Top 10 Test Taking Tips For The SAT

Standardized Test

Standardized Test (Photo credit: biologycorner)

Taking an SAT test can be a difficult and nerve-racking experience.  However, it is also something that you can actually enjoy and be able to get the most out of it that you possibly can.  Let’s go over a hand-full of tips and guidelines that can help ensure that your test taking experience is a positive one.

 

1 – Know what you’re up against; take several full-length practice tests.

 

As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect”, so be sure to practice a lot for SAT to get a great score. A SAT online course is a great way to practice and get familiar with the testing formats.

 

2 – Be sure to practice essay writing as there will be sections that require an essay response.

 

Essays are a very important part of successfully completing the SAT.  So when doing a SAT practice test, be sure that they include essay portions as well.

 

3 – Take advantage of the fact that you can use a calculator.

 

There are some standardized tests that forbid the use of a calculator, but the SAT are not one of them, so take full advantage of that fact.  Be sure to bring a calculator that you are familiar with in order to quickly get the results you are looking for.

 

4 – Do lots of reading, especially about topics that you aren’t too familiar with.

 

This can help you to read faster and comprehend more.  It’s important to remember during your SAT prep that the test is timed, so the quicker you can read the question, the more time you will have to answer it.

 

5 – Study lots of vocabulary and try to retain the new words.

 

Another key ingredient for successful SAT prep is being familiar with lots of different words.  The SAT tests vocabulary both directly and indirectly by scattering words that you should know throughout the test.

 

6 – Be sure that you understand the test structure.

 

At this point in your life, you’ve probably taken a lot of tests by now.  However, don’t let that lull you into a sense of complacency with the SAT.  They are not structured like most tests.  A good SAT practice test can help you become familiar with the structure and layout of the actual SAT test.

 

7 – Try to memorize basic rules and formulas as it will save you precious time in the long run.

 

Any equations, processes, or formulas that you can memorize will help you out in the long run.  For example, even if you have access to a calculator, simply remembering the formula to get the answer can be faster than having to put all the information into your calculator.

 

8 – Use multiple choice answer options to your advantage.

 

A large portion of the SAT are multiple choice answers.  If you come across a question you aren’t sure about, first try to eliminate possible answers that you know just can’t be an option for the correct response.  Then through the process of elimination, your possibilities can be trimmed down drastically.

 

9 – Know when to guess and know when to skip questions.

 

Remember not to just blindly guess answers as it can be more beneficial for your score to leave an answer blank if you don’t know the answer and can’t eliminate the majority of the responses as possibilities.

 

10 – Stay calm.

 

Staying calm is always the key to success.  The more nervous, stressed, and uptight that you are, the less your mind will be able to concentrate and the important task at hand, the test.

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Tips To Help Your Children Prepare For The SAT

De Cito Eindtoets Basisonderwijs.

De Cito Eindtoets Basisonderwijs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s never too early to start helping your children understand what to expect on the various tests that they may have to take throughout their lives.  The actual day of the test is probably the worst time to learn just what kind of questions will actually appear on it.  The SAT test is no different, in that you need to be ready and prepare for it.  But SAT preparation doesn’t just happen one day and “VIOLA!” you or your child will be ready to take it.  SAT preparation is a process and requires some dedication.  As a parent, it would be very beneficial for your child (or children) if you were to follow a few simple guidelines that will help set them apart from the rest of the crowd and make their testing experience more enjoyable.

 

Take More Challenging Courses

 

One great way to help your child is by encouraging them to take classes that tend to more academically rigorous throughout their educational career.  The SAT is meant to be a demonstration of the amount of knowledge that someone has acquired throughout the years of their lower education.  Taking more advanced classes tends to innately increase the amount of knowledge and character that one develops naturally throughout the course.  The SAT is intended to measure skills that one has learned over the course of years, not just weeks, prior to the test.  And not only will this help your child be better prepared for standardized testing in general, it will probably help them be better prepared for anything life throws at them by giving them more confidence and abilities to use in the real world.

 

Don’t Let The Test Format Be A Surprise

 

The subject matter itself is not the only thing that you should be helping your child become familiar with during this process.  One important key to victory when taking the SAT is knowing what to expect from the actual test format and being prepared for it.  Taking multiple SAT practice tests can be a very worth-while tool in order to achieve this goal.  Try to find SAT practice tests that are full length and resemble the format of the actual test as much as possible and have your child work through some them in order to get their feet wet.  A good practice test would have the appropriate amount of each style of question and represent each subject adequately.  Also, make known to your child how SAT calculates scores different for blank and incorrect answers.  There is actual a penalty for marking a wrong answer, whereas a blank response just doesn’t gain any points.  So, in situations where your child can’t adequately narrow down the possibilities, it may be better to leave it blank than to guess.

