay organized: Keep track of your progress and study schedule in a planner or spreadsheet. This will help you stay organized and on track and make it easier to adjust your schedule as needed.


Be consistent:

Consistency is essential because it helps establish a routine and a sense of accountability. When you schedule regular study sessions, you create a habit that lets you stay on track and avoid procrastination. This means you'll be more likely to progress and ultimately achieve your desired score.

Consistency also helps with retention. When you study consistently, you're reinforcing the information you've learned and helping it stick in your long-term memory. On the other hand, there are more effective ways to learn and retain information than cramming at the last minute. By studying consistently over time, you'll give yourself a better chance of retaining what you've learned and being able to apply it on test day.

To ensure consistency, try to study at the same time each day or week. This will help you establish a routine and make it easier to prioritize your study sessions. Consider setting a specific goal for each study session to help keep you motivated and on track. For example, you aim to complete several practice questions, review a particular topic, or take a timed practice test.

Finally, it's important to be realistic and flexible. Life happens, and unexpected events can disrupt even the most well-planned study schedule. Don't get discouraged if you miss a study session, and don't feel like you need to make up all the lost time in one go. Instead, be flexible and adjust your schedule as necessary to ensure you're still progressing towards your goals.


Get enough sleep and exercise:

Remember the importance of sleep and exercise in preparing for the SAT. Here's why:

  1. Sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for both physical and mental health and plays a vital role in academic performance. When you're sleep-deprived, it can be harder to concentrate, retain information, and think critically. Lack of sleep can also impair your memory, reduce your problem-solving abilities, and lower your overall cognitive functioning. Therefore, getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night is essential to help you stay alert and focused during your study sessions and on the test day.
  2. Exercise: Regular exercise is also important for preparing for the SAT. Exercise helps increase blood flow to the brain, improving your cognitive functioning and helping you think more clearly. It also reduces stress and anxiety, which are common during the SAT preparation process. Exercise can also help you stay energized, focused, and motivated throughout the day. Therefore, it's a good idea to incorporate regular exercise into your study schedule. Even taking a short walk or doing a quick yoga session can help improve your overall physical and mental well-being.


As a SAT Tutor for the past 30 years, I’m always sharing these tips, as creating an effective SAT study schedule that works for you and will help you achieve your desired score. Remember to be flexible, adjust your plan as needed, and stay motivated and positive throughout the process. Good luck with your SAT prep!

Master the the SATs and ACTs with the best examination prep experience anywhere. One-on-One sessions with Brian Leaf. The best-selling author of 10 SAT/ACT prep books.


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