The SAT exams are approaching, and you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed. There are many simple strategies you can take advantage of that will help you improve your score, and boost your confidence on exam day. Here are five of our favorite SAT tips and tricks.
Simplify Your Questions
There will be many instances on the SAT when questions, passages or math problems are so long that you’re overwhelmed immediately upon reading them. This is done intentionally, and there is typically some excess information that you don’t even need in order to solve the problem or find the correct answer. According to Clay Cooper of PrepExpert, one way to tackle this on the English section is to get rid of prepositional phrases that aren’t underlined, because they are often there just to lengthen the sentence and make the error harder to spot. Similarly, for the math section he recommends replacing abstracts with tangibles. In other words, if you substitute variables with simple numbers like 0 or 1, the math problem will instantly become much simpler to solve. For more PrepExpert tips and tricks, view Clay’s SAT webcast here.
One of the biggest things you can do to ensure you get a great score on the exam is to prepare ahead of time and stay calm. If you wait until the day before the test to start studying, not only will you be less likely to retain the information you’re learning, but you’ll also have much more anxiety come test day. Here are some helpful tips from our friends at Noodle Pros to help you take the stress out of the SAT exam.
Take It Multiple Times
Very few students are able to reach their target score after taking the exam for the first time. It’s much more typical for students to take it two, three, or even four times before they feel like they’ve done their best. This is because the SAT is unlike exams most students are used to, and it takes some time just to get adjusted to the testing style and structure, nevermind the content. Therefore, it’s best to start taking the exams as early as possible, so you have plenty of time senior year to retake them. Check out this webcast hosted by Urvashi Keown of TestRocker, to learn how to improve your score and use it to maximize your scholarship winnings.
Be an Active Reader
Kathy Rogers of Score at the Top recommends active reading as one of the best strategies for tackling the reading section of the SAT. This means you should read at a slow pace, underline key words, and circle important nouns, names and trigger words. At the end of every paragraph, summarize what you read, so that you’re not zooming through the passage and accidentally missing the most important parts. With so many passages, it can be very easy to start daydreaming and skimming the text rather than focusing intently on it, so it is very important to stay focused the entire time. And for more tips on raising your score, check out her webcast.
The timing of standardized tests is something that affects a large amount of test-takers. Spending several minutes on one question could actually harm your score significantly, because it will cause you to have to rush at the end, and potentially not finish the exam. Each section is timed separately, so it’s important to time how long it takes you to do certain questions in a practice test, so you have an estimate of how long it will take you on the real test. Then, look at how long you get for each section, and compare that to the number of questions in the section to get an average amount of time per individual question. Signet Education tutor Ellie Campisano’s advice for those who are taking above the recommended time per question is to not force yourself to stick to the time limit when first starting to practice. For example, if typically takes you three minutes to answer a math problem but you only get a minute and a half, don’t start practicing under that minute and a half window. Instead, work yourself up to it by starting at the time that you’re comfortable with, and practicing until you reach your goal time. For more of Ellie’s tips and tricks, check out her webcast here.