Tips from an Orange County SAT Tutor: 5 things to remember when taking a SAT practice exam


It is officially fall test prep season, and many students are working their way through their very first SAT practice test to get a baseline score. Taking a practice exam is one of the most important things college prep students can do because it helps them determine what score they currently have and compare it to their final goal. The vast majority of students decide they want to improve their score before they take the real SAT and are advised to follow a few tips and tricks when taking their practice exams – it’s never too early to book your in-home Orange County SAT prep tutor.

1. Complete the exam in one sitting

It’s essential for students to take their practice exam in one sitting so they can get a realistic score. Students can sit down on any given Saturday and take the exam from start to finish allowing only the breaks allotted by the test prep booklet. When students break up the exam into smaller parts, they tend to get an unusually high score because they don’t have to maintain intense concentration for several hours. This can leave many students with an unpleasant surprise when they get their composite score from the real test.

2. Get up early

When students take the real exam, they will be up at the crack of dawn on Saturday. Most students are used to getting up early Monday through Friday but depend on extra sleep during the weekends. As a result, it’s best to take a practice exam early in the morning so the student’s brain will be exactly as tired as it would be on the actual day. This might mean making a few scheduling adjustments and going to bed earlier on Friday night or adjusting other academic and social activities that week.

3. Pay careful attention to scoring guidelines

The SAT has an interesting way of scoring each exam and students are highly encouraged to read the scoring directions at the back of the booklet thoroughly. If the directions are too confusing, students should ask their tutor to grade the test for them. It’s essential that students use the scoring guide correctly to get an accurate score. Many students are unsure as to how to grade the exam and make an educated guess, but this could skew their baseline score by 100 or more points (READ: 5 Awesome SAT Apps).

4. Create a quiet testing environment

When students take their practice exam it’s also essential they create an environment similar to that of the real test. Students should either be in the quiet and privacy of their room or arrange to use a private study room at the library. They should not experience the interruptions of siblings or classmates and should not be distracted by music, television, or social media. To get an accurate baseline score students should be able to concentrate 100% on the exam, especially since each section only gives them a certain amount of time to complete several questions.

5. Determine strengths and weaknesses

The main point of taking a practice exam is for students to determine what their potential score will be in each section. This allows students to determine which parts of the exam they need to work on and which parts they are already good at. Rather than guess, students should go over their practice exam piece by piece with their test prep tutor, who can help students understand what they need to work on and set reasonable goals that the student can reach by the big day.

Our private Orange County SAT tutors are here to help you score high.

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