Testing Tips & Tricks: It’s Never too Early


For everyone at Chelsea High School, testing day can be stressful. From freshmen and sophomores who take the PSAT trying to win some form of scholarship, to juniors who cram for weeks learning grammar and quadratic formulas, and to seniors who are well aware of the anxiety that comes before testing and had to wait for acceptance letters based on their scores, it is easy to see that every student at CHS is affected by test day.

Though test day 2018 has come and gone, what we did–or didn’t do–to prepare for the test is still fresh in our minds, and this gives us a good opportunity to reflect on how we might improve before the next go-around. One junior and senior sat down to give their opinion on testing day and encourage those who will be bubbling on Tuesday the 10th. Sara Dana, a senior at Chelsea High School, encourages juniors who will be taking the SAT to get enough sleep before the test. Dana says, “Make sure that you are fully rested.” Speaking from personal experience from last year, Dana recalls, “I know that I had a lot of difficulties because I was really tired the morning of the test.” She says that lack of sleep can be dangerous to test takers because, “It really messes with your brain and you can’t focus.” When asked about the stresses put on juniors during test day, Dana says, “I think it actually can be pretty harmful, especially since these tests are really big and determine which scores can get into which colleges.” Dana worries that not getting the score you were hoping for can be harmful to people’s confidence too. For juniors who plan to take the test multiple times, Dana warns, “It adds more pressure each additional time you take [the SAT]. I think that can really screw with you and mess up whatever you’ve got going on.” She follows up by saying, “[Junior year] is stressful enough as it is. I definitely agree that it is one of the hardest years and testing just adds to that with how much pressure is put on people.”

Dana ended up taking the ACT to try to get a better score for colleges. When asked how she prepared differently for the ACT versus the SAT she said, “I took the class that was offered here, the ACT prep class. It was basically just practice tests but I feel it did help prepare me for what was on [the test].” Dana states that, “Usually when it comes to academic essays I haven’t always excelled, but having the knowledge of what [the essay] would be about and what I would have to show for it beforehand was really helpful.” Dana ended by saying that the ACT went a lot better for her, and she encourages students to retake the tests if they are unhappy with their scores.

Madilynn O’Hara, a junior at Chelsea High School, has done plenty to prepare for the SAT. When asked what she has done before the test to get ready, O’Hara said, “I took an independent study with Mrs. Macintosh. I used Khan Academy to take practice SAT tests and do practice problems.” O’Hara also said that she got a SAT prep book for her birthday, but had a hard time using it to study. O’Hara said, “I tried to study out of [the book] but it’s really boring.” Even with all of her preparation, O’Hara says she would still rate her stress level as a six or seven out of ten. O’Hara stated, “I’m pretty stressed, not gonna lie.” 

O’Hara probably shares her stress level with many other juniors at CHS who are getting ready to take the test. However, O’Hara worries that the SAT is not a good indicator of a student’s skills. O’Hara said, “I think that a lot of time, the SAT has a lot of little tricks and stuff like that which makes it kind of unfair for students who don’t think that way. [The SAT] doesn’t show your creativity or dedication to something.” O’Hara followed this up by saying, “I think it’s unfair.”

With many of us still facing standardized tests in years to come, what can we learn from Dana and O’Hara? It seems like everyone around the school is aware of the struggles associated with testing and is going through the same stresses. So, it’s important to take a deep breath and relax, this is only one leg in your journey and as O’Hara pointed out, retakes are always an option.