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Boost Your SAT Score by 30%: Ace the SAT with Emma's 11 Time Management Strategies

May 29, 2024

As students, it is important to understand that the SAT is not just a test of your knowledge – it is also a test of your time management skills. To help you excel, here are eleven invaluable time management tips that will set you on the path to success. Let's dive in and explore each tip in detail!

1. Bring a watch

Imagine this: you're deep into the Reading section, analyzing a challenging passage. As you immerse yourself in the text, you suddenly realize that you've spent more time than you intended. This is where a watch becomes your trusty ally. By having a watch on your wrist, you can discreetly keep track of the time and ensure that you allocate the right amount of minutes to each passage and question. A quick glance at your watch can save you from spending too much time on one question and help you maintain a steady pace throughout the test.

2. Know how many questions are in each section

Think of each section of the SAT as a puzzle, with each question as a crucial piece. Before you even pick up your pencil, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the total number of questions in each section. This knowledge will give you a sense of the terrain you're about to navigate. For instance, if the Math section has 20 questions, you'll know that you should aim to spend roughly 3 minutes on each question. This awareness will prevent you from getting flustered or surprised as you progress through the test.

3. Be familiar with the instructions ahead of time

Imagine this scenario: you're ready to tackle the Writing and Language section, but when you read the instructions, they seem more complex than you anticipated. Don't let this derail you. Before test day, spend time reviewing the instructions for each section. This preliminary step will help you understand what's expected of you and save you precious minutes during the actual test. With a clear understanding of the instructions, you can confidently dive into each section without any hesitation.

4. Don’t be afraid to skip questions and return to them later

Picture this: you encounter a challenging math problem that seems to be playing mind games with you. Instead of staring at it in frustration, consider a tactical retreat. If a question is causing you to stumble, don't hesitate to skip it and move on to the next one. As you continue, you might find that your brain is more receptive to the challenging question upon your return. Plus, you'll gain momentum by answering questions that are within your comfort zone.

5. Don’t be afraid to guess — when appropriate

The SAT is not a game of chance, but it does have a strategic element. When you encounter a question that seems like an enigma, take a deep breath and evaluate your options. If you can eliminate one or more answer choices, you're in a prime position to make an educated guess. Remember, you won't lose points for incorrect answers, so a well-reasoned guess could lead you to valuable points.

6. Take notes on reading comprehension passages

Reading Comprehension passages can be like a maze of words, and it's easy to lose your way. Arm yourself with a pencil and mark key details as you read. Underline important points, jot down brief summaries, and circle words you find unfamiliar. These notes will serve as your roadmap when you answer the accompanying questions. They'll help you quickly locate specific information and provide a clear path to the correct answers.

7. Don’t spend the same amount of time on each question

While fairness is important, not all questions are equal in terms of difficulty. Some questions will be quick and straightforward, while others may require deeper thought. Recognize that investing the same amount of time in every question might not yield the best results. Instead, adopt a flexible approach. Allocate more time to complex questions that carry higher point values, and breeze through the ones you find easier.

8. Use all the time you’re given

Imagine this: you finish a section with time to spare. Instead of letting those extra minutes go to waste, make the most of them. Go back and review your answers, double-check your work, and ensure you haven't overlooked any errors. This additional review time can make the difference between a good score and a great one. Remember, every point counts.

9. Plan your essay-writing wisely

When you reach the Essay section, take a moment to compose yourself. Before you start writing, spend a minute brainstorming and outlining your essay. Jot down key points you want to include and organize them into a coherent structure. This roadmap will guide you as you write, ensuring that your essay stays on track and addresses the prompt effectively. A well-structured essay is not only easier to read but also demonstrates your analytical skills to the graders.

10. Know your target score

Setting a target score is like plotting a course on a map before embarking on a journey. It gives your efforts purpose and direction, helping you allocate your time more effectively. Take time to research the score range of the colleges you're interested in and set a realistic target for yourself. Having a specific goal in mind will motivate you to stay focused and perform your best.

