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10 tips for reducing SAT stress

Don't let the pressure get to you

10 tips for reducing SAT stress

If you find yourself getting nervous about the SAT, consider the following tips. You can reduce your stress and boost your confidence by taking the time to prepare. Face the test head-on: set goals and make a plan. Read on for SAT tips.

1. Create a timeline

Starting your sophomore year, plot out the steps you will take to prepare for the SAT. You may realize that you’d rather spend time preparing over the summer. Decide when to take the exam.

2. Take the SAT more than once

It never hurts to take the SAT two, three or even four times. It will only give you options for reporting your score, and you may see significant improvement over time. You’re free to choose your best exam and to send that score to colleges. Taking the SAT once puts you in a position to do better the next time. You’ll know where you stand.

3. Register in advance

You must register before the deadline for each SAT exam date. Visit to view exam dates and register on time. 

4. Study

It’s a simple truth: students who prepare do better on the SAT. Get acquainted with the types of questions you’ll encounter on the exam, and practice, practice, practice. Make sure you know everything that will be tested. Some of the simpler math may escape you because you haven’t reviewed it in a while. 

5. Get comfortable with the time constraints

On practice exams, observe all time constraints. One way to speed up your test taking is to practice doing each section in an even shorter period of time. Pushing yourself in this way will ensure that you complete every section on the actual test.

6. Set goals

Knowing where you want to attend college will help motivate you to prepare for the SAT. Even better, it will help you set a goal for your score. Once you know the average SAT score of students admitted to your favorite college, you’ll have a target score. It may reduce your stress to know that your score need only fall within a certain range.

7. Get some sleep?

You can’t cram for the SAT. It’s a long and demanding exam, so do yourself a favor (and give yourself some credit) and get good sleep the night before the test. Come Saturday morning, eat a healthy breakfast and leave the house in plenty of time.

8. Take the SAT seriously

It’s an important test, and yes, your score is one of the first criteria on which your college application will be judged.

9. … but not too seriously

The SAT is not a measure of your self-worth. Plenty of high-achievers, even students with stellar grades, don’t score well on the SAT. There may be other outstanding things about you that an admissions committee will take into consideration when reviewing your application. 

10. Get help

You may not feel confident preparing on your own. If you think you’d benefit from some guidance, consider tutoring or classes. Talk to your college counselor. Be active about getting the help you need. 

By following these SAT tips, you will be prepared to take the exam. Good luck!

Jack Byer, chief educational developer, helps design Top Test Prep’s core curricula for test prep programs and private tutoring. For more information, go to or call (800) 501-Prep. 


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