SAT Tip of the Week: Your 3 Step Beginner’s Guide to Study Planning

SAT Tip of the Week - Full The highest achievers on the SAT all have one thing in common, a ton of preparation time. The grand majority of these students also have another thing in common; they used their summers effectively in terms of studying for the test. This doesn’t mean that you have to hit the books 9-5 every day and effectively eliminate any possibility of a relaxing and rejuvenating summer. In fact, that type of approach would probably lead to burnout and actually be detrimental to your test performance.

Instead, planning an effective and feasible study plan for the summer is a much more fruitful approach. Most students who are taking the test in October or November are Seniors, as Juniors generally do not take the SAT for the first time until the spring of their 11th grade year. Many of the seniors who take the test in the fall are veterans of the SAT, having sat for the exam before. This means that the summer can be used to brush up on skills and review the areas of weakness that were holding students’ scores down on their earlier attempts.

VOCABULARY IS YOUR FRIEND

One of the best ways to take advantage of the extra time in summer is to schedule a consistent vocabulary session each day. These do not have to be extremely time intensive, as long as you dedicate 15-30 minutes on a daily basis to learning new words and reviewing old ones. Vocabulary is the one thing you can absolutely memorize for the test, and if you actually put in the time it is like picking up free points. Unfortunately, most students during the school year have a finite amount of time and decide to prioritize other elements of the test. During the summer, this is not an issue and you can use the extra time to really hone your vocabulary skills. Not only are there 19 sentence completion questions that are directly related to vocabulary, but there are also tremendous benefits on the essay and within the passage based section that come with learning your vocabulary.

BECOME BFF WITH YOUR SCORE REPORT

Another great thing to do during the summer is to review your score report, and identify the specific areas of weakness on your test. On the College Board website, go to the advanced report which tells you how you fared in different sub sections of each subject. If data and operations seemed to be an area that you struggled with in the mathematics section, then you should dedicate study sessions to doing more practice problems and reviewing the strategies associated with that topic. The same could be said about understanding the main idea in passage based reading or identifying apples to apples comparison problems in the writing mechanics section.

POLISH YOUR ESSAY

Finally, the summer is the perfect time to work on crafting a stellar essay. If you aren’t in English class during the summer and actively writing, your sentence composition and overall essay writing ability might temporarily flounder. A good way to counteract this and stay sharp is to set aside an hour a week to writing two practice essays. This will allow you to perfect your essay template and get comfortable with explaining strong examples in your body paragraphs.

All in all, summer is a great time to jump ahead on the SAT. Using an hour or two a day or even every other day, will pay major dividends when the test rolls around and summer ends. Happy Studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: Boost Your Score Over Summer in 13 Minutes a Day

SAT Tip of the Week - Full As the last day of school bell rings, the sun is shining, the beach is beckoning, and studying for the SAT is often the last thing on students’ minds. It is almost certain that taking a little bit of time to not think about standardized tests is beneficial, but that does not mean that the next two months should be devoid of any work. With a work out plan, the two most important things are consistency and attitude. This is true of SAT studying as well. The summer should be fun, but in less than an hour and a half a week (about 13 minutes a day!), students can keep sharp on the SAT without sacrificing their tans (please students, tan responsibly).

1. Do A Few Problems Every Day. The time necessary to do three or four math problems, three sentence completions, one reading passage, three improving sentences problems, and three identifying sentence error problems is actually quite small. Doing twelve problems, three times a week, shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes per week and is a good way to keep sharp even if you are spending most of your time sipping green juices by the pool. Just make sure to go through every type of problem to give you some practice changing your mindset to attack different types of questions. Set a clock for 13 minutes and see if you can get through all the problems in the allotted time. Try to do questions you find challenging but not impossible. If you make careless arithmetic errors, be sure to include some easy and medium problems so that you can practice avoiding such errors. You can also start self-selecting problems that are particularly tricky to give you more pointed practice. Do those math problems with only variables and no numbers give you problems? Spend a few days focusing on those. If you are working with a tutor, you can also ask them to design homework in this way.

2. Every Week, Do A Full Timed Section. This practice is helpful for making sure you are dealing with time effectively. Many students don’t do enough practice in a timed setting, so the idea of being timed on the actual test becomes overwhelming. Help acclimate yourself to this stress by normalizing the timed nature of the test. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t finish a section in the prescribed time. Make it a race against yourself to get closer to the time that is required. See if you can make it a game to see how quickly you can do problems without making errors. Finishing the SAT in time isn’t an easy task, so keep striving if it is challenging at first. Feeling like you have a handle on the timing of the SAT can go a long way toward helping you to feel confident during the test. Each section is just 25 minutes at most, but by the end of a nine week summer, you will have completed a full practice test in a timed manner (in addition to all other practice).

3. Learn A Little Vocab Every Week. Developing a system for vocabulary with regular learning and reviewing is crucial to developing a great SAT vocabulary. Look at five or six words every other day and at the end of the week, review the 20 or so that you have learned. Learning five or six new words should only take about five minutes, and though this sounds like some kind of scam work out product, just five minutes a day can produce fantastic results. In nine weeks students can add 200 vocab words to their repertoire and have thoroughly reviewed the words they already know. If you are using vocabulary lists in the SAT 2400 In Just 7 Steps book by Shaan Patel, remember to eliminate words you already know to maximize your efforts (though its a good idea to review all of the words, just in case). This method will actually prove extremely effective in creating long term memory for these definitions as gradual repetition is one of the best methods for forming memory. Challenge yourself to use all five words in a conversation the day you learn them.

The lower work load in the summer provides an opportunity to utilize your time for tons of fun activities, but it also provides time for other efforts (like college applications, extra curriculars, and the SAT). Remember, consistency and attitude are the two keys to success, so turn off all distractions, and use the summer to bolster your studying so you come out of it rested and ready to attack the test! We hope you have a wonderful summer, and thank you for letting us help you attack the SAT!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

 

 

 

SAT Tip of the Week: Here Are 3 Things You Should NOT Do When Aiming for a Perfect Score

SAT Tip of the Week - Full A lot of times, students focus on the things they should be doing to get a perfect score. This is a great attitude to have, as it puts the focus on students actively completing tasks. Many of these tips, like studying vocabulary on a daily basis and taking consistent practice tests form the foundation of a successful SAT plan. However, it’s also important to note that there are certain habits and strategies to avoid during preparation in order to get your best score possible. Here are 3 things you absolutely should not be doing if you want a 2400.

1. Studying Vocabulary once a week
Depending on your studying timeline and horizon, you will be learning anywhere from 30 to 60 new words a week. If you really wanted to, you could knock these out in one forty five minute session once a week. You would be able to memorize the words for that week, but over the long term this would be very detrimental to your score. Instead of this, you should be learning smaller chunks of words on a daily basis. By cramming them all in once a week, you limit the amount of times you are exposed to each word, as well as your ability to really concentrate on the more difficult words. There are countless studies out there that show studying in smaller chunks is the best way to memorize, and this is no exception. If you want a 2400, make sure not to only study vocabulary once a week. Even if you can memorize a decent amount of words, it won’t nearly be as effective as the recommended way for the 2400 plan.

2. Using your own strategies on practice tests
As the old saying goes, if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten. The SAT is not like high school subjects, where there are a variety of ways to get to the correct answer. The SAT is an extremely coachable test that students do well on if they follow a specific criteria of strategies. The biggest problem many students have is that they will learn these strategies, but then it’s difficult at the onset to apply them when taking practice tests. So, in order to succeed on these early tests, students fall back on their comfortable strategies that unfortunately do not yield the results they are looking for. It’s important to remember that early practice test scores don’t matter; they are there to build your skills. Don’t be so fixated on the score that you build upon bad habits.

3. Stay up late
Some students feel it is a badge of honor to push themselves to the brink in terms of SAT preparation and the college process in general. It is an extremely stressful time, and doing this has diminishing marginal benefits. Of course the more work students put in, the better they will do, but this is only to a certain extent. Sleep is crucial to the brain performing optimally, and ensuring that you get enough sleep will allow you to perform better on practice tests and sections. Space out your study schedule so you can accomplish all of your goals and get a full night of sleep in.

That is the true way to a 2400. Happy Studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: One Common Error You Want to Stop Doing When Aiming for a 2400

SAT Tip of the Week - Full A worry I often hear from my students is that despite the fact that they’ve taken numerous practice tests and learned new test-taking strategies, there’s just one section on the SAT that they haven’t achieved their dream score on. With only a few weeks until the SAT, a student will nervously reveal that although she’s improved on both the Writing and the Math Sections, her Reading scores haven’t jumped up. This student is especially confused because their study practices have been effective in all other areas – so why, they ask me, am I getting stuck only in this section?

Of course, every student studies differently, so working with a tutor or a parent who can observe your study methods and your test-taking habits often proves to be an enormous benefit. At the same time, in my two years of teaching the SAT, I’ve noticed that many students make the same mistake when it comes to tackling a “problem section” – they overdo it. The student who keeps missing questions involving circles and triangles, it turns out, spent hours last Sunday first rereading his notes from the in-class geometry review, then reviewing questions he’d missed on previous practice tests, and then finally squeezing in a practice math section before he began to work on the back-breaking load of chemistry homework due on Monday. The student who’s been struggling on the Reading Section has stopped studying Math and Writing altogether, and now does back-to-back practice Reading sections.

There are a few problems with ‘marathon’ and ‘single-focus’ study sessions like these. The first, and arguably most important, is that your brain simply isn’t built to pay attention to a difficult task for more than approximately one hour. This is because your brain has two main ways of functioning: focusing and daydreaming. (The science-y terms for these two modes are: “task-positive network” and the “task-negative network”, as described in this cool article from the New York Times.

After enough time focusing on anything that requires brain-power, whether that’s studying SAT Reading questions, or, as discussed in the NY-Times article, arguing with your siblings over whose turn it is to do the dishes, your brain is going to switch from focus-mode to daydreaming-mode, and you won’t be able to pay attention to what’s in front of you.

I know that when the SAT is a few weeks away, you feel like you should spend every spare moment working on your problem area; however, you’ll find that if you divide your “marathon sessions” into manageable chunks, you will be able to think more clearly when you study. That’s why I tell my nervous students – much to their surprise – that I want them to study less and to relax more. Rather than study for four straight hours, I say, study for an hour, and then take a 15 minute break – whether that’s going for a walk around the block, listening to a few songs, or having a healthy snack. Repeat this hour of studying followed by 15 minutes of relaxing two to three times, and then do something entirely different, such as going on a jog.

