3 years ago
Admissions Advice

How hard is the SAT?

I've heard a lot of talk about how hard the SAT is, and I know a lot of people who took a ton of really intensive prep classes, and my dad thinks I'll need to take stuff like that too. However, I feel like I could study on my own, but I'm not sure if I'm just overestimating myself, or underestimating how hard the SATs are. Any advice?

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@olivia1233 years ago

If you think you can study on your own, it can't hurt to try first! If you have time before your planned SAT, you could try studying for 2 months using free practice tests and Khan Academy (this helped me so much), and see how much your score improves. If you are able to see a significant improvement, keep doing what you're doing! If that doesn't seem to be working for you, then I would consider looking into some alternatives (such as a prep class). Good luck!

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4 answers

Accepted Answer
3 years ago

You never know if you are over or underestimating yourself until you take a practice test so take one. Sit down and take a 3 hour practice SAT exam and see how well you did. This will help you know your next steps. I want to mention to you that the SAT is very tricky so take your time and doubt your answers. If something seems to be too easy, then triple check. If you have two answers that are seemingly correct, then eliminate the one that you can even find one piece of evidence that disproves it. For math, most of what you need to know is from Algebra 2 and Pre-calculus. For english, just read articles and stuff to build your reading comprehension. Vocabulary lists are a waste of time imo since you just need context clues but if you like vocabulary, then go ahead and study some vocabulary. It wouldn't hurt. I hope this helped but if it didn't I hope someone else can provide a better answer.

3 years ago[edited]


This is not exactly an answer but is some general guidance. The other answers cover most of what needed to be said.

If you want some tips on how to study, here are a couple resources:

1. Khan Academy - in my opinion, the best studying resource for not only the SAT, but AP classes as well. They have thousands of practice problems and free practice tests you can take. This is also a good resource if you are like me and do not study as well when reading through a heavy textbook. This is a free resource, you just need to create an account. They are also partnered with College Board and therefore give you questions that were on past tests. Downside: does not have ACT prep.

2. Princeton Review - I have a couple of these textbooks for the SAT and ACT. They are very large but have important information as well as around four on-hand practice tests each and I believe two more online. I recommend these mainly for strategies and "hacks" when coming across certain problems. If you love a good textbook, this is for you.

3. Barrons - I have not used these a ton, but they are basically like the Princeton Review. However, I find that they are easier to understand and more to the point. They also, like Princeton, have practice tests available for free in the book and online.

Overall, just keep practicing problems and you will get a good score. Go over questions you missed, read the explanation, and take note.

I hope this helped! Good luck! :)

3 years ago

If you are like me, I studied on my own and scored decently enough. However, if the resources are available, like a SAT coach, then utilize them to the best of your ability so as to optimize your performance on test day. I was gifted with a Kaplan Total SAT Prep. Book that really brought me insight—you should take interest in similar things.

The thing about the SAT standardized test is that it IS hard to the average individual, but that’s only because the average individual may study far less than a top percentile scorer. For say, why would a college entrance exam be easy in such a way that all students could ace it? While all people may have the potential, many fail the work ethic. Colleges are looking for students that go the up and beyond.

That being said, the SAT is “ONLY AS HARD AS YOU MAKE IT.” The SAT is a strategic test, so practice and prepare to a method that fits your testing comfortability (my route), or use resources and learn from coaching experts and their methods (utilizing resources route). After much practice, you’ll understand that the SAT is structured in such a way that can be “strategized”—this is what people indicate when they say “you do not need to study for the SAT”, but you must indeed ‘practice’ it.

3 years ago

Hello! I think the content of the SAT itself isn't too hard, it's more about getting used to the specific format and question style of the SAT. Take all the practice tests you can and go over your mistakes, and use the Khan academy SAT studying feature and you should be fine! Hope this helped!

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Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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