As with any test, the task of separating the good answer from the bad choices is a difficult one. Often, all of the possible answer choices look so similar and more than one seem to be the right choice! Well, this says something similar, but it has an additional part. Is this too extreme of an answer? Hmm I’m not sure whether this is the right answer, but somehow it just feels right… These thoughts have raced through my mind during each SAT test, practice or not, and even today, while taking tests for my classes. But alas, test-taking is simple in that each question is formulated with only one correct answer – or in the SAT’s case, one best answer. Here are some tips and tricks to help you figure out how to separate the good answer from the bad answers in the SAT!
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Does the test location even matter? I remember looking over all the possible SAT locations and wondering which location would be best to take the test. Would it be quiet or noisy? Would there be a lot of kids I knew there? Would that be a distraction? A multitude of thoughts ran through my mind. And after taking the SAT test and SAT subject tests in different locations, I can claim that the location definitely matters.
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The new SAT has sparked a furious debate on whether these changes are good or bad for upcoming high school students. Many people are disgruntled with the SAT College Board not because of these changes, but because the College Board has shown its lack of clarity and irrelevance in crafting the old SAT in the first place. For example, the essay portion, which was added in 2005 with great enthusiasm as being an integral component of the exam is now made optional and no longer heralded as crucial. The multiple thousand vocabulary words that every high school student stressed out over is now promoted as an unnecessary part of the SAT. They have also removed the previous scoring system of deducting a quarter point for every wrong answer to multiple-choice questions.
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Almost every student’s least favorite part of studying for the SAT is memorizing vocabulary. I know that was the worst part of my SAT preparation for sure. However, as mentioned in the previous post, the SAT vocabulary is an important part and cannot be neglected! Here, I will go through some quick tricks and tips to help you minimize the tediousness and ace the SAT vocabulary!
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I’ve often heard things like, “Oh man…I missed my target score of 2300 by 20 points, should I retake the SAT to get the score I want?” or “The second time I took the SAT, my score improved by 50 points, should I try taking the SAT a third time?” Some students believe that they have nothing to lose by taking the SAT multiple times until they have achieved their ideal score, or gotten too tired of it. Yet, aside from the 4 hours each time you take the test, registration fees, and emotional and mental health, there are other factors why there is a limit to how many times you should take the SAT.
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I remember that one of the biggest challenges I faced when tackling the SAT essay was having a wide variety of examples at my fingertips. Although the SAT essay is intended to measure your writing and argumentative skills, and not your knowledge of any particular subject, it is necessary to use good examples in your SAT essay to create a persuasive argument. Many of the essay prompts given on the SAT tend to be open-ended questions with multiple perspectives one can take. Almost all of these essay prompts deal with basic moral, social and psychological issues such as the meaning of freedom or courage.
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Often, the biggest challenge of the SAT essay isn’t poor writing, but coming up with relevant and good examples within the short 25 minutes that you are given for the essay section. Someone told me that during her SAT test, she panicked after reading the prompt because no good example came to her mind and so she made up an example using her “cat”. After the test, she realized that her example had been really far-fetched and its link to the prompt hadn’t been the most relevant. She realized that one key thing she should have prepared for was good SAT essay examples.
[Continue reading to find out what to avoid when writing your essay…]
There are a lot of misconceptions about using a calculator during the SAT. Students often wonder, is it better to use a really high-tech calculator? Or will my simple scientific calculator do the job? Will a calculator really improve my SAT score? The first important thing to note is that every mathematics question on the SAT can be solved without a calculator. So if you are unfamiliar with using a calculator during math tests, don’t try to force the issue during the SAT. Just solve those math problems the same way you’ve been doing them. Additionally, although using a calculator will not improve your SAT score, using a calculator may be helpful for some questions and also help you check your solutions more quickly.
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Preparation is key to any test, right? So all the prep I’ve been doing for my SATs must be helping me somehow, right? This is actually untrue! Although preparation is important for the SATs, there are actually mistakes we can make and things we should not do to prepare for the SATs.
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Math is a subject that, although intimidating at first with the numerous complex formulas and numbers, is actually probably the easiest to prepare for amongst the three SAT sections. Yet, most students fear the SAT Math section the most and often don’t quite know the different strategies for handling the different types of math questions that appear in the SAT. However, fret not! This post will help to break it down for you and provide you with some crucial strategies to tackle SAT Math.
[Continue reading to find out how the SAT Math is divided…]