The SAT is a standardized test used by college admissions administrators to determine a student’s readiness for college. SAT scores also play a part in the availability of scholarship and grant opportunities. More than two million students take the SAT every year. Many students feel anxious about taking the SAT. Familiarizing yourself with what happens before, during and after taking the exam will help you feel less anxious and improve your ability to concentrate on the task at hand.
Before Taking the SAT
“Practice makes perfect,” so the old saying goes. It turns out that practicing the SAT is a great way to prepare for the actual exam and take some of the anxiety out of test day. The College Board, the SAT exam administrator, offers several ways to practice the SAT. The Board provides a variety of online practice tools, many of which are free. Sample questions and practice SAT tests are available to familiarize you with the test itself and identify any knowledge gaps. The Board publishes a book, “The Official SAT Study Guide with DVD,” that has 11 official SAT tests and additional practice tools. An online course, “The Official SAT Online Course,” provides interactive lessons, online tests, and personalized essay scoring. Aside from taking advanced level high school courses, practicing is the best way to prepare for the SAT.
The SAT is offered in the United States seven times each year. The current test fee is $51 with a waiver available for lower income students. A photo is required. The photo you submit must be a full-face view with no obstructions, such as sunglasses, and must not include other people. The photo becomes part of your Admission Ticket. If you are not recognizable or violate any of the requirements, you will not be admitted on test day.
There are two ways to register for the SAT. Online registration allows you to choose your test center and date in real time and receive immediate confirmation. You must register by mail if you are paying with a money order or check. If you choose to register by mail, ask your school counselor for “The Registration Guide for the SAT and SAT Subject Test,” which outlines registration and photo requirements.
After successful registration, you will receive an admission ticket. The ticket must be presented at the time of the test or you will not be admitted.
Along with your admission ticket, bring two no. 2 pencils, a soft eraser, an acceptable calculator and photo identification. Permitted calculators include graphing and scientific calculators, but laptops, phones, and tablets are prohibited. If you are taking an SAT Subject Test with Listening, you should bring a CD player. A watch without an alarm, extra batteries, a snack, and a backpack are acceptable and handy to have. Timing devices, including audible watch alarms, are strictly forbidden and can result in a student’s removal from the test room.
After the Test
Scores are available approximately three to five weeks after test day. After receiving your score, you can begin sending your SAT test results to college admission offices. If your performance was not what you hoped, you can take the SAT again. Students often score higher the second time around. You have the option of choosing which score or scores to send to colleges.