More Myths About the SAT

Flickr user Chris

Plenty of myths circulate around the SAT and you’ve probably have heard a few as you’re preparing for your test date. Believing these myths can actually be detrimental to your final SAT score as well as your college applications. Here are just three you may have heard during high school.

Myth: The PSAT Isn’t Important

Many students believe the PSAT is the “practice SAT,” but this actually isn’t what it means. The P stands for “Preliminary.” It’s absolutely an exam you can take in your sophomore and junior years to help you prepare for the upcoming SAT, but there is definitely more to it.

The highest scorers on the PSAT who are in their junior year of high school can go on to earn scholarships. The National Merit Scholarship Program, who hosts the test, recognize those students with awards. However, this competition is extremely tough, so you need to score extremely high to be a finalist. To give yourself the best chance of winning, study as though you were studying for the SAT.

And in the end, even if you don’t earn the scholarship, it was a great learning experience for the upcoming SAT.

Myth: You Should Leave Questions Blank If You Don’t Know The Answer

Students often hear that if you don’t know an answer to a question, you should leave it blank. But the SAT has changed. Answering a question incorrectly will no longer deduct points from your final score, so it is actually beneficial to make an educated guess.

To take advantage of this, skip questions you don’t know and answer the ones you do. Once you’ve finished the section, flip back to take a closer look at those more difficult questions. If, upon second glance, you still don’t 100% know the answer, it’s time to make an educated guess. Cross out the answers you know are incorrect and then pick one from the remaining choices. If you’re right, you get points towards your final score. If you’re wrong, there’s no penalty.

Myth: You Should Skip The SAT Essay Because It Isn’t Mandatory

One of the other changes to the SAT that was made was making the essay portion optional. Due to this, students skip it thinking it’s unnecessary or just extra work. However, it could harm you.

During college applications, many schools will actually appreciate the extra effort that you showed by taking to essay. It gives them a better picture of who you are as a student. Some colleges and universities actually require the essay section to be taken. So if you decide to apply to one of these schools and you didn’t do the essay portion, you might find yourself having to retake the SAT along with the essay.

The SAT is an important aspect of applying for colleges and many schools will require that you take the SAT or ACT in order to be accepted. Understanding the myths and facts that surround the SAT though can help you approach the studying and exam correctly.

Check out how your SAT scores affect your acceptance odds with College Raptor’s free match tool!

Hilary Cairns

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