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09/08/2019

I studied for the SATs and blanked?

QUESTION
I studied for the SATs and blanked?
I’ve recently taken the SATs (March) and am very disappointed in myself. I completely blanked on the SATs. When I go to the essay, for some reason I could not think of any examples. I just sat there for what seemed a few seconds, but instead it was like 5 minutes! I thought it was my breakfast, but I had two eggs and toast that morning.

My preparation for the SATs was immense. I have done 2 SAT prep courses, Summer of freshman to Sophomore year, and then last summer. I am a junior now. I have done 3 years of High school English, and we have done English vocab quizzes. I would say my vocabulary is decent. I also have a private SAT critical reading teacher, twice a week for the last two months. Normally I would get maybe 2 questions wrong on the SAT CR, excluding the vocab ones I omit, usually I do not omit the passage questions as I am able to detect 2-3 wrong answers.

For the math section, I have averaged 700+ on practice SAT math sections. I was not worried about the math section when I went to take the test.

On test day I was shocked. It seemed like all my practice sections were totally different than the ones on the SAT(I had taken practice tests from the blue collegeboard book). I found myself staring at the passages, unable to find the right answer.

Please help! Im taking another one in May.

ANSWER
Relax. People bomb the SAT every now and then. It’s often to do with the mental state. Don’t go in all puffed up and pompous. Don’t go in and have a nervous breakdown either.

You’re taking this test along with 2 million other kids. Chances are, you’re smarter than at least a million of them. But there’s also a few hundred thousand who are smarter than you are.

It seems you’re doing some practice already but you have to do more. People who get 700+ in a section usually get at least 750 on the practices. It also seems that most of your studying is being guided. Either by a teacher or by a tutor. Stop this. Take your future into your own hands. Tutoring works well only if it’s in excessive amounts. Like some Chinese kids, but that’s all you get. You’re essentially paying for scores. What you want to acquire in the process of getting higher SAT scores is the ability to get high scores on any test. That means you need to be able to study independently, a skill colleges value. Study independently. If you still want tutors, only use them as supplements. And more importantly, you have to reflect upon the questions you’ve done. Most tutors only look at the questions you get wrong. But it’s arguably more important to look at the questions you get right. It’s those ones that you’ll be able to do on the test. Not the ones you had no idea how to do. So spend your time on those ones. Why did you get it right? Where was your evidence (if it’s for reading). What should it be to make it correct (if it’s writing). What other methods can you use for it (if it’s math) and why did you use that method? Was it faster? Easier for you?. Then, after you’ve looked at the questions you get right, you should look at the ones you don’t get or got wrong.

Get the practice books from Princeton Review, Kaplan, McGrawHill (this one has lots of typos so beware). Get Kaplan’s SAT Advanced. Alternate between timing yourself, taking your time, doing sections at a time and doing the entire tests.