When Should You Start Studying for SAT?


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Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Aug 31, 2023 11:02 IST

SAT Exam Preparation depends on your weaknesses and strengths in different subjects. Students must be aware of the SAT Exam Pattern and the score they are required to get to a good university. For new candidates, when should I start studying for the SAT? This is a common question. Students preparing for the SAT usually are confused about how much preparation is required for SAT and when should they start it. 

sat exam prep
There are no straight answers as the process of preparation is different for every student. Here are a few pointers that could help you figure out the preparation stage a bit better. Thus applicants should first check out everything about the SAT exam, then they should understand the SAT exam pattern and then begin with their preparation. Find more details in this article for a clearer understanding.

When to appear for SAT?

Given the college application timeline, you should try to take your first SAT exam in Sept-Oct of the eleventh class. This way, if you are not happy with the score and want a better score, you can retake SAT in April-May or after your eleventh final exams. If you get a good score on the first attempt, it means your twelfth class will be completely free for the college application process. If you require a score improvement of up to 100 points then studying for a month will help you with the target SAT score.

How to Prepare for SAT?

In order to prepare for SAT exam applicants must be thorough with the SAT exam syllabus and also understand all major details about the recent SAT exam pattern. After understanding the weak and strong areas, begin preparation. It is always advisable to begin preparation with weak topics first and then move on to strong areas of preparation. Once the topics are complete, applicants must practice SAT previous papers and check for their understanding and knowledge, this will in turn help them in assessing their preparedness. 

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When to Prepare for SAT?

Before starting the preparation for the SAT exam, candidates are required to get a suitable study approach. It is important to understand the method of studying, know their target SAT score, SAT preparation materials, and hours of study. For SAT, you will have to choose between an intense study schedule which requires 10 hours per week for two months or a gradual study schedule where you study for a couple of hours a week for at least six months. So choosing either of the plans depends on your study style and the time available. Apart from this, candidates also want to know what is a good SAT Score.

Also Read

How to choose the length and intensity of SAT study plan

Your study goals completely depend on your college goals. If you’re aiming at a state university, there will be less pressure on you to score high than if you aim at Ivy League universities like Harvard or MIT.

Use the three plans below for different universities to help you figure out the best SAT study plan.

  1. SAT Study Plan for Ivy League Universities

Are you looking to get into top universities in the world? In universities like Stanford, MIT, etc. getting a high score on SAT becomes important. You should take the PSAT* in the tenth class to see how you are doing on the SAT prep. You should also take the full SAT practice test as well. Once you have a starting score without preparation, decide your study pace. Your target SAT score should be higher than 2250.

  1. SAT Study Plan for top-tier Universities

These universities admit around half of the applicants. These universities are tough to get into but not as competitive as the Ivy League. Research online the SAT score ranges for your target universities. Set your SAT score target based on those numbers. Once you have your base score after taking the full practice SAT and your target score figure out your study plan.

  1. SAT Study Plan for less selective universities

Less selective universities are those that admit more than half of the applicants. This is the case with usually large public universities or small colleges. Your SAT score is important but isn’t required to be very high. Look up the average SAT score ranges at the target universities and set your target score based on that range. If you get a 1600 score on SAT practice test, it means you have to improve by 100 points. You could either pack this into four weeks during summer or spread it over a couple of months.

SAT Preparation 2023 Tips

We recommend you follow these steps.

  1. Take the PSAT or SAT practice test at the beginning of the eleventh class to get a starting score.
  2. Figure out the target SAT score based on the average SAT score at the most competitive school on the list of shortlisted colleges.
  3. Start either studying during the eleventh class or the beginning of the twelfth class. The intensity of your studies will vary by what kind of colleges you want to get into, and your starting score.
  4. Take SAT in Sept-Oct.

*Students should contact their school to check if they administer the PSAT. PSAT is administered in October, and you should register by mid-September.

Related articles about SAT exam:

When to Start Preparing for SAT Exam FAQs

Q. Is 1 month enough to study for SAT?

A. Studying for the SAT Exam in a month is possible, though it's recommended that you spend 10 to 20 hours per week over the course of two or three months prepping for the SAT.

Q Can I get a 1500 score on the SAT?

A. Achieving a 1500+ score on the SAT is not an impossible task, but it will require a better study plan and a complete understanding of the exam SAT Exam Pattern and its scores are broken down.

Q. How many hours should I study for the SAT a day?

A. It is recommended you spend around 6–20 hours preparing for your first SAT. Give yourself enough time to take at least one full-length practice test and give yourself time to review the concepts you're struggling with.

Q. What happens if I retake the SAT and get a lower score?

A. After retaking the exam it is your choice, which scores, you want to send and even if you sent all of your scores, many colleges will only consider your highest one. So even if you were to get a lower score the second time, it would not matter.

Q. How long do I need to study to crack the SAT?

A. You must study consistently at least for 3 months. It totally depends on your strength and weakness. You can also check the SAT preparation to understand more about the examination.

About the Author
Written by
Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert

Aishwarya is a professional Writer currently working as a Study Abroad Expert in the Editorial Team at Shiksha. She has over 5 years of experience and is skilled at creating Online Content with leveraged knowledge i... Read Full Bio

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Tanya Jha

2 years ago

Hello, I am in Grade 12 CBSE Board and I want to give my SAT exam this year after passing out from 12th. Please help me. I don't know what to do? Which books/courses should I study from to prepare for SAT? When should I take the exam?

Reply to Tanya Jha



2 years ago

Hi i am in class 11th and now it's November end. So out of. Two options 1. Preparing for sat in december and giving my attempt in march and 2. Start preparing in march and giving sat in june-july.. Which option will be better for me

Reply to ANSH JAIN


Piyush Kohli

2 years ago

Hi Ansh, it is better to give the SAT test early (after preparation), in case you miss the target score then you have time to give one more attempt.


Heena Mittal

2 years ago

Hi I m a 11th grade humanities student. I want to pursue psychology and want to become a counselor . Can u suggest me some good Universities both ivy and state for the same and scholarship scope too . P.S - I don't have psychology as a subject

Reply to Heena Mittal


Piyush Kohli

2 years ago

Hi Heena, please refer to the below URL and check out the eligibility criteria of the list of universities offering Bachelor in Psychology abroad: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/bsc-in-abroad-dc111843

I'm currently in class 11 and preparing for my medical entrance exam i.e., in 2023 , should I prepare for SAT ? What date would be best to appear in it as I'm thinking to start SAT's preparation from SEPTEMBER 2021?

Reply to Do you Like messi



2 years ago

Which coaching is good for sat? Pls tell


Sumanpreet kaur

3 years ago

Hlo I am Suman, I am student of 11th class and I start my sat preparation but tell me how ?

Reply to Sumanpreet kaur


Piyush Kohli

3 years ago

Hi Suman, please go through the below link and learn how to prepare for the SAT test: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/exams/sat/sat-preparation-tips

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