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5 Mistakes Students Make When Preparing for the SAT

‘It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.’ And while this famous line is the opening phrase of the renowned novel, ‘Tale of Two Cities’, it could just as well very aptly describe the scenario encountered by students when taking the SATs! SATs are a challenge in their own and nailing good scores on these tests is indeed one of the very ‘best’ moments in a student’s life BUT, at the same time, students make some careless mistakes, thus taking down their SAT scores.

So how do you make sure that your SAT preparation does not go to waste and you pass with flying colors? Make sure you avoid these 5 common mistakes:

Santa Clara SAT Test Preparation

1. Assuming You Can’t Prepare

The SAT is aimed at determining how prepared you are for post-secondary schooling. The purpose is to assess what you’ve learned through all your schooling up to this point.

That covers a lot of time and there is a belief that it’s not possible to prepare for the SAT. Some think that the SAT is like an IQ test or personality test; you can’t fake it and get around the questions.

That’s not the case with the SAT. You can prepare. You can refresh your brain on the things you’ve learned over the past 10+ years and improve your potential score.

2. Poor Time Management Skills

Prep classes for SAT place special emphasis and coach students on time management skills. 225 minutes can seem an awful lot amount of time, at hand but it is not uncommon to mess it up and run out of time doing the test.

The best thing is to know the structure of paper. You don’t have to memorize the exact number of questions in each section but know when to skip a question. For example, in the Writing Section where the 25-minute section has 35 questions, there is absolutely no time for dawdling.

3. Misreading Questions

In haste, it is very easy to overlook words like ‘NOT’ and misunderstand the questions. Be careful because carelessness can waste your time instead of saving it. You might later realize it and then have to spend extra time in fixing the answer or worse still, end up wasting time writing a totally wrong answer!

Read the question carefully and then plan your answer quickly in your mind or on the ‘scratch paper’ provided so that you do not waste time writing a useless/wrong answer. Make each second count.

4. Working A Question And Not Finishing

Building on the last mistake is the idea of working a question and not finishing. This happens when you read the beginning part of a question and get to work on the answer only to find that you’re not prepared to answer in a timely fashion.

A tip to avoid this common mistake is to read the question all the way through before you begin answering or to read the last part of the question immediately to get a better idea of how prepared you are to answer.

5. Not Using Proven And Specific Strategies For Each Section

In the Math section, most spend too little time on easy questions and too much on difficult ones. The correct way to go about this should be to spend most of the time in easy and medium-level questions. Whatever time is left should be invested in difficult questions.

Another strategy when working with Math MCQs is to plug-in the choices and see which one fits, instead of making a bunch of equations and then working them out.

In percentage questions, the number easiest to work with is almost always 100. It makes your calculations easier!

Here is a final tip for you: get excited!

Test anxiety can lead to poor scores. If you’re feeling nervous before the SAT or any exam you’ve probably heeded the advice to calm down. It turns out that being excited is a better mind frame. One study found that those told to be excited before a test performed 8% better than those told to stay calm. Another study found that writing your anxieties down before the test can improve your scores.

Now, go and ace it, armed with all the strategies and hacks. Remember: SATs require ‘smart’ work, not just hard work!

Image: Steven S.

Santa Clara SAT Test Preparation

Mr. Test Prep strives to prepare students with his Santa Clara SAT Test Preparation program. When students engage in his Santa Clara SAT Test Preparation program their scores reflect the hard work and dedication put forth. With over 1500 students taught, call Mr. Test Prep with confidence and be prepared!

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