How to Ace the SAT

The following is an article I wrote that will be published next week in my town’s newspaper!

It elicits groans. It incites fear and angst. It creates feelings of stress, anxiety, and pressure. And of course, it’s the SAT. The infamous standardized test is a necessary evil for high school students across the nation. But with patience, persistence, and practice, it can be outsmarted. It can certainly be aced.

I first took the SAT examination in March 2014, just before the spring of my junior year. However, at the time, I was academically underprepared. The night before the exam, I bawled and bawled and bawled. I had yet to master time management and the other key test-taking techniques. And ultimately and unfortunately, my score was only half as high as I would have liked it to be. I was upset, and I knew I had to improve. The question was, “how?” With the help of an assortment of books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the local library, and my English teacher’s bookshelf, I slowly began to boost my scores and enhance my test-taking skills. I became a Critical Reading, Math, and Writing wiz. And it was all thanks to intense daily periods of “lucubration,” as one would say on the SAT. Practice makes perfect, and the following resources and tips are sure to improve your standardized test-taking habits and slowly inch you closer to that coveted 2400 score.

1) Obtain a copy of “The Blue Book.”

The “Blue Book” is student jargon for The Official SAT Study Guide. It’s an incredibly useful resource, as it features 10 actual SAT tests that have been released by the College Board, the company behind the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and AP examinations. In terms of learning the format of the real SAT, this is the best book in town. As they are formerly administered examinations, the questions and level of difficulty are akin to what students will see on the actual SAT. “The Blue Book” is the way to go if you need to practice the exam itself.

2) Purchase a review book from a reputable company.

Besides taking actual SAT tests, it is important for students to learn the ins and outs of the exam. They need to know how to strategize, how to manage their precious time wisely, and how to solve those tricky level 5 geometry problems. For me, The Princeton Review offered the most concise yet comprehensive review of the SAT. It presents information in a friendly, easy-to-understand tone. And even better, it’s test questions are highly similar to those students will see on the actual SAT. Another review guide I highly recommend is Grammar Smart, which covers the proper usage of the English language in general, not just on the SAT. This proved of great help on the SAT Writing section, and explains grammatical subjects like parallelism, idioms, mood, and verb tense.

3) Get Flash Cards!

Thanks to Amazon.com and my English teacher’s bookself, I was able to go through two boxes of essential SAT vocabulary words. I quite liked Barron’s SAT Vocabulary Flashcards as well as The Princeton Review’s Essential SAT Vocabulary, which contain over 500 cards each. I learned strange words like “prosaic,” “quiescence,” and “picayune.” Flash cards are a fresh, innovative, and fun way to develop your vocabulary, as you can use them to quiz and play games with your friends. They’re small enough to be carried in your backpack and are a great, compact way for students to study for the SAT on the go.

4) Read books for fun.

Between my last SAT examination and now, I have read maybe 10,000 pages worth of literature. Over the summer vacation, my AP English teacher assigned advanced works like Anna Karenina, Gulliver’s Travels, and Oedipus Rex. She also made us read magazines like The New Yorker, Harper’s, and The Atlantic in our spare time, and compose journal entries on each of the articles we had read. At the time, it was a nuisance for me and my peers. However, in the end, the innumerable assignments proved useful, because reading improves your vocabulary immensely and also introduces you to different writing styles, genres, and literary time periods. Reading for pleasure can really be helpful to students taking the SAT, as an array of writing passages are to be expected. Reading has infinite benefits — and those benefits will go far beyond the SAT.

5) Surf the Net

The internet is an infinite resource full of tips, tricks, and other information to help students ace the SAT. SparkNotes.com is a wonderful resource, providing examples and critiques of great SAT essays especially. YouTube has also proved to be helpful with its innumerable SAT advice videos and tutorials. There are also free SAT questions and tests on CollegeBoard.org.

In my opinion, students do not need pricey tutors to succeed on the SAT. As shown above, there are a plethora of resources to prepare for the exam. The SAT Math section does not extend beyond geometry; all the student really needs is a brushing up on skills and the memory. Additionally, I believe that good verbal and analytical skills come with reading more advanced literature, essay writing in the classroom, and of course, intense studying. It is entirely possible to obtain a high score on the SAT, but students just have to look for the resources and devote their time to exam preparation. I feel confident that by following this advice, candidates will be lead towards that coveted 2400. You are now ready to take the SAT.

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