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Beating the New SAT: FAQs and Ten Things To Know (page 2)

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on May 1, 2014

How Do I Register For the Exam?

Hop online, go to www.collegeboard.com, and follow the relevant links. There you will find a list of dates and locations for all administrations of the SAT, all the information and materials you need to register, and even a couple sample exams. Just don't read their propaganda about how the exam cannot be studied for. You know that's wrong. While you're there, sign up for a free account, which will allow you to get your scores online a couple of weeks earlier than everyone else gets theirs by mail.

How Do I Know When I'm Ready?

What you're shooting for is comfort with the exam and familiarity with its directions, its format, its question types, and all the tricks and strategies that you'll learn from your prep course or prep book. If you find yourself smiling during a sample test—recognizing and stepping around trap after trap and employing strategy after strategy to plow through the questions—you know you're there.

If you're taking sample exams under real conditions (that is to say, 3 hours and 45 minutes straight, timing the sections properly and not resting between sections or otherwise getting interrupted) and your scaled scores are in the range of where you need to be for the schools you want to attend, you're ready.

Beating the SAT is not an impossible task. All it takes is the discipline to prepare. Anyone who tells you this exam cannot be studied for, learned, gamed, and beaten is just wrong.

It's really as simple as that.

What Do I Do the Night Before the Exam?

Gather your sharpened number 2 pencils, erasers, calculator, ID, and test pass, and some easy-to-conceal energy-producing food items (Lifesavers, an energy bar, a can of RedBull, whatever) and put everything in a place where you can find it easily. Yeah, yeah . . . we know they say that bringing food into the test center is verboten. We also know that we all did it, and we don't know anyone who has ever been thrown out of an SAT administration for sneaking in some Lifesavers. Just be discrete about it. Jam the can of RedBull during the bathroom break between sections. Stash the Lifesavers unwrapped in a plastic bag in a sweatshirt pocket, and keep a steady stream of sugar going.

Have a favorite meal for dinner, review general strategies one more time, and then relax. Get a good night's sleep, be sure to set an alarm clock and a backup, and be sure to wake up early enough on the morning of the test so that you won't feel rushed.

Have a good breakfast, get to the test site a little bit early, and stay loose. If you've followed our advice, you will be one of the best-prepared people in the room and poised to have a winning day

I Bombed It, I Know It—Should I Cancel My Score?

Okay, listen closely.

No one feels really great about the SAT when he or she leaves. Taking the test is an exhausting experience, and no matter how well prepared you are, you can't help but feel a little nervous about it, given the importance of the exam. The real thing isn't going to feel like a practice test. So don't panic.

Having said that, there are a few good reasons to cancel your score.

If you know you misbubbled on a section and as a result probably got a large number of questions wrong, that's a good reason to cancel.

If you got sick in the exam room and missed time during the exam, that's a good reason to cancel.

If you were sick going into the exam, had a brutal night's sleep before the exam, were hung over coming into the exam, or otherwise know you were way off your game, that might be a good reason to cancel.

If any of these scenarios applies to you, you can either fill out a Test Cancellation Form before you leave the testing room or notify ETS within three business days (by Wednesday) after the administration.

If you just feel nervous about your performance, though, that's not good enough. I left the test center feeling concerned about my performance on the SAT and ended up doing very well. My experience seems to be common. Trust yourself. Unless you can point to a specific reason why you know your performance wasn't up to snuff, leave it alone.

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