11. Prioritize questions based on your strengths

Imagine this: you're in the midst of the SAT, faced with a mix of questions that vary in difficulty. Instead of tackling them in order, consider a strategic approach. Identify the question types you excel at and prioritize those. By answering questions within your comfort zone first, you'll build confidence and save valuable time. This approach sets a positive tone for the rest of the test and allows you to allocate more time to the questions that challenge you.


1. Is 2 months enough to study for SAT?

Two months can be sufficient time to prepare for the SAT, but your success depends on your starting point, dedication, and study strategy. If you're already familiar with the content and have a strong study routine, two months can provide ample time to review, practice, and fine-tune your skills. However, if you're starting from scratch or aiming for a substantial score improvement, it may be more challenging.

To make the most of two months:

  • Assessment: Take a diagnostic practice test to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Study plan: Create a detailed study schedule, allocating time for content review, practice tests, and analysis.
  • Focused review: Concentrate on weak areas while reviewing strong ones for reinforcement.
  • Practice tests: Regularly take full-length practice tests under timed conditions to simulate test-day scenarios.
  • Review and analysis: After each practice test, thoroughly review incorrect answers, understanding why you made mistakes.
  • Practice questions: Complete practice questions from various sources, ensuring exposure to a range of question types.
  • Utilize resources: Utilize SAT prep books, online resources, and tools like Khan Academy.
  • Time management: Practice time management to complete each section within the allotted time.

Remember, consistent effort, effective study strategies, and a growth mindset contribute to successful SAT preparation within a two-month timeframe.

A student focused on studying in room, with view of lush green trees and river outside window
Short bursts of focused work is always better than long periods of unfocused work

2. How can I focus on studying for the SAT?

Maintaining focus while studying for the SAT requires organization, discipline, and effective study techniques. Here's how you can enhance your focus:

  • Set clear goals: Define specific score goals and break them down into manageable study targets.
  • Create a study space: Designate a quiet, clutter-free study area to minimize distractions.
  • Manage time: Use techniques like the Pomodoro Technique (study for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break) to maintain focus.
  • Eliminate distractions: Turn off notifications, block distracting websites, and silence your phone during study sessions.
  • Prioritize tasks: List tasks based on importance and tackle high-priority topics when your focus is strongest.
  • Use active learning: Engage with the material through summarizing, teaching, or creating flashcards.
  • Healthy lifestyle: Get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, and maintain a balanced diet to support focus and cognitive function.
  • Practice mindfulness: Use techniques like deep breathing or meditation to enhance concentration.

3. What is Khan Academy's two-pass strategy for SAT?

Khan Academy's two-pass strategy is an effective approach to prepare for the SAT using their free online resources. Here's how it works:

First pass: mastery of content

  • Initial assessment: Take a diagnostic SAT practice test to identify your baseline.
  • Study plan: Create a study plan based on your diagnostic results and the time available.
  • Content review: Go through Khan Academy's SAT prep materials, videos, and lessons to build a strong foundation in all sections.
  • Practice questions: Complete practice questions and exercises related to each content area.
  • Focused study: Concentrate on areas where you struggle, utilizing Khan Academy's personalized practice recommendations.

Second pass: full-length practice tests and refinement

  • Practice tests: Take full-length practice tests under timed conditions, simulating real test scenarios.
  • Analyze results: Review your test results, identifying strengths and areas needing improvement.
  • Targeted practice: Focus on your weaknesses by revisiting relevant Khan Academy resources and practicing related questions.
  • Repeat practice tests: Periodically take practice tests to gauge progress and identify any persistent weaknesses.
  • Final review: In the weeks leading up to the test, engage in intensive review, practice, and test-taking strategies.

By combining comprehensive content mastery with targeted practice and refinement, Khan Academy's two-pass strategy helps you build confidence, familiarity, and readiness for the SAT.


In conclusion, mastering time management on the SAT is an essential skill that can significantly impact your performance. By bringing a watch, understanding the sections, and following these expert tips, you'll not only navigate the SAT with confidence but also leave the test center with a sense of accomplishment. Remember, practice is key, and Aha is here to support you on your SAT journey. Sign up for Aha, a comprehensive learning website that offers quality sample questions and utilizes AI to identify and address your areas of improvement. Your path to SAT success starts with effective time management and strategic preparation. Don't miss out – sign up for Aha today and unlock your full potential!

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