Tips, Tricks, and Timely Information about the Application Process


Testing Tips

Clayton's Tops Tips

Here are some tips from a national SAT testing expert: the SAT is not like school. This test bears some resemblance to many subjects you have studied in school, but almost NO resemblance to the format, scoring system, and purpose of a school exam. Therefore, a different approach is crucial to your success.

  • Skipping a few questions is not only okay, it is imperative. Unless you have a realistic shot at a perfect score (and if so, you probably wouldn’t be reading this, would you?), it is important to omit a few questions in each section. Wrong answers actually reduce your score (except in the Grid-In section), so being overly aggressive will hurt your score. Omit a few obviously hard, time-consuming questions, and focus on your accuracy on the remaining ones.
  • Learn how the test is scored/curved, and what your target score is. Do you know what a good SAT score is? It’s a score that gets you into the colleges you are applying to! Since that is a specific, personal list, the answer to the question is specific to your needs. Taking the test with the goal of a 1750 is very different from aiming for a 2100. Acknowledge and embrace that difference. Learn to build the score that works for you. Which questions and how many of them you should omit is based entirely on your target score. Fast fact: it takes approximately 67% of the net raw points to attain a score of 600 in each section—which will place you in approximately the 80th percentile. Can you get a 67? Then you can go to a competitive college!
  • Prepare for the Essay in advance. Throughout high school you will be assigned several classics to read. Keep a log of some of your favorite characters, authors, plot lines, morals/lessons learned, etc. Your SAT essay will be much better if you can refer to some work of literature as support for your positions and beliefs. (Essay readers love that stuff!) A simple Word doc with a list of your "faves” will keep them fresh enough in your mind so that you can dust them off when you need them. These are some of the easiest points to earn on the SAT, if you have taken the time to prepare in advance.
  • Find a good test-prep tutor or company. Having someone with years of expertise to review your approach, make suggestions on how to become a more efficient, effective test-taker, and to show you how to think like a test-writer so you can avoid the traps along the way to your target score can make all the difference on achieving those last few stubborn points.

Clayton Harding is a nationally published test preparation expert who has developed proven, successful skills building strategies and techniques for raising scores. He is the Executive Director of K-12 programming at Bell Curves.

SAT Tips and Strategies

Avoid Running Out of Time on the SAT, ACT
by Brain Witte | The U.S. News and World Report

Top 10 time management tips for the SAT
By Unigo

Time Management Tips and Section Strategy on ACT Science
By Dora Seigel | PrepScholar