Get Ready to Rock the SAT

Think fast: when you hear “SAT” do you:

A.) Feel your heart race and your hands get clammy
B.) Develop an instant inferiority complex
C.) Start to scream and/or cry
D.) Jump up and down with excitement.

Most likely, unless you are stretching the truth substantially, you answered A, B, or C (or your actual answer was some other response similar to one of those). If this is that case, then there is no need to worry: you are quite normal. The SAT, perhaps more than any other test on earth, notoriously conjures up intense feelings of stress and helplessness in high school juniors and seniors. And of course these negative feelings are highly contagious, which means that as SAT season approaches, the stress quotient in most high schools goes through the roof. But I am here to tell you why you don’t have to stress quite so much, and why you don’t need to feel helpless at all.

Simply put, you do not need to feel like a victim on the SAT because it is entirely possible to prepare yourself for it. As tricky, difficult, and annoying as the SAT can be, it is first and foremost a standardized test – meaning that every SAT is essentially the same as every other SAT. There are, in fact, laws that prevent the SAT from changing significantly between one version of the test and the next.

So, what does this mean for you? It means that, if you prepare yourself thoroughly, you can approach the test knowing almost exactly what to expect in each section: the question types, the reading passage types, the math and grammar content that is tested, the ever-present wrong answer traps…and in doing so, you will be able to decrease your own stress level by knowing that you, in fact, are in control of the situation – not a helpless victim of a capricious SAT.

In this new occasional series of articles, I will show you WHY and HOW not to stress for each section of the SAT. First, I’ll give you helpful tips on the overall format and structure of each section of the test, then I’ll give you strategies and approaches that you can use to feel in control of each section. Do you feel yourself calming down already? Good. Just sit back, relax, and prepare yourself for SAT mastery.

Alice Rothman-Hicks is a Veritas Prep SAT 2400 instructor. Since graduating from Columbia University (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa), Alice has been teaching and tutoring test prep, helping students achieve their own academic successes. She scored a 2350 on the SAT.