Prepare as you might for a standardized exam, your test-day strategy will factor heavily into your outcome. Anthony Russo, a senior at Summit High School in New Jersey, has taken the SAT five times. He shared that the difference between his lowest and highest test scores could be explained by test prep and strategy.
“Taking Manhattan Review’s test prep course initially raised my SAT score by 60 points,” Russo shared. “But more than that, my private tutor gave me a plan for approaching the test more tactically.” Want to boost your SAT score just by shifting your behavior? Here are a few ways to maximize your test-taking potential. These tips have helped students, including Anthony, enhance their performance to achieve results in the 98th and 99th percentiles.
- Set the right pace. Think of the SAT like a long race, each question a short hurdle bringing you closer to the finish line. Stopping too long on one question can prove disastrous for the long haul. Each question is worth the same number of points. If a question becomes too time-consuming, don’t stumble and lose your stamina. Move on to the next question, and go back to re-try the most confusing questions. Continue moving forward, answering as many questions as you can with confidence. Accuracy will prove a much more effective tool than speed.
- Start with the easiest questions. Keeping with the SAT-as-a-marathon mentality, everything starts off easiest. Your mind is still fresh, plus the SAT is organized in order of difficulty. As you begin with the easiest questions, calibrate your pace to match the level of difficulty. Don’t allow yourself to become mired down early in the game. Don’t skip around, creating a confusing and disjointed course to follow. Knock out the easiest SAT questions first and stay focused for the more challenging questions to come.
- Never question common sense. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t just choose option B and hope for the best. Use logic to answer the harder questions by turning your guess into a formidable hypothesis. Eliminate as many incorrect answers as you can. As long as you are able to eliminate at least one wrong answer, you should make a guess instead of skipping the question. If you can’t make an educated guess, go ahead and skip the question. You don’t want to roll the dice on SAT questions when you are penalized for wrong answers.
- Master the material with test prep. Cramming won’t work. To prepare for the SAT – as with the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, and TOEFL – strategic test prep brings the best results. At Manhattan Review, we offer a range of prep test courses customized to the learning needs of each student. Before making flashcards and memorizing countless math formulas, try the most efficient and effective study methods. Limit your studies to what actually shows up on the SAT, and you’ll conquer the curriculum in no time.
- Practice, practice, practice. We offer plenty of SAT practice tests because they are a sure-fire way to increase SAT scores. Develop test-taking strategies like internalizing your pace. Continue taking practice tests until you finish all SAT questions comfortably and with time leftover.
Anthony summed it up best, saying, “You want to find your test-taking comfort level before you go into the exam. Manhattan Review’s SAT practice exams made finishing the test easier. It probably helped too that I knew more of the answers.“
Do you ever wonder which is more important to high school seniors: the ACT or SAT? It appears they are both equally important as some admissions offices even consider both tests to be cut-off points for a certain percentage of students.
According to the New York Times, there was a report published through the National Association of College Admission Counseling, where researchers asked 250 colleges whether they used either the SAT or ACT as a cut-off for admission. Of those who participated in the report and accepted the SAT, 1 in 5 said they used certain scores as a “threshold” for admission. Those who claimed to use the ACT for admission purposes used 1 in 4 said they used a similar cut-off, too.
There is good news, though, for students not in the top percentile of both tests. According to the study, three-quarters of the colleges report using scores “holistically.” What does that mean? Typically, that means the tests are just one factor out of many in how a candidate is evaluated. After-school activities, recommendations, GPA and their curriculums are taken into consideration, as well. Also, according to the study, “strength of curriculum” and “grades in college prep courses” appear to matter most when reviewing a candidate.
The colleges and universities that said they use SAT and ACT grades as cut-offs chose not to disclose their names. However, the New York Times claims that using SAT and ACT grades as cut-off points might be at odds with the highly venerated “Principles of Good Practice,” which states they “cannot use test scores as the sole criterion for admission.”
In essence, what’s the difference between the SAT and ACT? Here are some quick facts about both tests that might give light to any confusion.
SAT: Originally, the SAT was designed to democratize admissions and has been around for more than 80 years. In 1999, the SAT was more popular amongst test-takers by about 10%, but now both the SAT and ACT are even.
ACT: The ACT was created more recently than the SAT and was initially aimed at measuring classroom achievement rather than internal ability. For a number of years the test was only popular in the Midwest and states in the surrounding area, but has branched out nationwide as of late.
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