Practice– with Time!

MW242783-1_612x792Motivated students preparing for a college entrance exam should practice for at least 100 hours.  Like any athletic or musical endeavor, practice for these tests is one of the key components to success.  However, in addition to knowing the content areas of the tests, they need to understand and simulate test conditions.  The stress that students experience while taking these exams can have a substantial negative effect on their scores compared to their practice tests. According to Bloomberg Business Week, “This test is a marathon. When you’re training for one, don’t you want to do a least a few trial runs of the entire 26.2 miles? However, many students make the mistake of not simulating real testing conditions when taking their practice tests; they end up getting flustered, nervous, and  simply “psyched-out” on test day.”

I have known of many students who perform very well on the practice tests they complete at home, but then they score a great deal lower on the actual test. Why? They have learned the format of the test, and they have demonstrated proficiency in the different content areas  However, they haven’t timed themselves on the sections.  The conditions on test day differ significantly from their practice session. They are in group setting, sometimes in an unfamiliar environment, with an unfamiliar test proctor. Before they put pencil to paper, stress becomes a factor. Bloomberg Business Week: ”The stodgy security procedures and announcements can make you nervous by reminding you what a big deal this test is. Once you know what to expect, you can ignore all the formalities of the process and instead focus on doing your best on the actual test.”

Students who can’t schedule a practice exam outside of their homes should follow the following procedures:  Set a timer for each section and stop when time expires.  Practice in a quiet place with no interruptions.   Take only 3 breaks of about 5 minutes each.  Set aside a full 3 hours to complete the test in one sitting to experience the actual length.

Students who would like to take a free practice SAT under simulated conditions can do so at Handle Associates in Guilford on Monday, February 17.  Space is VERY limited, so registration is essential.  Contact me (203)453-5067 or

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