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Do you have preconceptions about taking the SAT exam? Exactly how important is your score on the exam and how much time is needed to prepare for it? We’re here to disprove myths about the SAT and give you the tips and strategies you need to earn your best possible score. 

  1. You can’t really study for a standardized test.

    This is absolutely untrue. Studies have shown that prepared test takers can increase their scores significantly on the SAT. If you become familiar with the structure of the test, patterns that often appear, and strategies for approaching questions, you will be well prepared to succeed.

    How much preparation is enough? Peterson’s recommends at least six weeks of preparation for test day, perhaps even more if you are looking to substantially improve your score.

  2. If you are unsure of an answer to a question, leave it blank.

    The penalty for guessing or incorrectly answering a question is no longer part of either the ACT or SAT exams. You earn points only for correct answers, so try to eliminate incorrect choices. Use educated guesses whenever possible to increase your chances of answering correctly, however even random guesses are better than leaving an answer blank.

  3. I am being forced to take this test.

    Although many students take the SAT to show colleges their academic skills, you do not have to take the SAT. Not all colleges require SAT scores for admission. With the onset of COVID-19, some schools are “test optional” and will let you decide if you want to submit your test scores.

    The key is recognizing that you are taking this test because you want to take it. You may not actually want the experience of taking the test, but you want the opportunities that taking the test will provide you. The more you recognize that you are choosing to take this test, the more control you will feel, and actually have, over the testing process.

  4. If I perform poorly, it means I’m stupid.

    The SAT is not an intelligence test. It measures your critical thinking ability and your knowledge of math concepts, reading comprehension, and grammar from high school classes. There are many skills that a person may have that the test does not assess, such as creativity, musical talent, athletic ability, or computer skills.

  5. SAT scores are the only thing colleges consider for college admissions.

    It might feel like your entire future is riding on this test, but test scores are just one component that college administrators use as a predictor of academic success. Colleges consider a whole range of factors when making admissions decisions. In addition to SAT scores, they consider your grades, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, your admissions essay, interviews, and other achievements. Don’t overemphasize the importance of this one test—it’s one piece of the puzzle. Keeping the SAT in its proper place will help you reduce test anxiety.

  6. You can’t really improve your SAT score by much.

    Correctly answering a few additional questions than you did in a previous attempt can really boost your section score, improving your overall score. Preparing for the SAT exam is key to achieving your highest score. Peterson’s SAT test prep equips you with subject-based interactive lessons, math and verbal flashcards to test your knowledge of key concepts, and practice tests to prepare you for exam day. 

  7. SAT scores are only used for college admissions.

    SAT scores play an important role in more than the college application process. Many colleges and universities offer merit-based scholarships based on your SAT score. Preparing for the SAT exam and earning your best score can really pay off!

RELATED: Retaking the SAT: A Timeline for Improving Your Score

Whether you’re taking the SAT test for the first time or retaking it to improve your score, putting in your best effort in preparing for the exam will establish you as a more competitive applicant for both colleges and scholarships. Learn how Peterson’s SAT test prep can help you obtain your ideal test scores and set you up for success.