 

Help Your Child To Relax And Be Calm

 

If there’s one thing that makes taking the SATs more difficult than anything else, it’s probably worrying too much about it and getting stressed out.  Stress can wreak havoc on your mind and can lead to poor judgment and flawed thought processes.  But by following these and other simple steps, your child can gain the confidence they need to go in feeling worry free and well-prepared to take the SAT test.

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Knowing Which SAT Questions to Skip

Which SAT Questions to Skip

On the SAT, each question will fall into one of three categories: questions you can answer, questions you can’t answer, and questions you could probably answer if you had enough time. This last category is where the right strategy can really help you to improve your score.

When to Move On

For starters, you need to recognize when it’s time to move on to the next question. If you spend too long trying to solve any one problem, you run the risk of not even making it to other questions that you definitely could have answered correctly.

Additionally, if you spend too much time on a question that’s too hard, you waste time that you could have spent correctly figuring out a harder, but still solvable, question.

If, on first read, you can’t eliminate even one answer choice, skip the question entirely. Your time is better spent on questions where you are more familiar with the material.

If you can eliminate one or more answer choices quickly, but narrowing the choices down to just one correct answer is taking too much time, come back later. You should make your way once through the entire section and answer every item that you can solve with minimal effort first, then go back through a second time to tackle the more challenging items.

When to Guess

Understanding when it’s in your favor to guess on the SAT, versus when it will hurt you, comes down to mathematics. Remember, each question has five answer choices. An incorrect answer reduces your raw score by 0.25, while a correct answer is worth 1 point.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you don’t even look at any of the questions and just randomly select bubbles on your answer sheet. Odds are that you would be correct one-fifth of the time — but you would be wrong four-fifths of the time. For each 1 point you gained, you would lose 0.25 points, four times. 4 * 0.25 = 1, so this cancels out the 1 point you gained, leaving you with a net score of zero.

However, if you can eliminate just one answer choice, the odds are now in your favor to guess. Now, random guesses would give you a correct answer once every four times, and an incorrect answer three out of four times. 1 point – (3 * 0.25) = a net gain of 0.25 raw points.

The bottom line: if you can confidently eliminate just one answer, you should guess instead of leaving the answer blank.

 

Create a Code Language

So, you’ve made your way through the entire section once and answered all the questions you knew you could. You have seven minutes left, and it’s time to make your way back through the section a second time to take a stab at some of the questions you left for later. But…which questions were those, again?

Make the most of those precious last few minutes in each section by clearly marking each question in your test booklet, so you can see at a glance which questions — and which answer choices within that question — are still in need of your attention.

Circle questions to which you want to return. These items are the ones to which you want to draw the most attention, as you’ll need to be able to spot them quickly during the last few minutes of the section. When you go back through, you’ll have no trouble spotting the circled items. Don’t be afraid to make big, bold circles — remember, you want to catch your attention when you’re flipping back through the test booklet.

Draw a large question mark over questions that seem too hard. You don’t want to spend your valuable time on these items instead of easier ones, but there’s always the chance you’ll still have an extra couple of minutes at the end to give these a second look. Remember, if you can eliminate even one answer choice, you make it worth your while to take a stab and guess.

For answer choices, cross out choices that you are confident are wrong. This will save you from having to look again at choices that you’ve already ruled out.

Having trouble deciding between two answers? Lightly circle them to indicate they’re your preferred answers. When you come back, you’ll know immediately that you think you found (or narrowed down) the answer, but that you should still consider the other options.

 

 

Leave Yourself Hanging

When you realize you have to move on and leave a question unanswered, make it as easy as possible to pick back up where you left off if you have time at the end to return to it. While the next step in the equation may seem obvious to you in the moment, the memory won’t be as fresh by the time you make your way through the rest of the test.

Before starting the next question, jot down a quick phrase or note reminding yourself of what the next step should be. If it’s a math problem, write the next equation if you can–but don’t solve it.

Not sure what the next equation is? Erase the last answer that you did calculate, leaving the calculation itself. While moving back a step might seem strange at first, when you come back later, being able to jump right in will help jog your memory, and can shave precious seconds off the time it takes to finish.

College Search Feature Allows Access to More Than 4,000 Colleges

When listing the best colleges to apply to, would the average high school student base their decision on academics and geography alone? Probably not.

