1. SAT Reviewers are highly recommended but aren't necessarily needed 📚
Even though there are many books for sale on the SATs saying it would make you score higher on the test, you should know that what works for you works and what won't, won't.
Reviewing is really helpful but if your modality of learning isn't for you then you won't perform your best on the test. The VARK Model by Fleming and Mills (1992) identifies four primary types of learners: the visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic learner. If you are not a reading/writing learner, skip the bulky reviewers and look up video guides instead. Know that everyone is unique and has a way of gathering information. If you are a visual learner, use videos or pictures to re-establish what you learned. If you are an auditory learner, ask for a tutor or teacher to explain concepts to you. If you are a kinesthetic learner then apply what you have learned and use practice tests with answer keys to prepare yourself.
Remember, the SAT tests your knowledge acquired in school, so all you have to do is to review the topics discussed in the previous years in a way that is comfortable for you.
2. Don't bother bringing food more than the size of your hand 🍱
After every test, there will be a few-minute break where you can use the comfort room, stretch and eat. Do not bother trying to eat anything that isn't bite-sized. The reason why they tell you to bring snacks is so that you will regain the water and energy you have lost.
It is a waste of time to use your limited time for a full-course meal. Instead, you should relax and prepare for the next test. I recommend bringing only candy bars, crackers and bottled water. You need the bottled water to rehydrate and you need the carbs to gain back the energy you lost. What you don't need is a meal fit for a king. You can bring juice or milk as an alternative if prefer to skip solids for it still replenishes you of the water and energy you lost.
F.Y.I [Candy = Glucose = Energy]
Maybe this will be on the test… 😉
3. Do not overpack 💼
In your 'what to bring' during the tests, you might tend to overstress the needed materials. You bring a whole box of pencils, a matchbox-sized eraser, a large mechanical pencil sharpener and a too-complicated calculator which you may have not have yet truly practiced for. You don't truly have to bring all those materials. Iinstead why not just bring two or three Mongol No.2 pencils (with an eraser head of course), and a working calculator which you are familiar with.
The ID and admission ticket will also be on the desk where it will be constantly used and checked for whenever you have to leave the room during breaks. The snack you bring (once again, pack light and replenish yourself) will be placed under your desk or seat or with your bag in another room.
4. The proctors are your frenemies😕
In filling up relevant information, you mostly have to fill up boxes and then have to shade the circles corresponding to it. It is no problem for people with short names but what if you are me. I was still on my first name when the proctor was already on the birthdate information section. It would take time to do those tasks and you can't just smudge the circles, you have to completely shade it because a machine will process the data. There is no way out of that one. So please don't hesitate to ask for assistance from the proctor because machines seldom make mistakes and the human error you can make could affect your test result.
When filling up your personal details, do not be afraid to ask the proctor for more time. After all, that isn't the test. They are there to help you along the way, but don't abuse it. They surely won't let you out during testing time, they surely won't clarify questions or answers, and they surely won't let you go back to the test before the current one or let you continue to the next test.
Once they say time's up, time's up. Do not hold your pencil, do not amend any of your previous test answers, do not even touch your paper at all. Respect begets respect, they are here to discipline you, not to be your comrade. But, they are also here to guide and help you. Just know your limits.
5. Do not develop OCD in the SATs
[Note: Sorry to offend people with OCD] In shading the answer, the rules are to not leave it incomplete, have multiple shaded answers and/or marks outside the circle.
It is a daunting task. Reading the question, finding an answer, finalizing the choice and shading it to completion plus the off-chance you have to erase your answer until it is acceptably gone and have to shade the other choice to answer the question again seems like a long time for every question but trust the test. They have made sure that this test is difficult but they also consider such human factors.
Shade it properly but don't shade it too strictly. My suggestion is to place a dot on the circle that corresponds to your answer and then shade it completely after every five to ten questions you have finished answering.
6. Work smart, not fast 📝
Time is not within your control but your answers are. As pressuring as it is, remember that it is better to be sure and leave a few questions unanswered, than to finish it but blindly guessing along the way. If you blindly guess, you might as well have not taken the test at all.
In cases where you are unsure, you can leave a mark and go back to it afterwards, but if you think you don't have time to review your answers then guess smartly. An intellectual guess is testing each choice and finding which the most suitable answer to the question is. Apply common sense, trial and error, or any process which eliminates the other choices until one answer stands out.
7. Let your mind be environment-friendly 👬
There will be others taking the test. They will be diverse and most will be intimidating. They look calm and are ready for the test but remember they are also still students just like you. Some know how to hide their stress or panic, while some know how to cope with it. Some will look like the next Newton, but remember, those are just their looks- your first impressions. It isn’t about looking prepared, but being actually prepared.
The testing center may also intimidate you especially since it will most likely be an unfamiliar venue. I recommend to go to the testing center early to familiarize yourself with the setting so the shock won't mess up your answers. It will also give you a few minutes to clear your mind and let the adrenaline of arriving and going through the registration processes before entering the testing room die down.
Your mind is powerful but the environment can affect your concentration too. You need to mentally prepare for the test ahead by relaxing because if you don't, mental block, cloudy thoughts and panic will surely be few of the problems that will be front and center in your thought process.
8. Rest in peace 🙌
After the test, you most likely will go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
You won't believe you didn't remember the lessons, studied them properly or even knew them and it might fill you with anger where you might wish to have done it again in a different way (of course know you can't, unless you’re prepared to pay for another $120). What's done is done. Accepting what you have done will be pleasurable because by then you will have realized that the hard work you have done has finally been accomplished and no matter what the outcome, at least you know it is your outcome and yours alone. Whatever result, it will surely build you and help you identify your strengths and weaknesses to develop on.
F.Y.I. The five stages won't work on everyone because (yes, say it with me): we are all unique. Some will be calm afterwards, some will feel fine but later on will feel something heavy in their mind, while some will truly have a hard time moving on from it.
How we cope is our own, all I can say is that after the test, please try to celebrate. You might not know your results but a chapter in your life is over and it is an experience you won't get again. You can take the test again and again but that first time will always stay with you so enjoy it.