How to Approach SAT Practice Tests
The SAT is the most predicable test most students are ever likely to take. The exam recycles the same vocabulary words, asks the same types of reading comprehension questions and tests the same 10 or so grammar rules over and over again. Many students experience a pivotal moment in their preparation for the SAT when they move from simply understanding concepts to truly knowing how to apply them. This moment doesn’t come by chance and it doesn’t come only to a select few- it comes to all students who prepare correctly and diligently. The first step in achieving this kind of readiness for the SAT is to practice intelligently.
All students should buy College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide. Published by the same company that writes the SAT, it publishes actual SATs, not merely questions that are based on real SATs. Preparing with this book is essential because you will be exposed to the most accurate representation of what you will see on the test day.
Secondly, it is crucial that you time yourself for each practice test as soon as you begin to prepare for the SAT. Time management is an essential skill and if you notice that finishing a section in the allotted time is problematic for you, this should be dealt with as soon as possible. The overall goal of your practice should be to replicate test conditions as closely as possible. This allows you to get the clearest picture of your strengths and weaknesses so that you can plan a strategy moving forward.
Finally, score yourself honestly. Don’t give yourself credit for answers that you “should have” gotten correct if you hadn’t made a careless error, questions that you “would have” gotten correct if you hadn’t run out of time, or questions that you “might have” gotten correct if you hadn’t omitted them. Carelessness, time management, and guessing/omitting are all issues that each student inevitably faces on test day- it is best to spot certain problematic trends and to deal with them accordingly.
Photo by Derek Severson.