SAT For Dummies

Part VI

The Part of Tens

Chapter 31

Ten Ways to Calm Down

In This Chapter

 Soothing SAT nerves by preparing in advance

 Pacifying your angst during the test

What’s that grinding noise? Oh, it’s your teeth. The SAT (Superlative Auspicious Talisman) can ratchet up the anxiety level of even the most Zenned-out test taker. But a few techniques can help you de-stress — ten, to be exact. (By the way, superlative means “highest quality,”auspicious means “favorable,” and talisman means “thing with magic powers.”)

Prepare Well

Well before SAT day, make sure that you go over this book carefully and shore up your weak spots. Try a practice test or two (or three or four or five!) in Part V. Then rest, because you’re ready for the big time.

Sleep It Off

Don’t party the night before SAT day, though I certainly understand your need to celebrate when the whole thing’s over. Fight SAT nerves with restful sleep. Also, don’t study on the last night before the exam. Watch television, build an anthill, or do whatever you find relaxing. Then hit the sheets at a decent hour.

Start Early

On SAT morning, set your alarm for a little earlier than you think you need to be up and about. Don’t go overboard! You don’t want too much extra time to obsess about all the things you haven’t mastered yet. With a safety margin of, say, arriving at the testing center a half-hour before the test begins, you can ready yourself for the exam with minimal pressure. Plus you have time to find the room, get a good seat, admire the view, and run to the restroom.

Make a List

SAT-morning jitters are no fun. To alleviate (ease) them, on exam eve make lists of everything you need to do before leaving the house and everything you need to take to the exam. Then go through the tasks one by one, departing the house secure in the knowledge that you’re ready. (See Chapter 2 for a list of items you don’t want to forget.)

Stretch Your Muscles

Before you start an SAT section, stretch your arms above your head as high as they’ll go. Slide your legs straight out in front of you and wriggle your ankles. Feel better?

Roll Your Head

Not the type of rolling that occurs after a session with the guillotine (a device that chops heads off), but a yoga-inspired exercise that induces (brings about) calmness. Close your eyes whenever you feel yourself tensing up. Let your head drop all the way forward, roll it in a circle, open your eyes, and hit the test again.

Breathe Deeply

Breathing is always a good idea, and deep breathing is an even better one. When the SAT overwhelms you, pull in a slow bucketful of air and then exhale even more slowly.

Isolate the Problem

On SAT day, friends are a pain in the neck. Why? Because your friends will say things like “What’s the meaning of supercilious?” “How do you solve for three variables?” And you’ll think, “I don’t know what supercilious means! I have no idea what a variable is! I’m going to fail and no college will take me and my life will be ruined.” Make a pact with your friends to stay silent about SAT questions or SAT-related information, or sit by yourself in the corner.

Become Fatalistic

A fatalist (one who accepts that much of life is out of control and that whatever happens, happens) does best on the SAT. Stop obsessing. Just sit down and do the test. You can worry about how you did after you’ve handed in the answer sheet.

Focus on the Future

No matter how bad it is, when you’re taking the SAT, you’re getting ever-closer to a truly wonderful time: the moment when you realize that the SAT is over, done, history. Focus on the future — that moment — whenever you feel yourself clench.

Appendix

Scoring Your Exam

Scoring the SAT isn’t as simple as tallying your right and wrong answers and coming up with a percentage, but it isn’t exactly rocket science either. For any of the five practice exams, use the formulas in this appendix to figure out your SAT scores for each section of the exam. (Turn to Chapter 1 for more details on SAT scoring in general.)

Determining Your Writing Score

You get three writing scores: an essay score (a number between 0 and 12), a multiple-choice writing score (a number between 20 and 80), and a combined writing score (a number between 200 and 800). The following sections show you how to calculate all three.

Essay score

Read and score your essay using the standards I explain in Chapters 7 and 8. After you’re done, you should have a number between 0 (didn’t answer the question) and 6 (ready to write for The New York Times). That number is your raw essay score. Double the raw score to get your final essay score:

Raw essay score _____ × 2 = Final essay score _____

Multiple-Choice Writing score

To calculate your Multiple-Choice Writing score, count the number of correct and incorrect answers you got in both Multiple-Choice Writing sections of the test. Then follow these steps:

1. Place the total number of correct answers from the Multiple-Choice Writing sections on Line 1 below.

2. Multiply the total number of wrong answers from both Multiple-Choice Writing sections by 1⁄4 and round to the nearest whole number; place your answer on Line 2.

