Practice with Confidence

If you find yourself feeling nervous before taking a test in the SAT Suite of Assessments, you're not alone. College Board has partnered with the Jed Foundation (JED) to share tips to help you manage test anxiety:

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But did you know that you can also boost your confidence while you're studying? These practice exercises will give you a head start on staying calm and collected well before you walk into the testing room.

Confidence Check Activity

This exercise will help boost your confidence while identifying your strengths and challenge areas. As you work through practice questions, give yourself a "confidence rating," and include your reason for the rating.

Some examples:

  • I am 95% sure I answered this question correctly because I plugged my answer back into the equation and it checks out.
  • I am 40% sure I answered this question correctly because I had a really hard time choosing between the answer options.

Then, when you check your scores, compare them with those confidence levels. The best part of this activity is that any result can help you build confidence.

If you didn't feel confident you'd get an answer right and you didn't, don't sweat it! That means you understand your thought process and recognize questions that are tough for you. Knowing your strengths and challenge areas is an incredibly valuable skill to have as you're preparing for a test, and now you know which skills to review before test day.

If you didn't feel confident you'd get an answer right and you actually did answer the question correctly, remind yourself of that the next time you feel unsure of a similar question. You're already demonstrating key content knowledge, so you can trust in your skills.

If you felt confident that you'd get an answer right and you missed it, investigate what happened. Maybe you misread part of the passage, forgot a step on a math question, or selected an answer with a comma when you meant to select a semicolon. Whatever the reason may be, this process will help you build confidence by recognizing errors to avoid in the future.

Naturally, if you felt confident you'd get an answer right and you did, that's awesome! You're already demonstrating your knowledge of this skill, which means you can focus your study sessions on other areas where you need a little more review.
Tip: If you don't have time to do this confidence check for every question, you can also do this activity in batches. Before you start a practice test or quiz, predict how many questions you'll answer correctly. Then use the guidelines above to compare your prediction with your score.

Second Guess Stopper Activity

If you find yourself frequently second-guessing your work and changing answers at the last minute, try this: Before you start a practice session, set a limit on how frequently you'll allow yourself to change an answer, e.g., "I will allow myself to change one answer for every 10 questions" or "I will wait three minutes before allowing myself to skip another question." Then stick to it!
Tip: If you're practicing in Bluebook, use the Mark for Review tool to mark any questions where you want to second-guess. When you get to the end of the section, write down the numbers of any questions you flagged. If you're not practicing in Bluebook, just circle or make a note of those questions.

When you finish practicing, check your answers. If you're satisfied with your score, that's a great sign that you know the material better than you think—second-guessing isn't helping you out.

If you're not satisfied with your score, that's okay, too. Go back and review all the questions you wanted to change. Would changing the answer to your second guess have helped you answer correctly? If so, try to reflect on your thought process. What factors made you choose your initial answer? What was it that made you second-guess it?

This process will help you determine strategies to use next time you practice, like reading a question twice to be sure you understand it or plugging an answer option back into the question to be sure it makes sense.

Do some in-depth skill review before trying this activity again. With a little practice, you'll start feeling more confident in your answers.