The SAT is a test shrouded in myths. One of the most prominent is the idea that woven deep into the very fabric of your DNA is an “SAT gene”, and stamped on that gene is a number as immutable as the number of commandments Moses received up on Mt. Sinai. Those who buy into this idea regard prepping for the SAT as akin to moving Mt. Sinai itself. More…
When it comes to SAT prep, homeschooled children have a unique advantage. Most students are used to lecture-based classroom learning, an ineffective model that doesn’t get to the core of each student’s strengths, weaknesses, and individual learning style. Because your child is used to independent study, he or she can tackle the SAT the right way from the onset, without any adjustment in his or her approach to the proper material.
If there’s one section of the ACT that initially terrifies all my students (and their parents), it’s the ACT “science” section. On top of all the comprehension, math, and grammar tricks you need to know for this test, you’re expected to know science, too!?
Fortunately for you, the ACT science section has absolutely nothing to do with science — and once you realize the key approach to beat it, it’s an absolute breeze. This article will show you a basic approach that’ll cut your ACT science time in half and double your accuracy in less than two rounds of practice. More…
About four years from now, you may find yourself sweating through reading passages that make SAT passages read like a comic strip, and tripping over words that seem beyond the scope of the Oxford Dictionary. The test is called the GRE, and in many regards it’s similar to the SAT. More…
When it comes to the SAT, there are thousands of tips, tricks and strategies that can improve your scores. However, not all of these tips are created equal. With that in mind, I’ve put together a quick “crash course” of the five most high-impact, easy-to-implement SAT tricks in my arsenal – tricks that you can use today to improve your score by hundreds of points.
1. Skim passages – don’t devour them.
If you want great SAT reading scores, here’s the golden rule:
You should NEVER answer a question before looking back at the passage and finding concrete evidence. With the exception of “main idea” problems, there’s not a single SAT reading problem that should be answered based on memory – instead, you should be able to point at the evidence required to answer each question.
With that in mind, the first time that you read through, don’t read SAT passages for absolute comprehension – just get the main idea and build a mental “table of contents.” You don’t need to remember every detail – in fact, you won’t need 95% of what you read. Just get the main idea, the tone, and a basic map of where different elements of the passage are located.
You’ll be looking back for evidence anyway, so cut your reading time in half. Just skim the passage, get the main idea, and move on – you’ll save tons of time, and you won’t lose any essential information.
2. Answer every question before you look at the answers.
The SAT is incredible at coming up with tempting answer choices. Alongside the right answer choice, you’ll see four extremely credible, seemingly legitimate answers. The problem, of course, is that all four of them are wrong.
So how do you guard yourself against the sneaky, incorrect answer choices provided by the SAT? Come up with your own answer BEFORE you ever look at the answer choices provided!
Read the question, do the research, and then answer the question in your own words. Express the concept verbally, and make it real in your head. Then, and only then, should you look at the answer choices.
If you do this, you’ll suddenly find that the correct answer is nearly identical to what you said, and the four wrong answers are silly and ridiculous. If you don’t answer the question in your own words first, you’ll try to justify each wrong answer, which is exactly what the test is designed to trick you into doing.
3. Use the answers.
On 44/54 SAT math problems, the correct answer is sitting right in front of you, just waiting to be selected. Unlike on the Reading Test questions, ignoring the answer choices on these questions is one of the least efficient things you can do.
On every single multiple choice math problem, ask yourself this: could you plug in the answer choices, rather than doing any actual figuring? Could you use the answer choices to gain insight into how to solve the problem? Could you just test the available options, rather than doing tough algebra or setting up some sort of complicated system?
See if you can use the answers before you do any real thinking. This isn’t a strategy to use after you get stumped – it’s the strategy you should use before you do ANYTHING else.
