The first step towards SAT success has very little to do with the test itself. Before you do anything, you need to decide what score you want on the SAT.
Wait a second: decide your score before the test? Don’t you want to perform as well as possible?
Yes, you want to do as well as you can. However, unless you need a 2400 to get into Harvard, you only need to achieve a score that gets you into the school(s) of your choice. In other words, your end is the SAT score that will give you the best chance to get accepted by your selected college(s).
Chances are that you have never considered this kind of approach with a normal school test. Usually you want to score as close to a 100% as possible.
Not so on the SAT. Students can both pursue and achieve ends that are far from perfect and still get into their schools of choice. Consider the following: according to UCLA’s website, the average SAT score for “admitted incoming freshmen” is “between 1760 and 2140.” If the SAT were scored on a 100% scale, that means some students are getting into UCLA with as low as a 73% on the SAT (1760/2400=.7333). Get a 73% on a school test and you barely pass with a C. Get a 73% on the SAT and you can get into UCLA.
Crazy, right? A C represents an average score in school but a good score on the SAT. And while you may never strive for a C in school, it could very well be a good goal on the SAT.
So let’s get back to your end and, much like Steven Covey’s Habits of Highly Successful People, you should begin with the end in mind.
To begin with the end in mind, first figure out your end. Your end is the college you would like to attend. Pick three schools: a dream school that might be out of your reach, a realistic school that is possible and a back up in case things go sideways. Now, figure out what SAT score you need to get into the three schools.
This SAT score is your goal that will get you to your end.
Now, when you prepare for and take the test, you don’t need to answer every question correctly. You simply need to create the right combination of correct answers, incorrect answers and omitted answers in order to achieve your goal score. Pretty simple, right? It all starts with the end in mind.
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