How to Improve your SAT Score without Spending a Cent

How to Improve your SAT Score without Spending a Cent
Barry Lenson

Put on your thinking cap. Here’s a multiple-choice question for you . . .

1) Paying a SAT tutor $1,000 or more to prepare for the SAT could best be characterized as:
a) A waste of money.
b) A complete waste of money.
c) A really really bad waste of money.
d) All of the above.

Okay, you see where we are heading with this.

In fairness, there are valid reasons to pay a tutoring company to boost your scores. The problem is that a lot of students who are thinking about the SAT for the first time call a tutoring company before they even crack open a prep book or consider how they can improve their scores on their own.

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That’s throwing money away, because it makes more sense to evaluate your current skills to see where you need improvement. You can then call a tutoring company, if you need one, and ask questions like an informed consumer, not a helpless neophyte. Here are some steps to follow.

First take a free SAT test online to see where your weaknesses lie  . . . 

The College Board is currently offering a free SAT online. So take a few practice SAT tests to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Once you have taken a SAT test or two, you can use the following tactics to improve your weak areas . . . 

Utilize the free study tools that are available on The College Board website. You can sign up there to receive a free SAT Question of the Day. Or you can answer free SAT practice questions on the site or take full-length tests to build your chops.

Sign up for It’s a terrific and innovative company that offers online SAT training. Mindfish Free, which costs nothing, is a darn good SAT prep program. Or for a little more money - $29.96/month – you can get extra services, like live online instruction with tutors. Compare that to the $100 an hour or more that most SAT tutors charge.

Beef up your vocabulary. I was an SAT verbal tutor for more than a year and I can tell you with complete certainty that the fastest way to boost your reading and writing scores is to INCREASE THE SIZE OF YOUR VOCABULARY. There are some very good books available that offer lists of SAT vocab words, like Kaplan’s Score-Raising Vocabulary. Plus, there are online tools like MindFish’s innovative vocabulary-building videos. You can also sign up for Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day. The thing is, you have to spend time daily to add a word or two to your working vocab – you can’t just sit back and expect your vocabulary to grow. For every 20 words you learn, you will increase your score in the SAT Reading section by 20 points. That’s my guestimate, but I am willing to bet it’s pretty much true.

Tone up your reading skills. The SAT is going to throw long and short reading passages at you and you have to train yourself to read them quickly, without letting your mind wander. One inexpensive way to get the job done is to buy an SAT guidebook that has sample tests and practice “deep skimming” by reading the first paragraph of each reading passage carefully, then reading only the first sentence or two of each of the following paragraphs and skimming the remainders. Tutors can teach you some techniques to help you in this area, but the most important thing is to READ AT LEAST ONE SAT READING PASSAGE EVERY DAY and answer the questions that follow it. There’s no deep dark secret to doing better on reading passages. The key is practice, coupled with some basic techniques that you can learn in most off-the-shelf SAT prep books.

Break down and attack specific weak math areas. Most low math SATs scores happen because a student is weak in just one area like Geometry, or in certain types of questions, like this:

2)Marie can drink a quart of beer in 15 seconds and John can drink a quart of beer in 32 seconds. How long will it take them to drink a quart of beer if they do it together?
a) 27 seconds.
b) Nobody knows.
c) Not long, but they are going to have to become very friendly in the process.
d) None of the above.

Need to know how to get started? Download our free guide Getting Into College Made Easy today!
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One thought on “How to Improve your SAT Score without Spending a Cent”

  • Linda  Kaye

    Of great importance is to begin studying months before the SAT and work regularly and consistently. Learning the grammar rules, increasing vocabulary, and enhancing essay skills– each is a time consuming endeavor.

    Also, use a book which includes detailed answer explanations so that the student is able to enhance skills by learning from from inevitable mistakes.

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