Guest Post by Ashley (Chicago Home Tutor)
The SAT exam has been around for nearly a century and it has evolved quite a bit during that time. It still remains one of the most widely used measures for college admissions today.
Taking the SAT test can be overwhelming. There is a lot to know and consider about the SAT exam as you prepare and a personal tutor is always a good idea. As you start developing your strategies, you will find what works best for you.
The test is all about balancing efficiency and accuracy. And having a plan in place to answer as many questions correctly as possible. Here are some interesting facts and tips about the SAT you need to know.
1. A Long History
The SAT exam was originally created in 1926 as an Army recruitment IQ test. It morphed into an exam to measure admission standards for high-level colleges and universities. Then, in the 1950s, it started becoming the major part of pre-college testing it is today.
2. Try, Try, Try Again
You can attempt the test as many times as you want. There are seven testing dates every year and no restrictions on how many you participate in. Though it’s important to balance retaking with costs and risk of low scores.
The test is expensive to take, so consider your budget in deciding on your number of attempts. And every version is different. So you may come across one that is particularly difficult for you and blemish your testing record with a low score.
Some colleges allow you to send only your highest scores while some require you to submit all of your scores.
3. Speak a Language To Boost Scores
Studying a foreign language can significantly boost your scores. And you may also have the opportunity to take subject tests in your language. Both are appealing to college admissions committees.
Studies show that students that speak a foreign language score higher overall than students that don’t. And the boost in scores increases with continual years of foreign language studying.
The SAT also offers subject tests in nine specific languages. Doing well on one of these can make your college application stand out, especially if you are looking to major in a language.
4. Check Out Reading Questions First
The reading portion of the test is about balancing speed and accuracy. You want to take your time and read this portion of the test carefully. But you also want to be efficient in finding the answers to comprehension questions.
A helpful strategy is reading the questions before reading the passage. You will have a good idea of what information you are looking for. And it will probably save you some skimming through the text for answers as you respond to the questions. You will likely save time, even if you need to reread the questions after.
5. Know Your Math Answer
The math section of the test can be overwhelming. Having a strategy in place will help you approach it confidently. It will also help you answer questions correctly.
Start each problem without looking at the answers. You want to find your correct answer first, not try to make the answer you think it may be fit the problem. Once you solve and recheck the problem, select the multiple-choice answer that matches yours. If none match, rework the problem again.
You may also like: 7 Awesome Ways to Concentrate While You Study
6. Some Questions May Not Count
It’s widely believed that an entire section of the test doesn’t count towards your score. But there is no way to be sure if that’s true or which questions don’t matter. So it’s important to attempt the whole test to the best of your ability.
The College Board keeps information on these questions carefully guarded. They are thought to be used to collect testing data and possibly catch cheating. Either way, your best bet is to answer each and every question thoughtfully.
7. No More Guessing Penalty
The old SAT scoring matrix used to penalize students for simply guessing on questions. Zero points were awarded or deducted for blank answers. But testers would lose a quarter of a point off their score for a wrong answer.
This is no longer true, so feel free to guess away. If you have no idea what the answer is to a problem or you are lingering on it too long, just select an answer. You can try to eliminate the answers you think are wrong to narrow down your choices. But even if you have no clue, guessing still gives you a 25% chance of earning yourself points.
8. Order of Difficulty
It is widely believed that SAT questions are arranged in order of difficulty from easiest to hardest, especially in math. But every student has different strengths and abilities. So it’s important to have a strategy individual to you.
It’s essential to answer as many questions correctly as possible. So you may attempt to go in order, but it’s essential to be aware of time. Try to answer the questions that are easiest for you first, whatever order that might be, then go back and attempt more difficult ones.
9. Budget Your Time
The sections of the SAT are broken down with their own time limits. Budgeting for time will allow you to attempt the maximum number of questions. And help you move at a calm pace through the test.
You will have 80 minutes to attempt the 58 question math section. Giving each question a one minute limit can keep you on track to attempt them all. Obviously, when you solve an easier question more quickly, it will add to your cushion to spend more time on difficult ones.
Reading and writing sections are a little more complicated as the passages vary in length. You can focus on shorter passages first. Or look for questions that pique your interest where you are confident in your answer. Knocking those out first will give you more time to figure out the tougher questions.
10. You May Not Need It
As the ACT grows in popularity, many students are weighing their options. It’s possible you may not even have to take the SAT at all. Your unique situation will determine what test you should opt for.
Most colleges only require one score, either ACT or SAT. It may be helpful to take a practice test of both to see which one is more fitted to your testing style. And you can always attempt both exams to boost your chances for a more impressive score for college admissions and scholarships.
So whether you take the SAT exam once or ten times, it’s vital to be prepared. The more you understand and know about the test, the more likely you will be a confident test taker. And your it will show in your scores.
Everyone’s needs and goals are unique. The most important part of testing is finding a strategy that works for yours. And you will be proud of your SAT testing results and experience.
Ashley is a freelance writer with a passion for wellness and adventure. Her background in marketing and her experiences raising a family have given her insight into a wide variety of subjects. Volunteering in her spare time is fueled by her love for helping others.