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Articles / Preparing for College / How to Break 1400 on the SAT Or 31 on the ACT

April 1, 2021

How to Break 1400 on the SAT Or 31 on the ACT


When students apply to very selective schools — those that accept less than a third of their applicants — they often think that having a high SAT or ACT score and a high GPA will get them into their dream school. The reality is that at most of these schools, high test scores won't get you in because there are so many applicants with great scores, but a low test score will almost certainly keep you out. That's why it's so important to be in the top threshold, but you don't have to be obsessed with a perfect score (not that that's a bad thing!).

At most schools, that threshold is a 1400 on the SAT or a 31 on the ACT. Those scores put you in the top five percent of all students taking the exam. For most students, getting into that range means more than just being good at Math and English. It means also being very good at the SAT. Our new SAT 1400+ and SAT 31+ courses are designed for those students who are looking for that extra edge to be at the top of the heap of applicants.

Here are some quick tips for turning into a top scorer on the SAT or ACT.

Take Practice Tests in A Realistic Setting And Analyze Your Results

When you take the real SAT, you won't have a television playing in the background, your cell phone beside you or the ability to take an extended break to make some lunch and relax. You need to train like an endurance runner so you have the stamina and confidence to perform at your highest level for more than three hours. Our courses make sure you take at least four full-length practice tests.

Analyze Your Performance

Breaking 1400 or 31 usually means not only getting to know the exam but getting to know yourself. After you take your test, you need to analyze why you missed each question. OurSAT 1400+ andACT 31+ courses provide you with access to anytime tutoring, which you can use to help learn from your mistakes.

Learn How to Effectively Use Process of Elimination (POE)

Sometimes the best students are also the worst at using process of elimination. When you're confident in your skills, it's easy to become complacent and be so sure that an answer is correct that you don't bother to check the remaining ones. You should be using POE on every Evidence-Based Reading and Writing question.

Master the Most Frequently Tested Writing And Language Concepts

For most students who score in the top five percent on the SAT, the Writing and Language section is very strong. It is typically easier to improve on that section, so it's smart to aim for as close to perfection as possible on it.

Don't Forget the Math Fundamentals

If you're in advanced math classes now, some of the material on the SAT might be unfamiliar because you covered it in middle school. Make sure to review any fundamentals that you haven't used in years, including remainders, prime factorization, quadratics, exponents and systems of equations. Even if you were an expert at these years ago, you could be rusty on them now. Keep in mind that most of the math questions can be done without a calculator, and they are often faster without one. If you don't have your times tables up to twelve memorized, now would be a good time to do so.

Don't Try to Do Everything the “Proper" Way

Just because you know how to work through a complicated math process doesn't mean it's the best strategy. Look for the most accurate and efficient ways to approach problems. We've got you covered in our courses, too. We'll make sure you know all the formulas, but we'll also make sure you know when to use them and when not to use them.

Know When to Walk Away From A Question

The strongest students often have the hardest time skipping questions. They feel like they “should" know the answer, and if they spend just one more minute (or two ... or three) they can get it. Don't let one question prevent you from having enough time to answer three other questions. The more frustrated and stressed you get by a question, the less likely you are to figure out what you are doing wrong. Eliminate things you know are incorrect, guess, move on and come back again at the end of the section. Sometimes fresh eyes are all you need to get yourself back on track!

Be Prepared to Take It Again

Getting a very high SAT or ACT score is mostly about preparation and execution, but sometimes people have a bad day, which is made even more likely if they put too much pressure on themselves. Go in knowing that you have more than one chance to take these exams, and colleges are only interested in your best scores. Most people improve the second or third time they take the SAT or ACT.

Written by

Rob Franek

College Admissions and Test Prep Expert

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