Dear Nedlam,

I’m going to be taking the SATS in May and I’m really nervous. Is there anything I should know before taking them? Any tips on how study/ what I should prepare for?


Stressed And Terrified


Dear Stressed And Terrified,

The SATS can seem really intimidating because many people put a lot of unnecessary pressure on students to do well believing that it is the determining factor between whether or not you are admitted to college. First of all, that is not necessarily true because there are a lot of aspects to college applications and although most colleges do look at your SATS scores they understand that not everyone is a great test taker plus some colleges don’t require your SATS scores. So don’t feel like the grade you get on your SATS determines the course of your future. Also you can retake the SATS as many times as the College Board makes it available, although the average amount of times to take the test is 2-3. Even if you feel you did really well it’s still a good idea to take it again just in case you get a better score, since you don’t want to sell yourself short.

Since the SATS has been recently updated the new SAT that is now being administered has four parts with an optional writing section (but you have to pay extra money for the writing section when you sign up for the SAT). The first part, reading comprehension, is similar to MCAS english questions with reading passages and answering questions that relate to the passages (this section is takes about an hour). The second part is also an english section but it more about sentence structure, grammar, and the use of correct punctuation (this section is about 30 min). Next there is a non-calculator math section (30 min) and another math section that you can use your calculator for (this section is about an hour). Also the question for the optional writing section tends to be a rhetorical analysis. If you want more information on what each section is like and what type of questions might be on the exam then I suggest going to the SAT website, looking up questions from past exams, and maybe taking part in an SAT prep course.

Aside from what is going to be on the test there are other important things to know before going into the exam. Such as:

  • Get a good amount of sleep the night before
  • Bring A LOT of snacks (there are five min. breaks in between sections)
  • Wear layers (you never know if the room is going to be too hot or too cold)
  • Water is essential
  • Bring your student ID (they need to see it to check you in)
  • Pens and Mechanical Pencils are NOT allowed (not sure why but just make sure you have a few regular #2 pencils, an eraser, and if you want a sharpener so you don’t have to keep getting up to sharpen your pencil.)

Anyways, I hope that some of what I said was helpful or informative but no matter what remember that the SATS are not as scary as you think. Good Luck!

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