A practice test is the ultimate way to tell if you are ready for the SAT. Also, nothing can serve as a better estimate of your score than a test well-taken. Like a long run before a marathon, it is a necessary step to see if you have what it takes to make it to the finish line. Of course, it is not as easy as picking up a test and a pencil, the more prepared you are, and the more you treat it like a real test, the better the test will serve as both an evaluation and good practice.

Give yourself time before the SAT to take the practice test. That way, you will have more time to work on the problem areas you find. The practice test will not be that helpful a week before the test; there simply is not enough time to practice. I would take it at two months and then again at one month before the test. You can take the practice test at weekly intervals, but be careful to space out the tests enough to make some real progress.

When you are ready for the practice test, you’ll need to pick the right book. Many test prep companies offer practice tests. I will not endorse any specific book, but I will tell you that the best texts will have several complete tests to choose from, detailed explanations for each test’s answers, and a pull-out answer sheet that will resemble the real thing. The bad kind of book will feature a hastily compiled list of questions, poorly chosen passages for the Reading Comprehension and Writing sections and a bad prompt for the essay question. You can usually figure out the bad tests through a quick perusal at the library or the bookstore.

It is best to take the test in a quiet area, one where there are no distractions. Treat the practice like a real test. If this means spending time in a closet with a lamp, I say go for it. Seriously, if you live in a crowded house or apartment, go to the library and check out a quiet room for four or so hours. It is that important that you are not distracted during any part of the test. Take only the three breaks that the real SAT offers. Don’t linger during those breaks, either. Five minutes is not enough time to clean out your parakeet’s cage!

The SAT practice test should offer a way to score your results on a 2400-point scale, per the real test. This may be a time to get a parent or a friend involved; I find it difficult to be reasonable grading myself and you need an unbiased score. Remember, it is not an accurate score if it is not done correctly, and if it is not accurate, then it is of no use to you. When you figure out the scores, don’t panic, there are always ways to improve and hopefully you have enough time before the test to study. Break down the score so you know for next time that geometry problems give you difficulty, or longer passages are unclear to you. Make sure you know what the problem areas are, though, and work from there. A good SAT prep book will give you that level of insight into your score.

If you choose to do SAT practice tests online I suggest taking a diagnostic on Grockit.com.

Remember, a good practice test is the basis by which you can make tangible improvement on your score. Taking the test section by section can help, but remember, like in a marathon, you need to take that long run once or twice before you are truly ready. So keep that in mind and good luck!

Try this SAT writing question for practice and good luck!