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SAT Prep
A student studying for her SATs.

What to Know About Passing Your SATs

When you are preparing to apply to college, it is essential that you take at least one college entrance exam. As an applicant to college, your ability to perform academically will be in question – that is why entrance exams are used. According to the Princeton Review website, the SAT is an entrance exam used by the majority of universities to make admissions decisions. The SAT is a test created and administered by the College Board. 

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What are the SATs?

The Scholastic Aptitude Test is designed to determine if a student is prepared to handle the rigors of college coursework. It is also designed to provide colleges with one common data point that can be used to compare all applicants.

College admissions officers will review test scores alongside your high school GPA, your high school coursework, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, admissions interviews and personal essays. The importance of SAT scores in the college admissions process is different from school to school.

Why is it Important to Prep?

It’s obvious that you always want to do your best on an entrance exam, but there are specific reasons you want to do very well. According to Kaplan, a test prep website, test prep courses help you to increase your knowledge in all test subject areas, develop your test taking skills and build your confidence.

SAT and ACT scores can also determine whether or not you qualify for a merit based scholarship at the college of your choice. Your high school grades and test scores are the main factors considered in merit based financial aid decisions. Plus, a high score on the PSAT could give you a shot at a National Merit Scholarship.

These exams can also help in life after college. A higher score can lead to a great job and a great job can lead to higher life satisfaction. Some employers are even asking to see SAT or ACT scores before they make a job offer.

Different Prep Tests You can Take

A quick Google search for SAT Prep comes back with more than 200 million results. So, how do you choose? One of the best choices is to use the prep offered by The College Board in conjunction with Khan Academy. They know the content backward and forward, so their prep test would be the most accurate.

The Kaplan Test Prep service provides an online practice test you can take on your own time to see what the SAT's time constraints will be like. You will see the same types of questions encountered on the actual test, learn how to pace yourself and find out which areas you will need to focus your studying on.

If you are willing to pay for premium tutoring and specialized experts, you can sign up for study prep at The Princeton Review website. They teach you how to answer questions efficiently, how to best understand the context of the question and why memorization is not an effective way to prep for the SAT.

Aside from this, there are dozens of other sites that offer various levels of SAT prep. Their level of engagement and expertise would need to be verified. Some will offer full length exams, while others will only offer study tips.

Study Tips

As with SAT prep, a Google search for study tips gives millions of results. One of the most comprehensive study tip sites is Education Corner. For the multiple choice sections, there are specific strategies you can use:

  • Read section directions before the test.
  • Answer the questions you know first.
  • Eliminate incorrect answers.
  • Be neat.
  • Use your test booklet.
  • Avoid stray marks.
  • Your first response is usually correct.
  • There is only one correct answer.
  • Do not skip answers.
  • Pay attention.
  • Budget your time.
  • Answer easy questions first.
  • Make sure you understand the question.
  • Bring a watch or timer.
  • Know what to expect on the test.

For the Critical Reading: Sentence Completion section, there are some more definitive strategies:

  • For the sentence completion section, complete each sentence in your head and use your own words before looking at the choices.
  • Do not rush through each selection. Make sure to review all the answers.
  • If you come across words you are unfamiliar with, use the context to define them.
  • If you cannot determine what a word means, think about similar words you know.
  • Eliminate choices in fill in the blank questions if the sentence is not grammatically correct.

For the Critical Reading: Reading Comprehension section, there are other strategies:

  • Identify the main idea of each passage.
  • Always read the italicized introductory text.
  • Always answer the easy questions first.
  • Take advantage of the line reference numbers in the questions to find the right place in each reading passage.
  • Limit your answer for reading comprehension questions using only what is written in the passages.
  • Read each passage through at least once before reading the questions.
  • Pay particular attention to the first and the last sentences of each paragraph.
  • Do not waste time memorizing the details.
  • First, answer all the questions for the topics that you are familiar with.
  • Focus the majority of your time answering the questions and not rereading them.
  • All reading comprehension content comes from the Social Science, Science, Humanities and Literary Fiction.

In Conclusion

Preparing for the SAT is a crucial step in ensuring your acceptance to your college of choice. Use the resources available to make sure you have a solid prep and study plan before you take the exam.

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