October 3, 2012 by Admit It!
Admit It! You are not excited about spending the upcoming Saturday morning at an SAT test center (let’s not even mention how unexcited you are to spend your Friday night worrying about what will happen on Saturday morning). We think it’s fair to qualify standardized tests as a necessary evil. They’re no one’s favorite activity (well, maybe they’re the College Board’s favorite activity or whomever manufactures number two pencils – I mean really, wouldn’t those go by way of the dodo bird if not for standardized tests?) but they’re a part of life, a rite of passage, an application must-have (at least for most colleges and universities).
So for those of you spending your Saturday morning in what feels like purgatory, a few helpful thoughts from those of us who have lived through it and who now review the fruits of your Saturday morning labors:
Don’t psych yourself out (i.e. calm down). The SAT is no way defines who you are as an applicant or as a person. Your name will never be replaced by a summation of scores (by admission officers or anyone else). Your application is the culmination of 18 years, not four hours. Your SAT is one component of many; not the sole factor on which you will be evaluated. Putting too much pressure on yourself to reach a magic number that you think you need in order to survive the college admission process will likely only see diminishing returns.
Strategize. For the SAT specifically, most if not all schools superscore (meaning we take your best components from each of the sections and add them together to get your best composite score). So assuming this is not your first attempt at the test, make good use of your time. If you knocked the Critical Reading out of the park the first time you took the test, focus on the math section. Prep for it, study for it, and don’t sweat the Critical Reading part. That score you already have in the bag.
Know your role. What tests are you expected to take? Sure most schools require an SAT or an ACT (although not all – test-optional admission processes exist) but do they require the ACT with writing? Do they require SAT subject tests? Don’t take tests that aren’t necessary (unless you love sterile classrooms and the smell of freshly sharpened number two pencils on Saturday mornings).
So to all our standardized-test-taking warhorses out there, good luck. Oh, and one more tip. Listen to what your parents have to say about eating a good breakfast (it couldn’t hurt right), and bring your number two pencils.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission
PS: For those of you thinking about applying Early Decision, we will get your October scores in time to be reviewed during that process (and if they arrive slightly after the November 1 deadline that’s just fine). October ACTs will not, however, be able to be considered during Early Decision.