At the start of December, youth around the world went to a predetermined location close to their respective dwellings, for an event that could have destroyed or secured their hopes and dreams: the SAT.

The SAT Reasoning Test is hugely important. Many young scholars hoping to gain entrance to some of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world are required to take this test. These institutions offer unique opportunities, extreme and thorough educations, money to spare for any interests you may have or for your admission itself, and a wealth of resources scarcely found anywhere else in the world.  For instance, Columbia University students have access to more internships than they can fill, discount tickets to almost any event in Manhattan, and a 10 minute subway ride to 5th avenue.  University of Pennsylvania students enjoy excellent facilities and access to an excellent, prestigious school of business (Wharton).  And good old Harvard allows its freshmen to dine in its very own Hogwarts hall.

But anyone attempting to get into these world class educators will have to face the daunting SAT exams. Among other things of course, such as a hypercompetitive application process, as well as a few series of paragraphs expressing ideas that could sink you or make you sparkle. The entire process can make you feel that if you don’t have that 2400 on your SAT, or get a 4.33 gpa, or lead 5 clubs, you are doomed to be marked an imbecile and a failure for the rest of your life.

But it’s fine.  Not everyone who gets in is an Olympic mathlete or five time champion of the international chess league.

On the SAT:

Prepare yourself as best as you can, and just relax.  Whether you choose to take extra classes or decide to self study as many others do, worrying about it will only make you nervous, and perhaps even influence you to perform at a level that is below your usual standards.  That does not mean don’t study: failure to prepare adequately in terms of vocabulary, grammar and reading comprehension will result in you getting an epic fail.  But past a certain point, what really matters is the timing of every section of the exam.

In short, 25 minutes to compose a well-written two page essay is tough, even if you’ve been through the trials of Gr.10 English.  And beware.  Though the SAT math sections are known for being ridiculously easy, without adequate time management during the test, you might find yourself questioning your mathematical capabilities.

Don’t let your concentration waver, and give it all you have.  Bring some chocolate or similar concessions, as you do get brief breaks in between.  As well, don’t be intimidated by the two pencils rule, so long as none of your pencils are non mechanical.  And make sure your passport or any other legitimate photo identification is not in renewal.  Or it will not be a pleasant experience.

For the rest of the application:

Experts on the subject have spoken: just be yourself. Let who you are shine through, and show your passion for the things that you truly care about. Give yourself a good while to complete it, and don’t worry about if it is sufficient or not.  Chances are, if you demonstrate your uniqueness in any way, (universities might react the same way the Lonely Island in one of their songs) you have a good probability of acceptance. If the university you’re looking for rejects you, it’s their loss.  Or you are a completely unremarkable person of Earth, a copy of the most generic, average member of society.  But what are the chances of that? Instead, assume the former and get out there and find another university willing to accept you for who you are and what you need.

And when you’re waiting for the results of your labour, just relax. As long as you tried your best, you have nothing to be ashamed of, regardless of your acceptance or rejection.

Oh, and ask for references early on. The Three Bald Men probably have enough to deal with, even without the flood of references they will inevitably be asked to do on the Friday before the breaks.

One final word.

Good Luck.