The second big problem with studying one type of question or one section for many hours at a time, without breaks, is that you’ll stress yourself out. I’m not kidding! You are already going to feel nervous if you’re not scoring as high as you’d like on a certain section on the SAT, and if you sit at your desk studying only the questions you feel the worst about for hours on end, you may continue to perform poorly even after learning new problem-solving techniques, because you will be too stressed to form new habits. Many of you are at the age when you are learning to drive: imagine if every time you practiced driving at night, your mom made you drive for five straight hours, in the heavy rain, without stopping – not even to go to the bathroom! Eventually, you wouldn’t want to drive at all. So, during a SAT study session, if you miss a bunch of problems on the Reading Section, sometimes it’s better to spend your next hour studying Math questions (or questions from whichever section you feel more confident doing), and then returning to studying the Reading Section, rather than continuously doing something you find stressful.

You may have heard the saying, “Stop and Smell the Roses.” When it comes to studying for the SAT, doing just that can make all the difference

Plan on taking the SAT in the Fall? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Here’s another article by Rita on scoring a perfect 2400.

By Rita Pearson

SAT Tip of the Week: 4 Ways to Rock that Reading Passage

SAT Tip of the Week - Full The Reading Passage is difficult for two reasons: the passages are often complex and you aren’t given much time to read and answer all of the questions. As I tell my students, one of the most effective ways to deal with this conflict between absorbing the main ideas in the passage and finishing the questions in the allotted time is reading strategically.

Reading strategically involves reading parts of the passage that contain the author’s main ideas, such as the introductory paragraphs, and reading parts of the passage that are specifically cited by the questions, all while answering questions as you go.

If you follow this technique, you often won’t have to reread the passage, because you’ll be answering questions that correspond to the parts of the passage that you just read. In fact, if you follow Veritas Prep SAT techniques, you will only have to reread the passage in one circumstance: when you are stuck between answer choices, and you cannot find any unambiguous problems in the remaining answer choices. Unambiguous problems in answer choices include assumptions or information not discussed in the passage, or hyperbolic descriptions of an element in the passage. In such circumstances, here’s what you should do:

1. Cross out the obviously incorrect answer choices. That way, when you come back to the question later, you won’t have to reread incorrect answer choices.

2. Skip the question – for now! All questions are worth the same amount of points. Don’t waste time on a tricky question.

3. Continue to answer remaining questions. It’s better to answer as many questions as you can. And sometimes, the information you need to answer the tricky question is in fact located later in the passage!

4. Return to any skipped questions after completing the section. Reread relevant paragraphs that cover the main subjects also referenced in the question. For example, if I had been stuck on the following question:

The author mentions the Blackfeet (lines 34-40) primarily because:

(A) they appreciated the plains

(B) they were experts in using the resources of the rivers

(C) they cared about the ecology of the plants

(D) river travelers learned a lot from them

(E) local people were in awe of them

Then I would want to reread lines 34-40:

The Blackfeet, the lords of the Great Plains and the prairie’s most serious students, would no sooner have dined on catfish then we would on a dish of fricasseed sewer rat. The mucus-covered creatures of the muddy river bottoms, the Blackfeet thought, were simply not the best the plains had to offer; far from being palatable, catfish were repulsive, disgusting.

Let’s say that in my first go-around, I’d crossed out C, D, and E, because the lines do not mention ecology, travelers, or local people. In this case, rereading can help me choose between A and B – neither of which have unambiguous problems – because I can now pay attention to lines that I’d only skimmed before, such as the description of the Blackfeet as the prairie’s “most serious students”. The correct answer in this case is A. The Blackfeet clearly used the plains for food, but their use of rivers is not mentioned.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Here’s another article by Rita on scoring a perfect 2400.

By Rita Pearson

 

SAT Tip of the Week: Here is How You Break Down Subject Verb Agreement

SAT Tip of the Week - Full Whenever I talk with students about subject-verb agreement, there is at least one precocious youngster whose eyes glaze over as they wait for something more “challenging”. As basic as subject-verb agreement can seem, even those students who have an impressive grasp of grammar can have a difficult time identifying the true subject and verb of a sentence. The best way to get good at identifying subject-verb issues, as well as many other errors, is to get good at identifying the parts of a sentence. Here is an example of a rather complex sentence.

“Throughout history, and even into the modern era, the upper class, in order to be able to identify the struggles of those of a station of less privilege, have had to be willing to step down from their ivory towers and walk a mile in a very different pair of shoes.”

This sentence has a complex structure, which makes it difficult to identify the subject and central verb. To identify the core structure of the sentence, it is important to break the sentence into its component parts.

“Throughout history”, “in order to be able to identify the struggles of those of a station of less privilege”, “from their ivory towers”, and “in a very different pair of shoes”, are all prepositional phrases with the most important prepositions in bold. Prepositional phrases, like all descriptive phrases, can be removed from the sentence without removing the subject and the verb.

“and even into the modern era”, is a subordinate clause because the word, “even”, is acting as a subordinate conjunction. This subordinate clause is being joined with the preceding prepositional phrase using the coordinating conjunction, “and”, and a comma. This all sounds very technical, but stay with me! The important thing to remember is that there are a number of phrases in a sentence that will not contain the subject. These include phrases that start with prepositions (“in”,“with”, etc.), subordinate conjunctions (“although”, “even if”, etc.), relative pronouns (“who”, ”that”, etc.), or participles (mostly words ending in, “-ed”, and, “ing”, that do not come before a verb of, “to be”, like, “am”, or, “was” ). These phrases do not contain the core elements of the sentence and should be able to be removed from the sentence without removing the subject or the verb. Another good rule of thumb is that if a phrase is descriptive and set off by commas, it probably doesn’t contain the subject. Here is the example sentence without these non-essential phrases.

“The upper class have had to be willing to step down and walk a mile.”

In this new sentence, it should be much easier to identify that the subject is, “the upper class”, and the verb is, “have”. It should be noted that many nouns that apply to multiple individuals are, in fact, singular. “Everyone”, “no one”, “the group”, “the company”, and many other nouns of this type are singular. “The upper class” is not plural, nor is it particularly helpful to think about those who make up the upper class as a single entity in the sentence. It would be much better to say “members of the upper class”. Voila! The sentence has been corrected! This correction has the added benefit of fixing the agreement problem between the singular, “upper class”, and the plural pronoun in the phrase, “from their ivory towers”.

The simple task of identifying the subject and verb can often be surprisingly challenging. While grammar is a complex system, by understanding where the subject and verb are not, it becomes much easier to identify where these central pieces of a sentence are and where the error might be. Happy test taking!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

 

 

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Stay Sharp Over the Summer

SAT Tip of the Week - Full One of the biggest barriers to success on the SAT is summertime. For most students entering their senior year, the summer represents the first time during their SAT prep experience that they will have a prolonged break from school. After months of prep, you probably took the test in either January, March, or May, but still didn’t get that exact score they were hoping for.

Some students fall into a false sense of security during the summer months and don’t stay sharp. The October date represents the next available time to take the test, and while that seems like a far off time in June, it’s actually just around the corner.

Staying sharp and actively preparing throughout the summer is an absolute necessity for students seeking a top score. In reality, it would be even better if students were able to take advantage of the summer months to advance their skills and take their score to the next level. However, sometimes, the allure of a break and “leisure” time after an academically rigorous semester makes students want to kick back and rest. Don’t be like the others, understand that if you want to get into your top school, you need a top score.

Understanding this reality, here are a few tips that can keep you sharp during the summer without truly overextending your mind and feeling too stressed out.

  1. Read Leisurely. Keeping your mind sharp and reading actively will work wonders for your SAT score. In general, students who enjoy reading for fun and have done it since childhood do better on the reading comprehension section. Even if it isn’t your favorite thing to do, picking up your favorite series or diving into a new fiction book is very helpful for the test. It helps build vocabulary, keeps your mind active, improves your reading stamina, and also forces you to critically think. All of these skills are very helpful, and will pay off at the end of the summer. Aim for one book a week. While this may seem like a lot, try it and after the first week you will see it’s no more than thirty to forty five minutes a day of straight reading. Make it easy on yourself by picking a book or genre you like to keep your interest up, and allow you to stay continually motivated.
  1. Study Vocabulary. Studying vocabulary is something you can do every day, no matter where you are. As this is the only part of the test that requires memorization, your performance on vocabulary is highly correlated to effort. If you put in the time, and make vocabulary a challenge, the summer is the perfect time to use this to stay sharp. It will keep your mind active for ten to fifteen minutes a day, and add consistency to your routine. Building this habit will allow you to snap right back into the heavier test prep once you resume that.
  1. Take a prep course or online class. Taking an academic enrichment course is another way to keep your mind active and it allows you to pursue an interest you like, or get a leg up on the SAT or ACT. These courses are less of a commitment than school, and you don’t have the added pressure of performing well for a grade. Instead, you can take this at your own pace, and the results are indicative of the effort you put in. It’s another great way to stay in a routine, to make sure your mind is sharp when the SAT ramps up again.

All of these tips follow a similar model; keep your brain active and engaged and make sure that you don’t lose all the progress you have made up to this point when it comes to getting ready for the test. Happy studying this summer!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: Breaking Down the New SAT

SAT Tip of the Week - FullWe’ve all heard it before, the only constant in life is change. Sometimes change can be a good thing? One could argue the Sammy Hagar Van Halen (this might be before your time, but they were a California rock band formed in the ‘70s) was far superior to the David Lee Roth Van Halen. Or for a slightly more timely example, one could argue we’ve yet to see the best of One Direction in the post-Zain Malik era. Regardless, change is a constant, and that applies to standardized testing as well.

Any time a testing agency decides to make significant changes to an assessment, there’s going to be considerable uncertainty amongst not only test takers and schools, but also within the testing agency itself. Contrary to what most students would like to believe, testing agencies don’t just dream up new ways to torture students for the fun of it. The reality is that changes are driven by end users and the market. In the two most recent mainstream examples of standardized test changes:

  • When ETS decided to revise the GRE, many of those changes were driven by a need to position the exam to compete with the GMAT exam in the graduate management space.
  • When GMAC decided to update the GMAT and add integrated reasoning, that change was driven by business schools who were looking for an assessment that would test skills not currently being evaluated.

