Common SAT tips for international students

Several international students do not speak English as their mother tongue, which can intimidate students competing with thousands of others in the TOEFL and SAT exams.

But do not be nervous of these exams. Recognize how the SAT may frighten you to find ways to fight back.

1. Academic Readings with Field Knowledge: Several friends in my SAT preparation class used to say that they could get sick just looking at the long reading portions. Be prepared and do not be surprised if you have to read about the daily life of polar bears at the North Pole, bird migration, and a history of medicine, an extract from a literary novel and other educational topics.

These passages may try to fool you by incorporating expert field knowledge that does not normally appear in spoken English. The key to tackling your terror is to treat these passages like you are watching the Discovery Channel and heading out on an adventure – or, try pretending you have an important responsibility to review someone else’s writing.

You might solve the queries wrong if you do not understand the main notions of the readings, so read them as if you are really interested in the subject. Your attitude when reading these educational pieces is as vital as your language skills.

Having a genuine interest in what you read will help you better memorize key details. You will understand that you do not need to come back to a passage continually just to be able to solve a query.

Stay hungry about the information given in the readings and you will rock the solution. Reading more English newspapers and comics will help you become familiar with many fields of knowledge, as will reading more educational literature and pieces.

And remember, enhancing your reading skills in the long run will really help you to enjoy this road.

2. Those Strange New Words: Nothing can be more frustrating than reading a paragraph smoothly when unexpectedly, your flow is interrupted in the middle of a line by a word that you have never hear. Even more daunting, the SAT asks you to guess the meaning of those words.

You might get bored of hearing people telling you to learn new words. They are not wrong. It would be good to learn as several new English words as you can before letting those unknown words creep up during the exam.

For me, the most helpful way was to discuss new words every day with a friend who also studied for these tests.

We made a word list for each day, put them in situation and talk about the nuances of the words with each other.

But whether you study with flashcards and by writing words down on a piece of paper, imagining the new words in context is key to memorizing them.

And when you read, the more likely it is you will get the new words and be aware of how they are used in actual English writing.

3. Tricky Math Questions: Wherever you were raised and born, you must have studied some math before entering university, even though how and what you learned it might differ greatly. This can show difficulties for international students taking the SAT, which was created by the U.S.-based University Board.

International students have to adjust their knowledge in order to ace the exam. But the good news is the essential knowledge for SAT math is no higher than trigonometric functions and pre-calculus, and does not require more than basic to intermediate algebra, arithmetic, fundamental statistics, geometry, and probability – all the good stuff colleges assume you would know.

The harder portion is how the test tries to trick you with problems: the wording and the unorthodox, unusual ways of asking problems, perhaps and confusing illustrations.

All you need to do is to read the problems well and summarize the problem using your own expressions and figures, to decode the problems clearly – then, the problems become applying methods you have previously learned. You can also practice some model paper for your exam practice. Some sites provide you SAT practice paper like Expertsmind.

Being aware of what might frighten you in the exams, having the right attitude to face your fears and practicing over and over again will help you ace these tests. Do not forget to give yourself sufficient time each day to digest all the new knowledge about these exams that you will learn.


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