SAT Tip of the Week: The Importance of “Stepping Back”

SAT Tip of the Week - FullWhen you’re taking the SAT, it’s easy to get lost in the moment concentrating on the test. You’re so focused on doing well, answering all the questions, double checking your work, and staying within the time limits that it’s easy to neglect thinking about the ways to actually be successful on the test.

One way I’ve found to make sure I don’t get distracted from my purpose is to consciously take a second to pause and remind myself that I know how this standardized test works. The SAT is standardized, which means it always operates in the same way; I “step back” to use that knowledge to my advantage.

Not really sure what I’m saying? Let me explain. So right now, as I’m writing this article, I am fully aware that there is always only one right answer on each SAT question. I’m aware that the answers to reading passages always have direct evidence from the text. I’m aware that all SAT math questions can be solved using uncomplicated math. But when I actually take a test, sometimes the pressure gets to me and I forget these vital tips. I’ll agonize over two different answers I think might be right, or I’ll find myself using calculus to try to solve a problem. When you’re desperate for points, things like this can happen.

To solve this problem, I need to consciously extricate myself from the pressures of the test and take a deep breath, remembering that the SAT has to follow certain rules every time. This is what I mean by “stepping back.” Once you “step back,” you’ll likely see a flaw in your thinking that was causing you to mess up on the problem in the first place. Maybe you’ll notice an assumption you were making about the passage, and now that you’re clearheaded and can remember that assumptions should not be made on the SAT, you’ll see that only one of the answers is justifiable in the passage.

It might seem scary to do this process, since taking a pause mid-test could cost you precious time. In reality, that is far from the truth – stepping back only takes a few seconds and will allow you to clear your mind, thereby eliminating time wasted agonizing over tough problems.

The SAT is not a test that you will do well on if you aren’t aware of what kind of test it is. The SAT is a standardized test that has to operate by certain rules and principles – it’s easy to forget this when your whole mind seems focused on how to fix a comma splice. Taking a moment to remember what you have to do is a valuable exercise that will help maintain a useful perspective on the test day.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

3 Reasons You Need to Take a Day Off in College

In college, you can get busy. Like really busy. Like how-did-I-ever-think-I-was-busy-in-high-school-I-don’t-think-I-even-know-what-busy-even-meant busy. Don’t worry, college is still really fun and exciting, but the workload and responsibilities can get overwhelming at times.

It’s easy to fall into the mindset of thinking you should be doing something all the time. Reading now, essay later, dinner with friends at night, club meeting afterward, problem set before bed… With so much on your plate and a seemingly endless supply of homework, taking a break from working can seem like a dangerous idea.

I’m here to say that breaks are good. Breaks are great! I think breaks have so much value that I’d go so far as to advocate taking a full day off from schoolwork once per week, every week. That’s right, I said it: take an entire day off! Don’t worry about finishing your project or getting ahead on your textbook reading. Spending a day without doing any homework is a great idea, and here are a few reasons why:

1) A day off allows you to relax and recharge.
The demands of college life can really add up, so a whole day on the schedule devoid of school responsibilities is just what a student needs to stay relaxed and mentally healthy. It’s wonderful to wake up knowing that you could spend all day in bed and still not feel behind in school.  Burnout is a real problem among college students – what better way to make sure that you aren’t working too hard than to make one day entirely work-free.

2) A day off gives you time to do things you enjoy.
The things you do in college will often be fun, but it’s common to not have time in your schedule to do things you used to like. (For me, it was reading for pleasure and playing the piano). When you have a whole day in front of you with no schoolwork responsibilities, you won’t feel to make time for those things. Instead of being so sick of reading textbooks and articles for school that you can’t bear the thought of reading any more, you will feel rejuvenated and free enough to cozy up with your favorite novel!

3) A day off makes you extra organized the other 6 days of the week.
When you know you only have 6 days to get all your work done, you will really learn to make those 6 days count. Setting aside a day for free time will challenge you to be organized and responsible the other days of the week so that you can reap the benefits of your day off.

College is a time where you get to set your own schedule. Take full advantage of that by making one day on your schedule a relaxation day. If you really can’t afford to give yourself a full day off every work, remember that the value of taking breaks still exists even if the time period is shorter than a whole day. Working all the time is unhealthy and counterproductive; be sure to remember to step back, relax, and a take a break. You’ll have earned it!

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.