So why is the SAT changing when it just changed in 2005? One might argue that the rising popularity of the ACT (more U.S. students take the ACT than the SAT in spite of both exams seeing growth) fueled this change. Others might point to 2005 addition of the writing section that was not and has not been readily embraced by schools. Regardless, the College Board is responding to a growing and dynamic market and a need to continually evolve in order to stay relevant.

Some initial information has been released around the skills that each assessment will evaluate, as well as timing and length and some initial practice tests. However, it’s important to note that College Board issues the caveat that “these draft test specifications, sample questions and other materials are just that — drafts — and will systematically evolve over time.”   Many updates are designed to “test the waters” to see how schools (and even test prep companies) will react. Technically no content is final or set in stone until the first exam is delivered, but as College Board releases additional material, we’ll learn more.

So what’s a student (and parent) to do? 

First, it’s important to think about your timeline. What year are you currently finishing? Which exam are you planning to take next? PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10,  PSAT/NMSQT and SAT will all be a part of the SAT Suite of Assessments.  While there are some companies that have begun to develop materials based on the initial samples questions, Veritas Prep is waiting until more concrete test specifications are released before developing new curriculum. However, that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck. There is core content that the SAT tests such as algebra and reading passages, and Veritas Prep has plenty of expertise with those skills. How you’re asked to respond e.g. multiple choice, student-produced response, etc is irrelevant, especially knowing that even some response channels / mechanisms are up for debate.

So in the mean time, there are a few things you can do

  1. READ! College Board is touting less vocabulary and more “words in context” questions. Students who are taking the SAT during / after March 2016 should spend time learning the building blocks of words such as Greek and Latin roots, English prefixes and suffixes and then reading as much as possible to see how words are used in various contexts. The Economist and The Wall Street Journal are two great examples. And remember reading doesn’t have to be limited to paragraphs. Find articles that include graphs that might appear on the math section and practice interpreting the data.
  1. Focus on mathematical building blocks. Regardless of question formats or proportional content mixes, College Board has committed to testing algebra, geometry and basic fundamentals. Spend time now re-enforcing those fundamentals. Know and understand triangles, especially those “special ones.” (I’ll give you 30, 60, or 90 reasons why those will be important!)   Balance equations, memorize some of those trickier square roots. Clean up the basics so you’ll be ready to tackle the more advanced stuff when it’s time.
  1. Brush up on those grammar skills. Remember, you shouldn’t write like you speak. And you probably don’t speak like you write. Spend some time refreshing those grammar skills, diagram a few sentences, and work on identifying errors and inconsistencies.

So in short, while we know a little bit, there’s still a lot we don’t know. But, take a deep breath because NO ONE knows a lot, and anyone claiming to know a lot is preying on the fact that the SAT is known to cause anxiety. For now, Veritas Prep is sticking to what we do best: finding the best talent to teach content and skills, not tricks. As soon as we know more, we’ll be hard at work developing curriculum that is in line with what the Veritas Prep has long been associated with: quality and effectiveness.

In the meantime, we do offer tutoring for those of you who can’t wait to get started on the new SAT. But as mentioned above, we’ll be tutoring those core skills from our other materials, not test-specific question types and strategies for the new SAT. For anyone already thinking that far ahead this is good news – we won’t waste your time teaching to a test that isn’t set just yet, but instead we’ll arm you with the necessary foundation so that when the new test is set you’ll have a much easier time mastering those nuances that the College Board is still busy creating.

Still planning to take the SAT 2400 scale? We can help! We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Joanna Graham is the Director of Academics at Veritas Prep and  former Director of Field Marketing at the Graduate Management Admission Council.  Her belief that education is a true gamechanger and should be accessible to all has led to her to spent more than 15 years in the standardized testing and admissions consulting industries. 

 

SAT Tip of the Week: Should I Retake the SAT?

SAT Tip of the Week - FullBy now you have received your SAT score in the mail. For some, it will be a welcome relief. You will have achieved your target score and can concentrate on college applications for senior year. For others, you missed the score by a wide margin and are dead set on retaking the test. For these two groups, there is no true analysis or consideration for taking the SAT again. However, not everyone falls into one of these categories.

Some students will have done well, but feel they can do better on a certain section or feel with more time and preparation they can get a substantially better overall score. Others feel like they didn’t put enough time in and are nervous about the time commitment the SAT takes, but still feel that they should take it again. There a ton of different scenarios for students in terms of thinking about whether they should retake it or not, and here are some important factors to consider.

Can you do a lot better on one specific section? Most schools, large public universities non-withstanding, take super scores. This means that they will look at your best score on individual sections, even if they happened on different test dates. So, your score is enhanced if you did particularly well on math and reading in May and then focused on writing for the October test. This is one of the tricks that allows your score that is reported to college exceed your abilities for any one single test. It is a huge hack on the SAT, and if you are in a position to bring up one section it is highly recommended to take full advantage of the opportunity.

Did you not put forth a full effort? The SAT isn’t like school. During a normal class you have periodic quizzes that matter to your final grade, so you are extrinsically motivated to prepare. For the SAT, the only score that matters is on the day of the test. Up until that point, students can convince themselves and rationalize that they will work harder the next week and on the next practice test. Unfortunately, some students will perpetually procrastinate until the day of the test when they ultimately receive a lackluster score. This happens to a lot of students so don’t feel bad if you are in this group. Instead, you should get ready for the next test and use the score as motivation to constantly improve and work harder to make sure the next test is reflective of your true abilities.

Were the test day intangibles off? Even if you prepped fully, there are those students who slept poorly, felt under the weather, or had a small desk. There are a host of reasons that could lead to a sub-optimal performance on the day of the test, and some students may feel like they tried their best and don’t want to take the test again. If something like this happened to you, it is highly recommended to retake the test. Testing conditions on average are pretty good, so the chances are high that the next time you take the SAT, you won’t deal with outside issues and achieve a score reflective of your ability.

There are many more reasons to take the test again, but here are three of the most prominent. Best of luck with your further preparations for the test!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

 

 

SAT Tip of the Week: Here is How You Break Down Your Score Report

SAT Tip of the Week - FullLast week, SAT scores became available online. Generally students focus on one number: the overall total out of 2400. Some will focus on the breakdown of the three sections: reading comprehension, writing, and math to see which areas they excelled in and which still need work. This bird’s eye view evaluation is a good way to measure your overall progress in terms of your score, but looking at it from such a distant perspective does not give you the tools you need to improve for the next test.

In order to do this, the best thing you can do is look even deeper into the section breakdowns, to look at the types of questions you missed and which specific areas you should devote more time to, and which you can be confident in for future tests. Areas are specific. It’s not just how many math problems you got correct, but actually figuring out how many geometry type questions you got right and how many you missed. An evaluation at this level will provide the insight necessary to allow you to succeed.

For writing, it’s helpful to break down your essay as well as the multiple choice questions. The essay is a more holistic review. Look at your score, and reread the essay from a grader’s perspective. Was your word choice too simplistic? Was your organization of paragraphs confusing or did it flow? Identify the areas of weakness, and make a note to start honing in on these facets of the essay for future practice tests. At this point you know what your strengths are on the essay; it’s time to improve the weaknesses.

In terms of the multiple choice section, figure out which specific skills you are good at, and which you need help with. If you scored exceptionally well on grammatical relationships between words, but struggled on phrases and clauses, then that is the area you should devote the majority of your preparation time moving forward. While it may be easier and more fun to reinforce your strengths, the true score growth comes from carefully targeting your weaknesses and making sure you are able to improve on them on future practice tests and the real thing.

For math, you should see how you did on the easy questions vs the medium and hard ones. The best thing to do to raise your score is to make sure you answer all the easy ones correctly. If you are still making errors, do your best to clean those up before moving onto the medium and hard questions. In terms of breaking down the specifics, it’s similar to the writing breakdown. If you are doing well in Algebra and Functions, but struggle in Data, Statistics, and Probability then do more data and statistics problems.

Finally, for reading the first thing to do is check out how many sentence completion problems you got wrong. If you got less than 17 out of 19, the first thing you should be doing to move up your reading comprehension score is to memorize vocabulary. It is the simplest way to boost your score. After this, find if you are struggling with meaning of passage questions or literary element problems. When you do passages moving forward, be especially cognizant of this in order to improve your reading comprehension skills.

Your SAT score report provides a wealth of information; you just need to know how to use it. If you follow these steps, you will maximize the opportunities given to you. Best of luck prepping for the June 6th exam!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

 

SAT Tip of the Week: How I Scored in the 99th Percentile

SAT Tip of the Week - FullAs another testing season comes to an end. I want to share my personal experience on the SAT. After all, the first time I took it in high school was in the late spring – perhaps just like you!
I always have been fascinated by standardized tests. From ERB’s in elementary school to the ISEE, which is the standardized test Los Angeles private schools used for middle and high school, I was always intrigued by the questions. It’s probably a strange obsession to have, but for some reason I like to learn all about any type of standardized test and try to get a perfect score.

I was able to do that on the ISEE, and I really wanted to replicate the performance on the SAT.

I had been familiar with the SAT long before high school as I took it to get into a program in 8th grade. So from that point on, I was really interested in the test, but it didn’t truly pique until 10th grade when I took the PSAT. I scored in the 99th percentile, and my future college counselor called me into his office to tell me that if I had a similar score in 11th grade I could get a lot of scholarship money as a National Merit Finalist.

I began studying for the PSAT with the hopes of getting a perfect score. I made two mistakes. First was buying a company textbook as my guide. Many test prep companies create their own tests (not Veritas Prep), and these are not filled with official questions so they don’t give an accurate gauge of what you will actually do on the test. The second was playing high school football. I got a severe concussion that ended my football season two weeks before the PSAT. Not only was my memory spotty, I couldn’t concentrate for long periods of time. My PSAT in 11th grade was 25 points (250 equivalent on the SAT) lower than my 10th grade score, which ruined any chance of a national merit scholarship.

This was a disappointment but it also motivated me to give the actual SAT test my all. From January of 11th grade to the test day, I learned everything I could about the SAT. I took 15 practice tests, did thousands of problems, improved my grammar skills, and outlined a great essay. With a tutors guidance, I learned every intricacy, every type of question, and every vocab word imaginable. On test day, I got a perfect score on Math and Reading, but my writing score inhibited me from getting a 2400.

