So you want go to college? The only thing standing in your way is that dreaded SAT exam. Your best defense against this beast is to simply be prepared. This is not the sort of test you can wait until the last minute and cram for. You can’t cheat on it and you definitely can’t “wing it” either. To ensure victory on SAT game day, you’re going to need lots of practice.
Before the big day, some tips to prepare
1) Take a prep class. Places like the Princeton Review or Kaplan know what they’re doing—and that comes with a price tag. But, you’ll be given review materials, tons of sample problems and personal attention for all your questions. If you can’t afford a professional review class, there are plenty of other options.
2) Go to the bookstore. No, you’re not going to get tanked up on lattes and read celeb mags. Use this opportunity to get a quality review book for the SAT. Find one that fits your needs, and comes with a CD-ROM with practice exercises and tests. Nothing cuts down on test anxiety like familiarity with the types of problems you’ll see.
3) Use your local library. If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to the library, you’ll be happy to remember it’s a great place to check out review books for free. If this is the route you head, plan ahead: go a few weeks before the exam since your classmates might have the same idea as the test day draws near.
4) Get help online. There are a ton of resources online for preparing for the SAT. Some are even free. Here are a few places to try:
- Test Prep Review: You’ll find practice exams that you can take at your own pace and hundreds of “flashcards” to help with the stuff you need to memorize.
- Number2.com: Get a free preparation course that includes tutorials, practice sessions and vocabulary building.
- The College Board: Gives you free preparation, sample reading, writing and math tips. You’ll also find tips about the SAT and a listing of exam dates and fees.
- The Tutor.com SkillsCenter Library: Tutor.com has resources like videos, sample tests and essay prompts, all free for you to use. You can access these through your local library, our directly from our website.
Staying calm on the big day
Once you’ve practiced and prepared all you can, the biggest task before you is keeping your cool on test day. There’s nothing worse than freaking and forgetting what you’ve learned. Be confident in your preparation and just go with the flow. Remember, you’ve seen all of these questions before. They should greet you like old friends.
If deep breathing fails to calm you, repeat one of these confidence-boosting mantras to yourself:
- I will do the best I can on this exam.
- I will be mindful of the clock, but not obsessed with it.
- I will not freak out if I don’t know an answer. I will skip it, or take my best guess. “Freaking out” isn’t really going to help anyway.
- I will put my pencil down when the time is over and go do something fun. I deserve it.
There’s potentially a lot at stake here. On one hand, it’s just a single test. On the other hand, it could determine what you do with the next four years of your life. As with anything, do your best and be content with however it turns out. The SAT is important, but approaching it in a more relaxed (but prepared) way will help you perform better.