The Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT® is a four-hour long test that most high school students dread. The SAT® has a profound impact on your college application and is the test that all your years of schooling have prepared you for. There’s no substitute for hard work here and you will have to study many long hours to get the best results, but knowing how to navigate the SAT® test and how best to prepare for it will help you to succeed.
The SAT® consists of 170 questions divided into three components: writing, critical reading, and math.
Writing: This consists of a 25-minute essay and 49 multiple choice questions.
Critical Reading: This section is testing your ability to understand and analyse text and consists of 67 questions.
Math: 44 Questions are multiple choice with 10 additional questions.
SAT® Test Preparation
The first thing you should do is to decide if you actually want to take the SAT® test. Find out if the colleges you wish to apply to accept the ACT test. These two tests are both designed to test your aptitude, but are very differently formulated. Take a practice test for both to see which one fits your style best.
Vivian Kerr from Bloomberg Business Week: “In general, the SAT® is the preferred test for schools on the East and West coasts, while the ACT remains popular with schools in the Midwest and the South. Many schools accept both, however.”
If you like books and are an avid reader, then the SAT® is definitely for you. The SAT® is for students with excellent language, reading and vocabulary skills and the math components are said to be easier than those found in the ACT.
The SAT® is divided into 9 sections and each section has a time limit. So you will go through nine iterations of “Five more minutes” and “Pencils down!” This places enormous pressure on you during the test. The ACT test also has time constraints but here students who work quickly may have time to go back and answer questions that they didn’t get to or check that their answers are correct.
READ the questions
Read all questions really carefully. If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess, leave it blank and try to come back if you have time at the end of the section. There is a penalty (1/4 of a point) for incorrect answers, so it’s best to be safe.
Trick questions may try to catch you off guard, so ensure that you read the questions slowly and carefully before you begin.
Eat, drink and be ready
Your brain needs fuel to function optimally. Avoid living on a diet of candy, fast food and coffee in the weeks leading up to the SAT® exams; it’s time to give your brain the right fuel to get it firing on all cylinders.
Eat brain-building foods in the weeks and months leading up to your SAT® exams. These include wild salmon, acai berries, leafy green veggies, seeds and nuts and whole grains. Get a healthy balance of proteins, omega-3 and carbohydrates on the day of your exam and drink lots of water so that you are properly hydrated.
Practice makes perfect so ensure that you try some practice tests which you can download here. Ask your tutor for help with SAT® test preparation well in advance of your test date.