As with all other standardized tests, there are a multitude of tips and tricks that your older friends will tell you when it comes to taking the SAT. I’ve heard everything from “log formulas into your calculator” (don’t do that, it’s cheating and your test can be voided) to “eating strawberries the morning of will help you remember the names of authors” (can someone please verify the validity of this statement?). However, perhaps the most frequently shared tips have to do with the test dates. Many people argue that there are certain months where the exam tends to be easier and others where the exam is impossibly hard. They claim that your scores can be heavily affected by the date you take the SAT and will more likely than not give you all the months when this is “accurate”
I’ve taken the SAT 3 different times and in 3 different months and my scores were always around 100 points within each other so personally, I don’t think this is a real fact, just a silly rumor. However, since I want to make sure you’re all getting the right information, I did some research and upon investigating it some more, I can safely say that it is, in fact, just a rumor that there are better curves on certain test dates.
According to PrepScholar, the only reason that the SAT is curved is to maintain the idea that a 2100 in 2010 is equivalent to a 2100 in 2014. PrepScholar also brings up a valid point – if there were curves on test dates, wouldn’t admissions officers look into that and realize that there’s a reason that everyone who took the test in October scored significantly higher? Logically, it doesn’t really make too much sense when you really think about it.
However, I do agree that there are certain dates that are easier. The only catch is that these dates are very, very specific to the individual. For example, in my own case, I ended up taking the test in December 2013, June 2014 and October 2014. These dates were ideal for me because I was taking AP Classes and was also part of the musical in high school and neither of these months interfered with anything else I was doing. If you play a sport, for example, maybe you should avoid taking the exam during your season. If your schedule is loaded up with AP Classes, please do not take the May exam. If you know that you’re going to spend your summer studying (and don’t lie to yourself about this one), sign up for the October one to ensure that you’ll have enough time to prep. The bottom line, though, is that picking the test date is a very subjective experience and it will depend on your own schedule and it will obviously be easier to take a test, regardless of what kind of test it is, when you’re not stressed about a hundred other things that are going on in your life.
My biggest tip is to sit down with a calendar and write down every single extracurricular activity and AP class you have going on and then look on CollegeBoard to figure out when SATs are administered and find a date that is ideal for you.
The next time someone tells you not to take the May SAT because it’s the hardest or to take the December one because it’s the easiest, please ignore them. It may be the easiest for them, personally, but that doesn’t mean it will be the easiest for you. Don’t let yourself be swayed by when your friends are taking them and please do make sure you have enough time to mentally prepare yourself before the exam – don’t try to squeeze all of your life’s events into the week before. After all, half of the SAT battle is mental!
Good luck guys and happy testing! (And remember, you’re one step closer to finally being done with high school!)