Strategies: Approaching the SAT


As the Scholastic Aptitude Test’s prime time approaches, students have expressed concern over the four and one-half hour exam, jam packed with three different subjects. According to College Board, “Almost all colleges use your SAT scores to make admission decisions.” The idea of studying for such a crucial assessment can be overwhelming.

Whether you’re a visual or an auditory learner, there are many ways to study. The SAT College Board website offers free practice questions in reading, math and writing and includes a full practice test. The Online Store offers official online classes and/or the official SAT Study Guide, Second Edition.

“I definitely plan on using the SAT prep practice booklet as a source to study from,” said junior Taylor Marino.

SAT Prep classes are also an option which are 8-12 weeks depending on the date you plan to take your exam. Junior Kia Boreland said, “The class will help me be ready to take on challenging questions that I may have otherwise skipped, but now I can be confident in answering them because of practice.”

So what exactly are you studying so hard for? The SAT is “very much similar to the PSAT which I believe should be taken seriously,” senior Justin King suggested.

“I would say that the SAT is predominantly based off what you have learned in high school,” senior UConn English student Michael O’Sullivan said. “I found the easier parts of the test to be the parts that were well reviewed in my classes. Reviewing the material definitely makes a big difference in performance though.”

The SAT is a skill-based test, so it will make it easier on yourself if you work hard in high school right off the bat. Keep in mind that short-term studying and cramming will not make up for slacking off in school, but it will never hurt to review.

Although the majority of tests a student will take throughout his or her high school career do not offer multiple retakes, the SAT does. “I have taken the SAT three times. It really helps to take the test more than once because I found that, aside from the knowledge, the hardest part of the SAT is getting used to the structure and time limits of the test,” O’Sullivan advised. It can only help to take the SAT multiple times because only your top scores from each subject you are tested on are submitted to colleges. This way, if you don’t do quite as well on math as you were hoping for the first try but did well on reading, you can get the score you were shooting for on math the second time around and still send in your first score from reading if it is higher than the second.

Aside from the basic material needed to excel on the SAT and earn that perfect 2400, there are general test taking strategies you can use to ease your nerves. “The test allows you to wear a watch, which I found to be helpful so that way you know exactly how much time you have for each section. It also helps to bring a snack because you will get hungry by the end of the test,” O’Sullivan pointed out.

Only the answers you mark wrong on the test are counted against you. In other words, if you do not answer a question at all, then you will neither earn or lose points. “If I could take an educated guess, I did; otherwise, I skipped it,” senior Justin King said.

Boreland recalled, “The most important tip I was given was to not read the directions on the test because time is limited; therefore, this will only waste time.”

Any of the suggested ways of preparing for the SAT are better than not preparing at all. Try out different ways of studying; it is never too early to start reviewing. Most importantly, do not stress and focus as best you can.

The next SAT is March 14, 2015, and as of now you can register late. You can also register early now for May 2.