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I am having issues with finishing the SAT in time and with testing anxiety. Any advice?

eyeofthestorm1eyeofthestorm1 Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member
I have an absolutely terrible home life so I need a high SAT in order to get away from my family. I took the SAT through my school last month and did ABSOLUTELY awful. My score was a 1060 (540 M + 520 WCR). This is the only time I have taken it, but I am nearing the end of my Junior year so I don't have much time left.

My GPA is a 3.8/4.0 and I do not believe that my school participates in grade inflation. We are one of the top feeder schools to University of Michigan, so it must be doing something right. (We have between 85-100 people attend there every year.)

I am in advanced math, AP classes, advanced track in Spanish, honors English, honors science, etc.

I took a PSAT in a very relaxed setting at my school in October. We were allowed to have water, food, and our phones during break. They didn't jam pack each room with 45 people like they did last month and we were allowed to go to the bathroom whenever we asked. I did a lot better on this test scoring an 1180 (540 M + 640 W/CR). I did have trouble finishing every section, except for reading.

I realize both of my math scores are bad, but I am more concerned about the 120 point drop in W/CR.

I know most of, if not everything, they were asking me on the SAT but I just have an extremely hard time finishing in the allotted time frame. I am a really slow reader, I can't do math quickly, and I am not a fast decision maker.

When I took the reading section, I saw that I was not going to finish on time. This made me very anxious and so I bubbled around 20 random answers. I kept having to stop because I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. I didn't even have time to finish the writing section. I ended up leaving two answers blank.

By the time we got to math I realized that I was going to have to bubble some random answers because it was going to take me too much time to do things like synthetic division. I'm not at all shocked, but I ended up missing some really easy problems on things like subtracting complex numbers because I was trying to make more time to do things like grid-ins. I still felt really panicky, but there was just no time to stop. It probably did impact my concentration.

I would probably benefit from tutoring or review classes, but there is just no way that I will be able to afford them.

Most of my practice for the SAT consisted of doing PSAT math and really trying to understand the problems I was getting wrong. I focused more on this because I was trying to fix the 540. By the end of my practice, I was scoring around 620's so I was really upset to see that my math score didn't improve at all. I probably should have put a stricter time constraint on myself, but I wanted to really understand what I was doing.

I would probably benefit from extended time, but I know my mom won't jump through the hoops to get me it. She wouldn't even call the school to excuse my absences from AP testing. I can't even get her to drive me to the doctor.

Replies to: I am having issues with finishing the SAT in time and with testing anxiety. Any advice?

  • NYmommabearNYmommabear Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    I am sorry to hear about your problems at home. You should be proud of yourself for keeping your grades up. You can take the SAT again in August or October. There are SAT practice tests online on Khan academy, and you can check out SAT study guides from the public library. It sounds like you need help with test taking strategies. I would ask for help with this at school- ask your teachers for some guidance. Equating this one test with being able to escape your family issues is putting way too much pressure on yourself. You are going to have options, even with the score you already have. There are schools that will accept your score, schools that don't require test scores, etc. I think you should ask for help at school, take some practice tests over the summer, and take the SAT again in the Fall with strategies to help with your speed issues. You are going to be fine!
  • NorthernMom61NorthernMom61 Registered User Posts: 2,981 Senior Member
    One thing you can do is take practice tests over and over again using a timer. Over practicing is one way that all types of performers get over the blocks of anxiety. You can even reuse the same practice tests a couple times since you are working on speed and efficiency.

    Another thing to do is skip the items you don't know or are very unsure of. Do the items you know and are sure of, these will likely be quicker for you. Then go back and tackle the ones that are harder for you.
  • eyeofthestorm1eyeofthestorm1 Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member
    Hi @NYmommabear the issue is that I am going to need some merit aid. My family refuses to even talk to me about how we will pay for college or how much they are willing to pay. They act like this is something that is in the far distant future. Some of them have gone as far as saying that I will be attending the local CC or that this is what they expected of me. Some of them also expect me to attend one of the Uni's in Detroit or Rochester and commute.This is just not an option for me. I have to move far away from them ASAP.

