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Common Sense Method to Preparing for the SAT - page 6 / 11





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So, what do we do with the eight tests. This is my recommendation:

  • 1.

    Set aside 1 or 2 tests for the assessment and exploration phase. In this phase, I recommend to get “all” your books out and start answering the questions without any time limits. Whenever you’re stumped, take a peek at the response or even at the fully developed answers that are posted on The College Board site. The idea is to understand how ETS writes its questions and what makes certain questions more difficult than others. It is in this phase that one will use the outside material the most. This is when you will read about the process of elimination, working backwards, and other techniques that are more common sense than any “great secrets.” It should not take more than a few hours to exhaust the strategies and tips published in the source books. So, do not overestimate the time needed to “check” the source books. Again, there is no need to read anything that was not covered in a question. The index and table of contents should be your best friends.

  • 2.

    For the second phase, you’ll need to answer the questions without open books, and with an eye on the clock. For the first test of this phase, you may cheat a bit and go over the allotted time. However, by the fourth (or third) test, you should be able to stay well within the limits. If you constantly need more time, it means that you are wasting time somewhere. This is where it is IMPORTANT to pay attention to your correct responses, and see if some different methods could have saved you precious time. For instance, spending 4-5 minutes on a single question

    • unless it the last one on a section- is ALWAYS a bad idea. You need to develop the reflex to abandon questions that are known time-sinks, and develop your ability to recognize the lengthy questions. It is important to know that The College Board tests CAN be completed with time to spare. Not finishing a section is the result of poor time management and lacking skills, and not because of ETS’ trickiness. Also, realize that finishing a section with MUCH time to spare is also poor time management. Rushing through the test is never recommended!

  • 3.

    The last phase involves taking one or more tests under “testing conditions.” Some people recommend to build up your stamina by working through a few 4-hour ordeals. As usual, the more you do, the better your preparation will be.

While I do not subscribe to the theory that it is essential to take the test in a single session, I would leave it as an individual choice! If you are worried about your resistance, by all means, take a few timed and complete tests. My personal view is that I’d rather keep the practice sessions as “fun” and painless as possible. The College Board has published reports that indicate that high school students are able to take tests for about six hours before showing signs of fatigue. Obviously, a grain of salt is sometimes necessary to digest the “official” reports from the College Board.

Again, it is important to repeat that NOT everyone will have to take the eight tests. For some, the eight tests will be a major overkill. I do believe that anyone who goes through a preparation that includes working on this many tests should be VERY CLOSE to his or her expected maximum scores. At the end of the preparation, every possible SAT concept should have been covered and reviewed adequately. If a student made sure to verify all the answers, look up and compare proposed answers and methods in the source books, he


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