Updated: Mar 1, 2020
Math: 790 English 690
My SAT journey has been a long one. I will try to incorporate some tips and strategies as I narrate my own experience. It started back in August of 2018, when I first joined Sir Talal’s session in the summer holidays. It was before the beginning of A-levels and I intended to appear in the subsequent October exam session. And this is the first and most important tip. Appear in the October of your A1s or max by December. It is the perfect time as there is no pressure of studies, the O-level concepts are still fresh in your mind, and there is plenty of time to prepare in the vacations themselves. The weekend classes of Sir Talal greatly assisted me in not only understanding what SAT actually is, but they were also the source of great information and tips on how to ace the exam. He covered the syllabus (the content of which I will address later) in a systematic way and by the end of the two months, we were all geared up to appear in the exams.
The second tip is regarding the syllabus. One misconception I find very often in first timers is that the ‘syllabus is difficult’, and that is so not true. In fact, in reality the syllabus is the easiest part about the whole SAT exam. Math is truly easy, like if you have an A in your O-level, getting 750+ scores should be no hard task. Same goes for English (or as College Board refers to it, Evidence Based Reading and Writing). The passages are simple, short and easy to understand for the most part and again, for a hardworking and committed student, getting 700+ should never be an unachievable task.
Now one might wonder, if everything is this easy, then what is the hype all about. Time is the real constraint here. Content will never be an issue in both Math and English, the actual factor holding you back will be time. The only way you’ll get over that is by practice. Timing all your practice tests is key, and within a couple of tries you should be able to complete the test in time, getting a good score in them is a whole other thing altogether.
Next up is the Practice Material. Now this is where I truly found Sir Talal’s session useful - he had one the most thorough section-wise practice material I could find anywhere and if you are weak in a specific section, it’ll help you out a lot. Now comes the plethora of books and compilations out there each claiming to help you get perfect score. None, and believe me, none of these books are good as they don’t do justice to the SAT exam. I never used one. The sole reason being because I never needed one. Need guidance on a special topic, use Khan Academy. Need practice tests, use the official College Board ones and all the past papers provided by Sir Talal. Practicing is important, but practicing using the right material is even more important.
The real test for you, however, is to be consistent. Once the session ended, I kept practicing throughout my time till the actual test. This helped me improve my scores exponentially. From an 1190 in the first practice test to a 1470 in the 8thone, I got a 300-point gain over the span of one month. One pro-tip here, and this I realized after the exam, is to do each section 5 minutes before time. It might sound undoable but if you can do five passages in 65 minutes, cutting down another five shouldn’t be all that hard. But these golden five minutes will prove to a golden advantage for you in the exam hall as any mishaps or tricky questions won’t disturb you and you’ll still have enough time to fill in the options on the answer sheet.
In the end, the key is to be consistent. There may come a time when your score freezes and you may see little to no improvement. But it is in that time you need to keep going. Set a goal and set it high, and then work hard towards achieving it.There is no stopping anyone from getting a good score. You only need to set yourself apart from the crowd and only then will you be able to get a noteworthy score.