To get the most out of SAT prep, you should start early. In fact, many National Merit Scholars-who usually score above 2100 on the SAT-begin preparing for the PSAT and SAT the summer before they become sophomores so they can make the most of the PSAT they have the option to take that year. Don’t start wondering whether or not third-order polynomials will be included in the math section the week before. Create a plan! If you need more structure or guidance, consider SAT prep classes, private tutoring, or an online course.
2. Dress Well
Think about this: the thermostat at the testing center on the morning of the test is likely to be set by someone just as groggy as you. Trusting them with your comfort-and shivering while you bubble is a sure way to “make a stray mark.” Avoid this by dressing in layers of comfortable clothing so you can adjust to your surroundings easily.
3. Be On Time
The College Board is not happy when you’re late to an SAT. To them, late is showing up after they’ve closed the doors to the testing rooms-between 8:30 and 9:00 am. In fact, their official policy states that late students will not be admitted to the testing center and will have to reschedule to take the test. Of course, there is a fee for that. It’s fine if you don’t want to reschedule, but the fee you paid to take the test is nonrefundable. What a waste. How do you make sure this doesn’t happen to you? Show up before 7:45 am, as the College Board recommends. A few days before the test, map out a route to your testing center and make sure you’re familiar with it. If you’re particularly bad with directions, you might want to practice getting there-just think of it as another thing to study.
4. You Are Getting Very Sleepy…
Falling asleep during the SAT = fail. You could nap during one of the five-minute breaks you get, but we doubt it would do you any good. Instead, be sure to get a good night’s sleep before the SAT. Caffeine in the morning-be it coffee or an energy drink-might be a good idea, but you should avoid it if you aren’t accustomed to it. Too much caffeine can lead to jitters and, ironically enough, difficulty concentrating.
5. Oops! I Did It Again…
If you mess up, don’t worry: In 2009, the College Board introduced Score Choice, which allows you to select which test scores you want to send to a college on your score report. It is an optional service; if you do not elect to use it, all of your scores will be included on your score reports. Though Score Choice allows you to not disclose all your scores when applying to a school, you should check that institution’s policy on SAT score reporting.