How many of us loath the stress and pressure of an ever-changing college entrance exam? An exam is necessary for admission into the U.S.’s most prestigious universities, and but may not indicate one’s success in college or life. That’s why you need a private college counselor!
Regardless of our antipathy toward the exam, a high score on this daunting test of 2100 or higher unlocks doors to veritable success during the college application process. For instance, the average combined SAT score for incoming freshman at UCLA is between 2100 and 2200, out of a possible 2400, in combination with a 4.5 GPA or higher. (That includes essay questions, which are more subjective and influenced by the reviewer’s own tastes and biases. Even if you think you’re up to speed in your subject areas, college essay help from a college essay writing tutor can give you valuable insights into what reviewers are looking for and push you right over the top!)
Believe it or not, a score of 2180 demonstrates no more than a handful of mistakes. Until universities are able to dislodge the SAT’s powerful legacy throughout America’s college admission’s history, the SAT is here to stay. Working with your private college counselor helps to boost your score and prepare you for other standardized tests designed to trick you. Private college counseling also reduces test anxiety, so that how you feel about the test has less influence on how you perform on the test.
As it is now (changes are due next year), the exam has three primary categories that are segmented into 10 timed sections including an essay: the Critical Reading, Writing, and Math sections.
The passage-based questions within the Critical Reading category present perilous traps for even the advanced reader; therefore, the consistent application of strategy is necessary to achieve as close to an 800 as possible in this section.
The Passage-based Unlocked
1. Questions First- Answers Last
Before reading the passage:
- Circle only the key works in the question. Annotation is necessary! (Your private college counselor has tips on annotations, too.)
- If a line number, word, or phrase is referenced in the question, immediately move to the passage and circle, underline or annotate only the word or lines indicated by the question.
- If a general question such as the excerpt’s main idea, author’s tone, or purpose is asked, make a written note somewhere at the top of the passage.
- Avoid reading answer choices before reading the passage. A preview of the incorrect answers may confuse the test taker as he or she reads the passage. Talk about a spoiler alert! Your private college counselor can help with skim reading skills as well.
2. Read with the Questions in Mind
Once the questions have been annotated:
- Be aware of the general idea and the questions you’ve read.
- Avoid any prior knowledge. Stay focused on the author’s perspective of the topic, not any other. The SAT does not consider the test taker’s outside knowledge or opinion, but only that of the author or those of other persons presented in the passage. Accidentally coloring your answers with your own experience is a common issue that our private college counselors see.
3. Process of Elimination is Paramount!
Many test takers who are advanced readers believe they will do well on this section because they achieve high scores in their honors or AP English courses. Unfortunately, the SAT is designed to deceive us all; consequently, consistent strategy is necessary.
- Avoid selecting an answer without eliminating other answer choices– in many cases, a question will provide two to three choices that may work, but only one is “SAT correct.”
- Systematically cross out each letter of a wrong answer choice for every question in the test booklet.
- Eliminate as many as possible.
- Refer back to the passage if left with two to three choices.
- Eliminate an additional one to two choices.
- Hopefully, only the correct choice stands tall above the rest!
Talk with your private college counselor and essay writing tutor about other common obstacles in test-taking — and how to overcome them!