Hail to the Chiefs: A Column

Jenna Harper and Mina Orlic

Let’s face it, there are so many things one would rather do than spend five hours on a Saturday morning taking a standardized test. But unfortunately, you just can’t get out of taking it. When it comes to the SAT/ACT, the harsh reality is that in order to get into a four-year college or university, you need to score solidly on this test. Here are some important tips on how to plan ahead and equip yourself with the best possible supplies in order to score well on these tests.

  An important piece of advice is that it’s absolutely vital to start preparing/studying early in your high school career. The easiest way to start this process is to register to take the PSAT. This practice test is available for anyone to take at the beginning of your freshman, sophomore, and junior year. 

   At UC High, it is required that all sophomores take the PSAT, regardless of whether you have plans to attend college or not. We highly recommend that you choose to also take it your freshman and junior years, as the more practice you can give yourself, the more prepared you’ll be. 

   Along with early practicing comes early registration. Taking the real SAT early in your junior year is highly recommended, so that you can get a head start and provide yourself with plenty of opportunities in the future to improve your score.

   Another tip, and a very important one at that, is related to staying focused and maximizing your time. Be sure to read all excerpts before answering the corresponding questions,  read each question carefully so that you know what it’s asking, and use a process of elimination to single out correct answers. 

   Other things to keep in mind are that it’s totally okay to use your booklet as scratch paper. Read strategically and annotate as you go along, and underline key parts of questions. While there’s no guarantee that these will all work for you, at least a few are bound to provide you with some test-taking sanctuary.

   The night before the test, take a break from all the studying to make sure that you know where you’re going. Confirm the name of the testing center, possibly check out the parking situation, and put it in Google Maps or Waze to figure out how long it will take you to get there in the morning. CollegeBoard may tell you to get there at 7:45 a.m., but really, if you’re not early, you’re late. Don’t be the kid that walks in after everyone’s already filled out the entire answer sheet. 

    Remember, as cliche as it sounds, your SAT score does not define you. In reality, once you get to the “real world” you’re not going to remember or care about what you scored on this one standardized test back in high school.