If you want to gauge your progress on the SAT, you can download your free SAT practice tests here:
While there are other practice tests you can take, you would do well to use a free sat practice test straight from the College Board. These tests have the same content and difficulty as the Real SAT and are graded on the same scale. Almost all big box SAT test prep companies furnish you with tests that are harder than the real SAT and scored on a more severe scale. As a matter of fact, the Wall Street Journal has an article attesting to this scheme HERE.
So, if you want to know how you’d do on a real SAT, download these tests and take them as you would a real SAT. By all means you will want to follow the same testing schedule in use for the actual SAT:
Primary Guidelines for Taking Your Free SAT Practice Tests
Take your practice test in the morning after a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast. Since you want to replicate test conditions, you will want to be undisturbed for the duration of the test.
Next, time yourself: each section of the test will show you the time allotted for that section. Use only that time. If you have an accommodation, you can use your extra time.
Also, use a bubble sheet as you would on the test day.
Another point: you want to answer all questions. There is no penalty for a wrong answer.
You are allowed water and snacks for the real test. Drinking water during a section is fine, but be inconspicuous when it comes to snacking during breaks. Make your snack a power bar of some type.
Don’t worry about fluctuating scores on your first few tests. This is normal. Over time you will most likely notice a general upward score trend. You are looking for progress, not perfection.
Basic Strategies for Taking Your Free SAT Practice Tests
Doodle. Be sure to make diagrams and drawings when they help you. This makes it your test. It helps to redraw diagrams on the math section, making them larger. Then it is easier for you to label lengths and angles. Also, it helps you to see triangles within triangles. Take a handful of tests and this will make sense.
As for the Reading section, mark line number references. Also, feel free to use a 1 or 2-word summary for paragraphs. In the case of a character, jot down your own emotional reaction to guide you.
For the section you are allowed to use your calculator, use your calculator as if you are paid to do so. Also, use parentheses as you would a seatbelt when driving. For clarification on this point, please ask me during our next session.
Use triage marking: when you encounter a difficult question or one you guessed on, please mark it so you can review it at the post-mortem. Even if your answer is correct. Many times there is a better, faster, or clearer way to understand the answer. Marking your answers will help you focus your review of the test.
If a question is taking up too much time, let it go.
Answer every question. There is no penalty for an incorrect answer. Mentioning this again as it is the most ignored, but easiest way to gain points.
After Taking Your Free SAT Practice Tests
As good as it is to take practice tests, you would do well to review your test. You’ll want to make note of your problem sections along with your problem topics. The more focused your review and preparation for the test, the more effective it will be.
Naturally, as in most cerebral endeavors, you would benefit from the help of a professional with years of experience. For your confidence, you’d prefer someone who had scored extremely well on the SAT, perhaps a National Merit Finalist.
Isn’t it fortunate that Martin McSweeney from mcstutoring.com is just such a person? He is available for in-person and online SAT Test preparation.