Why Should I Take the SAT® Exam?

SAT test with pencil and mortar board graduation guard

As you near the time to take the SAT® exam, you may be wondering why you should take the test at all. The exam is challenging and can be intimidating if you do not know what to expect or how the test can serve you.

If you plan to go to college, there are some very significant reasons why taking the SAT test is a good idea. Some colleges require that you take the SAT test and send your scores with your application. Your SAT test score can also be used to support or strengthen parts of your application that need a boost. You should know that some colleges, universities, and programs offer scholarship opportunities for your SAT test performance.

You should also know that a high score in one section of the SAT exam may allow you to test out of an introductory course when registering for your classes.

1. Most Colleges Require SAT Scores With Your Application

Do your research on your prospective colleges and universities. If you are struggling to decide whether or not to take the SAT test, your research may make the decision for you. Often, schools will require that you submit an SAT or ACT® score with your application. If this is the case, then taking the exam is non-negotiable. 

It is important to note that even if the schools you are considering do not require your SAT scores, taking the exam will leave your options open. If you decide to apply to another school last minute only to find that it requires the SAT score with its application, you don’t want to be too late.

2. You Can Use SAT Scores To Boost Your First Impression

Taking the SAT test is something you should consider if your high school grades aren’t representative of your academic strengths. If your GPA could use a boost, scoring well on the SAT exam can improve the first impression your college application garners. 

Remember, the admissions process is shaped by looking at the whole picture. One part of your application does not define you. If you feel that your GPA limits your opportunities, take the SAT exam to show your true potential.

3. Many Colleges or Universities Offer Scholarships for Your SAT Performance

Taking the SAT test will provide you with opportunities to apply for scholarships. Even if your dream school does not require you to submit test scores for admissions, you may be able to benefit financially from taking the exam. If you do well on your SAT test, look into programs and colleges that offer scholarship money. 

As you apply to colleges and universities, do your research to discover where you qualify for financial aid. For some programs, you will need to send in an application in order to be considered for a scholarship. Other schools will automatically award money for your SAT test performance. 

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to save some money! College is incredibly expensive, and you could save anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars to a full ride, depending on your SAT test performance and the schools to which you have applied.

4. High Scores May Test You Out of Introductory Courses

You should consider that your high performance on the SAT Reading, Writing, or Math exam may allow you to test out of introductory courses. Testing out of lower-level classes will save you money and enable you to move on to the major-specific courses earlier in your college career. 

Consider that some schools use SAT scores as placement assessments for your freshman year. Even if the SAT test is not required by your schools’ admissions teams, you may consider taking it to display your advanced understanding or achievements.

Tips for Doing Well on the SAT®

As your official SAT® test day approaches, you may be wondering if there are any logistical details or test-taking strategies that can help you to perform well. 

Here are a few key tips to think about before taking the SAT exam.

1. Save Hard Questions for the End

One simple tip for doing well on the SAT test is to work through the easiest questions first. This tactic plays to the fact that all test questions are weighted equally. 

You don’t receive more points for correctly answering the most challenging question or fewer points for selecting the correct answer for more straightforward problems. With this in mind, you should focus on covering the most questions possible.

2. Check Your Work

A key strategy for doing well on the SAT test is to manage your time. To be more specific, you should save time to be able to check your work. Even a quick once over can boost your score by catching any silly mistakes. 

You can maximize the effectiveness of this strategy by marking any questions you are unsure of. If you have time at the end of the exam, you can come back to those questions first. Taking a second look when you are less rushed can clarify tricky wording in questions or answer choices.

3. Sleep Well

This strategy may seem trivial, but your ability to focus and calm your nerves relies on lots of rest. Cramming in a couple of extra hours of studying is not worth it if you choose to sacrifice your sleep.

4. Come Prepared

When you arrive on test day, be sure that you come prepared. To do well, you need the proper tools. This includes a calculator that you have plenty of experience with, a number two pencil, and extra erasers. 

Be sure that you know which modes to use and where the necessary buttons are located on your calculator to avoid wasting time during the Math exam. It is not worth it to work through the Math test’s entire calculator section only to find that you were using the incorrect mode on every question.

Avoid silly errors like this by practicing with your device. You will also want to be sure that you are able to bubble and work neatly throughout the exam. A good eraser and sharp pencils will make this much easier!

While most of your preparation will focus on studying to improve your skills, it is important to also think about test-taking strategies and logistical details. You can practice our test-taking tips (like working through the easiest questions first, saving time to check your work, and getting comfortable with your tools) through practice tests like the ones found in UWorld’s SAT online learning tools.

Our practice exams, detailed question explanations, and performance tracking tools can provide you with experience for test day! Try it out!

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