Last Updated: Apr 19, 2017
Taking your first (or second, or third) SAT can be pretty overwhelming, even for the most prepared of students. But the best thing you can do for yourself is not stress; you’ll do great! Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind for your next SAT testing experience.
- Do study for the SAT. You know your own strengths and weaknesses, so study for what you know will be most difficult for you. For me, that meant hitting the math…and hard. If you know there’s one math problem that always trips you up, make sure you review it beforehand. On the other hand, if reading comprehension is something that you struggle with, do a few practice tests to help prepare.
- Don’t study so hard that you get worked up over it. Experts say to study in small increments before the test and spend the night before relaxing or having a little fun. For example, I spent the two weeks before the SAT going over math equations, but the Friday night before the test, I went to the local carnival with friends. There’s no need to get super stressed about it. (Besides, it's not something you can cram for the night before anyway.)
- Do know that you can take the SAT more than once. I’ve taken it once already and am planning to take another once I get my scores back. The great thing about the SAT is that once you’ve taken it and received your scores, you can take it again if you’re not happy with them (and knowing what you need to do better on in order to get that score you’ve been dreaming of!).
- Don’t feel the need to continue taking it over and over again just for the sake of it. Why would you want to sit in a testing room for four hours on a Saturday morning if you don’t have to? Just because your school is holding an SAT this weekend doesn’t mean that you need to be there if you’ve already reached your goal.
- Do have an idea of the SAT scores your colleges of interest are looking for. You can find admitted students’ average test scores by visiting a school’s website or contacting an admission office. Having a general idea of the range of scores you’ll need in order to get into your dream school(s) will be a huge advantage. If you’re in that range: perfect! If you’re not: now you know you have to study a little harder next time.
- Don’t get discouraged. You can do this! The SAT wasn’t designed to cause you immense stress. Believe it or not, it was created as a tool to help you assess your strengths and weaknesses when applying for colleges. I know that right now taking and performing well on the SAT may seem like a huge obstacle that you need to overcome, but as long as you put a little work into it, everything will be fine.
The SAT can seem pretty frightening at first, but as long as you don’t stress or worry too much about it, you’ll knock it out of the park. And if you need help studying, be sure to check out all our tips and tricks in the Test Prep section.