Are you the kind of person who likes challenges? Are you motivated by setting high goals and then working hard to achieve them? If you’re reading this, then maybe you’re the type of student who is aiming for a perfect score of 1600 on the SAT. Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare for the test.
Ask Yourself, “Is It Realistic?”
Before you hit the books, think about whether it’s really worth shooting for a perfect score on the SAT. After all, only the top 1% of test takers actually see that number when they access their score reports. And even if you want to get into a top-ranked college or university, remember that schools take a lot more into account than just your SAT score. Your grades and the rigor of the courses you’ve taken receive the most weight from admissions committees.
On the other hand, if you’ve done well on an SAT practice test or scored especially high on the PSAT, a 1600 on the College Board exam might be within your reach. If you have your mind set on going for the gold, the following are some SAT study tips to help you realize your goal.
Figure Out Your Strengths and Weaknesses
When taking SAT practice tests, you’re likely to get a few questions wrong along the way. As you review your results, see if there is a pattern. Figure out what types of questions you’re missing and why. Likewise, learn where your strengths lie. When you know what you’re good at, you can devote more effort to subjects or question types that are more difficult for you. For instance, do you have a harder time with multi-step math problems when you’re not allowed to use a calculator? If so, spend extra time working out problems that need to be solved in your head or using pencil and paper.
Apply What You’re Already Learning
The SAT covers the subject material you’ve been learning in high school that will help you succeed in college. Concentrate on the class material that corresponds to what’s on the test. Your textbooks are a great resource for reviewing what you’ve learned or focusing on areas that give you difficulty.
Focus on Timing
The more you take SAT practice tests, the more comfortable you will become with what’s on the exam and how your skills are being evaluated. When you familiarize yourself with the material, you will be able to spend less time on easier questions so you can focus on the tougher ones. If you find in your practice tests that you can consistently complete a particular section with minutes to spare, don’t press yourself on exam day in that section. Instead, use it as an opportunity to relax, just a bit. Save your highest intensity for the sections on which you know you will need every second you have. This will help you pace yourself throughout the entire exam.
Pretend It’s the Real Thing
Practice under actual testing conditions as much as possible to replicate the typical testing experience. Use a calculator only on the portions of the practice math tests where calculators are allowed. Set a timer to help you stay within the time allotments for each section.
Conquer the Questions
Taking sample tests is also good for practicing your ability to make educated guesses when you’re not sure of an answer. When tackling a tough multiple-choice question, eliminate any answer choices that you immediately recognize as incorrect or illogical so you can quickly narrow down the number of options. Guessing randomly minimizes your chances of selecting the right answer, but making an educated guess increases the likelihood of answering correctly. So if a question has four answer choices and you’re not sure which to select, you have a 25% chance of getting the right answer. But if you can eliminate two of the responses, you now have a 50% chance of answering correctly. Note, the guessing penalty is gone!
As you prepare for test day, don’t become discouraged. Keeping a positive attitude can improve your outcome. According to Mahatma Ghandi, “A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.” This applies just as much to taking the SAT as it does to anything else you set out to accomplish. Telling yourself “I’ve got this” will yield better results than negative (or even neutral) thoughts.
If you get stuck, remind yourself of what you’re good at, and try not to stress too much about the material that gives you trouble. When prepping for the SAT, reward yourself occasionally. After a particularly intense study session or especially successful practice test, have dinner with a friend, watch your favorite show on Netflix, or curl up with a good read you really enjoy (i.e., not a textbook).
In-depth, Online Test Prep
UWorld provides in-depth SAT test prep to help you practice the skills and gain the knowledge you need to ace this test. Ready to get started? Check out our site to discover how you can start working toward your target test score.