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How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the SAT?

How Long to Prepare for the SAT

Many students’ first question is often “how long does it take to prepare for the SAT?” It’s an understandable question, but the answer isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.

How long it takes to prepare for the SAT depends on how many points the student wants to improve and how many hours the student can dedicate to studying each week.

A better question is “how many hours do I have to study to improve 100 points on the SAT?”

Guideline for Number of Hours to Spend Studying for the SAT

Desired SAT Score Increase Estimated Number of Hours to Spend Studying
30-70 points 20 hours
70-130 points 40 hours
130-250 80 hours
250+ 150+ hours
The table above is an estimate of the number of hours needed to spend studying. Of course, it will be different for each student as some students pick up new information quicker than others and some students may be learning information for the first time while others are strengthening skills.

Make the Best Use of Your Time

Not all studying is created equal. Vince Lombardi, head football coach of the Packers and winner of the first Super Bowl, famously said, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

In other words, just because time is spent studying, doesn’t mean it will be effective. It is important for students to use their time wisely by working on topics that give them the best chance to improve their scores. This can only be known if you take a diagnostic SAT test and identifying those topics.

Not only that, but simply practicing math is not as helpful as practicing math the way it is presented on the test. The same goes for English. Reading and writing will help but practicing reading and writing as it shows up on the SAT will help much more.

Another important point is there’s a difference in the value of attending a class vs. working with a tutor in a one-on-one setting. In a class some of the time may be spent answering other students’ questions or reviewing material that you don’t need help with. It’s best to value each of those hours at a fraction of one hour, such as 0.75 or 0.5 of an hour.

Of course, the time you spend at home completing homework and practice also counts toward your total hours. Also, time spent taking practice tests (3 hours per test) count towards your total as long as you review the answers you got wrong.

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