Building SAT-Level Stamina - dummies

By Geraldine Woods, Ron Woldoff

You will need stamina to make it through the SAT.You can’t run a marathon the first time you lace up your sneakers. You have to prepare your muscles for three hours, more or less, of hard physical effort. In the same way, you can’t answer SAT questions for 180 minutes (plus another 50, if you choose to write the essay) without building up your stamina (toughness, staying power). Here’s how:

  • As you begin your test-training, nibble (take small bites). Don’t gulp! Try four or five questions, check your answers, and then rest. The next day, go for a slightly larger number of questions. Gradually work your way up to a complete section.

  • Set an eight-minute time limit. (Use the alarm on your phone or just keep a clock in view.) Your goal is to complete ten questions before the timer goes off. Check your work. Repeat this time-test every few days.

  • Work on one section of the exam. You have four multiple-choice sections to choose from, as well as the optional essay. Set the timer and stop when you reach the end of the time allotted (granted). Check your work and add some practice sessions for topics that are difficult for you.

  • For a week, work through one practice test, in pieces. Analyze your results. Then try one whole test, at one sitting, answering all the questions except for the essay. Notice when you tire.

    Try another whole test, this time with the essay. Again, check your energy level from time to time. The goal is to discover your personal style of test-taking. Then you can take advantage of your strengths and figure out how to compensate (make up for) your weaknesses.

  • Develop some tactics for moments when you hit the wall and would rather snooze than bubble an answer. Experiment with neck rolls, arm stretches, or mental pictures (maybe a race, when the finish line is in sight or an opponent is about to catch up). See what works for you! If you’re rolling your neck or moving your body, be sure to close your eyes. You don’t want the proctor to think that you’re cheating!

  • Competition is hard-wired into human nature. Invite some friends to practice with you. When you work with others who have the same goals as you, it makes the whole experience easier. Can you score higher than they do? Whoever scores the lowest has to bake or buy cookies for the rest of the group.

If you follow this training regimen (routine), on the day of the real SAT, you should be in top shape.