Ask a Panther: Week Two

Here are this week’s questions:

“What are some tips to prepare for the SAT? I’m taking the one in March.

The SAT’s are coming up, the most recent one is this Saturday, March 9th. I know there’s a lot of stress that comes with it, especially if this is your first SAT. The first thing I want to let you know is to NOT stress about it. It’s easier said than done, I know, but keep in mind that this SAT is not going to be the only one you’ll be taking. That being said, here are some of the tips that I think will be most helpful:

  • Read: This might sound oversimplified but reading is a great way to prepare for the Reading portion of the SAT. If you haven’t been reading a lot or you’re just not a big reader in general, start now! Making a habit of reading whenever you get the chance increases your vocabulary and builds your level of reading comprehension. Plus, it’s fun! When you’re reading, try to highlight (or write down) some phrases or words that you don’t understand and take note of their meanings. I’ve found this to be a really fun way of preparing myself for the SAT’s, instead of sitting down and forcing myself to answer multiple choice questions.
  • Internet: Make use of the technology that you have in hand. Search the app store for some apps designed specifically for SAT test takers. There are some that you might have to pay for, but if you’re looking to improve your vocabulary, there are apps to help with that. For example, I use Vocabulary Builder on my Android and it gives me a ‘Word of the Day’ and lets me ‘save’ words I want to remember and look over. Some apps in the Apple Store aren’t free but the convenience would definitely be a plus. Also, Khan Academy partners with CollegeBoard and has SAT practice both on Reading and Math. You definitely need to sit down and set aside some time specifically to study on the website but the tests are pretty accurate to the type of questions you’ll face on the Actual SAT.
  • Prep-Book: The final tip is to do it the old fashion way. If you can, buy some SAT Prep Books, if not, check some out from your local library. Personally, I prefer the latter because I don’t want to spend money and the book due dates pressure me into studying. If you like to make marks and annotate, then buying the book is probably better for you. Overall, this old fashion way of studying by the book is nice because it feels more relaxed and paced. Most of the practice books also offer test-taking strategies and advice, which is a huge help to first-time test takers. The internet can be helpful but it can also be damaging to stare at a screen for multiple hours. If you’re able to make a lot of time to kick back, relax and study at your own pace, the Prep Books are probably for you.

“I’ve been feeling really sad lately, and I’m not quite sure why. How can I stop this?”

The most important thing to keep in mind is that: you’re not alone. I think this is a feeling that a lot of people face, especially high school students. I personally don’t feel like a lot of people discuss this matter very much. It’s very common for teens today to feel anxiety or depression. The first thing that you need to do is: Tell Your Parents. I know that it’s hard, and it can be very scary. Sometimes it feels like parents don’t care and it can be especially hard to talk about these things with someone else in general. If your parents aren’t willing to listen or acknowledge what you’re feeling, don’t give up! Reach out to your friends, your teachers, your counselors. I care, we care, people care.

If you want to talk about it with someone but you’re not quite ready, I recommend taking up some hobbies. This sounds super cliche but hobbies are superb at taking your mind off of things and alleviate stress. Activities like painting, singing, dancing, reading or running are awesome outlets for stress, anxiety or sadness. Music can also be really helpful; classical music tends to be energizing and refreshing, jazz gets you movin’ and groovin’, and rap has a way of motivating and encouraging you.

I also recommend meditation. No, not that kind of meditation when you hum “omm” with some bird chirp videos in the background but the kind when you just sit down, close your eyes and just breathe. This kind of meditation helps to calm your mind and clear your thought process. Go through your thoughts one by one and try to establish a reason for your feelings. It may take 10 minutes or maybe even 30. Set aside some time to listen to yourself and try to create a logical approach to your feelings. The most important part is to stay honest to your own thoughts.

I hope that my advice is helpful at least to a certain extent. If you feel too pressured and helpless with the sadness you’re experiencing, please make sure to talk to your parents, friends or teachers and seek help. You may call this number if you need to talk to someone aside from the people listed above: 1-800-273-8255, there is also an online chat that may be accessed with this link:

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