It’s become common to travel to several different colleges around junior year of high school and even ask older brothers, sisters or friends for advice on where to apply. The reason isn’t because colleges don’t have Web sites with information, but rather; students want to know more than the basics like tuition cost and average size of classes that colleges and universities post on their Web sites.

B Line Test Prep, an eLearning company offering a free online SAT prep course, has teamed up with College Prowler to provide in-depth, unbiased, relevant information on any given college’s Greek life, nightlife, parking, athletics, campus housing, off campus housing and the top 10 ten best and worst qualities of the school—to name a few.

High school students, through B Line Test Prep, have full access to resources such as free SAT prep, articles with tips on high school and the college application process and now, with a click of a mouse, information about more than 4,000 colleges and universities.

For access to all the information you need for college, check out http://collegesearch.blinetestprep.com/

 

Top 10 Ways Twilight Relates to the SAT

Presumably, it’s been a while since Edward Cullen took his SATs. But Bella and Jacob may still have them looming over their heads. If they do, hopefully they’ll use some of the lessons they’ve learned from their recent adventures to increase their scores. Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight characters learned everything they need to know to ace the test. Here is a guide to using the Twilight series for SAT prep.

#1 Know Your Weaknesses 

Edward’s family can’t survive without blood. Rather than denying this, they choose to consume animal blood, preventing tragedy. Ignoring your own weakness will lead to disaster. Brush up on every section of the test, but put special emphasis on your worst subjects.

#2 Consult a Trusted Authority

When Bella is confused, she consults her father. Likewise, you should consult B Line Test Prep, which contains examples of real tests for practice. Bella didn’t blindly follow her father’s advice, however, and you shouldn’t, either, leading to tip number three.

#3 Take a Different Viewpoint

Bella hears rumors about the dangers the Cullens pose, but doesn’t make assumptions. She has a different viewpoint and Edward’s true nature becomes clear to her. Sign up for free SAT prep for a slightly different viewpoint that will help you prepare. Bella’s careful reading of Edward’s situation leads to tip number three.

#4 Carefully Read the Situation

Carefully read the test questions. Silly little errors in comprehension will trip you up and whittle away at your score.

#5 Make Careful Decisions

Jumping at the first choice presented would have derailed Bella’s relationship with Edward before it began, and guessing at wrong answers is actually worse for your SAT score than skipping the question altogether.

#6 Spot the Fakes

James was as charming as he was evil. Fortunately, Bella wasted no time on this particular fake, and weeding out the false answers is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your test score.

#7 Know When You are in Over Your Head

It took Jacob’s pack and Edward’s family together to defeat Victoria. Sometimes a task is too much for you. Math questions get harder as the test goes on. Once the problems become too difficult, stop. Review the questions you answered so that you get full credit for the things you do know.

#8 Don’t Waste Time

Bella instinctively knows that although time is kind to Edward, for most beings it is short. She weighs her options carefully but doesn’t waste time. Don’t re-read directions or spend time obsessing over questions you just can’t answer. Don’t be late coming back from breaks.

#9 If You are Offered a Second Chance, Take It

Bella snatched her second chance when she prevented Edward’s suicide. If you can hit the books and be reasonably sure of a better score next time around, take it. Most schools will only look at your highest score.

#10 Relax

Even Bella and Edward are eventually left in peace by the Vulturi. Hopefully, they take this time to relax, and if you are wise, you will too. Study, get plenty of sleep, eat a good breakfast and relax.

 

Make the Most of Your Junior Year

Despite all of the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the senior year, it’s actually the junior year of high school that is the defining moment in most students’ academic lives. Generally, you’ll be sending off college applications well before you’ve completed your senior year, so it’s essential that you do as much as possible in your junior year to make yourself an attractive candidate to colleges. The following are some of the most important things that you can do in your junior year to start preparing for college.

 

Research Colleges
Because of the amount of time and money involved in submitting college applications in your senior year, you’ll want to have your list of colleges more or less set by the start of your final year of high school. Consult a reference like the US News and World Report college issue to get detailed information about schools. Some questions that you’ll want to consider when looking through info on colleges include: Do you want to attend a public state school or a private university? How far away from home would you like to live? How selective of a school would you be able to get into? In order to answer these questions, you’ll need to think seriously about how much money you or your parents can afford to spend on tuition (or how many student loans you’re willing to take out) and you’ll need to evaluate your own academic performance in terms of your GPA and test scores.

