Total – 1480
Math – 780
English – 700
What I’ve learned from my experience with the SAT preparation is that you need to put in the work (regardless of how cliché or obvious this sounds). Right practice is the key to success as this is a “standardized” test with specific ways of testing your knowledge and skills and thus familiarizing yourself with the paper’s pattern is imperative for a good score. You need a solid grasp of the content being tested on the SAT (takes at least 2-3 months of intensive study) and a set of correct approaches to answering the questions on the SAT (takes solving at least 8-10 practice tests).
In my opinion, two things are really important for doing well on the reading section: time management and comprehension of the passage. For the reading section, you are going to find that you will be in a better position if you have a habit of reading regularly as it may be instinctively easier for you to understand what you have read and retain important information. The reading passage questions are mostly contextual and if you understand what’s going on in the passage then you will be able to answer the questions. When I first looked at the reading passages and tried answering the questions, all the answers seemed “correct”. The answer choices are presented in such a way that they all seem to be the right answers. This is where Sir Talal’s classes were very useful for me as he taught us that the trick is to find the “most correct” answer out of the available answer choices. This made things easy for me as I then focused on eliminating the incorrect answer choices during my SAT preparation (which usually involved looking for words or phrases that logically helped identify an answer choice as an incorrect option.)
I personally preferred to read all the questions first before reading the passage, after which I would answer the questions. In my opinion this helps prime your brain to subconsciously look for the answers to the questions you read and thus helps you mark-up important information more effectively. Similarly, for paired passages, you should treat each passage as an individual passage and deploy the same strategy of reading questions, the passage, and then answering the questions. This is discussed by Sir Talal in great detail in his classes. You should ideally be spending around 4-5 minutes reading the passage and once you are done you should reflect on what the passage is about. For this, Sir Talal provided a very useful “underlining strategy” that helped with analyzing the content of a passage. If you work through Sir Talal’s reading drill sets, you will figure out that there are certain themes and ideas being tested that repeat themselves (I call this the “pattern”). There is a logical way of answering all the various types of questions asked on the reading section and ample practice will help you identify this “pattern”. I think that going through all the material provided by Sir Talal along with extensive practice on Khan Academy helped me push my English score up to 700.
The strategy for this section is pretty straightforward: you need to get yourself familiarized with all the grammar rules being tested on the SAT. I feel that Sir Talal provides his students with ample study and practice material for them to get a sense of the content being tested on the SAT writing section. Overtime, I learned that being equipped with Sir Talal’s famous “Tutoria rules” and using a simple “process of elimination” approach for filtering out incorrect answer choices works well for the Writing Section (along with avoiding a tendency to overthink.) The strategy that worked best for me was to read one paragraph before answering the 2-5 questions related to that particular paragraph. This makes sure you have some context to back up the answers you choose instead of just reading one line that contains a question and then looking at the options to see which answer choice fits best. With enough practice, you will also be able to see that there are certain parts of the Writing passages which contain irrelevant information that you can skim through in order to save and better utilize time. As for practice, I feel that Sir Talal’s SAT booklets and SAT preparation material were more than enough for me to do well on this section.
For this section, it is really important that you continually and consistently practice. This will not only ensure that you get a sense of the concepts being tested on the Math section but also that you are able to manage your time well (which is crucial for the no-calculator section). I personally recommend doing Sir Talal’s “must do questions” along with all the other practice papers he provides you with in order to guarantee an easy score of 700+ on this section. I also found that the “Barron’s SAT book” contains some useful math techniques which helped me save time while solving some of the Math questions. It is important that you speed through the easy questions in the beginning in order to make time for the questions near the end. I also feel that you cannot waste time on a question by trying multiple approaches to see which one works but rather you should be sure of the specific technique that you will use to solve a specific type of question (and that is a skill that comes with ample practice, usually after attempting 8-10 practice tests).
Honestly, your skill level in Math doesn’t matter that much (apart from having to spend less time on revising the concepts to be tested on the SAT) as long as you don’t learn to tackle the set question types correctly and as efficiently as possible and for that I can’t emphasize enough on the fact that you need to practice (this helped me go from a score of 660 on my first try to a score of 780). Furthermore, endurance (building stamina to work through the paper) is key for the math paper and that can only be strengthened with rigorous practice. Again,Khan Academy is a great resource for practice in addition to Sir Talal’s provided study material, which helps one get familiar with the intricacies of the test and ultimately do well on it.