I firmly believe it’s possible for everyone to boost their SAT Math score section by up to 300 points. I’ve seen students improve their score from a 510 to a 780 and many students jump from around 550 to a perfect score. Your results aren’t dictated by some sort of innate intelligence or “mathiness.” Instead, they’re a product of your effort and preparation. The SAT has a finite number of concepts, all of which are covered in high school by the time you take the test. Every student has the building blocks to do well; they just need to learn to use those skills properly.

However, many try to brute force their way to success by repeatedly taking practice exams or individual math sections en masse. It’s easy to understand why this happens. Our nation’s most popular SAT prep programs, Kaplan and Princeton, have students answer 12-15 questions of each type during a session. This might make sense in theory so that you have a well-rounded understanding of every topic. But in reality, it’s woefully ineffective.

If you’re a pro-basketball player who can hit 80 percent of your free throws, then it’s not an efficient use of your time to keep honing that skill. Instead, you should work on what can be improved. The math section is the same way. Students should target their weaknesses to maximize their score. Rather than mindlessly repeating concepts that are familiar to you, it’s more efficient to use practice exams as a chance to diagnose your shortcomings.

When you take an exam, focus on what types of questions you got wrong. Geometry? Logic? Algebra? Once the diagnostic is complete, move onto the next step: methodically and consistently drilling problem areas. Don’t worry about a time limit at the beginning. Just focus on finding the correct answer. What concepts are called upon? How do they fit together? If all else fails, which answers can you eliminate to improve your chance of getting the question right? Even reflecting upon the question and concept breakdown in the score review section of College Board can be very helpful. After you’ve developed your proficiency, practice 40-50 questions everyday to retain and build upon those concepts. Repetition is key to learning. Lastly, you should record your progress each day to see how you’re improving or if you’ve plateaued and need to review concepts. Once you fully understand one type of question, you can invest more of your time in questions where you continue to struggle. Mastering these techniques will improve your score and make you an efficient learner for the rest of your life.

At Ivy Admissions, we’ve perfected this process. Instead of treating our students as interchangeable parts, we individually tailor our test preparation and are there for you every step on the way. That means administering diagnostics, delving deep into your strengths and weaknesses and working with you to exceed your personal goals. We have had students achieve perfect scores – you could be next.