SAT Exam Preparation India 2019 – 2020

Exams like GMAT and GRE have become the de-facto standards when one discusses  preparations for studying abroad. Consequently, one might have comparatively fewer options for personalized coaching and study partners when it comes to SAT. International undergraduate students heading abroad might get more puzzled looks as the majority of students heading abroad are graduates. However, SAT preparation can be a breeze if one is strategic from the starting itself.

How to prepare for the SAT Test

Intelligent preparation for SAT necessitates a long-term view regarding the target schools and programs. The start date of your program will determine when you need to sit for the exam, notwithstanding the buffer time if you re-attempt in the case of less-than-expected scores.

Once you are familiar with the pattern and syllabus of the test, the next smart step is taking a diagnostic test to establish your strengths and weaknesses. Consequently, you’ll be in a better position to create a study plan that suits you.

The plan should be tailored to your specific needs: giving equal time to all question types is almost surely going to be a sub-optimal strategy as students differ in their skill-sets and areas of strength.

Methods of preparation for SAT Exam

After the initial diagnostic test itself, you will discover that the effort you need varies widely for different topics.

For some topics, you will be a pro- just making sure that no silly mistakes occur is enough to score perfect scores. For the others, some brushing-up will be needed and regular practice (via practice tests/questions) will be enough to propel the scores up. Last but not least, there might be topics which will make you scratch your forehead.

Depending on your personal preferences, time left for the preparation and your spending capacity, there is a host of options for SAT preparation. If you live in a metropolitan, you’ll likely have a coaching center in your friendly neighborhood market. If that does not appeal to you, there are various online preparation courses that can be availed at one’s own pace.

Or better yet, you can finalize the preparation material and create a self-study plan (effective Google skills will go a long way). Khan Academy is an excellent resource that is free, effective, and official!

Preparation tips to crack the SAT

Long-term reading habit goes a long way in tackling the verbal section of SAT. Reading op-ed articles in the newspaper and identifying the author’s line of reasoning (and taking it apart) is good practice, especially if the article is esoteric and/or boring.

For the vocabulary part, having flashcards (preferably hand-written) can be instrumental in etching the tricky words in your medium or long-term memory. It is also imperative to read the passages strategically. Rather than reading the whole passage in full detail, it is better to skim to gain the overall context, and then straight-away jump to questions.

All deficiencies in Mathematics should be tackled by understanding the fundamentals. Memorizing basic formulas can be a big win, and saves time on the exam (special triangle rules, Pythagorean Theorem, exponent rules etc). It is equally imperative to know the workings of a calculator, along with the wisdom to know when one is not required. Some calculations are prone to error if done mentally; on the other hand, some calculations will be much quicker without the calculator.

Tackling multiple choice questions is also a different ball-game when compared with subjective tests. The objectivity can be exploited to one’s benefit and reverse engineering the options is a useful strategy in a time crunch –- plugging the answer choices for Mathematics or looking for grammatical inconsistencies in English. The process of elimination is easier with extreme answer choices starting with “never”, “always” etc.

However, it is important to delve into the question details while answering, as it is extremely easy to make stupid mistakes (solving and answering for X when X+5 asked, for instance). Spending too much time on a question is a strict no-no, and you should mark a question and move forward with the test (and return, if time permits in the end).

For students who opt for an essay: the expectation is a “good first draft” and not a polished final essay. It is imperative to have a cogent structure based on sound arguments. The essay should demonstrate your structured thinking and command over the English language. While practicing with writing essays, you’ll stumble upon a formula that works for you — time chunks to be devoted to brainstorming, the actual writing and proof-reading. Looking at essay prompts and sample student essays for SAT (link) with perfect scores provided by College Board will set the expectations right, and also establish what they look for.

Note: They are NOT asking for your opinion!

SAT Exam Practice

As SAT is a grueling exam that stretches for around 4 hours, it requires both mental and physical stamina. In an age of constant distractions, maintaining focus for such a long period of time can prove to be a challenge.

Only a couple of ‘breaks’ are allowed in the exam, a 10-minute break after the reading section, and a 5-minute break between the two math sections. A stretch break of 2 minutes is also present before essay (in case you opt for one). Hence, it is best to keep giving mock tests that replicate the test conditions as close as possible.

Official practice tests by the College Board gives an aspirant a good idea about the structure of the test and is an excellent replication of the actual. Practice tests from Khan Academy are also an excellent resource. Free practice tests are also provided by Princeton, Kaplan, and 4tests.

Tips for SAT Test Day

Keeping your nerves in check is a necessity to achieve a score that you deserve. The day before, ensure that you have arranged everything you’ll need for the D-Day.

You’ll require a passport, calculator, pencils, erasers and an admit card. It is also a good idea to take some snacks, fruits, and drinks to consume during the longer breaks.

Make sure you are well-rested on the test-day by having a sound sleep the day before: staying calm will give you superhuman powers!
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