Tricky Tips for the SAT Test
There is tons of advice floating around about improving your SAT score—some of it good, some of it bad. A lot of advice, although solid can be very generic such as “take a lot of practice tests” or “study vocabulary.”
Here are five specific tips to boost your SAT score, in no particular order. Some you may have heard before, but hopefully you haven’t.
- Practice real-world reading
The SAT critical reading section is a vocabulary-based reasoning test. Most of the passages are college-level nonfiction, which is not what most high school students are used to reading as we all know. As early as ninth grade, have your child pick one article a day from a periodical such as the New York Times (or another publication with comparable reading level) and identify the main point as well as unfamiliar vocabulary. It’s a great exercise—and also creates bonding time for the two of you!
- Endurance is as important as knowledge
In order to be fully prepared for the SAT Test you must prepare your endurance. To really prepare for the nearly 4-hour long test, students should take timed, full-length practice tests rather than just reviewing individual questions. The SAT is every bit as much about how you perform on test day as it is about the knowledge being tested.
- If you’re stuck on a math problem, start writing. Write anything: label the diagrams, draw a picture or plug in numbers. Try expanding, factoring or simplifying expressions. Often students of ours will leave a math question blank and say “I’m stuck” but they will have little or nothing written on the page. I’ll suggest that they write down what they know and see if anything comes from it. Many times something does. Often there are hidden patterns in the question that we miss until we start writing things down.
- Eat right on test day. Stave off hunger and keep energy levels high with dark chocolate, sliced apples and water. Bring Listerine strips with you for an “energizing pick-me-up” when you need one.
- Where you take the SAT also matters. Don’t assume ‘fancy school’ means ‘best test location’. When you’re choosing a spot, favor classrooms over gyms or cafeterias (which can have more distractions) and look for full-size desks and chairs, clocks that are clearly visible, and a chalkboard that can display finish times for each of the ten test sections. You can call the school where the test will be held to ask about these features.
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