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Pressure builds as SAT approaches

Lights glare down on bowed heads. Cool air chills the bones and the scratches of dozens of pencils drone on in the background. Cruel taskmasters pace the room describing in flat monotones how the next three hours of imprisonment will be spent.

This is not a scene from a horror movie, but it does occur in high schools across the nation. Many American high school students feel pressures relating to the Scholastic Aptitude Test [SAT] and tension runs high with the next test looming on Oct. 9.

Students are feeling the stress of needing to score high so that they can complete their college applications with attractive numbers. Those who have not previously experienced the SAT are especially worried.

“I waited until now to take the SAT because I am lazy,” Tim Westra, ’05, said. “I wish I had taken the test in the spring because then I could choose the better of my scores to send to colleges.”

Westra also said that he has not studied and does not plan to. Other students, however, have realized the benefits of adequately preparing before attempting the SAT.

“I didn’t study the last time I took it,” Dori Richardson, ’05, said. “I didn’t do as well as I would have liked to, and I want to see if I can get a better score this time.”

Students employ many resources as they try to refine their vocabulary and problem solving skills in hopes of doing the best they possibly can.

“I plan on using SAT study books and my old vocabulary books,” Richardson said. “Also, some of my friends and I are going to get together and study.”

There are study materials available in many different formats, from books containing practice versions of the test to online study options. Valuable resources designed to help students can also be found at www.collegeboard.com. These include practice questions that give the correct answer is as well as explanations of why the other answers are incorrect.

“Some of the best resources for students are very inexpensive,” Jon Endicott, vice principal, said. “The PSAT is offered for only eleven dollars and is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you will encounter on the SAT.”

For seniors, Endicott recommended other methods of study for their last minute preparation.

“The CollegeBoard website is one of the best study options,” Endicott said. “I also have SAT books available for students to use if they want them.”

The College Board has official answers to questions about the SAT. Also provided are a downloadable, free, full-length practice test and an online store where SAT study books can be purchased. The College Board also provides a way to register online for the SAT.

There are some students who are unconcerned with the worries plaguing their classmates as they face the SAT. They are the ones who have already obtained the score that they want and they are not planning on reliving the torture.

“I took the SAT last November and again in May,” Chris White, ’05, said. “I got a 1460 the second time and I’m not taking it again because I believe that anyone who’s not satisfied with a score higher than 1400 is disgustingly conceited.”

White, and others like him, has already completed their SAT experience, but for those who have not there are still several opportunities. Students can still register for the test dates of Nov. 6, by Oct. 1. Later test dates are Dec. 4, and Jan. 22. Check College Board for specific registration deadlines.

Once students have adequately prepared all they can do is their best.

“If the students have familiarized themselves with the test and know what types of questions they can expect to see, then they should try and relax before the test,” Endicott said. “They don’t need to overstress and stay up all night studying the night before the test. One of the most important things is for them to get plenty of sleep and not be exhausted on the day of the test.”

The cost of the test is currently $29.50 and will remain so until Jan. ’05 when the fee will increase to $41.50. Students should plan to register about a month and a half in advance of the date they want in order to make the deadline.

Underclassmen can still register for the PSAT that will be offered on Oct. 13. This PSAT is an updated version that will prepare students for the new SAT, which will be replacing the current form, beginning Mar. 12 of next year.

For more information about preparing for college, contact Endicott at 299-1695, ext. 126. For more information on the SAT test or to register go to www.collegeboard.com.

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