So you want to study in the US, eh?
I don’t blame you. The college sports, the Ivy Leagues, the nobel prize winning professors. It all seems like a dream world.
But before you float off into the clouds of eternal educational bliss, there’s still one thing standing between you and becoming a US college student… the US application process. More specifically, the aspect of the US application that makes it unique: the SAT!
The SAT’s function it to test whether you’re academically capable of performing at college level, so it’s also a pretty vital aspect of your application.
Sure, you can take a risk and rely on your big ol’ brain to scrape you through the test relatively unscathed… or… you could put that big ol’ brain to use and start preparing early so you can ace the SAT and get into your dream university.
I certainly know what I’d be doing. But then again, not everyone is as smart as me.
While there are things you must do to ensure you pass the SAT, like study and prepare, there are also things you mustn’t do if you want to pass the SAT, like forget the date. Don’t be that guy!
Here are 7 reasons why you will fail the SAT.
1. You didn’t take an SAT diagnostic test
The SAT diagnostic test is crucial to your success on the real test. It’s the first step any college hopeful should take when preparing for the SAT.
A diagnostic test is a mini SAT quiz you can take online which assesses your current ability in each SAT section. In other words, it “diagnoses” your problem areas and sets the foundation for your preparation.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to determine which areas of your study you need to place most effort.
The diagnostic test allows you to streamline your study to improve efficiency, performance and ultimately your SAT score.
It’s a simple way to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward with each study session and makes tracking your progress much simpler. If you fail to sit a diagnostic test, you’ll be unable to maximise the productivity of your study sessions and you risk flunking the SAT. So just do it, okay!
2. You’re not studying
Come on! Does this seriously need an explanation?
Why bother even applying to a college if you’re not going to put in the time and effort to study for the SAT? It’s a crucial aspect of the US college application process!
Not studying for the SAT, or putting adequate effort into the other components of your application, will have a serious impact on your potential to gain admission into a college, and ultimately the direction your life takes. It sounds melodramatic, but it’s true.
Don’t just sit around and watch your chances of a good life evaporate into thin air. Get out your notebooks and give it a red hot crack. SAT preparation is vital to achieving success on your college application.
3. You’re not sitting any SAT subject tests
Okay, so you won’t actually fail the SAT if you choose not to sit any subject tests, but you will fail to gain admission into some colleges without them – regardless of how good your SAT score is.
SAT subject tests are tests on specific subjects run by College Board. They are second-level priority for US university admissions that show mastery in specific subjects.
If you’re not from the United States, you may have never heard about the SAT subject tests, but as it happens, they’re pretty important. Some universities and courses require SAT subject tests for admission.
There are 20 SAT subject tests in five general subject areas: English, history, languages, mathematics and science.
Completing SAT subject tests is a great boost to your college application and, more often than not, the test will be based on the subjects you’re already completing at high school. SWEET!
If not required, the top 30 universities (and many top 50) “recommend” that students take a few subject tests; prospective STEM students in particular should submit Math Level 2 and a basic science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology).
4. You’re confused between the SAT and the ACT
Making this mistake is just plain embarrassing.
Yes, the ACT and SAT are similar. They are both three lettered college admissions tests that influence your college application. Despite their superficial similarities, they are completely different tests!
If you’re studying for the ACT but you’ve booked yourself in for the SAT, you will fail!
However, more importantly, you’re bound to be better suited to one of these tests. Choose the one that plays to your strengths and you’re guaranteed to get a better score.
Before you book yourself in for either of the college aptitude tests, make sure you’ve done your research as to what the differences are between the SAT vs the ACT.
The main difference between the two tests is that the ACT exam has a science section, which tests your data reading ability, while the SAT does not. If science ain’t your jam, the SAT is definitely for you!
Beyond the science section, there are a few more subtle differences to know. The wisest course of action is to research each test and choose which one you feel will suit you best based on your strengths. In fact, we’ve created a handy cheat sheet to help you decide which test is right for you – download it by clicking below.
Again, this is a completely avoidable mistake to make, so it pays to be informed.
5. You forgot the SAT test date… you fool!
Hey, folks, here’s the 4-1-1 on how to live a successful and happy life: if you’ve booked an important exam that will impact the rest of your life, such as the SAT, remember the dang date!!
This is another totally avoidable mistake, and not only will you fail the SAT if you fall victim to it, but you’ll also just look stupid.
The SAT is offered in March, May, June, August, October, November and December for US students. For international students, the SAT is held in October, December, March and May.
SAT Subject Tests are available for international and US students in October, November, December, May and June.
Once you’ve booked your exam date, etch it into your mind and every diary, notebook and calendar you own! DO NOT MISS YOUR SITTING!
Note: for exact dates, head to the College Board website.
6. You refused to sit a SAT practice test
Choosing to save all of your energy for the real test is critical error. While it can seem daunting, sitting practice tests is as important as any part of your SAT preparations. I recommend sitting 3-4 at different times throughout your study period. There are eight official practice exams available on the College Board website, complete with answers and explanations. Official tests are the best resources for getting a baseline score since they’re the most similar to the SAT.
Their value comes in many forms, but most importantly, practice tests are the best way to track score improvement and ensure you’re achieving study goals. Often studying without tracking your progression can feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall. Being able to tangibly quantify your improvement allows you to see a reason to what you’re doing.
Additionally, sitting a practice under exam-like conditions allows you to prepare for the time constraints of the SAT. You’ll learn how to perform under the pressure of a ticking clock in a dead quiet room.
Sitting at least one practice test is crucial to achieving success on the SAT.
7. Denial: You’ve left your prep until it’s too late
This is the last reason you’re going to fail the SAT and one of the most common… denial!
You're sitting the test in a month and you haven't even looked at it. You’ve been in denial about the amount of work you have to do, or perhaps you think you can just “wing it”. Overestimating your smarts and underestimating the complexity of the SAT.
Now it’s too late. One month is not long enough to study.
Why didn't you listen to me sooner, you buffoon?! Just face up to the facts. You messed up. You can’t just wing this.
If this has happened to you, look into rescheduling the SAT to a later date. If you don't have any time left to reschedule... godspeed.
There's just one foolproof way to ensure you won't fail the SAT: preparation.
If you allow yourself enough time to prepare, and you prepare the right way, by starting with a diagnostic test, sitting practice tests and putting in solid study hours, you can make sure you avoid all seven of these SAT mistakes and traps.
Don't be left thinking "should've, would've, could've."
Start your SAT preparation today and give yourself the best opportunity to gain admission into your dream school!