No matter how much you’ve prepared for the SAT, I can almost guarantee that you are going to show up and there will be something you wish you had known beforehand. Whether it’s about checking in for the test, the test itself, or any other aspect of the process, we have students sounding off on what they wish THEY had known about the SAT before they took it.

“Over-thinking things doesn’t mean working hard” – Zoe Ciantra, Packer Collegiate Institute ’14

Truer words have never been spoken. In actuality, the more you stare blankly at a question, the more frustrated and confused you’re going to become. Don’t waste your time getting upset; just skip it and come back to it later.

“Don’t rush! Sometimes people who are faster than you will finish and you will feel pressure to be faster, but ignore them!” – Sabina Gilioli, Packer Collegiate Institute ’13, Barnard ’17

“Make sure you are at the right test center.” – Joanna Flores, Pleasant Grove High School ’13, Fordham University ’17

When you’ve taken a lot of standardized testing, you often choose the same center each time. However, there is always the chance that there will be a time when either your preferred test center isn’t offering the test or has already met it’s capacity. When that happens, it’s really really important to be triple-checking your admissions ticket because it will be a change from your normal test day schedule. Actually, just triple check it regardless — especially now that the College Board has eliminated standby testing, so you won’t be able to take it at the site you showed up at (if it isn’t the right one).

“Wish I would’ve known how to copy that phrase in cursive.”– Ferenc Puskas, Cherry Creek High School ’13, Boston University ’17

Don’t we all?

“Don’t freak out if you have an extra section of your worst subject”  – Sarah Jackson, Packer Collegiate Institute ’13, Johnson Whales University ’17

A lot of people forget that there is an experimental section — probably because it isn’t there when you take practice tests. Don’t let the extra section trip you up!

Apparently this is what a stressed out test taker is supposed to look like. Image from education-acceleration.

Apparently this is what a stressed out test taker is supposed to look like. Image from Education-Acceleration.

“I would have liked to know that no matter what I did, there would be some element of the unpredictable.” – Isabella Chirico, Packer Collegiate Institute ’13, Vassar ’17

“Remember that in four hours, you’ll be done, no matter whether you did well or badly. You’ll get through it.” – Emily Friedman, Wilton High School ’13, McGill University ’17

This is honestly one of the most important things that anyone could know. I’ve said it a million times before, but I’ll say it again: your performance on the SAT doesn’t make you a better or worse person, and it isn’t going to make or break your future.

“You have more time than you think.” – Davy Huang, Boston University ’17

“I wish I could have known the essay question beforehand.” – Laura Balcerak, Packer Collegiate Institute ’13, Dickinson College ’17

While the question may be out of your control, being prepared for anything that the College Board throws at you definitely isn’t. If you’re feeling that you’re coming up dry on essay topics/examples, be sure to check out our almost-always-usable list !

“It is really not as scary as people make it out to be.” – Ariana Mercado, Packer Collegiate Institute ’13, Dartmouth ’17

For real though, it’s just a test! In fact, it’s less scary than a regular school test because you can always take it again!

“I wish someone had taught me how to interpret and go about the math problems.” – Sierra Harris, Massachusetts Institute of Math and Science ’13, Boston University ’17

“I wish I had known that the ACT was easier than the SAT” – Jordan Bekenstein, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School ’13, Amherst College ’13

While it isn’t exactly true that the ACT is easier than the SAT, they are different tests, and for a lot of students the ACT is where they perform best. So if you go into the SAT and realize it isn’t your thing, consider giving the ACT a try.

“You can do well without having an expensive tutor.” – Anisha BharathSingh, Packer Collegiate Institute ’13, Bryn Mawr College ’17

Preach it, girl.



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the author

Mollie Yacano is a freshman at Boston University studying marine science. She works in a biogeochemistry lab that studies human impact on coastal ecology, assisting with various grad student projects. Aside from being a science nerd, she is a self-diagnosed college admissions addict, and has been writing for TP almost since its inception. When she isn’t writing for The Prospect, she can be found instagramming her nail art, pretending to be witty on twitter, ranting about harmful algal blooms, and of course, wasting copious amounts of time on her personal Tumblr.

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