Overcoming the SAT

College approaches, and with it, entrance exams filling students with dread.

The SAT is one of two main standardized tests colleges and universities use to evaluate students’ “preparedness” for college. Often shrouded in a cloud of dread and fear, the test can be intimidating, what with it’s reputation as a major factor in college admissions. However, there are many ways in which students can prepare for the SAT, removing stress and improving scores.

Statistics from Khan Academy, the College Board/SAT’s main source of practice material, show that just 20 hours of practice can improve scores by an average of 115 points from the PSAT/NMSQT to the new SAT, which is approximately twice the average point gain between the two tests. The statistics are consistent across race, gender, and socioeconomic class, showing that any predicaments one may have do not inherently place one at a disadvantage.

Students who take the PSAT may be at a greater advantage than those who do not, as scores from that test are transferable to Khan Academy, where they can be used to evaluate a student’s strengths and weaknesses to formulate practice tests accordingly. However, students who have not taken the PSAT still possess the ability to utilize Khan Academy. Each practice test is timed, and is comprised of a specific subject covered by three relating mini-tests which serve as a prerequisites for the collective practice.  For each literature practice test and mini test, there are eleven questions, whereas math tests and mini tests consist of ten and five questions respectively.

Those wishing to practice should evaluate the concentration areas where they need greatest amount of improvement and focus on those. From there, it would be wise to shift the most focus to the individual’s weakest subject. To allow for the twenty hour minimum without the stress of cramming, which can hamper the study process, test takers should have a set study schedule and begin studying well ahead of the test to provide ample time.

Concentration and timing are as much a key to success on the SAT as good experience the covered subjects. Therefore, those preparing to take the test should practice not just subject material, but timing and concentration as well. Setting a timer or using a parent can help with this. With limited time available and an abundance of problems to be completed, no less the large passages on the literature portions, it is imperative test takers learn their average time per question and passage.

Being well nourished on the day of the test is also important. It may be wise to adapt a new diet prior to test day, consuming more proteins while avoiding sugars, to help prepare the brain for the inevitable rigor. It is most important that a hearty, filling breakfast is had the morning of the test, but not one which will cause inconvenient biological functions in the testing period.

Having taken the test myself, and taken these acts to prepare myself for the test, I can say they do indeed help. I would recommended following using tips without a second thought. To sign up for the SAT, visit the College Board website.