SAT Test Tips for Anxiety
Proper practice and preparation (are we sounding like a broken record yet?) will most definitely help you overcome your SAT test anxiety. Practice with actual SAT questions from previous exams and knowledge of SAT preparation and test-taking strategies (we will help with these!) will certainly go a long way towards controlling your anxieties.
Knowledge is power
Many students suffer SAT test anxiety simply because they do not understand the test and its true purpose. Quite simply, the test is administered so colleges can have a way to compare all of their applicants against each other.
Because the test, unfortunately, would not be as meaningful if it were easy and everyone scored very highly, and therefore remained undifferentiated, the test makers deliberately make it very difficult and place challenging time constraints on you, the test taker.
The college admissions equation
A common misconception about the SAT is that it is the only item in your college application that the admissions committees care about. While we do not want to discourage you from taking the SAT seriously, the fact remains that the admissions committees view the SAT as only one of a number of important factors in your candidacy.
Even if you score below the lowest quartile for your first-choice college or university, you still may get accepted if you charm the admissions committees with your extracurricular activities, letters of reference, transcripts, etc. You are taking the SAT because you want to get into college, right? (Seriously consider having yourself committed if you answer this rhetorical question with a “no”!)
Most of you, have become accustomed to a grading scale where 90% is barely an “A.” If you get 90% of the SAT questions correct, you’re probably staring at a score in the neighborhood of 1500! If you are a 1500 SAT score student, then 90% on a “regular” test is probably absurdly low for you.
Getting 60% of the questions correct likely gives you a score in the vicinity of 1000, which is near the national average.
What’s our point? (Of course we have one!) Don’t start sweating when you quickly realize that this exam is a bit more difficult than the ones you have seen before in your classes. And realize that you can still get a very good score even if you are guessing at far more questions than you ever did on any of your teacher’s tests.
The testing environment and your proctologist proctor
Many students we have talked to reported anxiety over the whole “arrangement” of the test, i.e. they are told when they can take it, where they can take it, etc. Then, they are told where to sit, when to begin, when to end, when they may visit the restroom, and what they can and can not do during the test.
We must accept the fact that the SAT has a quasi-monopoly on college admissions testing. Unfortunately, there is no way around this. In terms of the proctor, keep in mind they must appear to be authoritative so they can maintain control over the testing.
Everyone else in the room is feeling the same anxiety we just described here, so controlling your anxiety can only be an advantage for you.
Visualization and simulation
It is worth repeating again here. Adequate preparation will help you control your anxiety. If you are still concerned about your nerves, you may want to try a powerful technique often used by athletes but equally applicable to the SAT test — visualization.
Visualize yourself taking the test. Try to develop a picture of how you will work through your problems. As simple as this sounds, this technique has worked for SAT students in the past.
Professional help is available!
If anxiety is truly debilitating for you, there is professional help available. Please don’t just throw your hands up in the air and give up. In addition to some good test prep companies that specialize in test anxiety, there are also some psychologists that can gear their anxiety sessions for standardized tests.