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Acing the SAT Exam

By Nick Smith

Don't cheat. This goes without saying for 999 out of 1000 students (hopefully even more!) but cheating is not the way to score high on the SAT exam. Not only do you sacrifice your integrity and trustworthiness, you do yourself the huge disfavor of taking something you did not earn, and I guarantee that it will catch up with you sooner or later.

Prepare ahead of time. If you fully grasp the importance of the SAT exam in determining your admission to colleges to which you will be applying, you'll spend a little bit of time preparing before the test - and I don't mean the day before the test. Begin a few months in advance to review concepts you know you're having trouble with.

Study on a regular basis. You'll get a lot more mileage studying for the SAT if you set a day and time each week (or more often if you want) to study. This will also help your mind and body prepare for the test by getting them used to sitting and focusing for a long period of time.

Take practice exams. The more you are exposed to actual exam questions, the easier time you will have dealing with the real test. Simulate the testing experience (timed, sitting in a desk, etc.) to make sure that when exam day comes around, the situation is not new to you. This will help you relax and perform to the best of your abilities.

Make flashcards to help you study. If you play on a sports team or are involved in a school club, making flashcards can be a great way to find time to study even though you are busy. Just keep the flashcards in your backpack or sports bag and pull them out when you're on the bus or you're waiting for your ride. Math formulas and concepts are especially good for flashcards; so are vocabulary words.

Get a good night's rest the night before the exam. Going to bed before midnight might sound impossible to you, but trust me on this one. Your mind is going to be pushed and stretched to its limits during the test, so the last thing you want is for your body to be tired and groggy. Remember: early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise.

Show up to the exam site early. The SAT alone can get you pretty flustered, so the last thing you want is to show up late and not have plenty of time to get settled in and relaxed. Check the night before to make sure you have everything ready that you're going to need in the morning. Then, when you wake up the next morning, rather than run around the house frantically looking for the things you need, you can take a nice hot shower and relax. Obviously the end goal of all of this is to make sure you're able to do your absolute best work on the test.

Read all of the directions. Even if you think you know what you're supposed to do, take a few seconds to at least skim over them. Taking 20 seconds to read the directions will make you lose much less time than if you complete the section of the SAT and realize at the end you did it all wrong.

When you're taking the test, don't get bogged down on one question. If you come to a question that you can't work out right away, do not get flustered. Just skip it and come back to it. Unless you find yourself skipping a lot of questions, on the SAT it is usually best to skip the question rather than guess and then come back to it. You are penalized for every wrong answer you give, whereas leaving a question blank really has no huge impact on your score. Again, don't leave very many questions blank as that lowers the score that you can potentially earn.

Review your answers with the extra time you have left at the end. You might not have time to review all of the questions you had trouble with, but at least go over as many as you can. Be careful not to second-guess yourself too. It seems that more often than not our first impressions are correct, so don't change an answer unless you have good reason to.

Eat ice cream. But wait until after you have taken the test and done your best. Hard work and effort on your part should almost always be awarded with some kind of frozen dessert with high concentrations of sugar and fat.

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