A high SAT score can make the difference between being accepted or rejected by the college of your choice. It also may affect scholarships and the cost of your college education since lower scores may require taking preparatory classes, and students with good scores may receive more scholarship money. You can maximize your score through preparation.
Read everything you can about the test so you know what to expect, which can help to reduce anxiety. Understanding how the scoring works can affect your responses. For instance, with the SAT, students get penalized for incorrect answers but not for blank answers, so avoid answering questions that you do not feel confident about. Read other material as well, including newspapers or news sites, literature and academic journals to hone your vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. Try to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words from the context, and then check a dictionary to see if you were correct.
An abundance of material is available from guidance counselors, libraries, test preparation centers and online sites to help you study for the SAT. An SAT study guide gives information about the kinds of questions on the exam. Some schools and programs offer classes to help students focus on the kinds of material and skills the exam covers. If you need more individual attention, consider hiring a tutor or finding a program in your area that offers SAT preparation.
The next step involves taking practice tests. Available in software, printed and online forms, practice SAT tests help you become more familiar with the material as well as the form of the test. Comfort with the testing procedures and format reduces the amount of stress while taking the exam, which can improve your scores. Practice all areas -- math, reading comprehension and writing -- with flash cards, notes or other materials. You can find applications for phones or other handheld devices that make studying on the go easier.
Test anxiety negatively affects performance. Students experiencing overwhelming stress when taking the SAT may misread questions, feel physically ill or have difficulty remembering information they know. Preparation helps prevent test anxiety. Practice exams reduce stress about the test structure, and familiarity with the directions helps you focus on the questions rather than the instructions. It's also important to keep the right attitude about the SAT. While scores are definitely important, most schools determine acceptance based on other factors as well, such as high school GPA, coursework, activity level and entrance essay.
Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.