SAT Prep Process

Your SAT Prep Process will follow these basic steps: Take a practice test; score it with the free app; set a session to meet with me (be sure to use a discount code); bring your answer sheets and TI-84 calculator to the session; set weekly sessions; witness your score increase.

SAT Prep
online math tutoring
SAT Math Test Preparation
ACT Preparation

Schedule a Session

First Step of Your SAT Prep Process: Take a REAL Practice Test!

You will want to take a practice SAT, a REAL practice SAT! Why am I using REAL in all caps? That’s because most test prep companies make their own tests that are 1) harder than an actual SAT; 2) scored more severely than a real SAT; and, quite often, 3) contain material that isn’t even covered on the real SAT (Link to WSJ article). Having worked for multiple test prep companies before starting out on my own, I couldn’t stomach the gamesmanship in offering an artificially difficult test so students would score lower than they would on an actual SAT. Many times a student would score an 1100 on “OUR official practice test” and be bummed. Then, after taking our course, they would score a 1300 on a real SAT. They’d be ecstatic that their score improved 200 points.

Schedule a Session


Their score was already likely in the 1200-1250 range at the time of taking “OUR official practice test”.

That’s why I have students take a REAL Practice SAT. These are tests released by College Board, the company that makes the SAT. You can download them free HERE. Please be sure to read the full set of instructions (about a 3-minute read) so you can get the most out of your test and review.

If you have difficulty following the directions, please ask for clarification. My job is to streamline your test prep process and help alleviate your anxiety about the test.

Schedule a Session

Second Step: Score Your Test

SAT Prep Process
SAT Triage

You likely already have a College Board account. If not, you’ll need one to register for the SAT. Once you have a College Board account, you can download the Daily Practice for the SAT on your phone. You can click here for more information detailing all the aspects of scoring your practice SAT.

Schedule a Session

Third Step of Your SAT Prep Process: Set a Session

You will want to click here to set your first session. If you use a discount code such as GOOGLE, you will pay less for your introductory hour-long session.

You will pay for the session at the same time as you set it online. Don’t worry! You can have the session in person. It’s just that all scheduling and payment for sessions is conducted through the Acuity online scheduler. That keeps it simple for everyone.

Once you set a session, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Please keep this. Should you need to reschedule, you can click on a button on your confirmation email so that you can reschedule all the way up to 4 hours before your session time free of charge.

Students and their parents really appreciate the ease and flexibility of scheduling. That way, if something happens to you or your schedule, you can reschedule your session in about a minute. Also, you’re not locked into a specific day/time for your sessions. While you can set recurring sessions, you have the freedom to set sessions as often or as seldom as you wish. Whatever days/times that work for you that are available, you can schedule.

Schedule a Session

Fourth Step: Bring your answer sheets along with your TI-84 calculator to the first session

You’ll bring both your answer sheets and your calculator to your first session. For that matter, you’ll bring them to every session.

On your answer sheets you’ll have marked the triaged questions. We’ll review those and the ones you missed. Now, we might not cover all your questions in a 60 or 90-minute session. That’s why it helps to camscan  your answer sheets. That way, I can have a list of your triaged questions and decide which ones are easier to review. You’re looking for progress, not perfection, so you’ll want to focus on the questions you can more easily understand at first.

By bringing your calculator, you’ll be able to download my set of programs for the math/calculator section of the SAT. As important as it is to have the programs, it’ll take some time for you to learn how to use them. Then, you’ll start using them as you take practice tests. Your goal is to become so familiar with the calculator programs that you’ll know which ones to use when, and to be able to use them quickly and easily. While most students can do well without programs, they’d be more accurate and faster with them. It’s all part of your overall strategy to improve your SAT score. Improving incrementally. The accumulation of a lot of small improvements leads to a bigger score improvement for you down the line.

Schedule a Session

Fifth Step of Your SAT Prep Process: If you’re happy with the first session, aim to set a session at least once weekly for 60 minutes.

Some students will see me more often, such as twice weekly, or set sessions for 90 minutes (a 60-minute session followed by a 30-minute session). 60 or 90 minutes is about as long as an SAT Test Prep session can be productive for you. After that you’re too inundated with information to process it all despite your feeling excited and enthusiastic about how long your session was and how much you reviewed.

During the summer is generally the best time for your SAT prep. After that, the next best times are holiday breaks. Being free of the clutter of other subjects demanding your attention helps you to focus on your SAT game.

The worst time to take the SAT (not SAT Subject Tests) is May or June. That is generally the season for focusing on your AP tests and gearing up for final exams and final projects. However, it is usually a great time for taking SAT subject tests, such as math 2, chemistry, physics, history, or a foreign language. This is because your AP prep coincides with a lot of the same material covered in subject tests and at the same time (May and June).

In my experience, sleep deprivation is the biggest obstacle to SAT prep. For that reason, I do not encourage students to prep for their SAT in May or June (unless you’re out of school early). While there is a prevailing sentiment among teens that sleep deprivation is all in the mind, it has been shown to impair cognitive function, affect outlook, and cause car accidents. Oh, and increase fat gain.

So, make sure you get enough sleep. If need be, take your practice test on a Sunday morning and we can review it the following Saturday.

Schedule a Session

Final Note on the SAT Prep Process:

Almost all of these steps apply to both self-prep or sat prep with a tutor. If you are engaged in self-prep, be sure to set up a system and stick to it. Consistency is key. And the review process is important. Keep in mind that you want to improve steadily. While your scores might fluctuate at first, they’ll likely consistently improve after about your third practice test.

Good luck and may you reach your SAT score goal!

Schedule a Session


By Martin

Martin McSweeney is a National Merit Finalist, Pomona College Graduate, and member of MENSA. He has worked at the Center for Talented Youth (Loyola Marymount University campus); Upward Bound (Harvey Mudd campus); various test prep companies; and Whittier High School. Now, Martin helps students of all abilities improve their relationship with math.