Focus on what you DO know.
In the final days before the big test, you may begin to feel anxious about the things you don't know and you may be tempted to start cramming. Although it may seem like a good idea, last-minute cramming can negatively impact your performance – causing unnecessary stress and a false sense of confidence. Instead of worrying about what you don't know, focus on feeling confident about all you DO know. You've worked hard to prepare, so relax and give your mind some time to digest everything you've learned.
Preparing for Test Day
Here are some guidelines for things to do in the days before the test:
- Get a good night’s sleep. The night before the test you may be restless, so stock up sleep now.
- If you will be bringing a calculator with you to the test, replace the batteries.
- If you are still feeling nervous, you may want to review the lesson on Reducing SAT Anxiety, but avoid cramming which will only increase your anxiety. Focus on feeling confident about what you do know, instead of worrying about what you don’t know.
- Take the night off, do something relaxing, and then get a good night’s sleep!
- Before you head to bed, make sure your alarm is set and that you have set out the things you will need in the morning including: your admission ticket, a valid id, several sharpened number two pencils with good erasers, an approved calculator that you are comfortable using, a watch, with no alarm, a snack and something to drink, directions to the test site. Knowing you are prepared will help you feel more relaxed and enable you to get a better night’s sleep.
- Be sure your alarm is set correctly. It’s also a good idea to have a back up – just in case – so set a second alarm or to ask a parent or friend to make sure you don’t oversleep.
- In the morning have a good breakfast – but keep it light and watch the liquid – after all, you will only have two ten minute breaks during the exam.
- It may be hotter or colder than you would ideally like it to be in the test room so wear layers.
- Plan to arrive at the test location at least 30 minutes before the start of the exam. Register and then find a seat you are comfortable with. Take out your pencils and your calculator and take a deep breathe. Feel confident knowing that you are prepared.
- If you have a little extra time, take a quick lap around the parking lot or climb a flight of stairs to burn of your nervous energy and wake you up. And make sure you go to the bathroom before the test starts as there may be a line during the breaks.
Finally, keep the SAT in perspective. As all consuming as the SAT might seem right now, it is just a test. SAT scores are not the only factor considered for college admissions. Take a breath and remember you CAN do it. The SAT is not a one shot deal. You can always retake the test and Boston Test Prep will always be here to help you prepare.
Dear Prep Procratinator,
If your SAT test date is approaching and you have been putting off your SAT prep you may be starting to regret your procrastination. You may even be teetering dangerously close to an SAT-panic spiral and thinking, "If only I'd spent some time prepping last weekend instead of watching that Monk marathon . . . " And while it's true that there is nothing can replace weeks of prep and years of paying attention in school, there are still some things you can do to quickly help you get more prepared for test day.
Heading into the test you should know that, like it or not, your SAT score will be a reflection of two things - 1) your knowledge of the things you've learned in school and 2) your ability to take a standardized test. Here are some suggestions for some quick prep in both areas:
First, learn about the standardized test you'll be taking - the SAT. Start by reviewing the lesson "Part I: About the SAT" to learn about the test's overall design, the question types it contains, and how the test is score. Then review the lesson "Part II: Test Taking Strategies for the SAT" to understand how to use what you've learned to help you maximize your score. Reviewing these lessons takes less than an hour in total and will quickly get you up to speed for what to expect on test day.
Once you've done that, focus on your knowledge of the topics tested. Begin by taking a Practice quizzes in each of the three areas. When you come to a question you have trouble answering, click on the "lesson" button for the question and polish your skills. By the time you complete one quiz, you will have learned several things you don't know while familiarizing yourself with the overall style of the questions.
Nothing will replace weeks of prep and years of school, but by following these steps you'll be able to familiarize yourself with the test and polish a few of your skills.
Last Minute Test Anxiety
The SAT can be stressful. Follow these quick tips to help you combat test-anxiety:
- Know what to expect. Review the All About the SAT lesson so you are familiar with the design of the test and each question type. Being familiar with the test will help you feel more confident.