For about a month, I thought my 99 percentile was good enough, but something was still bugging me. Halfway through the summer, my college counselor told me I should take the test again so I started prepping one more time. This time, I only focused on writing as I wanted a super score 2400, because that’s what the schools I was looking at counted. Come October, when I took it the second time I got a perfect writing score and still nailed reading and math. It was one of the most fulfilling feelings; to put forth such effort and be repaid with the best possible score. It actually motivated me to work even harder the rest of senior year, as it showed me I could accomplish goals if I set my mind to them.

While this sounds cliché, that’s one of the unsung benefits of the test. The perfect super score allowed me to get a full scholarship to USC, which has always been my dream school. All of these reasons are why I am still so passionate about the SAT and helping other students fulfill their potential on the test. While some students get really anxious about the test, I like to frame it as an opportunity to really distinguish yourself on a grand scale. Take the challenge! Happy studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: Why You Should Take the 2400-Scale Test

SAT Tip of the Week - Full The current SAT is only available for a few more tests. In March of 2016, the College Board is officially introducing a completely redesigned test that will go back to the 1600 scale and have a shift in focus.

While the new test will certainly be coachable, there are a wide variety of benefits to preparing for the current one if you are entering your junior year. You know what is going to be on it, you have plenty of time to prepare, and you can put one of the more stressful aspects of the college process behind you before the second semester of 11th grade starts to ramp up.

The new SAT is still somewhat of a mystery. While we know the broad strokes of what will be on it, and the types of concepts they will be focusing on, the College Board themselves probably haven’t figured out the test in its entirety. With the SAT, and any standardized test, you want as much information and material on it as possible to prepare. The current SAT has tens of official College Board tests to practice on. It has thousands of questions and the strategies are finely tuned at this point.

The test in its current form is extremely coachable and anyone who is willing to put the work in, will have massive rewards in terms of the score. It is not to say that this won’t happen on the new test as well, it’s just that the current 2400-Scale SAT is a known quantity. It is a proven test with proven methods that work. While it’s not easy, it is a fairly simple plan that just requires time, dedication, and flexibility. If you have those three things, then the current test is for you.

A lot of incoming juniors are also worried about not having enough time to prepare for the test. While it is true that taking it once during the spring of your junior year and then again in the fall of senior year is optimal, it’s not the only option. Plenty of students have excelled taking the test in the fall of junior year. If you spend the whole summer taking a course and preparing, you will be more than ready for the fall test. Then if you want to take it again, you will have options for November, December, or even January which gives you even more time prepare.

Being done with the SAT by the spring of junior year relieves a huge burden of stress and anxiety for many college applicants. The second semester of 11th grade and the first semester of 12th grade are the hardest two academic periods of high school. If you are able to ease the level of anxiety by removing the SAT as a factor, it can make college applications and schoolwork a lot easier for students. Happy Studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: How To Attack Problem Areas on the Math Section

SAT Tip of the Week - FullThe SAT is a beast of a test, and not some seemingly ferocious beast that turns out to be cute and cuddly: it is a true monster with fangs and all. While acknowledging that the SAT is a force to be reckoned with, like all monsters, the SAT has certain “Problem Areas” that students tend to find more dangerous than others (the fangs and fire-breath, to continue our already stretching metaphor). Here are three techniques to help conquer these problem areas and thus de-fang our foe. OK, enough metaphor!

1. Learning Vocabulary: Memorizing vocabulary is time consuming, but need not be hard. Here are two good techniques to help memorize a lot of vocabulary.

Repetition:

Repetition really is the easiest way to build long term memory. Take a word and a definition that you don’t know. Look at it once then wait one minute. Now look at the word and try to think of the definition. Its tough right? Now take that same word and repeat the definition seven times. Now wait one minute. Maybe remember the word is a bit easier? Did you get it? If not try it again. Repeat the word and definition seven times. Now wait two minutes. I bet you can still recall the definition! This process can be used for a whole list of words. For some reason, seven seems to be a good number of repetitions to make things stick. Do this for ten words, wait five minutes, then quiz yourself. Reward yourself with five minutes of a TV show you love while you are waiting, just make sure you don’t get so into the show that you forget you are studying.

Narrative or Picture Creation:

Memory is aided by activating different parts of the brain. The language area is most used in memorizing novel words, but anything that creates a narrative or picture will help to create memories that stick much easier. As an example, lets take the word obstinate, which means stubborn. The sounds in this word can be associated with some image that both conveys sound and definition. When I think of this word I picture my friend Nate, except he is composed of a rock called Obsidian and telling a green peace worker that recycling glass is stupid. Obstinate: stubborn.

2. On Hard Math Problems, Start With What You Know

Here is an example of a challenging math problem:

DG May 6th

Each tick mark is equally spaced from the next, which letter represents –y?

 

The first place to start with something like this would be to plug in numbers. If I assume each tick mark is 1 and plug in 4 for x, I get x=4, y=-2, and -y-x = -2 . According to the equations, -y-x should equal 8. This is a bit of a pickle! Rather than give up, let’s start with what we know. If we define each tick mark as 1, than what we know is as follows:

 

x+2 = x-y therefore,

2 = -y or y = -2

and

x+4 = -y-x   substituting y for -2 we get x+4 = -(-2)-x —> x+4 = 2-x —> 2x = -2 —> x = -1

 

Let’s put it all together by putting our new numbers into the equations given by the problem. If z = 1, y = -2 and x = -1, our new number line will read as follows:

DG May 6th2

 

 

-y = 2 which would correspond with point C, and we are done! This question required a little algebra, but wasn’t too bad once we stated the things that were told to us by the question.

 

 

3. If An Error Is Hard To Spot, Check Nouns, Passive Voice, Awkward Phrases, and Idioms

Let’s look at an example sentence:

After a decline in the modern era of feminine characters that exhibit little agency and define themselves through their male relationships, there has been a resurgence with fictional characters that embody a classical form of femininity.

After reading this sentence with and without prepositional and descriptive phrases to see if an error pops out, the first possible non-obvious errors to check are noun agreement, passive voice, and awkward phrases. A noun agreement error is generally a problem with nouns that should all either be plural or singular, but are, in fact, different. For example, “The boys always wore their required trousers, but never their hat.” In this case “boys” wear “trousers” and should also wear “hats”. The noun error is not a problem with the above sentence. Passive voice is a reversal of normal sentence construction, often using the word “by”. For instance “The ball was thrown by John,” instead of the active “John threw the ball”. Passive voice isn’t always wrong, but it’s often stronger to put a sentence in the active voice. It is also important to check for any of the classic indicators of awkward phrasing like “being”, “is because”, or sometimes “having been”. Neither of these issues are present in the example sentence.

If there aren’t errors with verb agreement, pronouns, parallelism, redundancy, awkward phrasing, or modifiers, essentially the only errors left are problems of idiom. These can be really tough to spot, but they aren’t impossible. These are generally problems with prepositions, specifically prepositions that don’t match the words that comes before them. There are two phrases with prepositions in the underlined portion: “resurgence with” and “form of”. The phrase “form of” seems alright. You could put that in a different context and would sound fine: “Copying is just another form of flattery.” The phrase “resurgence with”, on the other hand, seems weird: “There has been a resurgence with new orders.” It should be “resurgence of new orders.” Voila! We have identified the idiomatic error!

These are just a few techniques to help with problem areas of the SAT, but, with a little practice, they may help to slay the beast called the SAT. Happy studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: Why the Clock Is Not Your Friend on Test Day

SAT Tip of the Week - FullTime is one of the ways the College Board tries to get inside students’ heads. This varies from student to student. Some breeze through only to find the clock running out on their Math section with four problems left. Whatever the case is, timing can be an incredible source of anxiety for students and have adverse effects on one’s score if not managed properly.

For those who struggle with the issue of time, there are two very common (negative!) approaches to time on the SAT.

1. You try to rush through in an effort to answer every single question. This leads to a ton of careless errors, and very lackluster results.

2. You feel paralyzed by time and concentrate on that instead of methodically working through the sections. This prevents students from finishing as many questions as they would normally, as they stay fixated on the lack of time.

Both of these approaches are very deleterious (SAT vocab word!) to your score. Don’t adopt this mindset! Here is the good news… time is a completely overblown problem! While not every student will be able to finish the test, the anxiety and fear that comes with not finishing hurts your mental makeup. This is what really drags down scores, not the issue of time.

Here is why: the SAT asks questions in order of difficulty for almost every section. The order restarts the grid in math section and in the large writing section, but on every other writing and math section, questions 1-5 are significantly easier than the final five problems. With reading, the vocabulary questions go in order and the rest of reading comprehension problems are jumbled together.

What this means is that students have a much better chance of answering the earlier questions correctly than the later ones.

As long as you are able to finish all the easy and medium ones, you are not at that much of a disadvantage. Of course it would be optimal to finish every single question, but the chances of getting the last couple right are not that high for the grand majority of students.

It’s much better to acknowledge that you may not finish those challenging problems later on each section and to focus on not rushing through the easy ones at the beginning. This is the surest way to leave points on the table. In addition, don’t forget, if you go through the hard questions and aren’t able to solve them but still put in an answer – there is a guessing penalty.

With reading comprehension and the essay, timing comes with practice. When students practice the essay and go through the proper preparation steps, they rarely have issues with time. The same can be said of really honing one’s reading comprehension skills.

Timing is one of the biggest issues students face on the SAT. By taking the test on your own terms, and doing the most amount of problems you are able to solve, you will be successful! Keep in mind, your speed on the tests picks up dramatically if you take practice tests prior to the real thing (try one for FREE by taking the Veritas Prep SAT Diagnostic Test).

Getting used to the cadence and pace of the test is extremely helpful in getting you your best score possible, without fretting about the issue of time. Happy Studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: 5 Quick Tips to Conquer the Essay Conclusion

SAT Tip of the Week - FullI have never met a SAT student who enjoyed writing essay conclusions. I understand that conclusions are important and I appreciate a well-written one, but at heart I’m in the same boat; even though I’ve been a writing tutor for several years now, I still think that writing SAT-style conclusions feels redundant, uncreative, and boring. Fortunately, conclusions aren’t quite the monster that we tend to make them out to be.

Over the years, I’ve figured out a few pieces of advice that have made writing SAT-style conclusions more tolerable, for both myself and my students:

1. Watch the clock: and be sure to leave yourself at least a couple minutes to write your conclusion. Too many students omit conclusions—and lose points for poor essay structure—purely due to poor time management.

2. Make them short: Extra length and depth belong in your body paragraphs, not in your conclusion. Just a sentence or two is almost always enough.

