How to help your teen prepare for the SAT

Your teen doesn’t need to take expensive SAT prep courses; you can help him or her develop the right skills and otherwise prepare for the test. With these tips, your teen will be ready for and confident about the SAT.

Teen girl reading

Step 1: Encourage your teen to read every day

Daily reading will help improve your child’s comprehension skills. Encourage your teen to read newspaper and magazine articles, essays, chapters from books and any other materials. After she is done reading, ask your teen specific questions about the piece and to write down well thought-out answers. This will aid your teen in the reading and writing portions of the SAT.

Learn about ways to raise a reader >>

Step 2: Make sure your teen does math homework

Skipping math homework or not paying attention in class is certainly going to be a detriment to a teen preparing for the SAT. Stay on top of your child’s coursework and make sure that he is studying for his math tests and doing his regular homework.

Step 3: Get a tutor, if necessary

If your child is behind or has trouble grasping certain subjects at school, and you don’t feel that you can help her yourself, get a tutor. This will improve your teen’s knowledge, boost grades and help prepare her for the SAT.

Read about when to find a tutor for your child >>

Step 4: Familiarize your teen with the test

The SAT currently has three types of exercises — math, reading and writing. The test isn’t sectioned into those areas — rather, the different exercise types are dispersed throughout the test. The highest possible score on the SAT is 2,400 points (800 in each category). The test can be overwhelming even for the most prepared teen if he hasn’t seen the format.

Step 5: Recognize your child’s strengths

Don’t waste time quizzing your teen on things that she has already mastered. Instead, recognize your child’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can concentrate on helping your teen in the areas she needs most.

Find out: What type of learner is your child?

Step 6: Check out practice tests

You can check out practice tests on the College Board website and various other sites. The College Board site offers sample SAT practice questions and a full-length official practice test for free. Though your child might not want to take the entire practice test, he should read through the questions, answer some of them and familiarize himself with the test. Another free online resource is, where students can answer practice SAT questions and you can track their progress. Also check out SparkNotes, where you can find the 1,000 most common SAT vocabulary words.

Step 7: Help boost your teen’s confidence

In the weeks leading up the test, your teen may be understandably stressed out. Praise your teen’s strengths, reinforce progress and try to help relieve stress. Don’t let your teen be consumed with the upcoming test — make sure they are incorporating other healthy activities in their life.

Read about how to help your child gain confidence >>

Step 8: Stop studying a few days ahead

Your child shouldn’t try to cram new information right up to test time. Instead, take a break from studying new or difficult things a few days before the SAT. Use the last few days to focus on her strengths and reinforce strategies. The day before the test, do something fun and relaxing as a family. Make sure your teen gets to bed early and has enough rest for the big day. In the morning, wake your teen up in plenty of time to have breakfast and arrive at the test site on time.

More about preparing your teen for college

How to prepare your teen for the real world
Acing the college application
10 Dorm safety tips for college kids


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