SAT Hacks – Stop Worrying and Start Succeeding

So I’ve taken the SAT once in my life so far. It was the old SAT, and I was in eighth grade in the John’s Hopkins “Talent Search” thing. I sat among a group of nervous juniors, and I didn’t really care how I did on the test. Next Saturday, I’ll go and be one of those nervous juniors. The difference between me and most of my peers is, I’m not nervous. Sure, I know there’s a lot riding on how I do on this test. But being nervous does pretty much nothing to help your score. Here are my suggestions for taking the SAT to the best of your ability.

Take a Class – I took a class since January, and I think it really helped me. SAT classes don’t teach you facts, they teach you test-taking strategies that are extremely useful when it comes to taking the test. The class will also force you to do work to prepare, when you might have procrastinated on your own with it.

Get a Book – I have the one the Collegeboard made. It has a bunch of practice tests. If you sit and time yourself, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how you’ll do when it comes to testing day, and what you need to improve upon before the day comes.

The Night Before – My SAT teacher told us this: The night before the test, don’t review anything, and don’t hang out with friends who are going to take the test. Personally, I’m hanging out with my boyfriend who isn’t taking it the next day, because he is not one to talk nonstop about the SATs, and so he’ll help me to keep it off my mind.

The day of the test – have breakfast, bring number 2 pencils and a calculator, and one more thing no one told me but I learned when I took it in eighth grade – wear pants and a t-shirt, and bring a sweater of some sort. You never know what the temperature of the room you’ll be in is going to be. It could be freezing, or really hot. If you are uncomfortable, then you won’t be as focused.

For everyone taking their tests the same day as I am, good luck 🙂

Midterm Exams – Do’s and Don’ts

It’s the end of the semester for most people in high school right now and that means two dreadful words: midterm exams. I know in my house the lights will be on late at night with two sleep deprived kids (one of them being me) trying to recall all the information covered in every class since September. Since my first exams in 7th grade, I’ve learned a few simple Do’s and Don’ts of conquering these pesky tests.



  • Cram the night before. There are one to two exams a day, normally. This makes a lot of people think they can come home from the exam and start studying for the next day. There are a few problems with this plan: first of all, exams are long. When you get home, you’re going to be tired. You’re not going to immediately want to go study some more. Leaving everything to the day before is going to make you overwhelmed. If you start studying maybe four days before, you’ll have the bulk of studying done, and on the say before, all you have to do is quickly review your notes, and you’ll feel confident that you’re prepared for your exam.

  • Skip Breakfast. You’ve heard it said a million times: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s true. If you roll out of bed as late as possible and go take your exam, you’re not going to do the best you can. I mean a real breakfast, too. Not a cup of coffee or a candy bar, things like that will give you a quick sugar high, and then you’ll crash. Studies everywhere show that your mind is sharpest when you’ve eaten a healthy breakfast in the morning.
  • Go on Facebook/Myspace/other internet distractions. Personally, I’ve deactivated my Facebook account for Midterms week. This way I won’t check my email and get tempted to click on the Facebook notifications in my inbox. They’re not there. I also temporarily cancelled my RSS feeds on my favorite blogs so I don’t get a pop up about a new post while I’m studying. I suggest avoiding the computer altogether when studying, because there are so many distractions involved. However, if you go to a school like mine where you use a laptop in school to take notes, it’s sometimes unavoidable to use the computer. I suggest either printing your notes (some people find it easier that way so they can highlight/write on their notes). Another option is to turn off the internet on your laptop (mine has a switch on the side) so you can’t be distracted. This will cut the time it takes for you to study in half, and you will learn the information better than if you are constantly checking your Myspace or any other internet distractions you frequently use.


  • Sleep. Pulling an all-nighter will not get you a better grade. It will get you over tired, over stressed, and less likely to recall information in the morning. Go to bed at a reasonable hour the night before the test. (Note: 2 a.m. is NOT a reasonable hour). In the morning you will be well rested, in a better mood than a sleep-deprived you would be, and your mind will be sharp and ready to take on the exam.
  • Make Lists. To-do lists are extremely useful, but a lot of people don’t know how useful they can be for studying. Currently in my planner, I have my daily to-do list, with things that must be done TODAY, and my midterm to-do list with things I have to do in each subject to get ready for my exams. It reduces stress because you see everything you have to do written out. Usually it looks a lot less intimidating. And being able to cross things off a to-do list gives you a feeling of accomplishment, which makes you feel that much less stressed as you go forward.
  • Study in groups. You’re pulling an A in English but struggling in Precalc. Your math whiz friend is having trouble with her vocabulary. So collaborate and you’ll both do well. It doesn’t have to be any kind of formal study group; you can hang out one day and trade notes or explain something to each other. A friend of mine is really good in Spanish, and I make very thorough history outlines. So we trade off our notes and we both get better grades because of it. Working with someone else will always give you a different perspective, and help you to succeed on tests. Especially with a lot to cover, you can split things up and make less work for everyone! Just make sure to stay on task.



So hopefully a few of these tips will help you with exams. Just remember, it’s just a test, don’t overstress yourself. Now go get to studying!


Feel free to comment, I’d love feedback!!