Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tips for Saturday's SAT

Some of you may be taking the SAT this Saturday, January 28.  If so, I'll be there!  I have been proctoring the SAT for the past 15 years.  That means I'm one of the teachers that helps administer the test.  Having done this for many years, here are my tips for you:
  • Bring your admission ticket and photo ID.  There was a recent identity scandal last year (someone taking the test for someone else), so don't expect to get in at all without a photo ID.  Driver license or student ID are fine, but it MUST have a photo and it must be current (no junior high ID).  For an exact list of what is and is not an acceptable form of ID, check out "Test Day Checklist" at the end of this post.
  • Know your test location.  I'm proctoring at Canyon High School (where most SCV students take their exam).  Get there early enough so you're not in a rush to find things.  By the way, if you're at Canyon your specific testing room will likely be posted on the C or D Building.  That's right in the front near the front staff parking lot.
  • Find the right room.  Once all the rooms are posted (around 8:00 a.m.), make sure you find the room that has your last name for your test.  Pay attention to the difference! Remember, there are two different tests being offered:  the regular SAT and the SAT Subject Tests.  If you're looking too quickly, you may find your part of the alphabet for the wrong exam.
  • Bring a #2 pencil.  Actually, bring a few, and have them pre-sharpened.  The College Board does not allow you to use a mechanical pencil (the thin lead was ripping through the answer documents so they banned them), so you MUST use a good, old-fashioned wooden pencil.
  • No cell phones.  Period.  The temptation is so strong to constantly check our phones--to check the time, see what we've missed, who's called, texted, tweeted, Facebooked.  If you are caught even looking at a cell phone while you are on the testing site, EVEN on a break, you could have an Irregularity Report filled out on you, and that can be nasty.  It can delay your scores, launch an investigation, and in general make your life miserable.  Give your proctor NO reason to write you up.  If you absolutely must bring your cell phone with you, keep it in your backpack or pocket and powered down the entire time.  According to the rules, as supervisors we can even dismiss you immediately or confiscate your phone if you have it out.
  • No parents.  The closest they can get during testing time is to sit and wait in the car in the parking lot.  They can't meet with you on a break, and they certainly can't be in the testing room with you.  Most teens don't want their parents anywhere around them anyway when other teens are present, but this can raise suspicions of cheating, so ask you folks to stay away.
  • Dress in layers.  Your testing room could have the heater or air conditioner blasting, and your test supervisor may not know how to (or may not be willing to) adjust the temperature. Wear a sweatshirt that is easy to remove if it gets really warm in the room.
  • Follow the rules.  You might get a test supervisor who just doesn't care about the rules.  Or, you might get someone like me.  I've been doing this for 15 years now because I do my job well and I take it seriously.  I have ONE main job as an SAT supervisor--to make sure the test is administered fairly and everyone follows the rules.  When someone doesn't follow the rules, I fill out an Irregularity Report and then let the College Board sort it out.  There is a good (a little weird, but good) video created by the College Board that recites the actual "Instructions Script" that we read.  It literally contains every instruction I give on test day.  Plus there's dancing at the end.  Like I said, weird.  You can find it here:
  • Bring a calculator and bring a back-up.  If you are relying on a calculator for the SAT (all math problems can be solved in your head, by the way), then make sure you have fresh batteries and a backup calculator just in case the first one malfunctions.  Listen to the rules regarding calculators because there are times when you can have it out, and times when it must be put away.  If you break these rules you could get written up.
  • Take steps to lower your anxiety.  Think of all the things that could cause your stress level to go up.  Running late.  Being in an unfamiliar place.  Not knowing exactly what to do.  Being hungry.  Feeling unprepared.  Take steps now to reduce these potential causes of anxiety.  Go to bed early tonight.  Wake up early.  Have a good, healthy breakfast.  Get to your test location in plenty of time so you get a good parking spot, and know exactly where to go.  Be prepared in advance so you know what to expect in advance.  The College Board has a nice "Test Day Checklist" here:
Good luck with your exam!

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