More Test-Day Agony Leads to Higher SAT Scores

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Renowned SAT tutor Anthony-James Green has just received conclusive evidence that students who work on practice problems for 30 minutes immediately prior to their SATs vastly outperform students who don't. Green has shown that by "snapping out of their sleep states" and gearing into the exam, students can improve their scores by over 100 points, despite increased mental fatigue and discomfort.

New York's Best SAT Tutor, Anthony Green

Anthony-James Green constantly strives to find the best pre-test strategies for his SAT students.

Instantly switching from sleep to solving SAT math problems is like getting hit by a truck. Students need to warm up for their SATs if they want the best scores possible.

Anyone familiar with the SAT knows that it's a mind-boggling test of one's endurance. Students who take the exam are forced to sit for upwards of four hours in cramped auditoriums, battling against hundreds of difficult multiple choice problems while surrounded by terrified, shuffling classmates and peers. Yet one New York SAT tutor contends that if students want higher SAT scores, they should actually make the test-taking process even more grueling.

"A lot of students just roll out of bed and walk straight into the SAT," says Anthony-James Green, founded of Test Prep Authority and widely considered one of New York City's best SAT tutors. "Unfortunately, this is extremely detrimental to their scores. It takes human beings hours to snap out of their sleep state, and if students try to take one of the hardest exams in the world while they're still half asleep, they're going to bomb." Green has always advised his students to wake up at least two hours before their SATs and ACTs. "Parents are always shocked by this advice. They assume that their kids will benefit from extra hours of sleep, and that's true. But they need to get the extra hours by going to bed earlier, not by waking up later. If a student wakes up 20 minutes before he takes his exam, he'll be performing at maybe 70% of his capacity for the first few sections."

According to Green, who routinely improves student scores by over 350 points (out of a possible 2400), the SAT is as much a test of mental state and alertness as it is of knowledge and intelligence. "My worst student on his best day could outperform my best student on his worst day," says Green on the importance of preparing the mind and body for the SAT. "I've seen students tracking toward a 2300 get a 1650 after pulling an "all-nighter" the week of their tests or breaking up with their girlfriends. I've also seen students tracking toward a 1500 get an 1800 after sleeping for 9 hours for 10 nights in a row (it's the first time they've gotten more than 8 hours of sleep in years). It's honestly incredible how much of a difference one's mental state makes in determining test scores."

Green takes pride in noticing trends in his students' performance so that he can optimize their strategies. Last year, he started noticing an extremely interesting trend in his students' diagnostic scores: as they continued to take their tests, their scores on each section started getting better, not worse. "This was completely counter-intuitive," says Green of the discovery. "One would think that as a student got more and more exhausted, her scores would start to plummet. As it turns out, the complete opposite turns out to be true."

After researching performance science, and correlating it with anecdotes from his students' own experiences, Green realized why: students were still asleep during the first few sections of their tests. "I always make my students take their diagnostic exams in the morning to replicate the real testing experience," says Green. "They always report that they can barely understand what's going on for the first few sections of their tests, which matched up quite nicely with this data. As a result, I tried out an experiment: I made my students do 10 practice problems from each section before they took their practice tests. Every time, their scores jumped about 100 points."

Green's students hated the experiment, and understandably so. "Some of them wanted to kill me at first. But when they all went up 80-150 points in the blink of an eye, they started getting really into it."

The reason the methodology works is simple: when people are forced to perform strenuous mental activity, they wake up faster. By doing 30 minutes' worth of problems before they take their tests, Green's students are entering their exams fully alert, and they don't need to spend an hour "gearing into" the test material. "Instantly switching from sleep to solving SAT math problems is like getting hit by a truck," says Green of the warm-up process. "Students need to warm up before they take their tests if they want to get the highest SAT scores possible."

To employ the strategy, students are given a very simple prescription:

"Wake up for your test at least two hours early. The second you're out of bed, eat a big breakfast, take a shower, and walk around the block. When you're done, sit down and do 10 math problems, 10 Critical Reading problems, and 10 Writing problems. Get your brain adapted to all aspects of the SAT as quickly as possible and you'll have a much easier time when you take the real exam. It stinks, and you'll be tired, but you'll get the score you're looking for - and that's the whole point."

Parents and reporters looking to speak to Green directly can do so by visiting his personal booking website at They can also check out his free SAT and ACT prep center, Test Prep Authority, and view his new SAT vocabulary software, Vivid Vocab. Anthony-James Green is a career SAT tutor in Manhattan, and is currently launching a new software company, PrepRocket, LLC, to automatically bring his testing methods to all the students that he cannot personally teach.

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