Your junior and senior years of high school can be tough; there’s simply no avoiding that fact. I remember my own upperclassman years well. Between your part-time job and coursework – your APs, IBs, general honors, and even some classes that carry college credit – you're bound to be a very busy person. Throw in extracurricular activities like debate and sports teams, not to mention the research that's necessary to identify and then submit applications to the right colleges and universities, and you may wonder when you're meant to get a good night's sleep. Now…what about the SAT?
The entire SAT exam is several hours long and, naturally, so are its full-length practice tests. Completing one of these practice tests can seem like a needless use of your time, but take my word for it – it really isn't. It is instead one of the best ways you can ready yourself to do well on the SAT. Need a bit more convincing? Here are three reasons:
1. Practice tests... teach you to pace yourself
The SAT is a timed exam and come test day, time will act like it does in a badly written science fiction film. Trust me. It moves too fast in some sections, and the entire thing seems as though it will never end. Tearing through 10 vocabulary questions without a wrong answer in sight is different when you do it outside the context of the whole SAT. Will your ratio of correct answers diminish when you have to answer this vocabulary segment in a strictly limited amount of time? Will you be able to double-check your work for every portion of the SAT or just some? You simply will not know the answer to these questions until you see how you literally progress in the exact process that the SAT throws at you.
2. Practice tests... show you the strategies you need
Contrary to popular opinion, the SAT does not solely test the facts you learn while in high school. It’s also about how you apply that information. The SAT, unlike some other exams, tests your problem-solving abilities. Even by your junior or senior year of high school, problem-solving may be an academic area that doesn’t come naturally to you. Not all classes rely heavily on it or even teach it. So, how do you brush up before it matters? A practice test, but of course! The SAT is unique in its logic; the sooner you tackle it, the better. You may also be surprised to find that the strategy you use to solve a mathematics problem aids you in finding the right answer in other sections, too.
3. Practice tests... make for a calm(er) test-taker
Let's face it. The SAT inspires concern in almost all of the individuals who must complete it. How well you score, after all, partially influences which college or university you can eventually attend. If I said there was a way to sit down for the exam without a single butterfly fluttering in your stomach, I'd definitely be lying. But that's no reason to allow the SAT to keep you up at night. Some of us are naturally more nervous than others, but a well-prepared student will enter the test with greater confidence than one who hasn't opened a study guide in the days or weeks before the exam. The best way to feel ready? Take a full-length practice test. There is no better method to increase your knowledge of the SAT than to directly work with the SAT.
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