- The goal is not 100%. Tying to answer ever question on the SAT can hurt your score. Focus on correctly answering ever question you attempt, rather than on answering every question. You'll be less hurried, make fewer careless mistakes, and be less likely to fall for attractors.
- Be ready for hurdles. Inevitably, there will be questions on the SAT you that you have difficulty answering. When this happens, say to yourself, "I knew there would be some questions I wouldn't know and here's one of them," and then move on. Don't beat yourself up or dwell on what you don't know. Keep going.
- Keep focused. Don't rethink questions you've answered or worry about the questions to come. Instead, focus all of your attention on the question in front of you and do your best to answer it correctly.
- Each section is a new start. Between each section, as you put down your pencil, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and clear your mind. Don't waste brain space thinking about the section. Clear you mind and focus on the next section.
Danger: Don't Cram
Finding time to prep for the SAT
Finding time to prepare for the SAT isn't easy. Homework, activities, friends, family . . . it's hard to find the time and easy to come up with reasons to put off studying for the SAT.
One strategy for combating Prep Procrastination is to realize that you don't need a big block of time. In fact, more than 60% of students enrolled in the BTP Online SAT Program study in short sprints. Are you one of them?
Just 30 minutes is enough time to review a lesson, complete a diagnostic quiz, or review the answers for a quiz you've already taken. Once you stop believing that you need a big block of time to study, you'll find you have more time to study.
Prepare to be stumped.
The SAT is designed to include some questions that the average student will have difficulty with.
This means that even on your most confident day, with all the preparation in the world, you will come across questions that you are unsure of. You may even go blank. When this happens, take control. Don't let the question ruin your confidence or send you into a death spiral of negative thoughts. Instead, just think to yourself, “Oh. Here’s one of the questions I don’t know. I knew there would be some.” and then move to another question.
Hurdles will happen, so learn to expect them and pre-think your reaction.
SAT answers are simple.
Rule of Thumb: An answer choice that requires a creative explanation is probably not the BEST choice.
Recently we've received a series of question challenges from students in the BTP Online SAT Program starting with the words, "Why can't the correct answer be . . . " and ending with an explanation of why the student's answer should be the correct one. Although we've received and read some pretty good arguments, the response has usually been the same: "Your answer works, it just not the BEST answer choice."
SAT questions, by design, will often have more than one plausible answer choice. You will be asked to determine which possibility is the BEST answer, based on the information presented. But be careful - just because you can come up with a creative argument why an answer SHOULD be correct, doesn't mean it is.
If the answer choice you select requires creative interpretations or extreme circumstances to support it, you may want to reconsider. Keep challenging your answers (and our questions) as you prepare for the SAT, but on test day, remember: If the bubble you fill in cannot be supported by the facts, details, and clues provided, then there is a good chance it is the wrong answer.
Strategy Tips for Maximizing Points
Here are some tips to remember for maximizing points:
- Strive to correctly answer every question you attempt, rather than simply trying to answer every question.
- You won‘t lose points for skipping a question, but you will lose 1/4 of a point for wrong answers, so when in doubt, move on. (But remember: you only earn points if you answer questions correctly!)
- Remember this rule of thumb: If you can eliminate at least one answer choice, guess. Otherwise, leave the question blank.
Get into the SAT prep "flo"
At BTP, we know there are many ways to prepare for the SAT. We encourage our students to use as many different angles on test prep as possible. For example, the team at Flocabulary have created one of the most unique ways of building SAT vocabulary. Their site describes the product as "educational rap: strings of vocabulary-packed mnemonic devices set over hip-hop music." But basicly, the memorable rhymes help students connect the words, using mnemonics. The better the connection, the better the recall on exam day.
Visit www.flocabulary.com, and if you think it would work, give it a shot, and then test your progress back in our test engine.