This is a guest post written by Chelsea Fanning of University Language Services.
If you’re going to be taking the SAT in May or June of this year, you’re in luck, because there are tons of resources available to help you prep.
The best way to prepare for the New SAT is to get familiar with the redesigned test (which we’ll go over later in the post) in addition to focusing on finding a study method that works for you. For instance, if you’re the sort of person who needs structure and thrives in group settings, an SAT class taught over a course of several weeks is ideal. Alternately, if you prefer to study individually you could purchase a practice book and invest in a private tutor.
Consider Utilizing Free SAT Prep Options
What’s really great about the new SAT, though, is that when it comes to prep materials there are now also a lot of great free options. So whether you‘re an international student or a US citizen who previously could not afford SAT prep classes, you can now get the help you need for free. Check out Kaplan’s free online classes and Khan Academy’s free study materials.
Review Important Historical Documents
We also suggest that you spend some time brushing up on US historical documents. All of the texts you’ll see on the New SAT are actual historical documents and if it’s been awhile since you’ve read them, you might find the language a little tricky – especially on test day when stress is in play.
Take a minute or two and reread the Declaration of Independence and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech, among others. It will help you familiarize yourself with the style of documents you’ll be asked to analyze on the new SAT, even if the texts you prep for don’t appear on your actual test.
Tips for when you’re Actually Taking the New SAT
When it comes to actually taking the test, we have a few quick tips to help you do your best. First, all of the sections are now considerably longer. This is both a good thing and a potentially bad thing.
Concentrate On Maintaining A Good Pace
It’s good because you won’t necessarily feel the pressure of the clock beating down on you (some sections on the old SAT were only 10 minutes!). But, on the other hand, it means that you have to pace yourself accordingly. It’s up to you to keep an eye on the time and make sure you’re moving at a good pace.
Utilize New Question Format To Your Benefit
Always remember, you can skip a question and come back to it if you’re having trouble focusing on it or remembering how exactly to approach it. And because there is no longer a penalty for answering a question incorrectly, it doesn’t hurt to guess. Another great feature of the new SAT is that there are now only four answer choices, instead of five. So if you can eliminate two choices you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right!
Keep The Optional Essay In The Back Of Your Mind
The other reason it’s important to pace yourself is because the optional essay is now the last section on the test. Students who took the old SAT often felt that the essay portion was the most draining. If you’re going to complete the essay, you’ll want to make sure you have enough energy to tackle it. Make sure you take full advantage of all your breaks, drinking plenty of water and refueling to keep your energy levels up.
Even though the essay is optional and only about 25 colleges are currently requiring it, we still highly recommend that you complete it. Why? Well, for one thing you might end up deciding that one of those 25 or so schools that require it is your dream school. It would stink if you couldn’t apply because you decided not to complete the SAT essay.
The other reason we suggest you complete the essay is since most schools don’t require it, by choosing to write the essay you’re demonstrating that you’re a high achieving student who doesn’t shy away from a challenge.
Of course, we’re just speculating here; there isn’t any hard data yet to show exactly how schools will evaluate students who submit the essay portion versus students who don’t, but there certainly isn’t any harm in completing it. After all, it may be that extra something that pushes your admissions application in to the yes pile.
Need some help with a college application? That’s what we’re here for!