[This is part of an ongoing series of posts designed to help students, parents, teachers and other interested bystanders learn about and prepare for the SAT]
A message for perspective test takers...
No, really. Think back over the tests you've taken over all the years. Now think about the ones that caught you completely off guard. The ones that covered material you hadn't expected, asked questions completely different than what you expected. If you've ever had a test like that you probably still remember that feeling of being surprised, unprepared, even lied to, and worst of all, helpless.
If you're like me, those were probably the worst test-taking experiences you've ever had.
What would the opposite of a test like that be? What about one where the teacher gave you a stack of all of the old tests over that section going back ten years? On top of that, what if the teacher promised to keep the test as similar as possible to all those old tests, same material covered, same format, same type of questions, same difficulty? Wouldn't that pretty much be the opposite?
That's what we have with the SAT. The company that makes the test has been releasing its old tests for decades. You can buy collections of old tests in almost any book store. Better yet, you can get them for free from your school library.
And you usually don't have to worry about the new tests throwing in a lot of big changes. This next year might be an exception (there's been lots of talk about 'reforming' the test), but in general the SAT changes very slowly. This next year might be the exception, but other than that if you get a collection of old tests and work through them, asking your teachers for help whenever you get confused, you'll find that the SAT is exactly the test you expected and prepared for.
And that's a very good feeling.