Test-Taking Strategies
Months Before the Test
“This Test Sucks”
The SAT looms so large that students are often aware of it in elementary school. Even though we struggle to keep students, teachers, and colleges from concentrating too much on this one score, the process of shedding our culture’s hysteria about the SAT is challenging. So the first thing you need to do is tune out all this noise about the test. The SAT is just one part of your application to college. It’s designed to predict how well you’ll do in your first semester of college. That’s it. That’s all it’s meant to do.
Students often approach the SAT by saying “It’s all bull” or “It’s stupid” or “I’m not good at these kinds of tests.” Regardless of whether these points are valid, don’t let your distaste for the test prevent you from doing as well as you can. When all is said and done, you still have to take the test. Do the best you can, go to college, and change the world from there. Go ahead and complain about it every so often, but don’t let your criticism of the SAT become an excuse not to prepare. It’s not going away any time soon.
Take Control and Get Started
Sometimes the anxiety around the SAT is so intense that students have trouble starting their preparation for the test. They end up procrastinating, which means they have less time to prepare, which in turn leads to more anxiety.
Don’t fall into this cycle. Take control of your test prep experience by taking a full-length practice test and establishing a baseline score. Once you have this score on hand, you’ll be able to shape the rest of your studying and preparation by focusing on your weaknesses and determining a realistic target score. You will then be able to set up a study schedule that will get you where you need to be by test day.
Conquering your fear of starting the process might be the biggest challenge to overcome. Beginning things is often as hard as finishing them. Once you’re rolling, huge, daunting tasks are suddenly broken down into smaller, doable tasks. Your sense of control rises, and your anxiety starts to slip away.
So take control. Get a baseline score, set up your study schedule and space, gather your materials, and dive right in. Work, which is something we all like to avoid at one point or another, is an excellent antidote to fear.
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