學校及科系：Monash University Foundation Program
SAT正式考試成績：Math：760分、Evidence-Based Reading and Writing：750分
Hi! I’m Amber and I took SAT prep class for 10 weeks from September to November. I’m 16 and I’m currently enrolled in the Foundation Program at Monash University. I took the PSAT in school the last two years and received scores in the 95th percentile in both years, so I’m glad that I was able to surpass that this year in the official SAT.
The SAT isn’t required for Australian universities, and since I’m already enrolled, I don’t need the score, but I still decided to take it just to test my skills and kind of get a sense of my abilities, as well as preparing in advance in case it comes in handy in the next few years. School doesn’t start in Australia until February, so I had some free time to take this class at Merica without having to deal with schoolwork.
At first, I didn’t think there would be any “major” challenges for me, but after the first few practice passages/questions we did during class, I realized that I made a lot of silly mistakes. In the writing and language section, I pretty much answered all the questions based on which choice sounds right or more natural because I’ve never really “learned” English and I had very limited knowledge of grammar rules. As for the reading section, I had a habit of reading very quickly, and although it did help me get down the key points faster, I also missed a lot of potentially important details. I would have to reread the passages more times than really necessary, so I usually had to rush the last one or two passages to finish in time. Time was also a bit of an issue for me in math, which led to more calculation errors. I didn’t’ have a very good foundation for math, so I had to think for a long time for each question, often missing easy ones because I overthought the process, and always finding myself short on time. I overcame all these problems with the help of the teachers at Merica.
In class, we covered the grammar rules that often came up in the SAT, which helped me identify answers more easily, without having to “feel” for what’s correct. I was also able to complete the reading section more efficiently, by using the tips provided by the teacher. The techniques were really helpful (e.g. a single detail in the answer choice could determine if it is correct) and by focusing on using these little tricks, I didn’t have to keep rereading and going back and forth trying to find the answer. I was also able to solve questions faster in math through more practice and the review of the basic principles, which gave me enough time to check my answers and spend extra time on ones that I wasn’t sure of.
The mock tests we did in the last four weeks of class also helped me a great deal, because they simulate actual testing conditions and gave me a better sense of exactly how much time I have for each section. By practicing with actual testing materials with an actual time limit, I realized that my concentration would start to drift towards the end of each section, so with each practice test, I would try different methods to help me focus. This made my actual testing way easier and more relaxed overall because I was already used to how everything would go and I felt comfortable in the testing environment. After taking the mock tests and getting the corrections back, I always made sure that I looked over all the questions I got wrong, redid those questions again to ensure that I fully understood them, and learn to solve them correctly. I think this step is very important because first of all, you get to make the most out of the time you spent taking the mock test, and second of all, you lower any possibilities of getting similar questions wrong, thus increasing your score.
As for other suggestions, I really recommend preparing for the SAT early on, instead of waiting until junior or even senior year, because then you get more time to prepare and have enough time to do one or two official tests without the pressure of having to use the first score you receive. I think it really benefited me to take the prep class and the official exam even when it wasn’t necessary because it wasn’t stressful for me at all, unlike the experience many of my classmates are facing. It allowed me to go to the classes without any pressure (it was also quite enjoyable because there’s a lot of good food and bubble tea around Merica!), practice the materials at my own pace, and be more relaxed during the official SAT.