Testing360: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindset

**This will be the first in a multi-part series of posts concerning the SAT**

With the SAT coming up this Saturday (March 12), I believe that a post concerning the bane of many a high schooler would be pertinent. Throughout this post, feel free to look up the vocabulary words in bold- their definitions are handily written at the bottom of this page. And, of course, to all of the Saturday test-takers out there: Good luck!

The SAT is primarily about the test taker’s mindset. Well, it’s also about critical thinking, working under time constraints, knowing the ins and outs of the test, etc., but without a proper mindset, the test taker will never have a chance to apply any other skills. I have often heard students complain that they do extremely well on practice tests, yet see their scores plummet by 50, 100, or 200 points for the actual test. What can account for this?

Their mindset, of course. The test taker could suffer from testing anxiety, which basically means that they enter an intense state of perturbation the second the proctor starts the test. This is perfectly understandable; the test is arduous to begin with, and then there is the entire idea that the SAT is the single most important deciding factor in which colleges you get accepted to (and don’t let anyone fool you- it is). Other students may do poorly because they approach the test resentfully, exuding negative energy. This type of attitude will do nothing to help your score.

I have found that the best way to succeed on the SAT is to approach the test as a fun activity. When reading the critical reading passages, try to actually enjoy them. Personally, I find all of the essays genuinely interesting, and, however odd it may sound, I would like to commend the Collegeboard on their astute selections. The math problems are just tricky little riddles and- look at that!- they even put the answers right in front of you. Writing section? You’re just proofreading an old friend’s paper for them, or writing a quick essay on a compelling topic.

If you approach the SAT with this positive mindset, you will perform better on it. Having an inherent interest in the material will help keep you focused over the four hour testing period, and this in turn will help you answer questions with higher accuracy.

If this positive approach doesn’t work for you, and, no matter what, you consider a four hour test excessively protracted, just think about the poor, scholar-wannabes in 14th century China (who can be seen in the above picture). The Imperial Examination system reminds us of why China is quickly becoming the world’s number one nation:

By 1370, the examinations lasted between 24 and 72 hours, and were conducted in spare, isolated examination rooms; sometimes, however, it was held within cubicles. The small rooms featured two boards which could be placed together to form a bed or placed on different levels to serve as a desk and chair.

Just imagine that: a test so large that you actually had to sleep in the examination room! And you thought 3 hours 45 minutes was long…


bane (noun) a cause of great distress or annoyance

pertinent (adj.) relevant or applicable to a particular matter; apposite

perturbation (noun) anxiety; mental uneasiness

arduous (adj.) involving or requiring strenuous effort; difficult and tiring

exude (verb) figurative (of a person) display (an emotion or quality) strongly and openly

astute (adj.) having or showing an ability to accurately assess situations or people and turn this to one’s advantage

inherent (adj.) existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute

protracted (adj.) prolonged; drawn out

This entry was posted in Admissions, Admissions360, Standardized Tests, Written by Brian and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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