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20 Tips to Ace the SAT

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Madeline Riley

Every high school junior in Michigan will take the SAT this April, and leave with a score that will define much of their college applications process. The SAT can be retaken, however, the state sponsored test is free of charge and acing the test on your first try will ease stress in the future. Taking the test twice is very common (some students take it three or even four times), but at Parros we work prepare students for success on their first try.

Follow our 20 tips for an A+ SAT:

Preparation:

  1. The reading section has a variety of question types, learn each of the eight questions, and learn which are easiest for you, which are most difficult. Develop a strategy to answer the questions in an order that speeds up your process and lets you answer the easiest ones first.
  2. Study commonly used SAT vocabulary words.
  3. Read in your free time or for class to improve the speed with which you get through passages and your retention of the information.
  4. Brush up on your basic math skills (arithmetic, algebra and functions, geometry and measurement, probability and statistics).
  5. Memorize mathematical formulas that you’ll need on test day. The proctor will provide you with a list of formulas, but having these memorized in advance will speed up your process.
  6. Study grammar online or ask teachers for help. On the writing section, knowing grammar rules will be vital, but this is often an area where students feel most uncomfortable.
  7. On the night before test day, prepare all the materials you’ll need (photo ID, #2 pencils and eraser, non-graphing calculator, snacks, water).

Taking The Test:

  1. The SAT will instruct you to pick the “best” answer...Keep in mind, however there is only one correct response! All choices that are not the right answer are rotten answers! Eliminate all wrong options.
  2. Trust yourself. If you’ve studied adequately, then you should be prepared for the test. Do not second guess your answers, as this is a waste of time on this long, exhaustive exam! When you find the right answer, bubble it and move on; if you’re certain the answer is A, don’t read B,C, and D; if you know a formula, don’t look it up again to confirm.
  3. Skip difficult questions and answer them if you have time at the end. If you use this strategy, make a note to go back to these questions so you do not forget.
  4. Bubble at the end. Answer the questions in your test booklet and leave a few minutes at the end to input your answers into the scantron. Going back and forth throughout the test will waste time.
  5. If you have time at the very end, go back and check difficult questions or all questions if you have time.
  6. Read the questions carefully--pay attention to words that indicate a negative (Except, however, all but, etc.)
  7. Focus on context and connotation within the reading comprehension section. Look at adjectives, contrast words, and see the piece as a whole to extract the meaning or intention.
  8. Build a strategy for the reading section. If you’re a quick and thorough reader, reading the entire passage may be effective, for slower readers, skimming the passage or moving straight to the questions before reading for their answers could be more efficient.
  9. Underline key parts of questions to focus your approach to answering.
  10. On the language section “NO CHANGE” answers are correct ⅕ of questions where there a possible answer. Make sure you’re certain that this answer is correct, as it is uncommon.
  11. Spend 10-15 minutes on the essay section ensuring you understand the prompt and outlining your argument.
  12. Use specific evidence in your essay. Vague answers will do little to convince the graders.

Reassessing:

  1. In taking practice tests, or in reviewing the answer key for your official SAT, check every answer. What did you get right? Wrong? Is there a trend in how you did? Did you struggle with all the vocab questions? Did your answers start strong in the beginning of a section but then struggle with fatigue later on?
  2. Readjust your study strategies. Determine why you didn’t do as well as you wanted (stress, time, or being unprepared) and seek to directly address this shortcoming.

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