This guest post was written by BHHS College Counselor Casey Rowley and originally appeared on her blog www.collegecounselorrowley.com.
Best of luck to my students taking the SAT tomorrow! I have two categories of things to consider. Category #1 – Preparing for the day of and Category #2 – The weight of the SAT
Preparing for the Day of
- Go back to the basics
- We have all been in stressful situations. Maybe it was a league championship game, a sold-out play where you were the lead, or your first solo. Whatever it is, we’ve all been in a situation that makes us sweat, and yet we still have succeeded. Think back to a time in your life where it was a high-stakes, pressured situation and you succeeded. What did you do to get through? What did you do minutes before entering the stage? Or the field? Did you breathe? Did you listen to music? Did you walk around the block? Or have your favorite breakfast? The same applies for the SAT/ACT. Sure it’s one day that gives you a score for your apps. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have the tools to cope. What’s your thing? What gets you through? Apply the same principals to your testing morning and rock it!
- R&R and Breakfast
- This may seem like a no-brainer, but let’s face it. You have class, college apps, scrolling through social media, texting, shows to catch up on….seriously the amount of sleep an average student gets nowadays is crazy. The LEAST you can do is give yourself a restful night of sleep.
- Breakfast. Eat a good one, or go crazy and make yourself pancakes! If you’re not a breakfast person, pack your go-to snack and grab a tea or coffee at your favorite local spot. Whatever you do, get some fuel (and please don’t order a Venti Mocha Frap when you rarely drink coffee…that’ll wear off really quickly).
- Don’t worry about other students
- We live in a world where everyone posts the best of the best. You scroll through your social media feeds and everyone’s having the time of their lives. Guess what? No one posts about the boring morning they had, or the fact that they’ve procrastinated and haven’t picked up an SAT study book in weeks. DON’T WORRY. Focus on yourself, your intentions, and your goals. Comparing yourself to others is a game you’ll never win. Set yourself up for success. Be confident in the work you’ve done and worry about your own pace and your own goals.
The Weight of the SAT
- How much does this day really matter?
- Remember, your college application tells a story to admission officers and the SAT is one chapter. One chapter of an entire novel filled with contextual evidence as to why you should be admitted to <Insert University of your Dreams Here>. Sure the SAT/ACT and Grades/GPA are big components to ensuring you can handle the rigor of the college you’re applying to, but in the grand scheme of things, always remember…the SAT is one component. It adds to your story, but it does not define your story.
- It’s one-day, four hours. Study, take the test, and then move on. Seriously.
- Not a good test-taker? Consider test-optional schools at http://www.fairtest.org. Remember your GPA, classes you take in high school, and grades you earn are a good indication of the strong work you put in.
- Speaking of giving context in your application…did you have a semester you didn’t do so hot? Was there a legitimate reason why? Did you have a personal matter that truly affected your grades? Not that you just slacked off, but a real reason to a slip in grades. Then explain why to admission officers. Each college application has an additional comments section giving you an opportunity to tell your story and give context to things that seem out of place. Help the admission officer see your story in its entirety.
- You can take it again. If you want to take the November or December tests, you can submit the scores you already have and then send the new ones in to colleges. They will give you the higher score (or superscore if it applies). Colleges are not out to “get” you. They’ll take the higher score and disregard the lower one…really.
College admissions can be an unnecessarily overwhelming process. Remember this…you have put in the work thus far. Be confident in that and put your best application forward. There are MANY opportunities to succeed. Forget about what your friends are doing and do what’s best/right for you.
One last piece of advice…when you are finished taking your SAT, go do something non-college related. Yes this is coming from your college counselor. Go do something with your friends, go see a movie, or do something you love. Just give yourself a break, because at the end of the day, it WILL get done, you WILL get into a college and you WILL succeed. Believe in yourself and believe in the power of allowing yourself to take a few breaks.
Best of luck!