Prepare for War

Pencils? Check. Erasers? Check. Readiness for the fight? Check. Nothing can stand in your way of a good SAT score. Nothing, that is, except the experimental section – one of the most challenging aspects of this grueling exam. The experimental section of the SAT can often feel like psychological warfare. In the middle of what some say is “the biggest test of your life,” (trust me, it is not!) the experimental section can pop up anywhere (between the second and seventh sections), take any form (reading, math or grammar) and can often break a fighting spirit. Why? Because this section is fake; it does not count!

Consider it forced volunteer work. Your suffering enables the test makers to decide whether the experimental questions will appear on future exams. These questions are often the toughest, most time-consuming part of the exam. The good news is that it does not count towards your score. The bad news is that you will not know which section is experimental. Moreover, this challenging section often shakes a student’s confidence and can weaken a fighting spirit. Not to mention it’s an extra 25 minutes you are forced to spend in the exam room, bringing your total time of duty to a whopping four hours that is rough on both your bottom and your brain!

So how do you combat this mental game and win the battle? First, know the structure of the test. For example, if you just completed section four and you’ve already completed two grammar sections, then know that you’ve already slogged through the experimental section and every section left still counts. Take heart: that means the questions will be easier! If you’re feeling stressed out about the experimental section, channel your inner Yogi– you can’t do anything about it but take a deep breath, accept the situation, and do the best you can on the whole exam. No matter how sure you are that you are in the thick of the experimental section, don’t use it as naptime – there’s always a chance that you are wrong and you will wind up blowing precious points for nothing. At the same time, do not be disheartened if you battled a particularly tough section – chances are, it was the experimental one. Before you tackle the next section, take a moment to close your eyes, calm yourself and start fresh. Do not think of the past, just focus on the future.

There is no foolproof way to know which section is experimental. However, the more prepared you are for the big SAT battle, the better off you’ll be on the big day. One of the best ways to mentally and physically prepare yourself is to take an SAT in its entirety. Spend the four hours with your tush attached to a chair – and I do not mean the comfy one in your family room! Putting in the time now will improve your stamina, resolve, and give you additional control on the big day. Preparation is key to winning the SAT war — the more prepared you are, the better off you will be when battling the experimental section.

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