After recently taking the SAT myself, I thought I would share some information and tips from my experience!
If you’re looking into going to college in the United States, chances are you’ve heard of the SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test. Colleges want your scores with your application and it helps them decide if you’re a good fit. Supposedly, it shows how well you will do in college, but studies have proved that wrong continuously. What it really tests is how well you take the SAT. That’s it.
Despite that, it’s still an important test that you must prepare to take at least once, since most colleges require scores to be submitted for consideration.
The Actual Test
There are four sections in the regular test, five if you’re taking the essay. There are breaks between select sections, at the discretion of the test moderator.
- Reading Test: 52 questions in 65 minutes; 5 passages (fiction, science, history) you read with 10 to 11 questions for each
- Writing and Language Test: 44 questions in 35 minutes; 4 passages (nonfiction) you must revise with 11 questions for each
- Math – No Calculator Test: 20 questions in 25 minutes; topics include algebra, data interpreting and analyzing, real-world application problems
- Math – Calculator Test: 38 questions in 55 minutes; similar to no calculator test
- Essay: 50 minutes; this is optional; write an essay to a prompt
There may also be a section that doesn’t count but has sample questions for future tests on it. This would be between section 4 and 5.
You can’t just show up to a test center and take the SAT. You have to register beforehand by a certain deadline for each test (about one month before the test date). I won’t try to explain it all to you since there’s a lot, so learn more about registration here. You can take it as many times as you want!
It costs $45 to take the regular SAT. It’s an additional $12 for the essay. The SAT subject tests are $26 for registration and $20 for each test. There are waivers available. Learn more about the fees and waivers here.
A Month* in Advance
*If you normally do well on standardized tests, you will be okay with starting to prepare a month to two weeks beforehand. If you don’t, you might want to start studying a few months beforehand. Start studying when you think it will be most beneficial to you.
Take the PSAT. This will give you a good gauge on what to expect on the SAT and how well you’ll do. All of my friends have done better on the SAT than the PSAT.
Start a studying routine. I did one hour a day, alternating math and reading. I would have a “skip” day on weekends.
Pace yourself. Don’t stress yourself out and work yourself to death. Unless you need a lot of help, you probably don’t need to study for more than an hour at a time. You don’t want to be burnt out when it comes to test day.
Focus on things that you struggle at. Spending a majority of your time on things you already excel at doesn’t help you. Although it can be a major confidence booster, it’s a waste of time when you could be improving your skills in other areas. And praying the stuff you don’t know how to do to not be on the test doesn’t work (trust me).
Utilize any and every resource at your disposal. Buy an SAT prep book (I recommend this one), take a prep class, and/or use Khan Academy. I mostly used Khan Academy which has personalized questions, explanations, and tons of practice.
The Night Before Test Day
Don’t study. I know, I know, it sounds strange. But if you’ve prepared, more studying will not help. Marathon runners don’t run the day before the big race, so neither should you. If you must, just review formulas and advice.
Do something fun. I went out with my best friend and got ice cream. It gets your mind off of it and allows you to escape from stress.
Get your things in order. Print out your admission ticket. Put your ID in your bag. Set out snacks and a water bottle. Sharpen your #2 pencils. Charge or replace the batteries in your calculator.
YOU WILL BE OKAY! Don’t panic or stress about it because it doesn’t help. You can always retake it if you’re not happy with your score.
Eat breakfast. Today is not the day to skip eating breakfast. Even if it’s just a granola bar, you need energy to wake yourself up.
Make sure you have everything you need. Take a mental inventory of your items to make sure.
Get there when the doors open. Sometimes they will start when a room is full, so try to get there early.
Breathe. It’s just a test. A retake-able (is that a word? idk.) test.
Use your time wisely. Skip questions you don’t understand. Read questions before passages. Ignore distractions, they aren’t important.
Celebrate! You finished the SAT. Be proud, go grab lunch or see a movie. You deserve it.
Good luck and thanks for reading!
Featured image is not mine.