Any student applying to college knows about the SAT; however, if you’re one of the few that doesn’t let me explain it.
The Scholastic Aptitude Test or the SAT is a standardized test that is used in almost every college in the United States to help determine college admissions. The SAT tests student’s understanding of English and Maths and tests it through an essay and a series of multiple choice questions. The highest score one can achieve is 1600; according to PrepScholar, 1340 is considered an excellent score while 1180 is considered a good score.
However, due to the demands of colleges and the fierce competition, students go into the SAT hoping to get a perfect score. While these scores alone don’t decide one’s admission in a college, they can make or break the decision.
Here are some tips that will help you get a high SAT score:
You have to work very, very hard.
Now this may seem like an obvious tip; to do well in any test, one has to work hard. However, you might be surprised on how many students undermine the importance of hard work when it comes to SAT prep. A very popular notion that exists in the SAT prep universe is that if you don’t know the answer to a question, you should skip it. This helps avoid negative marking. While this isn’t a useless tip, it sets a dangerous style of thinking in student’s minds.
While preparing for SAT, you will come across several difficult questions which will require a lot of thinking. Many students choose to ignore these questions, thinking that they will just skip it during the exam to save time and avoid negative marking. However, these missed questions quickly add up and these students could end up missing up to 15 questions, which is around 400 points. That alone drops your good SAT score to a mediocre one.
If do want to do well on the SAT, study for the SAT as though you don’t have the option to miss any questions. This will ensure that you work harder to get as many correct answers as possible and avoid losing out on points you could have easily scored had you pushed yourself a little harder.
You have to really want a good score
Like the previous tip, this one also seems very obvious. But it’s harder to follow than some people may believe. Imagine you’ve dedicated yourself to the SAT – pulled all-nighters, bought all the books, and read all the tips on the internet. But when you take your first practice test, you get a lower score than you expected – much lower.
At this point you are either freaking out or falling into a deep depression or both. This is that moment where you really need to decide how important this exam is to you. Are you fine with a mediocre score and a mediocre college, or do you want to go all the way and get into the best college possible?
If it’s the latter, then good for you. Now, you need to figure out what motivates you. Is it pressure from parents or a desire to make them happy? Are you trying to overcome a bad GPA and want to prove to the world you aren’t stupid and lazy? Or do you just want to get a score high enough to get you into the best college?
All of these reasons are valid enough to motivate you, just so long as they are strong enough to keep you from falling into depression. Write down whatever those reasons are and keep them near you at all times, especially while you’re preparing for the exam. Look at them whenever you’re feeling down so you’ll never let that motivation go.
Despite what standardized tests might think, every person is different and has different capabilities. One might be better at algebra, another might be better at reading comprehension, while another might have excellent vocabulary. Whatever your strengths and weaknesses are, you should already know them a few weeks into SAT prep.
While I strongly urge that you practice and learn every part of the SAT, it is more important to give a greater amount of focus to those parts in which you feel you are weak. By doing so, you will still be working hard but you will also be working smart. There is no sense in spending extra time on a skill you have mostly mastered when that time could be better spent on a skill you struggle with.Set a target SAT score for yourself
For all of you going off to college, here’s a little life advice: you will never be able to get anywhere in life without knowing where you want to go. Right now, you have to know which college you want to go to. That requires research and an understanding of what you need to achieve to get in. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a rough idea of what you’ll need to get in your SAT to be eligible for the program you are applying for. This is your target score and once you know your target score, you can easily judge your progress.
Once you’re done with your SAT exam, start preparing for the next one
I’m going to be totally honest here – it’s very probable that you won’t get your desired score on the SAT on your first attempt. There is no way to replicate the exact exam conditions of the SAT exam nor is there any way to reduce the anxiety one feels when giving the exam for the first time. By giving the exam again, you’ll be better prepared and know what to expect; thus, get a better and improved score. By avoiding a gap between prep periods, you are preventing your mind from forgetting bits of information and you are allowing yourself to not break the habits you developed while preparing for the exam.
It’s true that the SAT is an important exam in each student’s life and that it does have the ability – to some extent – to determine which college a student ends up in. But this is not a cause for despair. The SAT exam is just a system and one simply needs to learn how the game the system for their benefit (legally). Through these tips and tricks and copious amounts of studying and practice, there is nothing that should hold you back from achieving the perfect score on SAT.