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SAT advice from students who have passed with flying colors

Obviously the SAT isn't a fun endeavor for anyone, and taking a standardized test is not what most of us would want to do with our free time. So tb-two* decided to ask two St. Petersburg High students with phenomenal SAT scores to make it easier on us. Here's what they had to say:

Maddy Lee, junior

1 I know you've probably heard this from everyone but sleep, sleep, sleep! The SAT is like a marathon in that it's testing not only your ability, but your endurance. Reading ten sections with snooze-worthy passages and tedious geometry, you'll be tempted to fall asleep, even with a full night of it behind you. It really cannot be over-emphasized that coming into the test well-rested gives you such an advantage as you can think both clearly and critically!

2 Not a lot of people know this, but Kahn Academy actually has SAT prep videos that are insanely helpful. These are really a great tool because not only do they clear up stuff you may have learned years ago, but you also can really play to your strengths. Look at your old SAT tests or try some practice problems to see where your weaknesses are. From there, watch those Kahn Academy videos on your more rusty topics and you should be golden.

3 Keep clear track of your time for every section. I recommend bringing your own timer to the test and really pacing yourself, but make sure you've had practice at home. For example, try doing each math problem within the time frame of a minute, and if you can't get it, just move on and come back to it with your extra time left. If you can get into a habit and system at home with time constraints, time stress will be one less worry on your mind on test day!

4 For those pesky vocab sections, the best way around them is to know root words. With root words, you have the necessary tools to take each word and break it apart into something actually understandable. For example the prefix "acri" means bitter and acrimony means bitterness, simple as that! Root words are pretty easy to quickly memorize and there are plenty of websites to facilitate the process for you.

5 Studies have shown that preparing in conditions similar to test environments actually improves your score. So make sure of that when you are studying in a quiet environment at a desk (not in your bed) with your timer and number two pencil. Pro tip: on actual test day, sit in the front so that you can stretch your legs out; comfort actually really helps.

Kevin Solomon, junior

1 Take a practice test. This will allow you to gauge your strengths and weaknesses. In knowing this, you can narrow down your studying: focus more so on what you struggle with, and less on what you do well with. This doesn't mean study math and not writing. Get the specifics: Study probability and statistics rather than geometric computation. Good study books will give you a comprehensive score report.

2 In your SAT essay, to score higher, consider another point of view. This can be by not agreeing with the prompt, and moreover, acknowledging the other side, and explain why your stance has more merit. For example, "It may be argued that confidence is the most important trait to look for in a sporting team; however, it must be noted that too much confidence can lead the team to make careless mistakes."

3 Also with your essay, include some academic research or even evidence that supports your point of view (even if it's not true). For example, "Numerous scientific studies have found that happiness in school lends itself to happiness in life in general." This bolsters your logos (argument predicated on factual evidence) and subsequently enhances the scorers' view of your work.

4 Memorize important shortcuts for the math section. While it may seem dumb to spend 20 minutes memorizing the Special Right Triangle Formulas when they give them to you, ultimately, many students struggle with finishing in time, and the more time you can save, the better. Twenty seconds can be the difference between a 680 and a 700. Knowing shortcuts for algebra problems like sequence identification or probability knowledge will give you that edge.

5 Know grammar tips! Questions like 'Mary and me' vs 'Mary and I' are far too prevalent on the test. Knowing how to solve these quickly can give you an extra 50 points. Hint: remove the other subject and ask yourself if the sentence makes sense. Would you say 'I am going to the park' or 'Me am going to the park?' Thus, the answer is Mary and I. Another important one to know is who vs. whom. The College Board loves to test students on questions like these.

SAT advice from students who have passed with flying colors 04/15/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 4:12pm]
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