Level 2: Getting Familiar with the SAT

Katya , 03-17-2018

Before we get too far, you need to know what the test entails. By knowing what you need to go through, you can better prepare for the SAT.

The test requires you to finish 4 sections within certain time limits. For each section, you will have between 25 to 65 minutes to complete the given section. In under 50 minutes, you can also write an essay. Those are your goals. Take out 4 sections and an essay to complete your mission.

Moreover, memorize the order in which the sections are given:

  1. Reading;
  2. Writing and Language;
  3. Mathematics (No Calculator);
  4. Mathematics (With Calculator);
    1. (Optional) 50-minute essay.

Get used to multiple choice questions. Aside from 13 fill-in-the-blank math questions, multiple choice dominates the first 4 sections.

And make sure that you take advantage of every 5-minute break that you get. During your break time, you want to take time to reconfigure your thoughts. You are given a break between most sections and you want to take advantage of every break you can get. You'll need it!

To help you stay on track, practice switching through different types of problems and switching from one section to the next. You want to prepare yourself for dealing with various problems at a face rate. By the time of the test, you want to be familiar with each section.

Remember: Time is not on your side. Speed is your benefactor.

Moving on, let's take a peek into what every section has to offer. Make sure that you know each section. You want to see a section and know what's inside. Don't waste time. You need to know what you're dealing with.

Here's a handy list of time limits:

  1. For the reading section, you will have to complete 52 questions in under 65 minutes.
  2. For the writing and language section, you will have to complete 44 questions in under 35 minutes.
  3. For the first math section (the one without a calculator), you will have to complete 20 questions in under 25 minutes.
  4. For the second math section (the one with a calculator), you will have to complete 38 questions in under 55 minutes.
    1. For the (optional) essay, you will need to write the entire 4-page essay in under 50 minutes.
      1. If you do not write the essay, the test will take up to 180 minutes.
      2. If you do write the essay, the test will take up to 230 minutes.

There are also 3 things you should keep in mind when taking the test:

  1. The test wants to know how fast you can read every passage.
  2. The test wants to know how you understand various ideas.
  3. The test wants to know how you respond to various questions in relation to a given piece's tone, logic, and content.

Most of the test boils down to:

  1. How fast you can read through the exam.
  2. How you understand the exam.
  3. How you act upon a given question.

There are 5 sections found in the reading section. After every section, you will have to answer about 11 questions in every passage. Each question checks how well you comprehend what you just read. Speed reading is vital to go through this section quickly. You also must be able to memorize important parts. However, you cannot go through the questions slowly. You need to use speed and have high accuracy.

For the next section, you will be working with the writing and language section. This part of the test checks out how well you understand grammar. There are several questions that coincide this section. Keep in mind that these problems see how well you understood the meaning of a given sentence. Problems might also check how well you understand the structure of paragraphs. However, watch out for multiple problems that check your reasoning and basic logic skills. Those questions want to see how well you interpret what was written in the given passages.

Effectually, this part contains tons of errors. But make sure you check the passages. You need to look deep into the passages to find them. That is your task. When you are asked a question, it will often relate to what was just stated in the previous passage. That's why you need to watch for what you can correct and make your best guess. When it comes to answering a question, you will have 4 options to answer each question. Every time, the first option will say, "NO CHANGE." As for the 3 other options, each option will contain a correction.

Generally, a fair share of questions will want you to suggest which is the best option in that circumstance. This is why strategy is so important. Other questions might involve making broader modifications to the text. These decisions can involve the entire content, how the content was ordered, or adding or removing parts of the text.

However, this section is where vocabulary plays a vital key. You need to be able to speak and read English. If you can do both, you can get a perfect score on this section.

Now comes the first math section. This time, you don't get to use your calculator. During this test, imagine that your calculator is still getting ready for the big day. And once the second math section starts, your calculator will be wide awake to get work done. Oh, and do not get worried about not having access to your calculator. The test creators designed the questions so that you do not need to use your calculator. This won't be brutal if you're prepared.

Now, it is time that we start answering questions that involve arithmetic, geometry, and algebra. You won't have much trouble since — for the most part — the most advanced math will involve multiplication and division. Oh, and there will be a tad of trigonometry. And as a little bonus, the test will question you on a handful of advanced math concepts that you should learn quickly.

15 questions in a row will be multiple choice. And like the previous section, you get to pick from 4 options to see which fits the question best. Once you're done with those 15 questions, you get to change how you work. It is now time for fill-in-the-blank questions. You have to complete 5 of these.

Usually, there is a method to how the questions are structured. You will see that questions start out easy and get progressively harder as the test progresses. When you hit the last 5 questions, this order starts all over again. However, this might be the hardest section when it comes to testing you on the material. Be ready for a challenge.

In effect, this test breaks down whether you know how to answer the questions or not. It's pretty straightforward. Though, you need to be on guard. There's a handful of questions that might take some more brain power. The nice thing is that all you need to study is how to do the math. You, of course, need to know what kind of math you're doing. But once you study how to do the math, you should be golden.

For the second math section, you can wake up your calculator. It's had its morning coffee. It's had a good night's rest. And it knows that it needs to help you with the second math section. Thankfully, the format of the second section mirrors the first. The major differences are that the questions are harder and that your calculator has come alongside to help you.

However, here's the catch: you cannot solve any problems by utilizing your calculator. That's your handicap. Why you have your calculator is not so that you can solve the problems. It is there so you can accomplish some arithmetic. Oh, and remember that in the latter part of this section, there are 8 questions. Each of these questions requires you to fill in the blank.

If you're not taking the essay, the rest of this article and test are optional. The essay itself is not a required part of the SAT. Here's what it all involves: 4 pages on lined paper with your handwriting. You write the essay within the time limit and that's it. And don't worry if you have trouble writing. There's a way that you can achieve a high score, too. However, this is how your essay is judged: logic and structure. The content doesn't affect your score whatsoever. If you have great structure and logic, your essay can do very well.

Now, as far as what you will be writing about, you will be discussing someone else's argument. Your assignment is to pick apart their argument. You need to check how the argument utilizes 2 elements: evidence and reasoning. You will also check how the author implemented both stylistic and persuasive elements. That's what you need to do in your essay in the given time limit.

Once you're done, you might notice that the test took you 3 or 4 hours to complete. Then, the test is over. You are done with the exam. You can go home. You and your calculator can both go back to bed. And hopefully, you will feel a sense of accomplishment.

Congratulations! You just finished the SAT.