3. Plan, and apply, a simple conclusion formula–even before you see the prompt: Because conclusions are so simple and short, they can be templated (see SAT 2400 for details) in advance.

4. Be aware of the most common conclusion mistake: poor rewording. Nearly every strong SAT conclusion will involve some rewording of the essay’s thesis. Make sure that any rewording of your thesis does not change its meaning. This is more difficult than it sounds; even one missed detail or one misused word can change your argument, confuse your reader, and create inconsistency in your essay.

5. Recognize how important conclusions are: Your job as a SAT essay writer is to make every step of your argument crystal clear for your reader. If your reader has to analyze, infer, or draw conclusions in order to understand your argument, you haven’t explained your argument well enough. Conclusions go a long way towards clarifying your argument by reminding your reader of the most important parts of your essay, and distinguishing important details from core statements.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

SAT Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Pace Yourself to a 2400

SAT Tip of the Week - FullAs a young test taker I remember the terror of looking up at a clock and realizing that I was only halfway through a sixty question exam while my time had dwindled to a measly ten minutes. Many adults still have stress dreams in which they are running out of time on a timed test (how unfortunate that so many cannot even escape this dread in their sleep!) The SAT is a beast of a timed test and many students have a hard time determining how to manage their time while taking this exam. While the timed nature of the test is daunting, there are a few concrete steps that can be taken to avoid a panic attack when the words “five minutes remaining” are uttered on test day.

1. Practice Real SAT Sections With A Timer

This may feel like an obvious suggestion, but it is surprising how many students go in to sit for the SAT having never actually timed themselves on any full SAT sections. A person can do the SAT question of the day until they are blue in the face, but that does not adequately prepare a student for the realities of the SAT (its worth noting that doing anything until a person is actually blue in the face may necessitate medical attention). Being prepared for the SAT is imperative to being able to use time effectively on the test day, and part of preparation is knowing what twenty five minutes feels like and what spending too much time on one question feels like. There is no substitute for practice.

2. Brainstorm for 1-3 Minutes Then Plug In Specifics To An Essay Template

The time spent figuring out how to structure an essay on the SAT is time wasted. This may sound counter intuitive as structure is a big part of what the SAT graders are evaluating, but it is this reason exactly that makes the structure of the essay the first thing that can be systematized and recycled. Instead, use a little time to brainstorm examples and allow the structure to be generated ahead of time. Essentially all a brainstorm consists of is the position on the question and the examples that will be used in the argument. For example, if the SAT essay question were, “Is failure necessary for growth?” An outline could be as simple as this

  • Failure is necessary for growth
  • ex. 1 Steve Jobs was asked to leave Apple, worked on Pixar and other companies, came back to apple a better, more creative businessman
  • ex. 2 Columbus asked many monarchs for resources to go to new world, was forced be persistent and his persistence lead to discovery
  • ex. 3 Albert Einstein was potentially dyslexic and had trouble reading, left school at 15 an failed the entrance exam to technical school, but studied on his own to became one of the most influential physicists of all time

Once this work is done, the essay is practically written. All a student must do is plug in these specifics to the general argumentative essay template that they generate ahead of time and the essay quickly writes itself. Be sure to keep an eye on the clock in this section. Should you be running out of time, forgo the third example and get to the conclusion so you have all the pieces the graders are looking for (this should only be done as a last resort).

3. Answer Reading Questions As You Read

One of the biggest problems with time management on the reading section is the time taken to read a passage multiple times. Students often read a passage once just to get the gist of it, then go back to read it again to answer all the line specific questions. This is a waste of time. The line specific questions are in chronological order and can be answered as the reader is reading the essay. Simply read the question, mark the lines the question is referring to in the test booklet, read until a few sentences past the marked lines, and, finally, attempt to answer the question (thinking of your own answer first, of course, then looking at the answer choices). This technique alone can save a LOT of time come test day. It still may be that a student will need to ponder over an answer, but the answer is in the passage so learning to access the passage as a student is answering questions not only increases time, but also increases the student’s chances of choosing the correct answer.

4. Skip Math Questions Where The Steps Are Unclear IMMEDIATELY

For most students who wish to achieve at the highest level, all questions will need to be attempted, but should a student encounter a question where the way to answer the question is unclear, the student should skip the question immediately and come back to it later. The SAT gives equal weight to every question, so spending six minutes on one question and coming up with no answer not only hurts a student on that question, but also on every question that follows. A student should attempt to answer every question that they can, so if the student does not even get to four questions at the end of a section , they have no way of knowing if they would have been able to more easily answer one of the final questions. The test is in order of difficulty, but difficulty is relative. What’s hard for one person might be simple for another, so do not waste time being baffled by a question. Be baffled, then move on quickly.

*Bonus Tip: If you have answered all the questions that you feel you can approach easily, go to the questions where you didn’t know how to start and do SOMETHING. Write out formulas, label givens, eliminate answer choices that don’t make sense. Sometimes, doing the first step will lead to others and an impossible question can become quite simple.

5. Bubble Page By Page And Do NOT Focus On The Time

These are general test taking guidelines, but are very useful. Rather than bubbling in every question as you answer it, a process that requires a lot of transferring of attention from the test booklet to the answer sheet, answer all the questions on a page then turn to the answer sheet and bubble in all the appropriate answers. This has the added bonus of making it harder to get off by one question on the answer sheet because students tend to pay more attention to the number of the question when utilizing this technique. Also, do not focus on the time. A little glance at the clock is fine, but you should be so used to the timing of the test that you feel whether or not you are spending too long on a question. If you realize that you are running out of time, do not panic. Simply do your best to complete the questions you can with accuracy (though it wouldn’t hurt to glance at the questions you have left and attempt those that seem possible to complete quickly). Perhaps you will get one or two more questions correct, instead of getting all the remaining questions wrong because you rushed through them.

The biggest thing a student can do on the day of the test to make sure that they are pacing themselves properly is to practice often and to breathe! The stress of the day can make people jittery and poorly focused, but preparation and breathing help to eliminate these problems and prepare you to to rock the SAT. So get out that timer and start practicing! Happy Studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: 3 Ways You Should Study for the Essay

SAT Tip of the Week - FullFor many hopeful college applicants, the essay can feel like one of the most stressful portions of the SAT. It is not simply that it is the first section of the SAT, which is certainly stressful, or that so little time is allotted to complete the essay, another legitimate concern, but also that there is no way to know the question that will be posed and thus no way to know if the right example will pop into the brain of the nervous test taker while he or she is taking the test. These are all valid concerns for all the college hopefuls out there, but all of these concerns can be addressed by studying for the essay in the right way, and yes, you can study for the essay! Here are three tactics that can help alleviate some of the stress of this section and prepare students to rock the SAT essay.

1. Study Potential Examples

The idea of preparing examples for an unknown prompt is baffling to many students, but it is absolutely true that students can have examples prepared in advance of the test. The SAT tends to ask very general questions. It would be out of character for the SAT pose a prompt like, “What are the strongest ways to increase the market-share of a digital product using open-source platforms?” I’m sure that this is an important question to someone, but there is no way to ensure that all high school students have been exposed to the necessary information to answer this question.

The SAT is NOT looking for the single correct answer, they are looking to see if students are capable of making an argument in writing. The SAT, therefore, asks very general questions that can be addressed by a number of different examples. An example of a potential SAT question is something more like, “Is it necessary for people to sacrifice individual wants for the group to succeed?” The general nature of this question allows it to be addressed in varied ways. Most books, historical movements, or current events, which are the best examples to use to support a thesis on the SAT, are complex and contain at least one aspect that can be used make a general argument. Pick ten of your favorite books, historical figures or movements, or recent events and study them in detail. World War II is one that I have used, and it can be applied to nearly every SAT question I have ever encountered. In the above example, the sacrifice of individual soldiers, the rationing of resources for the war effort, and the use of women in the factories to produce the materials of war, which contributed to the US success in the war effort, show how individual sacrifice is necessary for the success of the group. I would fancy up my wording a little bit, but that is all the information I need for an entire paragraph of my essay. The test makers get that this essay must be completed in 25 minutes, so they are not looking for Shakespeare. If a student can pick an example that is on topic and say HOW it supports the thesis, he or she is already doing ninety percent of what they need to.

 2. Time Your Practice

The essay is supposed to be completed in 25 minutes, which is significantly less time than many students are used to. It is important for a student to get a feel for what 25 minutes is so that he or she does not get overwhelmed on the day of the test. Though it doesn’t sound like a lot of time, 25 minutes is plenty of time to accomplish the task of writing a simple argumentative essay, especially since the examples are already primed and ready to go. The real benefit of doing timed practice is that it teaches students not to get too bogged down with one particular paragraph or idea. Always err on the side of clarity over style. As long as the argument is clearly supporting the thesis, the essay will be in a good place. Don’t be afraid to state explicitly, “ this [example] clearly demonstrates [thesis].”

 3. Make An Essay Template

This is the real key to preparing for the essay. The essential make up of a five paragraph essay is simple. There is an introduction which presents the topic, states the thesis, acknowledges the opposition, and lays out how the essay will argue its point of view. There are three body paragraphs which use examples to support the thesis. Finally, there is a conclusion which restates the thesis and briefly reminds the reader what it has just read. This is all a five paragraph essay is! Because it is so formulaic in its structure, and because the topics are always essentially taking a side on some issue, the majority of the essay can be “written” beforehand in the form of a template. By plugging in this formula, it is easy to essentially create a template for what to say. Here is an example introduction using a template (*Note: the function of the sentence within the introduction is in (), and the information to be added is in []):

“The notion that [Prompt] has been demonstrated in numerous contexts to be [true/false] (Thesis). Though there are some who would argue that [whatever opposition might say], this perspective does not adequately reflect the intricacies and complexities of [topic] (Acknowledgment of opposition). ([General statement about why topic is important or why thesis is true]). Three demonstrations of [thesis] are [Example One], [Example Two], and [Example Three] (How Thesis Will Be Defended).”

The entire essay can essentially be sketched out in advance in the same way as above. By determining the structure in advance, more time can be dedicated to showing how the examples demonstrate the thesis.

