Updated: Mar 1, 2020
Math – 800
Reading – 300
Writing – 360
“I can’t do it.”
That’s how I started almost every one of my SAT classes. “This isn’t for me.” “It’s too hard.” “There is no way I’ll get more than 1400.” Maybe it’s because we had our classes on the weekend, and I was in no mood to be studying at 9 am in the morning. Or maybe because every person I knew told me that the SAT is extremely difficult. Hence, from the beginning, I had this negative mindset that this paper isn’t for me. And, wow, what a turn of events!
In my opinion, this is the most difficult section of the paper. It was my weakness from the very beginning. In my first mock exam, I got a 270 in the reading section. This did both – demotivate me but also motivate me. I was not proud of that 270 and, once again, I felt like I couldn’t do it. At first, time management was an issue (reading 5 passages and answering 52 questions in under 65 minutes is no piece of cake!). I struggled mainly with the history passages because they never made any sense. After several timed attempts, and averaging 300 on my reading section, I decided my score wasn’t going to improve. This was the only section of the paper that I felt like could not be improved in the short run, but then I realized that every domain like Literature, History, and Social Science has a pattern which can be understood and exploited. Once I understood that, I started applying all the strategies taught by Sir Talal, like marking-up and summarizing, using different methods for every question type like doing words in context first and then moving on to the general questions like the main idea ones. This did wonders for me!
This is one of the easier sections since it is purely based on the basic grammar rules. I started with a 290 on this section and with the help of Sir Talal’s classes, my score skyrocketed in a matter of weeks. Doing the 6 tests given by Sir, and numerous timed attempts, you learn that the same type of questions get asked every time. Learning the fundamental grammar rules will allow you to eliminate wrong options, almost instantaneously, when attempting your final exam. And, even if you do get a question wrong, try to understand why that answer choice is incorrect – learning from these mistakes is crucial otherwise there is no point in practice.
Unlike most students, this was my favourite part of the paper. This is also the segment of the paper where students can easily draw a clear line between right and wrong and, hence, are able to witness immense improvement. For this section of the paper, you must make math your best friend because on the actual day of your exam, it will be the cherry on top. Most people don’t like math because of the common misconception that it is difficult. Luckily, it isn’t – it just requires practice. Time management can be an issue for everyone at first, especially in the non-calculator section, but trust me when I say, SAT doesn’t test anything in this section that you don’t already know – it only assesses how quickly you implement that knowledge. And, of course, that can only be done through timed practices. This was the section I dedicated most of my time on – from mock exams to Sir Talal’s manuals, I did everything. And that hard work clearly paid off!
Overall, I believe mindset is everything. If you continue thinking that this paper is too hard, then studying for it will be mental torture and, in the end, you will get a score below what you expected. However, if you approach this paper with an optimistic mindset, it will become your teacher and your best friend.
As a novelist once said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”