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SAT Practice Tests: Importance, Relevance, Strategies, and getting the most out of them - SAT CHAMP

Every candidate preparing for the SAT dreams of getting admission in the top IVY colleges. However, only a selected few can realize their dream. If we could attribute one factor that was common to all of these meritorious candidates, it will be their approach in taking the SAT Practice (or Mock) tests. We at SAT Champ firmly believe that SAT Practice tests are the most instrumental when it comes to improving your SAT score. However, practice tests prove to be building blocks in your success, only when they are practiced and analyzed in the right manner.

The SAT Practice tests are like a mirror or reflection of your current ability to measure or analyze your preparation level on the SAT. Most students keep aside SAT practice tests for the last phase of their preparation. They believe it’s not worthy of giving the practice test until one is through with the entire content knowledge. However, this approach is highly flawed, as you are not able to monitor your progress consistently. One needs to review at periodic intervals as to where his current level of preparation stands, and SAT practice tests achieve that. The score obtained on the SAT practice tests makes you aware of whether you are on the right track or not. Once you decide to appear for the SAT, the first thing to do is to give an official mock test provided by the College Board without any preparation to become aware where you stand currently? Then make a list of colleges, you finally want to apply and study. Obtain the cut-offs for these colleges from the respective college website, and this will let you know the target score (destination) you need to achieve. Practicing without a target score is of no use as you don’t know whether you are heading in the right direction or not. It is like driving a car with no destination in mind. This article explains the importance, relevance, strategies to make the most out of your SAT practice tests, and steadily improving your score with every subsequent practice test you take.

  • Ensure realistic setting for every practice test:

Many students often make a mistake by not replicating the practice test in a practical setting, which defeats the entire purpose of taking a practice test. If not given under a realistic environment, attempting a practice test is just as simple as solving a bunch of questions. Some students make the following mistakes, which do not provide an exact picture as to what score you will obtain when you finally appear for the SAT. 

a) Exceed the overall prescribed time limit: Remember, you won’t be given even a little extra on the real SAT. So, strictly adhere to the timings.

b) Exceed the time limits for various sections: Follow the time limits for each section stringently.

c) Attempt the sections in any random order: Follow the same order as on the actual SAT (Reading, Writing, Math (No Calculator), Math (With Calculator)).

d) Marking all answers after completing all the sections: Mark the answers after every question or section attempted as you will be doing on the actual SAT.

e) Taking a break more than prescribed in between the sections: Amongst many, the cardinal purpose of writing the SAT practice test is to build your stamina for the 247 minutes long marathon on the real SAT. With each practice test taken, you will get more accustomed to developing the required strength and will realize that you feel less fatigued compared to the previous practice test. Brainstorming for about 4 hours is easier said than done. Don’t extend the time duration of breaks. Following the above strategy will go a long way to perform to your true potential on the final day.

f) Getting distracted by social media or mobiles during the practice test: Remember, any distraction will defeat the purpose of the practice test. Give each practice test as if it was the real SAT, and your future depends on it.

g) Giving the test at any time during the day: The SAT begins around 8:30 AM. So, make sure you attempt the practice test at that time only, which gradually programs your brain to brainstorm for 4 hours and be active during the early morning when you will be writing the actual SAT. It is especially applicable for those students who prefer night time over day time or feel more active during the night time.

h) Not writing the essay considering it optional: Though optional, one should attempt the essay on every practice test as well as the final SAT. This is one of the factors which distinguish extraordinary from the ordinary. More than 80% of students don’t write an essay during their practice tests. So, they cannot feel how hard it is to devote another 50 minutes attentively after brainstorming for almost 3 hours on the test.

i) Casual Approach: The primary purpose of taking a practice test is to try to simulate the anxiety and pressure which creeps in when you are not able to solve questions or lag behind time on the test. Dealing with stress and proper Time Management are the keys to achieve your target score on the SAT. An efficient SAT tutor will unquestionably teach you how to handle these during your SAT prep phase.

  • Keep Official SAT Practice Tests provided by the College Board for the last:

Official SAT practice tests offered by the College Board give you a fair assessment as to where you currently stand as far as the SAT is concerned.  SAT Practice tests other than the official ones do not provide an exact representation of the real SAT, as either the level of questions is straightforward or tough when compared to the actual SAT. Many students often complain of an enormous difference between their practice test scores and the real SAT score. The difference in the level of questions practiced, and the ones that appeared on the SAT answers the same. Therefore, we at SAT Champ advice after giving the first official practice test (to know your baseline score), keep the rest of the official tests provided by the College Board for the last, so that you are not taken by surprise on the SAT. Don’t exhaust the official test series too early during your SAT prep phase.

  • Analysis of the Practice Test:

Students generally don’t give proper emphasis on analyzing the practice tests. They carry on with their further preparation and wish to obtain a better score in the next practice test. However, we at SAT Champ believe, analyzing your practice test is the most critical if one wants to improve his scores with each practice test attempted.  If one can devote his attention and time efficiently in analysis after each practice test, one will undoubtedly see an improvement in the subsequent test a student takes. The time to analyze should be a minimum double (8 hours) of the time spent on writing the practice test. Try solving the wrong questions again with no time limit, which will let you analyze whether there was insufficient content knowledge, or it was a careless mistake committed out of time pressure. Next, focus on the questions you guessed. Check whether it was a random guess or whether you were able to eliminate specific options before marking your answer. Also, analyze why you picked the particular option you chose? Try ascertaining which question took most of your time, and what surprised you during the test? Try getting to the root cause of the issues mentioned above. Analyzing this way will result in improvement in your score and strategy in subsequent practice tests. Make a list of key takeaways from every practice test you take. Try maintaining your strength areas and gradually strive to improve upon your weak areas. Last but not least, make sure to discuss the mock with your tutor. Make a list of the shortcomings and a more efficient way of answering the questions? It will fine-tune the self-analysis which you did by yourself for the mock.

Attempting the SAT practice tests by keeping the above objectives and strategies in mind, you are bound to use these Practice Tests as building blocks in achieving your target score on the actual SAT. We at SAT Champ have been the pioneers in providing online group and one-on-one classes for the SAT exam. It gives us great contentment to see our students realize their aspirations and potential through our guidance. We have catered to almost all parts of the globe as far as our students are concerned. Our students have got admitted to the most prestigious schools a child aspires to study. We have years of experience behind our back, which only increases our drive and confidence with each passing year to provide the best education for the SAT exam. Along with the content knowledge, we also teach various time management techniques to our students, providing them with the niche which excels them to perform to the best of their ability on the final test day.  

Our point of view – SAT can be aced and made a great learning experience, but that surely requires the guidance of top SAT instructors, which can effectively make a difference in your SAT prep.