    I tried asking my math teacher for help last semester, but he wasn't even willing to respond to me when I asked. (I don't understand why, I emailed him after school and he usually replied to emails.) I have a new math teacher this semester, but her and I aren't the best learning combination. I can get through it, but I end up having to teach myself everything.

    My other teachers just made a point that it was our own responsibility to study for the SAT and not theirs.

    What should I ask them?

    I also have an issue with getting myself to places. Remember when I said my mom won't even drive me to the doctor's office? Well that applies to just about anywhere else as well. She says its not her responsibility to be my personal driver. I won't be able to get a car or driving lessons until I am a legal adult. I can't stay after school, drive to the library, or really do anything.
  • techmom99techmom99 Registered User Posts: 1,813 Senior Member
    Another thing you can do is look at test optional schools. Your GPA is high enough that you might be able to do that. Perhaps if you have a set of test optional schools you know you are competitive for , taking the test might be less anxiety provoking. It's kind of like when my D took math pass fail and got a B+. If she had taken it for a grade, she probably would have gotten a D.
  • NYmommabearNYmommabear Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    This all sounds pretty stressful. Maybe try speaking to a guidance counselor. Explain that you had trouble finishing the test, you need help with test taking strategies, and you are looking for advice. While you are there, see if you can get some advice about colleges as well. If you don't have luck at school, you can probably find a lot of help online. You have some time to practice, and time to come up with some possibilities for schools. There are even some free colleges out there.
  • eyeofthestorm1eyeofthestorm1 Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member
    The guidance counselors at my school are HORRIBLE. They always tell you to try to email them before you see them and I had to email mine about 5 times before I even got a reply. If I bring up SAT concerns or how I have no clue where the hell I want to go to college, they tell me "Oh you're smart, you'll do fine/you'll figure it out." So if you guys could just give me tips or directions to checkout, that would be much better.
  • NYmommabearNYmommabear Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    We can offer a bit of sympathy, and help with specific questions, but you're going to need to be in the drivers seat, because we don't know your full story. We don't know if there is public transportation where you live allowing you to get a job and we don't know if you would be willing to go for an ROTC scholarship, as examples. You may be busy with exams right now, but when you have time, start by looking at the net price calculators for in state schools and see what you would be expected to pay. Look at schools that don't require test scores, as suggested above. Maybe you can get work/study or do a coop program, or find an out of state program that is even cheaper than in state. Along with studying test taking strategies on line, look at breathing exercises and meditation strategies for anxiety and see if these help you. I hope you can find someone at your school to help you as well. Go in to guidance with specific questions i.e.: "Where should I apply with my grades and SAT scores?" Keep asking questions here as well, there are a lot of knowledgable people who can help you.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 6,925 Senior Member
    You need to try the ACT.
  • eyeofthestorm1eyeofthestorm1 Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member
    I'm up for doing that, but from what I've seen isn't the ACT a little less forgiving when it comes to timing? That's why I steered clear of the ACT up until this point. @Lindagaf
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 6,925 Senior Member
    Yes, but the two tests are very different. I tutor both tests. IMO, the ACT is much more straightforward. Many students are able to manage the time on the ACT because of this. As far as I am concerned, the SAT, at least for the verbal sections, is the more difficult of the two tests.
  • eyeofthestorm1eyeofthestorm1 Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member
    Can you please recommend me some good ACT prep books?
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 856 Member
    the sample tests can be found in a book from the ACT itself, it's called "The Official ACT Prep Guide", and it has yearly editions, you can get current or past year as the test hasn't changed. You don't get too much help though on how to solve problems. Some others are "The ACT Black Book" which talks about strategies and probably Barron's ACT prep guide. After going through these, you'll have a better sense of what you need to improve on and then you may still need another book on a subject area before taking the test. As others have said, try your school's guidance or library for some of these so you can cut down on costs and Khan Academy.

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