The SAT is a mountain that nearly every high school student must climb. Test-taking anxiety and fear of performing poorly overwhelm many students, and they don’t perform as well as they could. If you’re dreading the SAT, here are some practical tips you can apply to maximize your performance.
Remember Context Is Key
In the reading section, you have to determine what a certain word means within the context of a sentence. Naturally, many students re-read the sentence to gather meaning, but may still get the answer wrong. Why? Simply put, you must consider the context of the sentence within the piece as a whole.
While the dictionary definition of a word (denotation) may seem correct, the context provides greater understanding to the implied meaning (connotation). Read more than just the sentence in question; read a few paragraphs before and after it. Don’t be fooled by seemingly obvious answers; always remember to examine the context first!
Read Problems Carefully
You make careless mistakes by not reading carefully. Math problems, in particular, require careful reading because many of them have two parts. If you miss one part, you’re going to mess up the next. Avoid skimming over problems; second guess yourself and make sure you understand the problem fully before you begin solving it. Many students slip up on common concepts like fractions and percentages because they read the problems too quickly.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
For a test, the SAT carries a lot of weight, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed. If you avoid this stress, your likelihood of success is greater. Why? Students often get flustered when they receive the test, because it’s intimidating. They know it’s going to take hours to finish.
However, if you avoid looking at the entire test and instead focus on one part, one question at a time, the SAT is more manageable. Break it down into small, attainable steps. As you accomplish more steps, allow this momentum to push you to the end.
Practice the Test
If you haven’t taken a practice test, you should take one. Practicing will help you establish a sense of timing. You’ll discover whether you tend to rush one section or if you run out of time on another section. Learning about your pace helps you make any necessary adjustments, so you’re ready for the real thing. The more comfortable you are with the SAT, the less intimidating it is to you.
Predict the Answer
Since the SAT lists the answer selections, many students try to back solve the answer. A better and more efficient strategy is to predict the answer. Before you look at the listed answers, try to figure it out for yourself. This makes sorting through the answers easier and faster.
Don’t allow fear of the SAT or anxiety to control you or your test-taking abilities. Remember to stop, take a deep breath, and put these tips into practice. Prepare for the test and learn how to take it, so you achieve the results you want.