By using these techniques to study for the SAT essay, students can virtually guarantee that in the moment of taking the SAT they will be able to focus all their brain power on clearly showing how the prepared examples show their thesis and not get caught up in the paralysis caused by stress. Happy studying test takers!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: 2 Tips to a High Score on the Essay

SAT Tip of the Week - FullUsing sophisticated vocabulary and writing really long paragraphs in high school essays has been a subject of intense debate. Some teachers love the added eloquence when a student includes a few large words, while others mark down for the use of a thesaurus and overstating what has already been written.

When it comes to the SAT essay, the answer is not nearly as ambiguous. Adding a few big words is extremely helpful and can even bump up your score. You will also want to be mindful of the essays requirements. Two things are important to note when tackling the essay…

  1. A few fancy words is the key. Turning the SAT essay into Webster’s Thesaurus will definitely hurt your score as the readers will see through this ploy and mark you down. Instead, rely on a few advanced words that you are very comfortable with and sprinkle them in early on. Three or four advanced vocabulary terms is usually sufficient. Using these types of words early on makes a great first impression on the reader, and if everything else is in place, it can truly be the difference between a 10 and a 12. It’s important to use these words correctly, so make sure you are extremely comfortable with them. The worst thing that could happen is using a word incorrectly in the first paragraph as that will be a terrible first impression for the essay grader.
  1. Think like the grader. It is important to remember that readers do not spend that much time on each individual essay. They have hundreds to read each day and spend anywhere from 1-3 minutes scanning through and checking off the boxes that help them formulate a score of 2-12. It’s important to make sure they are able to check off all the boxes. This means filling up both pages, creating an organized five paragraph essay, and using examples from history and literature that show the reader you are an educated student. Do all of this right, and you should get at the minimum, a score of 10.

The reason using advanced vocabulary is so appealing is literally everyone can add great words to their essay. It doesn’t take a skilled writer to learn how to properly use capricious, paragon, and inhibit for example. Advanced vocabulary, if used correctly, is one of the most effective tools on the essay. Be sure to organize your paragraphs and follow the essay guidelines so that you fit the “look” of the SAT essay as the graders scan it over.

Follow these two tips and the higher score will follow. It really is that simple on the SAT essay!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT/

 

 

SAT Tip of the Week: Become a Math Master Before Test Day with These 2 Tips

SAT Tip of the Week - FullA lot of times on the SAT, students worry about the level of rigor and complexity associated with some of the more difficult questions on the math sections. Some people assume that in order to really succeed on the test, they have to be advanced in mathematics and skilled in high level topics. In reality, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The SAT tests students on concepts from Algebra 1 and 2 as well geometry. At the same time, it focuses on quantitative and logical reasoning. There is no calculus anywhere on the test. The test makers do this because some students don’t take Algebra 2 until 11th grade. The difficulty doesn’t come from the concepts, instead it comes from the way questions are phrased. Once students are able to understand this and break down questions to see what the SAT is really asking for, they realize most of the math section comes down to somewhat simple arithmetic. This is why it is essential to have the basic fundamentals down in order to truly succeed come test day.

Simple concepts are one of the most important, yet underrated, aspects of the SAT math section. Here are a few things to master before test day.

  1. Understand the Relationship Between Fractions and Decimals

It’s good to have a basic understanding of the relationships between fractions and decimals. What I mean by this is knowing right away that ¼ is equal to .25 or ⅔ is .666 repeating. It goes farther than this though. If you can study deeper and understand that ⅙ is about .166666 and ⅛ is .125 you will have a much easier time understanding certain questions. Translating decimals to fractions is difficult for some students, but it makes solving problems a lot easier. This is something you can’t do both ways on a calculator. You can certainly divide 2 by 7 to figure out what 2/7 is but how would you know that .375 is ⅜ unless you have good facility with the relationship between fractions and decimals.

This will never come into play with an answer choice, instead it will help you get to the correct answer choice in an efficient and effective manner. This will apply to a wide variety of questions on the test, and is very important to master.

  1. Know Basic Multiplication and Square Roots

Remember third or fourth grade when you had to memorize the times tables? Well, it will come in handy again. Knowing right away what 12*8 is or that 9 squared is 81 will save you time and help cut down human error on the test. It would be good to do a quick refresher on all the times tables up to 15, as these are the most common on the test. It may seem elementary but I can assure you that it is extremely helpful on the actual test.

The squares come into handy when figuring out Pythagorean theorem or looking at squares. Anytime you can cut down a few seconds on the calculator or writing out simple multiplication will leave extra time for other problems and checking your work.

Master these two things, you’ll fly through the math section on the SAT! Happy Studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

 

SAT Tip of the Week: Do It… NOW!

SAT Tip of the Week - FullJust Do It has long been Nike’s slogan in their advertising campaigns. While they refer to training for sports and fitness, a similar sentiment can be applied to studying for the SAT. Instead of Just Do It, the best advice someone can give you for the SAT is to Do It Now.

When preparing for the SAT, so often students get overwhelmed by the various homework assignments, vocabulary words, and practice tests that they end up putting everything off and not getting work done. Instead of looking at everything you need to do, the better way to prepare for the test is to just look at what you have to do for the day. Day by day, you will accomplish small tasks that, all combined, will ultimately equal the large task. When you are able to do this successfully, you then are better prepped for the actual test and have a much higher likelihood of scoring highly. Here are three areas where you should repeat to yourself, “Do it Now!”

PRACTICE SECTIONS: A lot of times, students will do practice sections without timing themselves or applying the strategies they have learned in prep courses. This defeats the purpose of putting practice time in, as it just reinforces bad habits. Instead of getting worried that you won’t be able to remember all the strategies or that you will run out of time, just try your best. By saying to yourself “do the practice sections now” you will inch closer to the desired result. Each section done properly gets you that much closer to applying all of the strategies and finishing all the problems on time. Too often, students say they will do it right next time. This continues and continues until ultimately next time is the real test, and the bad habits inhibit a good score.

VOCABULARY: Everyone is guilty of putting it off when it comes to memorizing vocabulary. Since it is a somewhat monotonous chore to learn words that are not usually relevant to everyday life, students always say they will do it tomorrow. Every day it is pushed back one more day, and then a week before the test you still have to learn 500 words. Instead, the way to succeed is to just do it now. Take the fifteen minutes to learn five to ten new vocabulary words each day. It will seem fun when you are tackling the verbal reasoning part of the test, and you are learning close to fifty new words a week. By doing vocabulary now, you are setting yourself up for success in the long term and building strong habits.

PRACTICE TESTS: There a lot of ways to procrastinate on practice tests. Whether it is breaking up the sections on different days, or not being strict on timing, or simply not doing it; procrastinating on practice tests can severely hurt your test day performance. Instead of looking at it as four hour chore, just look at each section and do them now. By looking at it one section at a time, you will build up the stamina and attention to one day not be phased by a four hour test. This is very helpful for test day, as you don’t want to walk in on test day and still be phased out by the length of the SAT.

By applying the “Do it Now!” principle to SAT preparation, you will improve your chance of scoring high. You don’t have to conquer the entire process in one day. Instead just do that daily work now, and you will reap the rewards later.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: Don’t Read Too Much on Critical Reading?

SAT Tip of the Week - FullDon’t read too much on Critical Reading? That’s right! Passages are many students’ least favorite part of the SAT, and understandably so. Many, especially the longer ones, are dense and full of detail. It’s harrowing to spend five or ten minutes trying to absorb everything, only to have to read parts of it over again in order to answer the questions.

One great way to save time: Remember that your ultimate goal is not to understand the whole passage, but to answer the questions correctly.

Many of the details in the passage aren’t relevant to the questions, or won’t help you answer them. Some passage details will even distract you from the correct answer. Therefore, it is neither productive nor efficient to approach passage sections by picking slowly through every line of text before moving on to the questions.

Instead, read selectively.

Pay special attention to the introduction, topic sentences, and conclusion, because those parts of the passage are most likely to contain its main idea. You should slow down or restart if you find that you can’t make sense of anything you’re reading, but as long as you’re confident that you understand the general gist, there’s probably no need to worry. If you run into a few lines you don’t understand, skip them and come back.

It is helpful to read the passage before tackling the questions, but only for the purposes of grasping the passage’s main idea, which will give you useful context so that you can better understand what the questions are asking.

Once the questions tell you which parts of the passage you should focus on, then you can take time to comprehend details. Too many students waste valuable time by reading too much and too carefully before moving on to the questions. So remember – Don’t Read Too Much!

Save energy.
Boost your score.
And slow down only when you need to.

Happy Test Taking!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

 

SAT Tip of the Week: Here is How You Solve ANY Circle Problem

SAT Tip of the Week - FullCircle problems are one of the toughest things for students to master on the SAT math section. Moreover, geometry as a topic is always a cause for concern. Any type of question that brings in circles is difficult. Part of this stems from the fact that when you learn Geometry in school, you focus on a wide variety of quadrilaterals, proofs, and other concepts. But the SAT includes more circles and triangles, and less proofs and parallelograms. While the reference to simple shapes may bring you back to Pre-K, the complexity of some of these problems is anything but simple. Here is how the radius makes all circle problems easy to solve. The best thing you can do is to treat the radius like your north star. It will guide you in the right direction no matter what the question asks. Understanding the radius and knowing how to manipulate it in a variety of different problem structures will make mastering circles a piece of cake.

Radii are used to find both the area and perimeter of a circle. The area of a circle is pi multiplied by the radius squared. The perimeter is two multiplied by pi multiplied by the radius. The radius is also half the diameter of a circle, so knowing the measure of the radius can basically tell you anything you need to know about the circle.

There are tough questions that deal with triangles in circles, or circles related to squares. This is where knowing the radius comes in handy. Sometimes, the radius will also happen to be the measure of one of the sides of the triangle or half of the square. From here, you are able to derive almost anything about the square or triangle as well. While it may not seem obvious at first, looking for the radius in any type of problems related to inscribed or circumscribed circles will point you in the right direction. It is always the best place to start.

The final way in which the radius is helpful is in proportion problems with circles that ask you to find the measure of an arc or sector within the circle. A lot of times the radius will play a major role in these problems, helping find the total area or perimeter and creating proportions again.

No matter what the situation is, when circles are involved, the first thing you should do is find the radius. After that, it is entirely dependent on what type of problem it is. As long as you start with the radius, it will always guide you, just like the north star.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: How Do You Deconstruct a Pattern Problem?

