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09/04/2019

Please help with the SAT test?

QUESTION
Please help with the SAT test?
I’m 15 and a sophomore in high school and I need help with two things: first, the SAT writing section, and second, the SAT subject tests.

First thing: the SAT writing section. I’m a very slow writer, and there is no way I can write an essay in 25 minutes by hand. Even when I write as fast as I can, there is no way I can finish. If I did write as fast as I can, my handwriting would be crooked and not look too nice (it would easily be legible) and that just does not fly with me. I’m kind of OCD about my handwriting being really nice and close to perfect, so I write 10x slower than most people. I’ve had problems with tests because of this, and one test I didn’t finish even with like 10-15 extra minutes because of this. I have Asperger’s, but my parents haven’t e-mailed my guidance counselor to talk about it yet (we just found out at the beginning of this school year), so that’s probably one of the reasons I’m OCD about it. I could probably get time and a half on tests in school, so that would help. Also, when I write, I tend to be very thorough in my writing, so my essays for school are always really long. What should I do about the SAT writing section? And DON’T tell me to just let go of my OCD and write as fast as I can and as little as I can. Because if you say that, then CLEARLY you are not OCD about anything.

Second thing: the SAT subject tests. I do pretty well in school, with my unweighted GPA around 3.8 cumulative. I’m not sure where I want to go to school at all, but I want to go into biology, most likely research biology. I live in PA and will probably not go too far from home, but will try to go to the best school for biology that I can get into that is in the northeast. If I did take them, I would most likely take Math 1, Math 2, and Biology. Do you think any schools will require me to take the SAT subject tests?

Also, any tips for preparing for the SATs?

ANSWER
In terms of your Asperger’s, the College Board will often make accommodations for those with learning disabilities or other extenuating circumstances that make it impossible for them to take the test under the normal time constraints, but there’s a lot of paperwork that needs to be filed and filled out, so you should ask a college counselor or an administration official who may know how to get that done. You can also find a little more information here: http://professionals.collegeboard.com/te…

In terms of the Writing section, I encourage you to do some practice ones. I know a lot of people who like to be thorough as well in their in-class essays, so it’s about being able to be concise and getting familiar with just how much the time allotted to you feels like. Be aware that the SAT graders are not expecting a masterpiece of an essay; the rubric for points is fairly easy (http://www.collegeboard.com/student/test… As long as you stay fairly organized, have some kind of structure, have a thesis, examples, commentary, and use grammar and vocabulary fairly well, it’s not hard to get at least a 10/12 on the essay section.

Most of the colleges which require SAT subject tests are the most selective schools in the nation. This list dates back to 2008, but you can at least be certain that most of these schools have no changed their admission standards (exception: UC system in California no longer requires SAT II tests): http://web.millburn.org/mhs_guidance/PDF… A more updated version is available here: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:EguAzUiBe_UJ:www.eastsidecatholic.org/ftpimages/528/download/Colleges%2520Requiring%2520SAT%2520Subject%2520Tests%25202011-2012.doc+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgXqvf2sh9J4_XZtGtcmTb1ia1952m-fV8I_QLzznGQOLxdLgLBdoKPj0VBeBt8vsJXkmq35wCdc_eLu_O2vmn7-W2jXdMfBF1jsMCQqsMapr3eBZ0KVM28pjqciLeumg5J89pk&sig=AHIEtbTFR5jM1popDxjUVTrmgtQICID0YQ

If you’re entering into a Bio program, it’s not likely that your program will have any special requirements in addition to the schools’, so it shouldn’t be a problem (i.e. most engineering programs require specific SAT subject tests).

Preparing for SATs: Review books and practice tests are the most commonly used review materials. If you can afford classes or tutors, that’s great, but since most people can’t, I won’t make that assumption. Starting early and yet not too early is important so that you can pace yourself, particularly if you’re studying during the school year and especially so if you’re taking AP tests in May or some other major assessment that will also require a lot of studying. Most people will not start any earlier than 3 months (although those who do classes or tutors may do those over the summer), but you should at least try to start a month in advance of the test. Any of the name brand test prep agencies such as Kaplan, Barron’s, and Princeton Review have good review materials, as does College Board’s own SAT prep book which you can find on their site. Doing practice tests under the real time constraints (or extended time constraints) will help you to not get flustered during the test and will give you a better sense of how to pace yourself.