Every high school student knows that the SAT in Orinda is never easy, and most are freaking out just by the thought of it. But the question is, how hard it can be? Or is it really that hard at all?

At first, first glance, a lot of questions on the SAT can be difficult, taxing, confusing, tricky, or even scary. But the truth is that it is not that tough at all. Besides, the success or failure from your SAT performance all depends on enough time spent on diligent and consistent practice.

Of course, the SAT will definitely be more difficult to overcome if you cram for a few days before the test day, and that’s when you feel that your nerves should get wrecked. You don’t have to worry about the SAT that much as it is not at all insurmountable, especially if you follow these tips:

1. Familiarize yourself with the test’s format
You will definitely get lost in the middle of the exam if you don’t have any inkling beforehand on how the SAT runs its tests. One of the best steps you can do is to get familiar with the SAT’s format and structure.

To start you with, the new SAT’s format, its updated highest score composite score is now 1600 instead of the old SAT’s 2400. The new test is now divided into three sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, Math, and optional Essay. The good news is that your chances of acing the test should be much better now as the new SAT grants no penalty for the wrong answers, and every multiple-choice question has now only four answer choices (as opposed to the old SAT’s five). As for SAT’s essay, it is scored apart from the other two sections.

The new “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing” section tests your reading comprehension and reasoning, as well as writing skills. You encounter passages written by different authors, explain how the author builds his/her argument, and support your explanation by citing your evidence from the passage.

What has changed in the Math section? Well, one of the things you should be aware of is that one part of the section allows you to use a calculator, while the other part does not. But do not be afraid of the no-calculator part of because it tests on how well you will solve the mathematical problems without using one.

2. Prepare yourself for the more difficult questions
Many of the questions on the SAT are deliberately made to be different from the questions you encounter on a regular class exam. Some of these questions are entirely unfamiliar to you, and you may get stumped for a while which may waste precious time during the test day. So the best way is to familiarize yourself with and prepare for these kinds of questions.

3. Do practice tests
This way, you will have the opportunity to fix whatever errors you may have encountered.

However, you must be aware of some of the challenges you may face in this high pressure-cooker on exam day. Number one is time pressure — since the new SAT runs on 3 hours (compared to 3 hours 45 minutes on the old SAT), the best way to deal with this problem is to know when to move on when you get stuck on one problematic question for too long.

Reading difficult passages is another challenge. Since most passages are culled from real published works, you may find them a bit too eclectic. Reading a lot of books and literary sources will help you overcome this challenge.

A few math concepts are pretty unfamiliar, like basic trigonometry, although most questions would not go beyond the scope of what you have learned in your past years in high school. There are also some questions relating to the past math lessons that you may have forgotten, so it’s better to brush up your knowledge a bit.

The pressure to score high on the SAT is a familiar scenario since most colleges and universities rely on test scores to admit an applicant into their fold. As a result, the stress levels tend to run high, which could lead to anxiety and cause you to commit costly errors. It’s not that you shouldn’t take the test seriously, but taking it too seriously will do you no good. So learn to relax, and have a positive mindset. If you think you won’t pass the first time around, you can take the exam again.

The SAT in Orinda is one of the most challenging episodes in a high schooler’s life. But when you start practicing early, maintain consistent preparation, learn how to let loose, and keep a positive outlook, you will be able to surmount these challenges when you enter the testing center.