Taking tests almost always strikes chords of fear and anxiety in the hearts of students, especially when the test in question has a direct impact on a student’s future. More than other tests, the SAT and other tests related to university entrance inspire a disproportionate amount of stress. However, a solid strategy based on an in-depth knowledge of the test can help students perform to the best of their abilities.
As silly as it may seem, being prepared on the test day really does make a difference. Most teachers have stories about students who stayed up late the night before the test, failed to eat breakfast and went in to the testing facility physically and mentally exhausted. This is a big mistake. Cramming will not result in significant gains. On the other hand, actual alertness and comfort during the test will play an important role.
As for the test itself, the simple act of reading the questions carefully will pay off. Some questions ask for specific answers that have to be deduced after the question has been solved. Math questions, in particular, often ask for answers that use the main variable in coordination with another value. Double check all questions to make sure the answer matches the question’s phrasing.
Also, test takers shouldn’t get slowed down by the more difficult questions. All questions have the same value, so getting the easier questions correct will leave more time at the end to attack more challenging questions. Get the easy and medium questions correct and then go back to the more difficult ones.
Non-native speakers might want to study set phrases for the essay section. This may seem a little disingenuous, but in a high-stress environment with limited time, having a few phrases, transition words and conjunctions memorized can give test takers some peace of mind. Obviously, it would be impractical to memorize an entire essay, but having some stock phrases can help speed up the writing process. SAT test prep professionals usually have a list of the most useful expressions for the essay section.
In any case, test takers should remember that SAT test scores depend mostly on the accumulated knowledge and skills that students have acquired through many years of hard work. In that sense, a student’s entire education will determine their success on the test. Ultimately, though, applying specific test-taking strategies along with those skills will help boost a student’s score beyond their natural abilities.