Prepare For and Take the SAT
SAT scores are one of the most important elements of a college application and are one of the most common “minimum” criteria that schools use to indicate what they require from applicants before further considering their applications. Thus, it is very much in your interest to prepare for the test as thoroughly as possible. There are a variety of SAT prep courses and methods available, including free online SAT prep. In addition to finding a test prep program, you’ll also want to check online for test dates and registration deadlines to make certain that you stay on track with your schedule. While you should make certain that you leave appropriate time for prep, you should try to take the test during your junior year. The sooner you know your score, the sooner you’ll be able to make informed decisions about which schools to apply to.

Build Up Your Extra-Curriculars
College admissions committees have to look through hundreds or even thousands of applications every year and, while your GPA and test scores are important, having a diverse swath of extra-curricular activities can help set you apart from the crowd. Choosing to join a club or play a sport in your junior year insures that you’ll have an extended affiliation with a group on your application. Generally, this looks much better to an admissions committee than a few activities that appear to have been “tacked on” at the last minute in your senior year.

By setting a few simple goals in your junior year, you can insure that you’re doing everything possible to set yourself up for a successful senior year and a great college career!

 

Tips for Retaking the SAT

Colleges and Universities schools rarely consider students with scores below their standards, so getting as close to their school’s average or above puts an applicant as an advantage. Unfortunately, not everyone receives their ideal score after taking the SAT just once.

Maybe the first time you took the SAT you didn’t prepare. You told yourself you were going to and maybe even bought a book to help you review but just never put in the time. Maybe you were the exact opposite and enrolled in a prep course, spent every weekend studying and carried vocabulary flashcards around with you and all of that work still didn’t amount to the score you wanted. Both are common scenarios and there is an answer for you if you fit into one of these two categories.

The SAT is not like the usual test you will face in high school, so it makes sense to utilize a strong SAT prep course that fits into your schedule. The idea is to get comfortable with the format and learn strategies to maximize results. Timing is very important throughout the SAT. Each of the three main sections has three subsections, each with its own time limit. In general, the easy questions are at the beginning and harder questions come at the end, but this is not always the case. One strategy you can explore and practice online is to blitz through an entire multiple-choice section, answering the questions that you’re at least somewhat sure of but marking some for review later. Just skip questions that are confusing or too difficult, but leave a few minutes at the very end to go back and guess at the answers. A blank counts as a wrong answer, so don’t leave any question blank.

By not even knowing what to expect on the test, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You won’t be nearly as confident and probably won’t get through as many questions as you would have hoped. On the other hand, by studying too much, you’re essentially drowning your brain with an overload of information so when it comes time for common sense questions, you’ll end up overanalyzing and probably miss questions that you shouldn’t.

By enrolling in a free online SAT prep course, you can move at your own pace and take breaks as often as possible. Unlike a classroom, you won’t get left behind on questions you don’t understand or stay stuck on skills already mastered. You can track your own progress and create a study plan that works for you. The course includes as many as eight timed practice tests. Taking these will help you get comfortable with the SAT format, which can do a lot to help you reach your best score. After taking the test twice, you’ll know for sure where your strengths and weaknesses are; which sections you score highly on, and which give you trouble.

Breaking down the SAT: Sentence Completion

The sentence completion section of the SAT will test your vocabulary and ability to make sense of “context clues” while reading. In this section, you will be given questions that consist of sentences where either one or two blanks are present, indicating missing words. You then must choose from among five answers to find the word or words that make the most sense in the context of the sentence.

These types of questions make up about a fourth of the Critical Reading section of the SAT, so it is important to be familiar with them since you will only have a little less than a minute to answer each one. Online SAT test prep is a great way to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you will be confronted with and how to answer them.

A good strategy for answering these fill-in-the-blank questions is to read the sentence quickly and fill in your own word to complete the sentence. To do this, you will need to look for context words that the test writers include in the sentence. Words like “however,” “because of,” or “additionally” can clue you in as to whether you need a contrasting word or a complementary one.

After coming up with your own word to complete the sentence, look to see if there is a synonym for your word among the answers. Consider all the answers. If there is more than one that is close to what you chose, try reading the sentence with both of those words in context to see which makes more sense.

Let’s look at an example:

Even though Vincent van Gogh painted many of the world’s greatest masterpieces, people in his own time thought he was ____.

A) able B) inexpert C) unrivaled D) merited E) masterful

Reading through this sentence, we can see there is a clue word right at the very beginning: “even though.” “Even though” usually sets a sentence up for a contrast at the end-even though this happened, something unexpected was the outcome. Keeping that in mind, we can come up with our own word for the end of this sentence that contrasts with the fact that Van Gogh painted many of the world’s greatest masterpieces-perhaps, “not good.”

Looking through the answers, most of them have the opposite meaning from “not good,” except for B) inexpert. So B must be our answer.

