In the us sat exams are used to determine if a person is ready for college: they are college admission exams. The sat exam is now called the SAT Reasoning Test, previously it was the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test. It is a standardized exam owned, published, and developed by the college Board of the US and administered by the Educational Testing Service. The current sat exam takes three and three-quarter hours and is not free to take (recently cost $45 for us nationals). Among other things sat exams test mathematics, critical reading and writing skills.
For those who want to get in to college these exams are so important. So much emphasis is placed on having an education and passing exams can affect so much of your life. Despite this few people really know how to achieve exam success. Many students are never really taught how to pass exams: they are just told that they should! How can you ever reach your true potential exam success if you don’t know how to revise effectively, how to prepare yourself and what approach to take to your exams at the time you sit them?
To do anything well you have to know how. During the last few years I’ve marked thousands of exam papers. I’ve seen students making the same mistakes I did as a student, and inventing others that hadn’t occurred to me! Exam anxiety causes students to make easily avoidable mistakes – and they loose marks as a consequence. It’s such a pity!
I’ve seen education both as a student and a teacher. A few years ago, and ten years after completing my formal education, I did a part-time course in mathematics, Ielts and then later another in animal behaviour. At the time I was working full-time, so studying was confined to evenings and weekends. It was only then that i really discovered and appreciated the importance of study and exam technique. By following some simple guidelines I completed the courses and gained distinctions. If only I’d knew about these techniques the first time round. If only all students could follow the same guidelines.
Here are a few general points to consider when facing sat exams, or any others. Look out my other articles for more tips and advice, but don’t leave your exam success to chance!
When it comes down to it you’re the one who’ll be sitting exams. No-one else can revise for you, and there’s no-one else to help you in an exam. Although the techniques of revision and answering exam questions can be learned you must invest time for practice and revision. The more you do this the better you’ll become, and the more you’ll be able to cope with your exams and succeed in them.
It’s a useful to think about any previous exams you’ve taken when preparing for an upcoming exam. Make a list of problems you’ve encountered and things you want to improve for the future. Then you can look for advise that’s specific to your needs. Don’t, however, let your list limit you: I hope you’ll find other information to help you improve your exam technique.
To study well you need to be relaxed and happy. If you’re struggling with it’s better to go and see your tutor straight away. If you wait you may get further behind. You’ll also worry, which could adversely affect your other studies. Never be afraid to ask your tutors about things you’re finding difficult – that’s what they’re there for, and it’s what they expect you to do! However scary they seem, really they are just people who, in my experience, genuinely want their students to succeed!
Finally a word about worry! Although a little worry will probably drive you to prepare yourself, over-worrying is counter productive. Don’t try to live up to unnecessarily high expectations, especially if they’re other people’s. Don’t let others upset you and don’t worry about whether your friends will do better than you. Remember that there’s life after exams, so don’t get things out of perspective! Remember too that if you prepare adequately you’re unlikely to fail. If you do fail then there is always another way forward – get someone to help you think about all the options.
With best wishes for your sat exams and your future!
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