SAT Tip of the Week - FullThis is a class of problem that is among the most dreaded on the SAT: the hard pattern problem! DUN DUN DUN [Cue dramatic music]! Though this type of problem is not very familiar to many students since it is not often specifically taught in many high school math classes, the actual skills necessary to dominate these questions are straight forward. The general set up of this type of problem is as follows:

R-R-G-Y-Y-B-R-R-G-Y-Y-B… B-R-R

The preceding is a representation of the different colored beads on a string. The beads follow a repeating pattern and the colors Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue are represented by R, G, Y, and B respectively. Which of the following is a possible number of beads in the missing section of the string represented above?

  1. a) 64
  2. b) 65
  3. c) 66
  4. d) 67
  5. e) 68

The first step in ANY math problem on the SAT is to figure out what kind of problem you are dealing with. The problem itself contains all the clues, we just need to be good sleuths and sleuth the answers (isn’t it fun when a word can be both a noun and a verb?). The biggest clues in this problem are the word “pattern” and the wording in the actual question at the end of problem. As a note, the sentence ending in a question mark is always a good place to look for clues. The pattern appears to be a six color repetition: R-R-G-Y-Y-B. We will get back to this later. The wording in the question states, “Which of the following is a possible number of beads in the missing section of the string represented above?” The operative words here have been placed in italics and bold. The question is asking for “a possible” solution, not the one and only solution. This implies that there is only answer choice that will fit the parameters established by the problem. We now know that this question needs us to figure out the parameters of a possible answer and apply them to the answer choices to see which one works (in other words, we will be testing answer choices).

Step one is complete, now we simply must determine what the parameters of a correct answer are. The question states that there is a repeating pattern. Often times, a pattern problem is testing the ability of the test taker to make an inference about the pattern or to determine which answers fit the pattern. A good place to start in a problem like this is to simply fill in the missing pieces as if the pattern continued normally to create a continuous string. Let’s do that and see if it reveals anything about the pattern.

R-R-G-Y-Y-B-R-R-G-Y-Y-B-R-R-G-Y-Y- B-R-R

The missing pieces are in bold italics above. So did we reveal anything? It seems that the smallest possible number of beads that could be inserted to finish the pattern is five. This is important! The missing piece is five beads or larger. After examining the answer choices, we still cannot eliminate anything, but it is a start. The most important thing about patterns is that they repeat, so what would be the second smallest number of beads possible to complete the pattern?

R-R-G-Y-Y-B-R-R-G-Y-Y-B-R-R-G-Y-Y-B-R-R-G-Y-Y- B-R-R

As is shown above, another full repetition of the pattern would be needed in order to complete the string, which would make the missing piece 11 beads long, or 6+5 beads long. The next smallest piece would require another repetition and be 17 beads long, or 6+6+5, or 2(6) + 5 beads long. Aha! We have found our parameter! The missing piece has to be some multiple of 6 with five more beads added on! Looking at the answer choices, the only choice that fits this parameter is (b) 65. We have done it! Well sleuthed friends!

There are other variations of pattern problems like this on the SAT, but if you are able to apply these same strategies you should have no problem conquering this dreaded foe. As a review, the strategies are as follows:

  1. Identify the type of problem
  2. Find the pattern and establish parameter of the correct answer choice
  3. Test the answer choices to see which one fits the established parameters

You now have all the tools necessary to dominate these tricky pattern problems. Good sleuthing friends!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Get Focused on the SAT

SAT Tip of the Week - FullSingular focus is a lost art. Whether it’s studying for a test, preparing for the SAT, or getting a presentation together, the ability to shut everything else out and concentrate on one activity is almost impossible for most people in present day. The influx of technology, social media, and heightened obligations are culprits for this new phenomenon, which author Daniel Goleman addresses in his book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. Goleman, who is well known for his book Emotional Intelligence, is a psychologist who has spent years studying the ability to focus. Years after revolutionizing how people understood and defined someone’s “intelligence” as more than a transcript, he has also provided very interesting observations and notes on the ability to focus and concentrate.

Many of his suggestions are extremely relevant to students in both high school and college. They can help with preparing for the SAT and studying in general. The ability to focus is a skill that can be built and improved if understood in the right context. Let me explain how Tunnel Vision and Open Awareness can help you boost your SAT score.

TUNNEL VISION

The first myth Goleman dispels is that attention is like a light switch. Conventional wisdom suggests that we can turn focus on and off. In this regard we are either paying close attention or completely daydreaming in the clouds. This black and white thinking is outdated and fails to take into account the various levels of focus and attention individuals can have. One such mode is what is commonly referred to as tunnel vision. It’s the extreme focus on one subject while blocking out all other distractions. This is great when under deadline or trying to get non-creative work done. While it is a hard state to achieve, this is the perfect mindset to be in when learning strategies or vocabulary for the SAT. The downside to tunnel vision is cell phones and the age of information overload makes it challenging for millennials to obtain this state of mind. Additionally, tunnel vision isn’t necessarily the most conducive to innovative or creative thinking.

OPEN AWARENESS

The type of concentration that breeds innovation is what Goleman refers to as open awareness. He uses a variety of stream of consciousness authors to illustrate the type of mindset he pictures when explaining this new term. Open awareness is being in “flow” and receptive to new ideas, while working to connect the dots between seemingly disparate concepts. If a student is looking to write a stellar creative essay or come up with the next blockbuster movie, open awareness is where you want to be.

HOW TO USE THEM

It’s one thing to understand the two main types of focus applicable to students. It’s an entirely different thing to build the skillset that will allow easy transition between the two modes. Goleman warns of this exact problem. He offers a couple salient tips that are simple to implement and very helpful in building the skills to improve the concentration abilities for anyone.

When it comes to tunnel vision, the most important thing is to forcefully minimize our dependence on technology for essential time periods. Whether this means turning phones and computers off, or even more drastic measures, the connected networks age is terrible for focus. Paying too much attention to this distractions causes “impoverishment of attention,” which makes it hard to apply the high level of focus one needs to go into tunnel vision mode.

When it comes to open awareness, mind mapping and letting the brain wander constructively are helpful. Again turning off electronic stimuli are important, but in this case it’s more about trying to connect random thoughts and writing them down to bridge gaps. Enough mind wandering will ultimately lead students to hit upon their creative thoughts.

Focus is an underrated skill and one that, if employed properly, has a massive payoff. Tunnel vision and open awareness are two states of thinking that many students can achieve! Using them appropriately, combined with time management and dedication, will get you huge results on your SAT score. Happy Studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

 

SAT Tip of the Week: 3 Habits of Highly Effective Test Takers

SAT Tip of the Week - FullTechniques for studying for the SAT are as varied and numerous as the students who adhere to them. One student may swear that the only way to prepare for an exam is to study for six straight hours before bed once a week, while another might say the only way to succeed is to do two questions a day and then eat a grapefruit to help all the information stick. Though there are a variety of studying techniques with which many students have found success, there are a few core study practices that will create consistency and clarity within whatever practices already work for each student.

1. Create a schedule and stick to it.

This is by far one the most important steps in any task which requires time management. Scheduling time aside for studying is extremely important for doing the work necessary to really nail the SAT. It is easy to simply think that the SAT studying will get done when there is some spare time, but this de-prioritizes SAT studying and makes this important work easy to neglect.  It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. A half hour three times a week (that’s less than three episodes of Modern Family) is enough to work on vocab, do some practice problems, and review section specific techniques.  Think about it this way: a practice SAT is usually nine sections with each section taking no longer than twenty five minutes to complete. At a rate of three sections a week and dedicating a couple of minutes each section to learn twenty vocabulary words, a student could go through four complete practice tests and learn two hundred and forty vocabulary words in less than three months. That is pretty astounding!

Remember to stick to the schedule. Forgive yourself if you miss a day and pick up where you left off. It is far more important to stick with the schedule than to keep it perfectly. Finally, make the time you dedicate productive. The trick with setting aside discreet time frames for work of any sort is making sure that the work that you are supposedly dedicating your time to is the actual work that is being accomplished.  The internet is the biggest distraction and time suck possible when attempting to get work done. TURN IT OFF. Turn the phone to silent and don’t check email for a half an hour. The time dedicated to studying for the SAT should be just for the SAT.

2. Focus On Weaknesses, But Don’t Forget Strengths

The best strategy for SAT studying is to take a practice test and figure out what aspects of the test play to a student’s strengths and which aspects challenge areas of a student’s struggles. After this initial step, it is easy to study in such a way that only addresses the things that are difficult, but this can be a mistake. Say a student is scoring 640 on math and only 500 on reading comprehension.  It is, of course, important to work on the reading section, but if the student has a natural proclivity towards math, it is also important to not ignore the math section. It could be that this student tops out around 650 on the reading comprehension, even with a lot of work, but is capable of scoring in the high 700’s on the math section.  This is not to say that students should spend equal time on topics in which they excel and topics with which they struggle, but it is important not to ignore any section unless the student is scoring consistently in the 800 range. A good strategy is to dedicate two sessions to a topic that is more challenging for every one session on a topic in which a student excels.  This gives more attention to challenging sections, but doesn’t neglect any topics

3. Be prepared!

Make sure that you are prepared, both physically and mentally, for your studies. Have a dedicated space for studying and try not to use it for anything else. While you are in your study space, avoid even mundane distractions like taking calls or checking emails (see above). Pretend this is your sacred study space, and as such, keep it stocked with all of the tools necessary for studying.  Make sure that you rarely have to leave this space while you are in the process of working as this distraction can easily lead to other distractions. Keep snacks and water (or tea if you are like me and need something hot to drink) at your work space to avoid frequent trips to the kitchen or elsewhere.

Similarly, put yourself in the right mental state to do good work.  It may sound a little silly, but tell yourself that you are about to rock this study session. If you are about to take a practice test or do a practice section, tell yourself that you are going to get the highest grade you’ve ever gotten.  This is not a magic incantation, and it may be that you do not get the highest grade in the history of your studying, but putting yourself in this mindset of success, free from distractions, will allow you to succeed at levels that you might not have thought possible. Keep positive and stay focused.

This is a guideline for how to study.  The most important step is to do it! Start today.  The more time a student has to prepare the more time his or her brain has to absorb the concepts and internalize them.  Start today! If you are not good at setting a schedule for yourself, get a tutor and make them keep you to the schedule.  Also, be sure to emulate the conditions of the exam when you are doing practice sections, this way you will be totally prepared for the real thing when it comes along.  The test can be conquered, but every great battle must be planned and fought before it can be won.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAT Tip of the Week: Unlock Your Test Taking Powers With These 2 Factors

SAT Tip of the Week - FullIn the late 1960’s, Professor Walter Mischel at Stanford conducted a series of studies that examined the concept of delayed gratification. His research team offered preschoolers the choice of one reward immediately or two rewards if they waited for about fifteen minutes. The rewards were usually marshmallows and the study later became famous in popular culture, known as “The Marshmallow Test.”