This section is typically ordered from least to most difficult question, so be sure to leave enough time to answer the harder questions by moving quickly at the beginning. You can use online SAT test prep to practice answering questions and become familiar with techniques that will save you time.

Breaking Down the SAT: Sentence Error

Everyone who takes the SAT must do their best to pass the Sentence Error section of the exam.

Can you spot the error in the sentence above?

If you recognized that the pronoun “their” does not agree with its antecedent “everyone,” then you are probably well on your way to becoming a pro when it comes to identifying sentence errors for the SAT.

Identifying Sentence Errors questions are what comprises the bulk of the new Writing section of the exam with 20 questions at the beginning of the multiple choice portion and another 10 at the back, making 30 questions in all. You will be presented with a series of sentences like the one above that may contain a grammar mistake and asked to identify it from among four underlined options, or if there is no mistake to choose the fifth option, “No error.”

These types of questions test your “writing sense,” or your ability to identify errors based on the way sentences sound and on grammar rules. Because of this, in order to do well on this section it is helpful to have a solid “reading” background: the more you read sentences like the ones presented on the SAT, the more attuned your “inner ear” will become to mistakes that sound wrong. However, even if you are taking the SAT next week and don’t have time to read the New York Times everyday, there are a few strategies and things you can do to boost your confidence and your score for this section of the test, including online SAT test prep.

One important thing to remember is that these identifying sentence error questions are not going to test you on your knowledge of punctuation conventions. While it is probably helpful to be familiar with things like comma rules or where to place apostrophes, what these questions really probe is your understanding of grammar and syntax within the context of sentence structure.

The best method of approaching these questions is to read through the sentence quickly, “listening” for what sounds wrong. This often yields an obvious error. If there is more than one possible answer that you think sounds wrong, look at each option within the context of the surrounding sentence and apply your grammar knowledge to eliminate those without errors.

If upon reading the sentence you cannot “hear” anything wrong, go through each underlined option and eliminate those that you are sure do not contain errors. After that, if you cannot identify an error, mark “No error” and move on.

The sentence errors you will be asked to identify can have to do with a variety of topics such as subject/verb agreement, parallel structure, pronoun/antecedent agreement, verb tenses, infinitives and gerunds, adjectives and adverbs, and prepositions. You’re not going to be asked to name or correct these errors, only identify them, so don’t worry too much if you cannot remember exact definitions. In the example above, for instance, you may not remember what an antecedent is, but if you remembered that singular subjects do not go with plural pronouns, you probably spotted the error anyway.

To prepare, do your best to familiarize yourself with grammar principles. Online SAT test prep can be very helpful in giving you a quick refresher on concepts you may have forgotten.

If you keep these tips in mind, you can breeze through this section and concentrate on others that may be more difficult for you.

Creating a SAT Prep Plan

Most high school students planning to attend college still take the Scholastic Aptitude Test, also known as the SAT. The test is usually taken during the junior year of high school, which can be a hectic time for most students, so creating time to study can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are some options for SAT prep.

The easiest way to sign-up for the SAT is to go to the College Board website. Students can search for the nearest testing location, which is usually at a local high school or university. The sign-up process is simple and only requires that the student give some basic personal information. College Board then provides instructions for testing day, including tips for a healthy breakfast and a good night’s sleep.

Many students know about existing weaknesses- a student who does not perform well in math generally knows this before it is time to take the SAT. However, to better determine areas needing improvement, sample tests can be used to identify particular sections that could use refreshing. For students wishing to sit through the whole testing experience, some high schools will provide the option of taking the PSAT, but this does not allow review of items missed. Sample tests can be purchased at most major bookstores. Additionally, online test prep materials are available via the College Board website and sites such as ePrep. Online and bookstore SAT test prep options allow review of items missed, and some online programs offer explanations for why the correct answer is the best choice.

When establishing a schedule for studying, the best option is to start early and work in small increments. Working through a practice book each day will get exhausting and expensive in no time at all. Devote no more than 15-30 minutes 3-5 days per week to do SAT test prep. This does not necessarily mean using an expensive practice book every day. For example, a student with vocabulary difficulties can generate a list of words and create flashcards, and practice like this is quite mobile, so practicing on the bus or during a break between classes is easy. When it comes to using practice books or online SAT prep, try to do just one section at a time. Also, alternate what is being practiced to prevent burnout. Finally, as the time to test draws near, start doing the full length practice exams. If possible have someone time you so that you can prepare for time constraints.

The SAT can be daunting at first glance, but success is not out of reach. With practice and confidence, a good score can be earned.


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