13 Myths about the SAT Exam - Demystifying the SAT
Updated: Jun 30
Standardized tests have been a controversial factor in the college admissions process as so much value is supposedly placed on them. Because of so many opinions out there, misinformation is found aplenty.
Even when discussing the SAT Test strategies with our students, we are often asked a lot of questions which are frankly nothing but myths surrounding the SAT exam. So, in this article, we will try debunking some of those popular conspiracy theories
Myth 1: SAT is a reflection of my intelligence
Or something you hear quite often - SAT exam can predict career success.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Multiple studies have debunked the link between the SAT score and a student’s performance in college. However, it definitely is a predictor of a person’s general intelligence, given that it is an intricate web of often-complex Math & English questions.
Myth 2: My stellar grades will definitely yield a higher SAT score
Although theoretically speaking, by the time students sit for their SAT or ACT test, they’d have adequately covered the content and concepts being tested.
But, in reality, this mostly doesn’t happen. There are many reasons for this. One, curricula vary from school to school, region to region, and education board to another. Second, every student has different abilities. There is a good chance a student might forget the concepts by the time (s)he sits for the test, but more importantly, they are unaware of the SAT exam test-taking strategies, issue of time constraints, and other factors that have not had happened in traditional form of learning.
Bottom line: No student would want to take a test unprepared and SAT, like the other standardized tests, is no different.
Myth 3: Only Test-prep courses will considerably improve scores.
Or the exact opposite: Test coaching doesn't work.
A lot of test-prep institutes perpetuate the myth that their test-prep courses will definitely boost the SAT scores. However, this is far from true. Not all test-prep courses are the most judicious way of spending students’ time or parents’ money. In fact, only the right practice & right guidance about the best SAT test strategies can help a student ace the SAT exam.
Myth 4: The SAT tests complex math concepts.
No, in fact, SAT Math does not test you on calculus, logarithms, matrices, or even geometric proofs. Essentially, the SAT tests a whole lot of algebra, some arithmetic, statistics, and a bit of geometry.
Myth 5: If I ace my SAT test, I can get into any college I want
Again, one of the most common misconceptions surrounding the SAT test.
Yes, a perfect score would help but no SAT score can guarantee admissions into any top school. Top-tier schools are always looking for well-rounded students, so the other parts of the application - namely the personal essays, high GPAs, extra-curricular activities, community service, and letters of recommendation - all come into account. So focus, more, if not equally, on that.
Myth 6: You should take the SAT in the spring of your junior year or You should wait till the senior year to crack the SAT exam
There is no universally accepted time as such. Theoretically speaking, most of the topics asked in the SAT exam have been covered by the ninth grade. But, again students need to learn the SAT’s unique test-taking strategies and acclimatize themselves with the SAT universe, which is why students need good SAT prep.
Since you can take the SAT multiple times, and many colleges Superscore the SAT, it makes more sense to not put too much pressure on just one attempt, and keep some leeway for, if needed, future attempts.
Myth 7: Since there is no penalty for wrong answers, Students should guess on SAT answers if they don’t know them
Guessing could be the last resort, and not first. There is always a 75% chance of getting a question wrong. So it’s better to skip the unknown questions and attempt them later while your subconscious is still working out the problem!
Each right answer can equate to as much as 40 points so the main goal is to get as many correct as possible.
Myth 8: The essay is the most important thing
No. It no longer is. The all-important essay is now optional.
Myth 9: The sole purpose of the SAT is to get accepted to your college of choice
So, even if your scores are high enough to likely get you accepted to your college of choice, taking the SAT another time or two (and getting even higher scores) will likely substantially increase your scholarship award. So, if you increase your already good SAT scores by 100 points and get offered an additional $10,000 for your freshman year, that will turn into $40,000 as long as you maintain an acceptable GPA.
Myth 10: Colleges know how many times you have taken the SAT exam
No, they do not. College Board records all the SAT scores, but when you want to make your college application, you log into your College Board account and check off which scores you’d want to send. You can choose to send scores from only one test date or even from several. It’s only after you pay College Board to send your scores ($12 per college), colleges become aware of your (chosen) scores or test dates.
You also have an option of Superscoring. The SAT Superscore is when a college chooses to consider your highest section score from multiple sittings of the same examination. In that scenario, it makes even more sense to attempt the SAT more than once.
Myth 11: If your desired colleges “Superscore”, you can focus your efforts on Math on one SAT, trying to maximize your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) score on another SAT”
This is one of the most commonly misunderstood concepts about SAT Superscoring. You can’t send just one section score from an exam. When you choose to send just the ‘Math’ subsection of a particular SAT or merely the “Science” section of the ACT, Superscoring requires students to submit their entire score report (containing all sections), so schools will see how you performed across the board. Too much variance in a section across SAT/ACT tests will not reflect well with the admission officers.
Myth 12: You can't really improve your SAT Reading score.
You CAN improve your Reading score by expanding your vocabulary, including the multiple meanings of words, and by honing your critical reading skills. Identifying which mistakes you make often, learning how to skim a message, and following the right strategies can definitely improve your Reading score.
And the worst of all,
Myth 13: I am a bad test-taker, so I’ll never do well on the ACT or SAT.
Test-taking skills can improve with practice.
It’s true that some students find test-taking more difficult than others. But, with the right guidance, and right practice, you can definitely improve your scores, and increase your chances of getting into your dream university.
To find out about the SAT Test Centers in the UAE, visit this link for complete details: List of all SAT Test Centers in the UAE
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