What I Learned from the SAT

Having taken the SAT the morning I rushed off to take a vacation, I had an interesting experience and felt it worthwhile to comment on the test.

In the first place, I had a totally different experience than I did on the PSAT. When I took the PSAT, we had to register at the only local school with a staff member who knew how to deal with homeschooler registration (The school forgot that I was coming, anyway, and we had to nag the test people in order to get my scores back.)

We registered online for the SAT, and, with more than one opportunity to “get it right” and without a guaranteed scholarship on the line, I had comfort in the knowledge that it wouldn’t really matter if I messed up.

I didn’t mess up.
Despite massive stressing, and a total inability to become “really worried” about the test, I took it with a somewhat disconcerting amount of peace (probably due to the many people praying for me.)
An enormous crowd was clustered around the entrance to the building. I am not a fan of crowds; they look at you oddly. But there were room assignments! I didn’t have to take it in the far corner of a crowded cafeteria with low tables. Yes!

Lesson 1: Resist the urge to stress.

So, we started with the essay. I got a relatively easy prompt:

Do we benefit from learning about the flaws of people we admire and respect? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

Oh look! my hands are shaking. That’s not good. However, although I had not studied as much for this test as for the PSAT, I was able to incorporate a paragraph from one of my practice essays into the assignment, but I only had time for one clincher sentence, and I used the word “knowledge” too many times.

Lesson 2: Budget adequate time to proofread.

Alright, I’m in the next section. I’m not entirely sure what came next, but somewhere in there we had a math section. Whee! I can do all of these! Well, maybe barring two or so this section…I’m done early and I can recheck. Good, good. Wait! That’s not right! “Time!” Fortunately, the question was a student-produced-response one so the wrong answer don’t get marked off. Still, I didn’t get any points for that one…

Lesson 3: SPR questions are good for points. Unfortunately, they can also be much harder.

The more you’ve read, written, critiqued, edited, the easier the writing questions are. It’s mostly done by feel, with a few grammar rules thrown in there. Not having many concrete rules to rely on as I speed giddily through these makes me uneasy.

Lesson 4: Speed can be good if you’re careful.
Lesson 5: Read up.

Reading Comprehension is interesting. I know I got all of the sentence completion questions, but the passage based reading questions have several almost identical multiple choice questions…also my concentration is breaking down. Focus!…and I ran out of time.

Lesson 6: Don’t over-analyze.
Lesson 7: If you even can concentrate for an three hours to do a math set, now would be a good time to utilize that skill.

And it’s done. My scores were sent out this time. Turns out I didn’t have too much reason to worry, but there were other things I needed to learn.

Lesson 8: Learn to focus on your coursework.
Lesson 9: If you get good scores, “they” will come–you don’t need to research colleges overmuch.
Lesson 10: Large amounts of prestige aren’t too important in picking a college, if the school is decent with a certified program for your major–and cheap.
Lesson 11: Be patient.

I’m still stuck on lessons 8 and 11, and I haven’t picked out a college yet, either. But I’ve got lots of time to hone my skills–I hear colleges want homeschoolers to take the SAT IIs as well. 😉

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