4. Drop your pencil.
There’s a big difference between an SAT math prompt and an SAT math question. The prompt is the problem itself, including all the information provided by the test, graphs, figures, etc. The question is the final sentence at the end which you need to answer. Before you answer any SAT math problem, drop your pencil and re-read the question.
If you’ve spent 60 seconds finding the radius of a circle, make sure that the question isn’t:
“What’s the diameter of the circle?”
If you’ve spent two minutes solving for X, make sure the question isn’t:
The SAT is amazing at getting you to solve for some hard-to-discover variable or figure, only to ask a question that requires a different number or answer. And you better believe that they’ll have the wrong answer waiting for you – the value of “r” and “X” will definitely be in the available choices.
5. Don’t pick answer choices – kill them.
Here’s the funny thing about grammar: it’s practically impossible to prove a sentence right, but it’s very simple to prove a sentence wrong.
From now on, don’t spend time figuring out which answer choice is good – spend your time finding errors in the answer choices and systematically eliminating them.
Run through all the answer choices and slash anything that’s obviously wrong. Then, take the remaining answers and compare them to each other two at a time, paying attention only to their differences. Whichever difference is wrong should be eliminated.
Continue this process until you’ve killed all four wrong answers. This method saves time, eliminates indecision, and leads to much more accurate, less confusing choices.
Now get to it!
All of these strategies will make a huge difference in your overall score – but only if you put them to use. Grab some SAT practice material and try using all the tips above right away – you’ll be happy that you did!
About the Author
Anthony-James Green is regarded as one of the best SAT and ACT tutors in America. After working with over 370 students one-on-one, he’s achieved an average score improvement of over 430 points on the SAT, and 7.1 points on the ACT – higher than any other tutor, class, or course in the country. Anthony is the creator of the highly regarded online SAT prep program, The Green SAT System, and founder of Test Prep Authority, a free, online resource center for test prep and college admissions. In addition to writing for Test Prep Authority, Anthony-James Green also writes for Petersons and EssayEdge.
The SAT is coming up on June 7. Chances are that if you’re taking it at this point, you’re probably taking it for the first time. It can be a daunting thing, particularly one of the more frightening sections — the essay. Not to fret! Today we’re here to talk about how to plan and prepare for writing a sock-blowing-off essay.
(Tip number 1: Don’t say “sock-blowing-off”.)
We’re going to dive straight into the links this week because, as you may have noticed, we’re nearing the crescendo of the college application season and things at both Peterson’s and EssayEdge are busier than ever. Let’s see what’s been going on in the wild world of college admissions over the last seven days.
- A neat note from the Navy Dispatch: college admissions standardized testing (the SAT and ACT) is available free of charge to active-duty service members at their local base education centers. If you’re in any branch of the military and are considering college after your service ends, this is a great, great opportunity to take advantage of! More…
Hi folks! I’m standing in for my colleague Ryan Hickey in putting up the link roundup this week, and here’s hoping I can leave you with some savory tidbits to tide you over until your Thanksgiving Day feast!
Because news about the higher education world is exactly like juicy, delicious, tender, moist turkey, slathered in warm, brown gravy, with a side of stuffing and sweet potatoes and…I’m going to go make myself a snack, be right back.
Hey everyone! Hard to believe that yet another week has past, which means that we’re another week closer to more college application deadlines. At least that also means we’re another week closer to delicious Thanksgiving foods, whether you’re a turkey fiend, stuffing connoisseur, mashed potato expert, or gravy sommelier. More…
Ever get the feeling that days are somehow sneaking past without you noticing? You know, that feeling when you look at the calendar thinking that it’s something like November 4th or so but it’s actually a full week later? That’s exactly how I felt when I started going through the news this morning, so much so that I actually double-checked the date several times. Despite my incredulousness, it is indeed already almost halfway through the month of November and by the time the next one of these link roundups rolls around, we’ll actually be closer to the start of December than the end of October. The phrase tells us that, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” but it would be equally accurate if it said, “Time flies when you’re working extremely hard.” More…