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Fear and the SAT

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SAT Student

Three scary letters: S-A-T. And, no, I don’t mean the abbreviation for the word “Saturday.” I mean the standardized test high-schoolers take to obtain admission to colleges and universities. Talk to almost anybody who’s taken it and almost anybody who’s about to take it, and you’ll realize that fear plays huge, memorable part in the SAT experience.

Let’s dispel this fear. Usually, when we are afraid of something that we have to do, it’s because we don’t know what will happen and we use our imagination to create a negative scenario in our mind. But often that negative scenario never happens. So all that fear turns out to be a waste of your time and a surfeit of unhappiness.

The best way to deal with fear is first to specify the negative scenarios you are creating. What exactly are you imagining? Do you imagine that you will oversleep and arrive to the test center late? Do you always picture yourself forgetting all the geometry theorems that you’ve ever learned? Do you imagine yourself accidentally skipping a question on your Scantron form, thereby incorrectly mismarking every subsequent question?

Once you’ve realized what you imagine, you realize exactly what scares you. Now you can deal with it by coming up with specific solutions to your fears. Whether you’re afraid of sentence completion problems, writing an essay, finishing the sections on time, or running out of calculator battery power, you can figure out how to solve these fears—because all these problems have solutions. And if you can’t figure out these problems, you have many people who are willing to help you: friends, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and of course, the SAT instructors here at Fortune. (This is not mean as shameless self-promotion; it’s simply the truth. We are here to help.) Seek them out, and ask their advice.

So here’s what to do to combat your fear: ask yourself, “What do imagine will happen when I take the SAT?” Write everything down that comes to mind. Be specific. The more specific you are, the less scary the test becomes. Then, take your list and see what aspects of the test you find scary. Ask yourself, “Who can help me with these issues?”

Fear dies when you get specific and proactive. Identify the fear and then attack it. If you do, then those three little letters, “S-A-T,” become what they are and nothing more: a representation of something that can be solved.

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Ideas for Keeping Kids Engaged This Summer

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Summer Reading

When kids have off of school for the summertime, all they can think about is eating ice cream cones before they melt, afternoons spent at water parks and playing baseball until the sun goes down. This break from school is also a great time to sneak in some fun learning so that kids are ready to jump right back into school when September comes. Reading is one of the easiest things to squeeze in even when all you and your children want to do is lounge on the beach. Follow these tips to get your kids interested in reading even when school’s out.

1. Lead by example. If you’re going to hang out by the pool or you’re hopping into the car for an impromptu road trip, have a book on hand. Showing your kids that you like to read during down time will encourage them to do the same. Ask them to pack a book, too. Start slowly - they don’t have to promise to read it, all they have to do is take it along with them.

2. Schedule time for reading. Adding reading into a routine will help your kids develop life-long habits, especially if the whole family participates. Just remember to stay flexible if you’re on vacation or something special is going on, like a birthday party or family BBQ.

3. Loosen up the reigns a bit. When it comes to summertime reading, loosen up the reigns a bit, especially with older kids. During school, there’s plenty of required reading that they have to complete. When they have time off, your kids should be able to choose what they want to delve into (within reason, of course).

4. Reward reading with the promise of more reading. Tell your child that once they finish the book they’re reading, you’ll head to the bookstore to buy a brand new one. This is especially effective if your kid’s interested in a book series - they’ll want to finish the current book just to get to the next part of the story!

4. Give kids endless choices at the library. If your child’s eyes are too big for your budget, you don’t have to limit them to just one or two books. Get them a library card and let them take out a few books at a time.

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Should I Take the SAT or ACT?


Preparing for college can be stressful and demanding. After all, college isn’t all about frat parties and cheering on the basketball team - you have to show some level of academic success in order to be accepted. Knowing that you have a looming standardized test doesn’t help when it comes to your anxiety, either. Most colleges accept the SAT and the ACT, but how do you know which test you should take? Read on to learn how to choose between the SAT and the ACT.

Requirements of the College or University

If you have a specific college in mind, find out what they require and what they prefer to see. For example, some colleges may require either the SAT or the ACT, but the Admissions Department may have a preference. Taking the test that they need is necessary, but taking the test that they want is important, too. Colleges that require SAT scores often want to see up to three SAT Subject Tests, which means that they’ll want the SAT II. ACT tests come in two forms: with a writing portion and without. Most colleges will want to see the ACT that includes an essay portion.

Differences Between the SAT and the ACT

The SAT tests for three subjects: English, math and reading. The test is broken into ten sections. Each section includes a mixture of questions across the three subject areas. One of the ten sections doesn’t count towards the SAT score. The ACT tests for English, math, reading and science, in that order. The test is composed of four sections, each one dedicated to one subject. The science section tests reading comprehension. Students should have a basic scientific vocabulary and an understanding of experiment procedure, graphs and charts.

Which is the Best Choice?

If the college you’re applying to needs either the SAT or the ACT, then your mind is made up for you. What if it’s not that clear cut, though? If you have a strong academic background in high school, you may want to opt for the ACT. This is especially true if you’re strong in both math and science. If you’re not strong in those subject areas, you’ll want to take the SAT. The best way to determine which test to take is to take practice tests for both the SAT and the ACT. If you do well on both tests, then take both of them.

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Best Study Strategies for the GMAT

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The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a standardized assessment test that many master degree programs require applicants to take. Business schools in particular use the GMAT to determine entry into their accounting and finance programs. Today, the GMAT test is conducted in 110 different countries. Follow these tips for studying in preparation for the GMAT.

1. Learn the Content

This tip may seem obvious, but far too often, students think they can attain a near-perfect score by having test taking tricks up their sleeve. Nothing can replace simply knowing your stuff, though. The two areas of the GMAT that you have to be seriously prepared for are “Quantitative” and “Sentence Correction.” Hint: Become a whiz with prime numbers and subject-verb agreement.

2. Set Time Limits

At first, you’ll take practice GMAT tests without any time constraints. Eventually, though, you’ll have to time yourself, and often. If you don’t, you won’t know what hit you come test day since the GMAT is most certainly timed. You’ll need the practice when it comes to proper pacing and time management.

One of the main reasons why you need to practice timing yourself for the GMAT is to make sure you can answer every question on the test. Unanswered questions will cost you more than wrong answers. What happens if you’re down to the wire on test day and you still have a ton of questions left to answer? Fill them in at random - seriously.

3. Choose the Right Format

Sure, you can get your hands on old copies of GMAT-format exams, but you should focus more on the current CAT-format GMAT tests. Otherwise, you’ll be prepping for an antiquated version of the test. While the questions themselves will be helpful, the format could throw you off.

4. Take a Ton of Practice Exams

Practice GMAT tests will help you all-around. You’ll become familiar with the test layout; you’ll know what types of questions to expect; you’ll learn what your weak points are; and you’ll develop the stamina needed to take such a demanding test. It’s best to start taking practice tests a year in advance. That way, you can set an easy pace for yourself without having to take a bunch of tests on top of each other when the GMAT is right around the corner.

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