The SAT is one of the primary factors that college admissions officers use to determine whether or not a student is a good fit for their college — so, it’s pretty important. The last thing you want to do is make one of these 10 common mistakes on the SAT. Better keep an eye out for these before the October exam!
1. Not knowing the directions beforehand
Every second counts on the SAT. Time spent reading directions is time wasted. The directions don’t change on the SAT, so, if you already know them, then you won’t have to read them!
2. Not taking the test seriously the first time
It’s true, taking the SAT multiple times is a common practice these days, but this does not mean it’s OK to just kick back on your first SAT just so you can “get a feel for it!”
3. Not spending enough time writing on the essay
Don’t think too much on the essay. Yes, you read that correctly. Bet you never thought you’d ever hear that from an educator, but it’s true. Thinking too much is a waste of time on the essay. You have 25 minutes on the SAT essay, and you need to spend as much of that time as you can writing your thoughts down! Even if your sentences aren’t coiffed to perfection, it will still be better than having no thoughts written down at all. Nobody expects a perfect essay in 25 minutes. What they expect is a reasonably long and coherent response to the prompt.
4. Not knowing what your goal is
It would be great if everyone could get a perfect score on the SAT, but the truth is that not everyone needs to get a perfect score. Expecting too much from yourself on the day of the test is one huge reason people underperform. Remember that the SAT is only a part of your whole application, and remember that different schools have different requirements and expectations. Do thorough research to figure out exactly what range of scores you need.
5. Not realizing your school requires Subject Tests
The SAT Subject Tests are ways to demonstrate proficiency in particular areas of study. Often, schools require that students take the Subject Tests to supplement their applications. Subject tests are only given on official SAT test dates, so don’t think you can just take it whenever! Check your application requirements carefully!
6. Not bringing your own timer
Most testing centers at least have a clock, but looking at a clock and trying to figure out the time and how much time you have left…is a waste of time! Just bring your own timer so you don’t have to deal with figuring out how much time you have left. Be sure that it doesn’t make any noise, though!
7. Not practicing with real SAT questions
Practice is the key to success on the SAT, but if you’re practicing with simulated test questions, you may not be preparing for the same kinds of questions you’ll see on the SAT. Don’t take that chance — only prep with real SAT question!
8. Not bringing a spare calculator or batteries
Batteries don’t last forever. It has happened before, and it will happen again — don’t let it happen to you! Bring either a spare calculator or a spare set of batteries just in case your trusty friend runs out of juice on the big day.
9. Not paying attention to the testing center
Not all testing centers are created equal…because not all schools are created equal. Some schools are, to be frank, nicer than other schools. You don’t want to take your test in a room with noisy air-conditioning, do you? Or worse — what if you take the test in a room with broken air-conditioning? How can you concentrate on the exam when you’re trying your best not to freeze to death/overheat?
10. Not taking the ACT as well
The SAT isn’t the only way to get into college. The SAT and ACT serve a similar purpose, but they’re different enough that many students often prefer one test over the other. Take both tests to see which you like better and which you can perform better on. It can’t hurt, after all.