The SAT is totally unique. It is different than any test you have taken before. It demands mental stamina, focus, and concentration. You must stay calm under the pressure of time. You have to use knowledge from across various subjects to answer questions. In addition, you must employ critical thinking and test taking skills to navigate the various questions. The best possible way to prepare for this exam is to practice.
Learning to Take the Test
You should have encountered all of the material you will need to know in your coursework at school. The SAT is not about learning additional material, but learning how to recall material and skills you have already learned. It is important to review certain skills, but also learning how to take the test is an important part of the process.
When you practice you get a feel for how the questions are asked. You can look for certain types of questions, learn how to eliminate answers, make educated guesses, and use critical thinking to make the right choice. You learn how to read passages quickly and what information to look for. You will also internalize the instructions for different sections of the test so you won’t need to waste time reading instructions that are always the same.
Taking timed practice tests is also the only way you can develop the correct pacing so that you can get through each section in the proper amount of time. Knowing how much time you get for each section and developing an internal feel for how quickly you should be progressing are two different things. The latter will help you on the exam. In addition to developing a proper pace, taking timed tests will help you learn how to work under pressure. The exam will become less intimidating when you know that you have the ability to to work while the clock is ticking.
How to Take Practice Exams
You can download practice exams from the College Board. If you take practice tests on your own, be sure to set the timer and stick to the allotted times for each subject. You can also take the practice test with a group. Mr. Test Prep offers times to take practice exams so that you will get a feel for exactly what the test is like.
The New York Times has cited research that found college students performed better on exams after having taken a pretest, even if they have never encountered the material before. Imagine how much better you will do on the SAT if you “pretest” or practice before the day of the exam.
Mr. Test Prep helps every type of student—yes, even the shy ones—maximize their score potential. A lot of shy kids find the scrutiny of full one-on-one tutoring to be too intense, but at my Sunnyvale SAT Prep center, I create a safe environment that is perfect for kids who find verbal participation to be stressful. By combining group testing, with targeted instruction, shy kids can get the help they need in a way that works for their personality. No more awkward silences. No more pushy tutors. Just lots of practice and the guidance of an experienced educator.