My Top Five SAT-Taking Tips

4:35 PM

Hello again!

I know this may seem like a strange, and perhaps disheartening, topic for my first "official" blog post. However, I just took the SAT yesterday morning, so it's still fresh on my mind. I promise to post a yummy pie recipe or fun DIY project next week!

Without further ado, here are my top five SAT-taking tips!

1. How long to study

First, let me make one clarification. The SAT is not a test on things you learn in school.
Shocking, right?
But its 100% true! The SAT measures what they call "reasoning ability". The SAT does not necessarily test how  smart you are. This means: do not strain yourself overstudying! Personally, I studied from the beginning of February to mid-March, about a month and a half.

What does this mean for you?

The most important thing about the SAT is to learn how it works, how it asks its questions, and how to choose the right answer. And not necessarily on brain power alone. Studying for the SAT is all about cracking the SAT, not unlike a video game.
As my physics teacher would say, "Flirt with it and get it to tell you all its secrets."

2. What to study

Now that you have an idea of when to start studying, let's talk about what you should actually study.
I recommend studying two main areas:
  1. SAT test-taking tips
  2. SAT Hit Parade Vocab
To the right are the two books I used: The Princeton Review SAT Power Vocab and Cracking the SAT. The best part? They were both free!
Before buying any SAT books I highly recommend that you check out what your school library or county library has to offer.
The bigger book has loads of test-taking tips and multiple practice tests (which I highly recommend trying). All the practice test questions have answers and full explanations.
The smaller book has tons of SAT vocabulary words (1,600 according to the cover). Do you need to learn all those? In my opinion, not at all. Towards the back of the book, there is a section called "The SAT Hit Parade". It is a list compiling the words tested most frequently on the SAT. I spent my entire time in this little, 15-page section.

3. Make a plan

 Plan, plan, plan, plan! Otherwise you will not do it! I cannot stress this enough. Before embarking on your turbulent SAT-studying journey, create a study schedule.
The first step is to write your test date on the bottom of the page. For me, I wrote "Test Day: March 14th" in bold sharpie. Then, work backwards. On March 13th, I wrote "Last-Minute Review". On March 12th, I wrote "Practice Test 2 Section 8". On March 11th, I wrote "Practice Test 2 Section 6". On and on it went. When I reached the current date, I stopped.
The hard part is sticking with it, which leads me to my next tip.

4. Rewards

My favorite tip. Rewards.
Staying motivated is the key to sticking to your study schedule. Providing treats and rewards at milestones is essential! For example, after I was scheduled to finish reading the chapter on "How to Crack the Critical Reading Section", I wrote on my schedule: "You deserve a Starbucks!" When I came to that point, I was proud of the way I had stuck to my study schedule and could celebrate it with a Starbucks!
Keep in mind: rewards can be anything.
Here are some ideas: buy yourself a new book, take a day-off from studying, purchase some expensive tea, take a bath, light a candle, get together with friends, watch a favorite TV show. Do something to celebrate your achievement!

5. How to keep calm

So you've studied the test-taking strategies, attempted a couple practice tests, and are now spewing out words like "hackneyed" and "saccharine" while talking to your friends. Now its time to take the test.

Let me give you a run-down of what test-day is like:
So you arrive at the testing center no later than 7:45 am. I was so scared of being late I actually arrived at 7:15. The testing center is mostly, if not always, a high school. Once I arrived, someone told me what room to go to (according to my last name). There were about 20 other students in my room. The supervisor reads all the instructions from a special booklet in a monotone voice, hands out the booklets, instructs you on how to fill in all the bubbles, and then, before you know it, you're starting Section 1: The Essay. There are ten sections total. My test ended at about 12:30 pm. The supervisor gave us three 5-minute breaks. You're allowed to eat and use the restroom, but you cannot take out your phone or talk about the test. Finally, you finish with Section 10, which only lasts 10 minutes, and you're done!

There are loads of strategies for dealing with anxiety, from breathing exercises to creating a confident alter-ego for yourself. Just tell yourself that you worked hard and whatever happens happens! You can do nothing more than your best. Be confident!

Oh, and ask your dad to take you out to get a milkshake afterward!

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