A rite of passage. A means to an end. A necessary step.
A necessary evil?
If attending university in the U.S. is on your mind, you will, in fact, get to manoeuvre through the SAT, and it will have an impact on your admissions, scholarship, and course future. We all know people with marginal SAT scores who ended up very successful in college (and life), but the fact remains that they did have to get a minimum score in order to reach those goals.
The important thing about it is that it does not have to be as harsh as some people make it sound. Sure, it's a long day of brain-straining activity, but you can reduce the strain if you start thinking about preparing for the SAT as a process that is more than just filling out the registration, paying the fee, and showing up on time with the right stuff.
Those months before test day is the time you need to look into SAT prep courses, utilizing Huntington courses to help prep yourself for the kinds of knowledge you will be tested on. This will make it much easier for you to complete the transition to an education across the pond.
We've all studied for a test and ended up finding that it didn't cover a large area of material that we stayed up late to study. It can be pretty disheartening, especially when you needed to spend more time on other topics.
That is even more true with the SAT. It's easy to find out what the general content areas are on the SAT. But how specific can you get without expert help? Will you need to know geometric formulas? Should you be memorizing the periodic table of the elements? What knowledge of America should a student from the UK have?
Good news: A quality preparation course will help you arrive on test day with a good handle on what you'll be expected to know--and maybe just as important, what you won't be expected to know.
By the way, it won't be good enough to talk to someone who slugged through the SAT two years ago, or even last year. The test is constantly evolving and updating in order to be "cheat-proof" and to be a more accurate measure of knowledge and aptitude. So whatever the Class of '11 says about their test experience may be right out the window. Stick with SAT prep courses to get your SAT updates and tips.
A merciful teacher will inform you that you'll be dealing with a multiple-choice or short answer format. The SAT is all multiple-choice, of course, but how are the questions structured? Will it have "all of the above" or "none of the above"?
A quality test prep course will teach you how to identify what they are really asking. You'll learn to sort through the irrelevant information and zero in on what matters. They'll teach you to identify the "red herring" answers and how to avoid confusion from the incorrect choices the test offers.
Higher Comfort Level
A relaxed brain is an effective brain. Imagine that you'll be asked to take a test where you'll do simple math problems. If you do well, you'll get a big, juicy scholarship to study whatever you want, wherever you want to study it. The trick? You must work them on horseback.
It sounds crazy, but the point is this: You're being tested on the math, not the horsemanship. You don't need help with the math, but you desperately need training on handling a four-legged partner. Before you take that test, you'll get some riding lessons, right?
It's the same with the SAT. It's about testing your aptitude, not your ability to take a test. Professional test prep services will provide you with an increased familiarity with the test structure that will allow you to focus on the question being asked, not on how it is being asked. You'll also learn the uniquely American elements of the test, which will reduce your international disadvantage. And that's how you get correct answers.
Don't bank on your own knowledge. Find a good prep course, take it, and then head to Heathrow.