“You have to register for the SAT,” your counselor says. You nod in agreement, knowing this is a fundamental step towards your college goals. The problem is you have a lot of questions. How do you register? What should you study? How do you stop yourself from panicking as you take the test? How will you ace the SAT? Of course you could ask your counselor, he or she has the answers. If you didn’t ask, here is a convenient guide for the SAT.
Before anything else, you must register for the SAT. Remember that most colleges want your test scores around January or so. It takes about a month to get your scores after you take the test, so it is recommendable to test around October of your senior year or before. Don’t let these dates pass. To register, one has to have an account at collegeboard.com. You should become acquainted with this site: College Board is the official SAT testing website, and it has a lot to offer for the high school student (college tips, helps you pick your dream school, assists with the application process). Once you make an account, go to the SAT tab and there will be a button on that webpage that says Register. Click it. You will be guided through the registration process. At the end, you will be asked to pay a fee to register. If your family demonstrates necessary financial need, you can acquire a fee waiver from your school. Remember to PRINT your admission TICKET. Have you done it? Yes? Good job, you got through the registration process and are now one step closer to the SAT.
Now that you’ve jumped that first hurdle, you have to study in order to succeed. Luckily, College Board provides a few free tools to assist SAT taking students. You can take the free practice tests, get the SAT Question of the Day sent to your email, click on the Answers Imagined link to access an interactive view of the test, press the Skills Insight tab to take a closer look at the weaknesses you really need to focus on to make your scores shine, and work on the Practice Questions & Review section. Besides working with the College Board website, you can use your own methods. There are a billion and one SAT prep books out there to assist you, purchase one and get to studying. (Do NOT wait until the night before!) There are many organizations that offer SAT courses to ensure your excellence. You may have to pay for them but your education is worth the price. (There might even be a few free ones if you look.)
The vocabulary that you must know for the SAT is pretty extensive, so try learning it by taking things a day at a time. Using these words in your daily conversations, although a little obnoxious for your friends, is very efficient when trying to learn them. Also, there are some mathematical equations that you need to memorize before taking the test: look them up on the internet and learn them. There is a formula chart in the beginning of each math section, but it really isn’t wise to waste time looking back at that page.
It’s the day before the test: usually a Friday. You are very tempted to go out with your friends and have a sleep over where you won’t fall asleep until 3 in the morning, even though you know you have to be at your testing center by 7:45am the next day. Try to resist the temptation; it really won’t be too great to wake up feeling like a zombie the following morning. You can make up for this boring Friday night by planning something for that Saturday, leaving you with an event to look forward to after your dreary morning of testing. Also, if you aren’t thinking about hanging with your friends on this Friday night but you’re planning on a cram session before the test, don’t do it. You can study during the day, but at night, it’s best to just get a good night of rest.
Well, now your brain is ready for the SAT and you feel like you have it in the bag. Then, test day arrives and you have absolutely no idea what to take with you. Not to worry. You will need: a good breakfast (say no to the frijoles, though), your testing ticket, an ID (like your driver’s license or school ID), an accepted calculator (you can access the calculator guidelines here: http://sat.collegeboard.org/register/calculator-policy), number 2 pencils and an eraser, a watch without an audible alarm to have you keep track of the time, an extra calculator and/or extra batteries for your calculator, a drink and snacks, and a bag to put all of your testing equipment into.
Besides all of these things, you need to have confidence that you will rock this test. Many people know the stuff very well, but when it comes to actually taking the test, they freak out and psych themselves out of a 2400 on the SAT. Just remember all the hard studying you put into this test for weeks or months, this will boost you up. If you do start getting very anxious, just take a few deep breaths and visualize yourself getting through the testing process, going on with your life, and seeing a fabulous score a month or so later on the College Board website. Freaking out is not the way to succeed with the SAT. After all, you can always take it again.
Now that you’re calm and confident, you actually have to get through the test before shouting hooray. You have the intelligence, that’s what all those dragging days of school and studying have prepared you for. Timed tests are difficult because that is not what most high school students are used to taking. Remember to use time wisely: you are working under pressure but don’t let that freak you out. Do not get stuck on a question that you have no hope of answering; you can just leave it blank and move on. However, don’t just assume that you can’t answer these questions: read them thoroughly. Time can be your best friend or you worst enemy in this test. Make the best of it and you will make the best out of the SAT.