Thursday, April 16, 2009

SAT Test Taking Strategies Part 4

*SAT Test Day Tips

Some of these things may seem a bit silly but we bet you will find at least a few of them helpful and we never fail to hear from at least a few test takers who gravely harm themselves by overlooking at least one of these.

Get adequate rest the night before the exam.

Think of the SAT test as your big game/match. You would get adequate rest before this, right? Well, the SAT should be at least as important as your big game or match as unfair as that may seem.

Directions to the test center.

Unless you are positive where the test center is, do a test drive a day or two beforehand. Make a good note of where to park and how long it takes you to get there. You want to be as relaxed as possible on the test day and worries about where the test is being given will not help you relax and give your best performance.

Bring your admission ticket and a photo ID.

If you have not received your admission ticket within a week of the SAT, or should you lose your ticket call the College Board immediately at (609) 771 - 7600.

Give yourself plenty of time to get to the test center.

You don't need the stress of rushing at the last minute or worrying that you will be late. Again, driving to the test center a day or two beforehand will tell you how long the drive takes.

Dress in layers.

It's just not good camping advice, but it's good SAT advice too. (And therefore worth remembering after the exam is a distant memory!) The test centers are notorious for being too warm or too cold.

Bring a watch and a calculator.

It's not worth the investment to buy a fancy calculator just for this test as you won't use it much anyway.

Bring whatever calculator you are comfortable using to the exam. In terms of a watch, just make sure it doesn't beep as proctors hate these types of watches and seem to enjoy confiscating them for the duration of the test.

Do NOT eat or drink too much immediately before or during the exam.

You want to be focused during the exam and you don't need bladder pains distracting you. 'Nuff said!

Out of these tips, we find that most test takers err by:
-Not knowing how to get to the test center,
-Not giving themselves enough time to get to the test center, and
-Eating and/or drinking too much immediately before or during the exam.

These mistakes are completely avoidable. Don't let any of them stand between you and the college or university of your dreams.

*SAT Time Management

Keep track of the time (Duh!?!)
-You'd be surprised at the number of people who panic on test day because they never trained themselves to watch the time. Use clocks or timers as you work on practice questions, so you'll learn to pace yourself and intuitively sense when 10 or 20 minutes have gone by. Remember to bring a non-beeping watch with you to the SAT exam (don't count on being able to see a clock clearly). Before beginning work on each section, write down the time the test will end. You can refer to that note periodically during the exam to gauge your performance.

Allocate your SAT test time wisely
-Don't spend test time reading instructions. The instructions for different kinds of SAT questions are quite standard. Familiarize yourself with them before test day so that you can go into the exam room already understanding how the SAT is structured and what types of questions you'll be asked. Remember, the SAT is intentionally designed to make you feel time pressure. You can alleviate that pressure by minimizing the amount of time you need to spend on reading instructions. That time is better spent answering questions.

Pace yourself
-You will give your best performance if you pace yourself. Don't rush through every question just to finish a section - but don't take so long on just a few questions that you leave the rest unanswered, either. Taking practice tests will help you develop a sense of a pace works for you, and that lies between those two extremes.
-Know when to skip a question
Every question on the SAT is worth the same number of points. There's no bonus for figuring out a hard question. That means it is NOT in your best interest to spend an inordinate amount of time with the more difficult questions.
-The most difficult questions are placed at the end of the test sections. Don't feel bad if you can't answer them. These questions are designed to be answered correctly only 10% of the time. If you come to a question on which you have NO idea of how to eliminate even one answer choice, do not spend more than 20 seconds on it before moving to the next problem.
-Keep in mind, though, that sometimes an easy problem looks difficult at first glance. Oftentimes, if you relax a moment, your mental "fog" will lift and you will find yourself able to answer the question very confidently.
-Keep track of your omitted questions
Put a question mark or other notation next to each question you skip. That way, if you have time at the end of the section, you will be able to easily identify and take another try at your omitted questions.
-Do NOT spend an equal amount of time on each question except in the critical reading section, SAT questions are arranged in ascending order of difficulty. That means that the easiest questions are asked first and the more difficult questions are asked later. You should allocate the amount of time you spend on each question accordingly. You will, hopefully, be able to knock off the first, easy questions quickly, so that you can spend more time on the best way for you to use your time in each section. For example, you might find that even if you spend 7 minutes on each of the last five problem solving multiple choice questions, you do no better on them than you would by guessing at the answers. In that case, you would know that you should not spend an inordinate amount of time on test day trying to work out the math in questions at that level of difficulty.
-Should you have some time left over at the end of a section...
Don't stop working until the proctor says to. Rather, go back and re-examine the questions you skipped. Answer any that you think you know the answer to, or can make a good guess at. We also suggest you double-check your answers to the very first questions. It's precisely because these questions are generally very easy that people tend to make dumb mistakes on them. Make sure you haven't been tripped up by subtle wording or a misplaced decimal point.

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