A school-wide SAT? Here’s how to do well on it


Caley Monnier, Editor in Chief

From March 1 to March 3, Seymour High School has mandated a school-wide SAT examination for all juniors. Beginning for the class of 2023, the SAT has become a pathway to graduation. It’s important to prepare accordingly, especially if you are planning to pursue a college career.

Before we get into tips for taking the test itself, what is the structure of the test session? When you enter your testing area, you will be asked to check your identity with the records they have on file. They will take attendance, read through the test’s general rules, and get everyone on the CollegeBoard application. 

In total, the test is 3 hours (without the essay, which will not be completed during this school day SAT). There are two different sections, which are the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Mathematics sections. The Reading and Writing section is 100 minutes long, and the Math section is 80 minutes long. You will get a score out of 800 for each section, and those two will be combined to get a composite score out of 1600.

The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section is first, and it is broken up into two different categories: Reading and Writing. The Reading section is 65 minutes long with 52 multiple choice questions, and the Writing section is 35 minutes long with 44 multiple choice questions. In the Reading category, expect to read short passages and analyze plot details, characterization, themes, and motifs. In the Writing category, you will also be given short passages, but this time you must provide grammatical and structural corrections to errors in the passages.

The Math section follows, and it covers different math concepts up to Algebra II. There are two different types of questions. The first set of questions are multiple choice, and then self-response questions follow, where you must write in your answer. There is one 25 minute section with no calculator, and then a calculator is allowed during the next section, which is 55 minutes long. 

Reminder: It is not guaranteed that your testing area will provide calculators, so make sure to bring your own. You only need a basic one, and do not need a scientific calculator.

The SAT has a very distinct reputation, and it can be one of the most important factors of a college application. While this can be a source of stress for some people, schools are slowly realizing that one standardized test cannot fully represent the aptitude of a student. If you do not feel confident about your score, many colleges are going test-optional, so they will not consider your score if you choose. For the Fall 2023 admissions season, over 80% of four-year institutions had this test-optional status. 

If you still decide that you would like to supplement your application with an SAT, there are some easy tips to help maintain your composure and enhance your mindset during the test. 

1. Use your resources

Even just at Seymour High School, there are many different avenues of finding information and help regarding the SAT. In our library, there are SAT prep books with practice questions, tips and tricks, and other extremely useful information. It’s completely free! You can also ask your teachers for their unique advice regarding test taking and content on the test.

2. Know the test

Understanding the structure of the SAT is important for confidence going into the test. The questions are not arranged by level of difficulty, but are instead of varying difficulties. If you find a question too difficult, don’t spend too much time on it, but skip it and keep going. If the question is simply out of your depth, just guess! There’s no penalty for getting questions wrong, only bonuses for getting questions right, so there’s no downside to guessing. 

3. Eat well

Making sure that you eat both a filling dinner the night before and breakfast the morning of is crucial to having stamina for the SAT. Make sure to fill up on carbohydrates and protein for sufficient energy and satiation. Some good foods to choose for your meals include rice, vegetables, potatoes, eggs, and grains, among others.

4. Plan accordingly

The morning of the SAT can be very hectic, so planning your route and other congruent details will allow for a peaceful, streamlined morning. Make sure you know who is taking you, your route, your testing area, and your plans for after the test.

5. Believe in yourself!

No matter what, the SAT is just a test, and you can retake it as many times as there are scheduled SAT days. A singular test score does not define you! If you go into the test with this mindset, you will feel much more relaxed and at peace with your score, no matter the result.