1. Enjoy your (temporary) ignorance.
For the time being, put the SAT out of your mind. No one can live in a state of anxiety 24/7. And you do have another thing or two to think about, right?
2. Go with the flow.
Folks tend to feel relieved when they complete a challenge like, just for example, a nearly four-hour standardized exam. At the same time, though, it’s normal to experience a bit of blahness as the drama of Taking the Big Test fades. Don’t worry – there’s plenty of excitement just around the corner. Like when you . . .
3. Snag your scores.
On Thursday, May 22, the College Board releases scores from the May 3 SAT. You can pick them up at your school or test center, or through your account on the College Board website.
4. Resist the temptation to share.
It’s human nature to compare yourself to friends. But there’s a lot to be said for keeping your scores to yourself. Nothing is more awkward than bragging to a buddy about how you aced Critical Reading, and having them burst into tears. Unless, of course, it’s hearing about your buddy’s great scores, and bursting into tears yourself. As they say in yoga class, “Stay on your own mat.”
5. Put your scores in perspective.
What’s a good score? What’s not so hot? There’s no single answer to that question. “One size fits all” makes sense for beach towels, not for SAT rankings. So, continue to spare your friends the gory details, but also check how your scores stack up against those of students accepted to your dream schools. You can find this info via any number of venues, including individual college websites and Edupath’s college search tool. As you’ll see, mid-range scores might be inadequate for a student who wants to attend an Ivy, yet perfectly acceptable for someone with their heart set on, say, art school.
6. Plan to take the test again – or not.
According to the College Board website, 55 percent of students improve on their junior year scores when they take the SAT again as seniors. On the other hand, 35 percent actually see their scores fall. Per the website, “The lower your scores, the more likely it is that your scores will improve the second time you take the SAT. The higher your scores, the more likely it is they will drop.” Keep in mind, however, that statistics aren’t destiny, and there are exceptions to every rule.
7. Pinpoint your goal.
There’s no magic in simply retaking the SAT – sadly, the second-time-around fairy is not going to descend from on high and sprinkle your pencil tip with correct-answer dust. To improve your scores, you’ll actually need to study. But study what? It’s possible that you’re content with your Critical Reading and Writing scores, and only want to do better on Math. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Whatever your situation, zero in on what you want to improve. Remember, your real goal isn’t getting a certain number – it’s getting into the college of your choice. Retaking the SAT, if you choose to do so, is just a means to that end.
8. Make yourself a Monday-morning quarterback.
Now that you’ve been through one round of the SAT, you have the advantage of hindsight. How did you prepare for the May 3 test? Will that same technique help you get ready for round two, or would it be better to change it up? As the writer George Santayana noted, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
9. Make a summer study plan.
The SAT is offered again in October, which gives you a nice chunk of prep time. No, you don’t want to devote every spare hour to studying. But there are numerous ways to make steady progress toward higher scores without sacrificing your soul. (Well, not all of it, anyway.) Among the many methods:
- Test prep app (like the Edupath SAT app – itunes.com/edupath)
- Online test prep site
- Test prep book
- In-person prep class
- Individual tutoring
10. Forget about college (every now and then).
The Greek philosopher Aristotle famously recommended “moderation in all things” (a category that surely includes studying for the SAT) as the best way of life. It doesn’t make sense to be so excessively busy preparing for your future life that you don’t even have a present life.
Just like anyone else, you need to hang out with friends, run around at the park or beach, sleep in on weekends, and do whatever you do to feel like yourself. So if anyone complains that you’re not working hard enough, you can tell them that Aristotle gave you permission to chill.