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Increased college entrance competition = increased test stress

Tips on how high school students can ease their fears of the SAT/ACT
August 6, 2012 8:15:15 AM PDT
The pressure is on. Today, more high school students are applying to more colleges, earlier than ever before. The number of early admission applications has increased dramatically, with some universities seeing double digit jumps. To begin the college process, most students applying to competitive colleges now take the SAT/ACT more than once. Students today know clearly what students in the past may not have known - systematically preparing for the SAT/ACT gives them confidence. They know how to budget their time, they know what the test looks and feels like, they know important strategies like when to guess at an answer. They go into the test practiced and confident.

Students can take the SAT/ACT as many times as they like, but educators suggest taking the tests no more than two or three times. Dr. Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D. and senior vice president for education outreach from Sylvan Learning, offers the following tips to help ease the pressure of testing and achieve the best results:

  1. Take the tests in the spring of junior year or fall of senior year of high school.
  2. Know the instructions for each section before you begin the test, you won't have to waste time reading them during the exam.
  3. If you don't know a test answer and can't eliminate any incorrect answer choices, skip the question and only go back if time permits. For the ACT, remember to go back and take a guess on any unanswered questions, since there's no penalty for incorrect answers.
  4. Trust yourself. Rely on your instincts.
  5. Never leave an easy question blank. Easy questions have easy answers.
  6. Read, read, read. Read the questions and answers critically.
  7. Eliminate answers. If you can eliminate at least two incorrect answers, you generally increase the probability of guessing correctly.
  8. Save your time. Don't spend too much time on any single question. Make sure you have enough time to answer as many questions as possible, in order to rack up as many points as possible.
  9. Focus on what the question is really asking. If you don't fully understand the question, finding the correct answer is going to be tough.
  10. Rushing only hurts you. Work at a good pace and keep track of the time remaining for each section. Enter the exam with confidence.
  11. End each section by reviewing. If time permits, revisit the questions you didn't answer.
  12. Don't try to cram for the SAT/ACT overnight. Proper preparation takes weeks, even months, of review.
  13. Register for a SAT/ACT prep class at least eight weeks before the testing date to provide extra studying assistance and additional confidence.

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