Test Day: How to Prepare for the S.A.T

For many high school students, the most important bubbles they’ll ever fill in on a test come on the day they take the SAT. The Scholastic Aptitude Test has been in a state of flux as of late, as researchers and analysts attempt to make the test more accurate and fair. But unless they decide the test will now exclusively cover material learned during the lunch period, SAT preparation will remain a part of many would-be college students’ lives.

But how exactly does one get ready for the biggest test of his or her young life? Luckily, the number of ways to get in touch with your inner test-taker has increased as the number of those taking the test has gone up. Focus, good study habits, and a few of these tips can help get you started.

Preparation starts in class. It’s probably the most overlooked tip for those taking the SAT, but it’s also the easiest. Actively paying attention in class is the foundation of a great SAT score. Not only does homework and class lecture time build the foundation of your regular education, but it’s also the ideal place to start polishing your SAT prep skills, as well.

To take things a step further, many schools now offer seminars and classes specifically focused on SAT preparation and the type of material that will be on the test. At the very least, many teachers will include curriculum in their course work specifically tailored to the style or material that appears on the test. But even if your school doesn’t offer anything of the sort, don’t panic. Your primary classroom education is the primary vehicle for your SAT prep.

Use preparation books. Thanks to a growing number of students demanding study help, many book publishers have come out with their own guides to studying for the SAT. These guides are often very comprehensive, outlining everything from question distribution to how long you should take on each question to the more expected things like study guides. Some people buy several, hoping to gain a variety of strategies for tackling the test. This can be a good idea if you’re prepared for it, but if you find a strategy that works for you, stick with that and focus your study time on possible test material instead.

Use practice exams. Often, practice exams are offered by schools, local SAT prep seminars, or in books. Some textbooks and teachers can also provide practice exams and questions to help you become familiar with the style and format of the test. The internet is also a great resource for practice tests and questions but when checking for test prep materials online, make sure to verify the source’s credibility. While it may seem like a simple thing, knowing what you’re up against before you take the test can make a big difference when it comes down to test day. Practice exams can prepare you for opening that booklet from the College Board.

Now that you’ve gotten your resources together, studied your heart out and are still sure you’re doomed on this test, remember these few vitals for test day itself.

Rest up, eat up. Especially on a day like today, you’ll probably want every advantage you can have. Getting a good night’s sleep and eating a good, healthy meal can increase your chances as you’ll be alert, full, and less likely to be distracted or discouraged during the test.

Come prepared. Not only does this mean bringing the proper materials to the test with you, but also the knowledge and awareness you’ve been working on. Be confident in what you know, and be aware of what it will take to earn a good score. Coming prepared will allow you to focus on the test and make the most of your time and your focus.

Manage your time. It is likely that more students would score higher if it weren’t for time restrictions put on the test sections. Being aware of both the remaining time and the number of questions left in a section can greatly increase your efficiency in answering them. You don’t want to be forced to skip a question you might otherwise answer correctly if you had more time

Relax. More than anything, now is the time to relax. You’ve worked hard for this day, and worrying about it while you’re taking it will likely do you little good. Take a deep breath, hold your nose, and jump right in. You’ll be fine.

And rememberâÂ?¦if things go poorly this time around, you can always retake the exam if there are more scheduled. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your perfect SAT score. Keep at it. The hard work will pay off in a big way.

Now that you’re armed with this little bit of foreknowledge, it’s time to get out there (or stay right there) and hit the books. While this isn’t the most important thing you’ll ever do in your life, a good education beyond high school can start with a good SAT score. And with a little study, a lot of observation and a good night’s sleep, that score isn’t as far away as you might think.

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