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Ace the SAT


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To be admitted to any college or university in the United States, you are required to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), that assigns you a score ranking your verbal and mathematical abilities. The SAT is by no means is an intelligence test; it is in a predictor of college success and serves to give the admissions committee a general idea of your scholastic aptitude.

The SAT is written by the Educational Testing Service. Although there are ‘specific subject SATs’, the general exam – SAT 1 is the most important. The paper is typically three and a half hours long and consists of two major sections – Math skills and Verbal skills.

Each section of the SAT is graded separately and on a scale of 200 – 800. A score of 500 on each means is counted as average. These scores change only by units of 10, meaning that you can get a 590, 600, or 610 in any section.

Majority of the schools put a great importance on the SAT scores as these count as the first impression of the student and his aptitude. Thus, in order to get into a good university, your SAT scores must be very good; in fact you need to ace your SAT scores to stay in the competitive rat race for admissions into a good college.

So where do you start?
The first step is to look at some sample SAT papers and get a free copy of a practice test from your high school college counsellor. You could even visit the SAT website and download some questions from there.

Learning some basic strategies
Practice as many SAT tests and papers as you can. The SAT exam can be given any number of times, so if you feel you have not scored well, try again.

You get 1 point for every question you answer correctly, 0 points for all questions you leave blank, and you lose or a point (or 1/3 of a point on certain math questions) if you answer incorrectly. However, on the math “fill in your own answer" questions, you will not be penalized for a wrong answer, so guess and write what you think is the right answer.

Within each section of the test, the questions at the beginning are the easiest and become harder as the test goes on. If you find yourself wasting time over a question, skip it and move on. There will be a total of 7 sections on the test: 3 Math, 3 verbal, and 1 “experimental. " The experimental will be either another math or verbal section.

Acing your Math Test in your SAT Exam
Improving your Math score requires practice and dedication. It is easier to raise your Math score because even though the numbers change the concepts remain the same across all SAT tests.

There are three math sections on the test: two 30-minute sections and one 15-minute section. Within these, there will be a total of 35 five-choice multiple-choice questions, 15 four-choice multiple-choice questions and 10 student-produced questions. You can use calculators in your Math test wherein you will be tested on at least three different types of math questions – arithmetic, algebra and geometry.

Always use your scratch paper for calculations. If possible always draw pictures – it helps you to put things into perspective. Picture drawing especially helps in geometry. For the grid-ins remember:

None of the questions are negative.
Your answer can only be four bubbles long.
You cannot have mixed fractions on your answer and you do not have to reduce your fractions. Some questions may have more than one answer and you do not lose points on guessing.

Acing the Verbal Test in the SAT exam
Performing well on the verbal section requires an immense amount of concentration because you'll have to read a lot and know the meanings of many words that you may never have heard of before. There are three types of verbal section questions: reading comprehension (40 questions), sentence completions (19 questions), and analogies (19 questions).

The reading comprehension tests your ability to read and understand an unknown passage and the answer questions related to it. Do not skip any paragraphs, introduction or conclusion. Look for things like the tone of the passage, assumptions of the writer and the evidence the writer cites as these are the areas you will be questioned upon.

The second part is sentence completions. This is when you will be given a sentence with one or two blanks, and you have to pick which word or words best complete the sentence. Read the sentence carefully and try to understand what it means. If you have picked up more than one word to fill in, ensure that it completes the sentence correctly else it is definitely wrong.

Analogies are a bit tricky and need some analytical thinking. Always turn the first two words into a sentence and see what matches the answer to it. Become familiar with the standard groupings: part to whole (e. g. , rind : orange), occupation (e. g. , watchman : vigilance), cause-effect (e. g. , thirsty : drink), and definitions (e. g. , fat : obese).

Some tips to improve your verbal power and SAT scores
Reading is very essential. All you need is reading material that an educated adult would read. It could be anything form a teen magazine, novel or sports illustrated. Read slowly and carefully so that you comprehend everything clearly.

Improve your vocabulary. The verbal section is based on your vocabulary and the words that you know. The best way to familiarize yourself with common SAT vocabulary is to take practice tests and notice which words come up frequently.

Learn some basic Greek and Latin roots. This will help you understand and figure the meaning of the words even of you have never heard them before.

Practice till it makes you perfect
Take the PSAT practice version of the SAT tests so as to learn which areas you need to work on.

Buy the SAT Study Guide College Board's 10 Real SATs. This book is made up of SATs that were previously given. If you know what is to expect and prepare for it accordingly, you will always do well.

After the first few practice sessions, start timing yourself. As you near the test date, practice under test conditions, never allowing yourself to go over the time limit set.

You could use a SAT study guide or take a prep course or even get a private tutor. The Princeton Review and Kaplan are expensive but well worth it. If you are self motivated and dedicated, you could even study on your own.

SAT is an easy exam. All you need to do is practice and know what to expect.

William Brister - - A general idea of your schoolastic aptitude.

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