We've all seen the movies and TV shows that deal with the SAT - whether it's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Chris Evans' The Perfect Score, or even Accepted. However, this mythical test, given to high school students in America, has so much more importance than being a plot device in teen movies. For any student wanting to attend University in the USA, the SAT serves as an academic benchmark for admissions applications. It allows colleges to figure out where each applicant is academically in relation to their peers. This test can be really important, and can make or break an application regardless of any other strengths a student may have. But how does one prepare for the SAT, especially when you're in South Africa?
There's no need to be concerned! With our handy guide on how to prepare for the SAT, we've got you covered.
Let's start by looking at the basics:
What is the SAT?
The SAT is a standardized test administered to high school students who wish to apply to American colleges and Universities. It consists of four multiple-choice sections - two English, and two Mathematics - and an optional Essay section. Scored out of 1600, the SAT score gives an indication of a student's relative academic ability. The scaled score means that scores can be compared across a range of applicants from anywhere in the world.
It is also NOT the ACT, a different standardized aptitude test offered to high school students.
So how do you go about preparing for the SAT? Well, we've got some tips to put you in the best position to succeed.
Take the SAT Diagnostic Test
This is a critical first step, as it will give you a clear sign of how much of the SAT content you already know. The SAT Diagnostic is an online test that quickly covers the SAT questions you need to be able to complete. This is helpful because it can tell you where you need to spend the most time studying before the test.
Yes, studying is a hugely necessary part of SAT preparation. Although most of the content is covered by the South African high school syllabus, most students don't realize the difference between the style of the SAT and the way that they have been tested throughout their school careers. Remember, students who went to high school in the USA have been preparing for these types of tests for years, so you need to put in the hours to get yourself ready.
There are a number of resources you can use to learn the SAT test material. These range from the free, online Khan Academy, to the numerous SAT Prep books available to buy (we prefer Kaplan). You can also find brilliant tutoring available both in-person and online. Figuring out which method will be most effective for you will have a big impact on how well-prepared your study time can make you.
Register Well In Advance
The SAT has booking deadlines well in advance of the testing dates, so registering for the test should be done ahead of time. Once you've registered, make sure to read all the details of your location and what to bring - the moderators are strict and make no exceptions to any rule. On test day, make sure you arrive punctually and are prepared for the entirety of the SAT's duration. If you miss the SAT you registered for, you will not be reimbursed.
How Do I Register?
Check out our blog post on this subject!
Practice Makes Perfect
Along with studying to make sure you have covered all the relevant material, make sure to take as many practice tests as you can. These tests will not only give you an idea of how your studying is going, but will also familiarize you with the way the SAT questions are asked. There is no substitute for hard work, and the SAT is no different.
On Test Day
Make sure you have your ticket, identification, and appropriate stationery with you. If possible, consider leaving your phone at home to remove the distraction from your mind. The SAT takes around 3 hours, so make sure you have a good breakfast and are ready for the long haul! At the end of the day, only you can ensure that you prepare enough for the SAT to make the test a success. It is a good idea to use the SAT as a dry run for your time in the US. Can you organize the registration for the test yourself, without your parents' help? How can you cope when you don't have your teachers helping you every step of the way? Can you handle the pressure of a test with slightly unfamiliar content? Prove to anyone watching that you can handle yourself and succeed in a challenging situation.
Remember, it's always the perfect time to begin your journey towards studying at the university of your dreams. Sign up here for a free consultation with one of our recruitment experts. You could join over 300 student-athletes already placed in the USA, competing at the highest level and earning a world-class degree!