The SAT is that scary test that students generally take later in high school to get into college and hopefully get some scholarship money. The good news is that this test is “standardized;’ which means that when writing the test questions, the test makers follow the same patterns, profiles, and standards by writing similar questions each time. Thus, the same skills are tested in exactly the same way without being literally the same questions. Students can then obviously learn these hidden, recurring patterns found on the test and become very test savvy, since the questions tend not to be straightforward but instead based more on logic and reasoning. Consequently, this teaches students to understand how to answer questions quickly and more correctly.
Preparation is the key to doing well on the SAT. Students should start at least in ninth grade, or earlier if they are participating in a seventh grade talent search such as the Duke University TIP Talent Search. The PSAT is also written by the same SAT test makers and can count for huge scholarships in a student’s junior year but can be taken for practice in the ninth and tenth grade years. When students start preparing early, time is on their side. Waiting until later in high school usually results in more test anxiety and certainly less time to practice.
There are three sections on the SAT: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. The test is three hours and forty-five minutes long and is offered seven times a year. There are no penalties for taking it as many times as students want, since colleges usually just take the highest scores and often will combine high scores from different tests, which can result in more college money.
The first section in the Critical Reading section is Passage-Based Reading. Most students abhor this part of the test. Often they must read four passages, work twenty-four questions, and do it all in only twenty-five minutes, which is about a minute per question, not counting the four...
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