3. Subtract Line 2 from Line 1 to get your raw Multiple-Choice Writing score.

4. Convert the raw Multiple-Choice Writing score by using the chart that follows.

Line 1 __________

Line 2 __________

Raw Multiple-Choice Writing Score __________

Multiple-Choice Writing Conversion Table

Raw Multiple-Choice Writing Score

Converted Multiple-Choice Writing Score

46 or above

80

45

79

44

78

43

77

42

76

41

75

40

74

39

73

38

72

37

71

36

70

35

69

34

68

33

67

32

66

31

65

30

64

29

63

28

62

27

61

26

60

25

59

24

58

23

57

22

56

21

55

20

54

19

53

18

52

17

51

16

50

15

49

14

48

13

47

12

46

11

45

10

44

9

43

8

42

7

41

6

40

5

39

4

38

3

37

2

36

1

35

0

34

–1

32

–2

31

–3

30

–4

29

–5

28

–6

27

–7

26

Below –7

20–25

Combined writing score

Now that you have two writing scores — your essay score and the converted Multiple-Choice Writing score — add them together to determine your combined raw score. Use the following chart to find your final combined writing score.

Combined Writing Conversion Table

Raw Writing Score

Converted Combined Writing Score

59 or above

800

58

790

57

780

56

770

55

760

54

750

53

740

52

730

51

720

50

710

49

700

48

690

47

680

46

670

45

660

44

650

43

640

42

630

41

620

40

610

39

600

38

590

37

580

36

570

35

560

34

550

33

540

32

530

31

520

30

500

29

490

28

480

27

470

26

460

25

450

24

440

23

430

22

420

21

410

20

400

19

390

18

380

17

370

16

360

15

350

14

340

13

330

12

320

11

310

10

300

9

290

8

280

7

270

6

260

5

250

4

240

3

230

2

220

1

210

0 or below

200

Calculating Your Critical Reading Score

Of course you got everything right on the Critical Reading section, didn’t you? No? Okay then, join the rest of the human race, or at least the vast majority that makes errors on SAT reading questions. Then take a pencil and figure out your raw score, using the following method:

1. Count the total number of correct answers in all three Critical Reading sections, and place the number on Line 1 below.

2. Multiply the total number of wrong answers in the three Critical Reading sections by 1⁄4 and round to the nearest whole number; place your answer on Line 2.

3. Subtract Line 2 from Line 1 to get your raw score.

4. Convert the raw Critical Reading score by using the chart that follows.

Line 1 __________

Line 2 __________

Raw Critical Reading Score __________

Critical Reading Conversion Table

Raw Critical Reading Score

Converted Critical Reading Score

63 or above

800

62

790

61

780

60

770

59

760

58

750

57

740

56

730

55

720

54

710

53

700

52

690

51

680

50

670

49

660

48

650

47

640

46

630

45

620

44

610

43

600

42

590

41

580

40

570

39

560

38

550

37

540

36

530

35

520

34

510

33

500

32

490

31

480

30

470

29

460

28

450

27

440

26

430

25

420

24

410

23

400

22

390

21

380

20

370

19

360

18

350

17

340

16

330

15

320

14

310

13

300

12

290

11

280

10

270

9

260

8

250

7

240

6

230

5

220

4

210

3 or below

200

Scoring the Math Sections

After you finish each practice exam, you may be tired of numbers, but muster up the energy to tackle just a few more — the raw score and the converted Math scores. First, figure out your raw score by doing the following:

1. Count the total number of correct answers in all three Math sections, and place the number on Line 1 below. (Count both multiple-choice questions and grid-ins for this step.)

2. Multiply the number of wrong answers to everything except the grid-ins by 1⁄4 and round to the nearest whole number; place your answer on Line 2. (Ignore the grid-ins for this step.)

3. Subtract Line 2 from Line 1 to get your raw Math score.

4. Convert the raw score by using the chart that follows.

Line 1 __________

Line 2 __________

Raw Math Score __________

Mathematics Conversion Table

Raw Math Score

Converted Math Score

54

800

53

790

52

780

51

770

50

760

49

750

48

740

47

730

46

720

45

710

44

700

43

690

42

680

41

670

40

660

39

650

38

640

37

630

36

620

35

610

34

600

33

590

32

580

31

570

30

560

29

550

28

540

27

530

26

520

25

510

24

500

23

490

22

480

21

470

20

460

19

450

18

440

17

430

16

420

15

410

14

400

13

390

12

380

11

370

10

360

9

350

8

340

7

330

6

320

5

310

4

300

3

290

2

280

1

270

0

260

–1

250

–2

240

–3

230

–4

220

–5

210

–6 or below

200