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Five Tips for Acing Your SATs

OK, so it’s no one’s idea of a perfect Saturday to spend 5 hours taking a test, but if you have to take it (and you kinda do), you might as well do it right. Pro tip number one? The SAT isn’t like the other tests you take in school. It’s more like a game—a very stressful, intimidating game (it’s not as bad as this one, but it’s close). And like any game, it’s got rules. Here are the ones you need to win.

1. Practice tests, practice tests, practice tests. Take a few hours to get used to the time limits you’ll have by taking a practice test. Find out if your school offers the PSAT, and if it does, sign up. Learn the language of the questions by registering for an SAT question of the day. Get in your prep, and on the day of the test, the SAT will look as familiar as your best friend’s Bitmoji.

2. Know your strengths—and your weaknessesFigure out what you’re best at—maybe it’s algebra, reading comprehension, or terrifying other tributes with your crossbow skills—and then concentrate on the questions that you have a good chance of getting right. If trigonometry isn’t your strong suit,  then maybe it’s not worth spending all of your time trying to solve an impossible question. Instead, focus on those that you know how to tackle, and take your best guess at the trickier ones. Which leads us to rule number 3…

3.  May the multiple choice odds be ever in your favor. Seeing four possible answers can be overwhelming, but guess what? It means that for every question, the answer is right on the page: you just have to decide which it is. In the math section, don’t be afraid to plug in answer choices to the question to decide what makes sense. For reading, cross out the answers that you know are wrong. If you can eliminate one or two answers, it’s worth it to guess.

4. Learn your roots. If the prospect of memorizing a million vocab words is draining of you of your will to live, don’t worry: there’s a shortcut. Learning root words can help you break down big terms to make an educated guess about their meaning.

5. Set yourself up for success. Know when the SAT registration deadline is, and make sure that you’re taking the test far enough in advance that your scores will be ready to submit to colleges. The night before the test, go to bed early. On game day, bring snacks, a few pencils, and a copy of your registration. You’ve got this!

If you’re taking the SAT on June 3, make sure to register online by May 9 (May 24 is the late registration day)!

SAT resources on SparkNotes:

The 1000 Most Common SAT Words

SAT Practice Tests