Taking an early crack at the SAT

November 10, 2010 — by Serena Chan

The dreaded SAT I test. High school students dedicate hundreds of hours to prepare for this one exam, sitting through prep classes, memorizing vocab and slaving away at practice tests. Taking the SAT I as an upperclassman is stressful enough; however, some students are getting a head start with this exam.

Most students begin their preparation by taking the shorter and tamer exam, the PSAT. Aside from the typical group of sophomores and juniors who register for the PSAT, a couple of freshmen sign up each year as well.

“We tend to discourage freshmen from taking the PSAT,” said College and Career Center coordinator Bonnie Sheikh. “Why pay $25 to take the test? We have practice tests available in the guidance office.”

This year two freshmen registered for the PSAT, including Edgar Chen, who wanted to truly experience the PSAT for himself.

“My parents signed me up, and I was OK with taking it,” said Chen. “I don’t think I did too well, but now I know what to study.”

Rather than the usual stack of prep books, Chen prepared by taking the practice test given to every student at registration. According to Chen, the PSAT was an early opportunity to figure out what to study for the SAT I. Chen does not yet know when he will be taking the test.

Some students take the SAT I as early as middle school.

“I took the SAT just to see where I was in terms of my academic level,” said sophomore Brian Kim, who took the exam in 8th grade. “Plus, the College Board drops scores before high school, so there was nothing to lose.”

Kim was able to experience the full test, which prepared him by showing what it would feel like if he were to take it again in high school. According Kim, to improve his score, he will be retaking the SAT I.

Seniors who have already completed their share of the SAT I gave some advice to those beginning their preparation for the test.

“Definitely if you start learning how to take the SAT earlier, you can do better on it,” said senior Nick Renda, who first took the PSAT as a sophomore and the SAT I as a junior. “But as you get older, you do better and better just because you get more practice in your classes.”

Also, senior Brian Vo said, “You don’t really need to worry about [the SAT I] until at least sophomore year. You’re going to do fine.” Like Renda, Vo first took the PSAT and SAT I in his sophomore and junior year, respectively.

“You can’t do well without studying hard,” said Renda. “[Students should do] whatever they want to do. I don’t think you need to start working that hard too early.”

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