In addition to being a fascinating study on impulse control and delayed gratification, the research is quite relevant to the subject of standardized tests. Dr. Mischel and his team tracked the preschoolers later through life and found empirical evidence that showed a correlation between the ability to delay gratification with the rewards to higher SAT scores, among a host of other positive attributes and characteristics. The ability to employ strategies that help delay gratification is much more important than what one did as a four year old. These strategies are learnable, and in that regard they are applicable to the preparation process in gearing up for the SAT.

One of the biggest barriers for many students is just to start studying. Every day there are so many distractions that pop up, whether it is social media, TV, or extra-curricular activities. Avoiding the temptation to immerse yourself in these impulses and diligently prepare for the SAT is half the battle. Enabling yourself to improve self-control will be helpful in all facets of life, especially on the SAT. Here are some things Mischel recommends and how they can be specifically applied to the SAT.

Make sure you are in a good mood. This one sound pretty simple and for good reason, it is. One’s emotional state plays a significant role in determining how susceptible they are to various distractions. If you get anxious just thinking about the SAT or consistently dread reviewing vocabulary, the first thing to do is change your mindset. If not, approaching it like a chore then it will be hard to close that Facebook notification when it pops up. Mischel discusses a host of individuals who were able to change their mood and improve their self-control. If they are able to do it with much more daunting tasks, then getting excited for the SAT is definitely within the realm of possibilities. Find something you enjoy in school and try to relate it to the SAT.

Focus on the intermediate and end goal. This is related to having a positive outlook, but it is a bit more concrete. Understanding your end goal (a high score) and the effects of that result, your dream school admittance, can help block out distractions. However, this can get old after a while and on its own is not effective enough to truly master self-control. It is also important to keep intermediate goals in mind as well. Whether this is increasing the amount of words you can learn in a day or moving up a math section score, keeping intermediate goals that you are constantly hitting will keep you motivated and help you ignore what is on TV.

While these are only two of the many strategies and tips Mischel lays out in his book, they are the most applicable to the SAT. They can be extremely helpful in getting you to start the process of studying each day. Happy Studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: This is How You Use Vocabulary to Increase Your Score

SAT Tip of the Week - FullA good grasp of advanced vocabulary can be very helpful on the SAT, but far too many students spend hours memorizing and digesting long lists of long words without seeing much benefit to their scores. Fortunately, the reasons behind this are usually pretty simple. Here are a few of them.

  • Poor concentration. Good memorization requires strong focus and regular, repeated practice; without these, retention is difficult if not impossible. Three hours of fully attentive study, divided evenly over three different days, is far, far more effective than a single block of eight hours of halfhearted or distracted study.
  • Poor memorization technique. Reviewing words already studied, constructing associations, fully grasping word meanings, using the seven-repeat rule, and other good memorization techniques can boost retention powerfully. To learn more about these, read the Vocabulary section of the SAT 2400 Book, or explore the substantial body of research on memorization. Here is good starting point as well: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060809082610.htm.)
  • Forgetting about usage. Correct usage is very nearly, if not just as, important as correct definition. Take, for instance, the simple word “debt”: saying “Give the debt to the bank” when you mean “Pay the debt to the bank” significantly changes the meaning expressed, even if the meaning of the word itself was technically correct.
  • Estimating definitions in the SAT essay section. An important rule: Only write using words you know. It seems simple enough, but is actually very commonly broken. Using big words can be impressive, but using big words incorrectly is worse than not using them at all. (It makes your grader think you don’t know what you’re talking about, and makes you sound less experienced with English than you actually are. It’s also very obvious that you are using the advanced word simply for the sake of using an advanced word, rather than for the purposes of conveying important ideas.) If you want to use an advanced vocabulary word, be absolutely sure you know both its specific definition and its usage. If you are even a little bit unsure of either, don’t use it.
  • Not estimating definitions in the SAT reading section. Because you don’t need to worry about usage and because you’re limited to choosing one of five words which almost always differ significantly from each other, you can choose a word as an answer choice even if you’re not 100% sure of the detailed definition. A general idea will suffice; just be sure that you have a good enough sense of it that you can somewhat confidently eliminate the other answer choices. For instance, if the only thing you know about the word “blasphemous” is that it describes something very negative, you could select it as your answer so long as context clues and other strategies told you that you needed a very negative word to fill the blank. Because you can estimate definitions in the reading section, I always recommend that students read through the definitions of all the words in their vocabulary lists that they don’t have time to fully memorize, because even a passing understanding of a word can be enough grounds to choose it as an answer choice with reasonable confidence.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

SAT Tip of the Week: Don’t Think Abstractly With Abstract Math

SAT Tip of the Week - FullOne of the more challenging classes of math problems for any aspiring SAT master is what we in the biz calls the “Abstract Problem” (it even sounds confusing). This is simply an easy and all-encompassing term to describe problems that ask for an understanding of a concept rather than an exact number answer. “But we have only been taught to arrive at a numerical answer to difficult math questions!” you might exclaim. The truth of the matter is that conceptualizing difficult math topics is very hard to do without some input of real numbers. But with the input of actual computations, even confusing concepts can become crystal clear. Let’s look at an example:

The daytime telephone rate between two cities is 60 cents for the first 3 minutes and c cents for each additional minute. The total charge is reduced 60 percent on calls made after 10:00 P.M. The cost, in dollars, of a 35-minute call made at 10:30 P.M. between these two cities is:

(A) 0.4(0.60) + 35c
(B) 0.4(0.60 + 0.32c)
(C) 0.4(0.60 + 9c)
(D) 0.6(0.60 + 32c)
(E) 0.6(0.60 + 0.35c)

Though this is not the only way to approach this problem, a good way to start is to plug in some real numbers so that we don’t have to conceptualize what this equation does. We could, solely based on our knowledge of how these kinds of equations are formed, construct the equation we desire, but we can also attempt to use real numbers to elucidate which answer choice makes sense.  Let’s imagine you are charged 10 cents per minute after the first three minutes (c =10 ). If you made a thirty five minute phone call, you would be charged $0.60 for three minutes, and then ($0.10)(32) for the next 32 minutes giving a total cost of $3.80 for the call.

That whole number is reduced by 60% because the call is after 10pm. Does that mean I multiply $3.80 by 0.6? If I did, the result would be 2.28, but 60% is more than half, so a reduction of 60% would make a number smaller than 3.8(0.5) or 1.9. This makes it clear that reducing by a percentage is different from multiplying by a percentage. If I reduce by 60%, I am actually taking 60% away, which leaves me with 40%, so my final answer will be $3.80(0.4) = $1.52. Now, all I have to do is plug in 10 for c and in all the equations and see which on gives me 1.52, which will be answer choice (B).  Let’s look at another example:

On the number line, the distance between a point whose coordinate is c, and the point whose coordinate is d is greater than 50. Which of the following must be true?

  1. c – d > 50
  2. | c – d | > 50
  3. | c | * | d | > 50

(A) II only
(B) III only
(C) I and II only
(D) II and III only
(E) I, II, and III

This is a kind of problem with which many students struggle.  With this problem, even more than the last, using real numbers will be very helpful in trying to find a solution. The distance between c and d is 50, this means that the numbers c and d could both be positive, both be negative, or one could be positive and the other could be negative. One or both numbers could also be a fraction.  Let’s think of some example numbers that take these possibilities into account:

  1. c = 1/2 d = 52
  2. c = 26 d = – 27
  3. c = -1 d = – 52
  4. c = -26 d = 27

From here, all we have to do is test the three statements with each group of numbers. Remember, the conditions MUST be true, so if any of these numbers doesn’t work we can throw out the condition. Condition one fails with number set 3 and 4 (both give negative values), and condition III fails with the fraction in number set 1, so only condition II holds up. The answer, then, is (A).

These types of problems can seem exceedingly challenging, but so much clarity can be provided real numbers into a situation instead of trying to conceptualize a problem.  So use numbers – they are there to help! Happy test mastering!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

 

SAT Tip of the Week: Performance Makes Perfect When Prepping for the SAT

SAT Tip of the Week - Full I loved martial arts growing up, but used to absolutely detest drills. My teacher always insisted on placing the most physically demanding forms at the end of each drill session, so every other evening I spent my practice time dreading the end of the hour. Today, however, I apply the same strategy to teaching SAT classes: I have my students complete an essay (for many of them the most daunting part of the SAT) at the very end of each 3-hour class. Most of them complain or groan a little, but many have told me afterwards that the practice was very helpful!

Why? Like my martial arts instructor regularly reminded me, study and performance training are two very different things. Study involves learning, digesting, and analyzing material and concepts so that they can be retained and later applied. Study can be scheduled flexibly, or timed to coincide with moments of especial productivity and focus, because the point is to learn effectively. The SAT involves plenty of study, since knowing rules and concepts in math, grammar, and writing are key to success. However, there’s a significant performance aspect to the SAT as well.

Unlike study, performance training—for a recital, a test, or an athletic event—needs to be done to schedule. Practicing when you’re at your best, your most energetic, or most optimistic probably won’t adequately reflect test conditions. When I took my SAT, loud and distracting construction work was going on nearby the classroom. This year, my younger brother caught the flu and had to scrape through the test on an early morning after having stayed home sick for four days straight. Performance training involves practicing regularly and at many different levels of well-being, since you don’t have total control over the circumstances under which you may have to perform, even if you study, eat, and sleep as well as you can.

One of the best ways to do this is to set a regular (and practical!) SAT schedule—a practice test every Saturday morning, five practice questions right after school every day, etc.—and to stick to it, whether you’re feeling tired, unfocused, or even just plain lazy. Waiting for the right moment, for convenience, or for a peak in productivity is dangerous. Not only because it encourages procrastination, but also because it can’t prepare you for unexpected moods or interruptions on your test day. Everybody has times when they’re not at their best, but the difference that sets the best performers apart is their ability to overcome those times. Best of luck on the exam!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

 

SAT Tip of the Week: Should You Take the Test in 2015 or 2016?

SAT Tip of the Week - FullThere is a new SAT debuting in 2016 by College Board. It is more progressive and will better reflect student’s intelligence and aptitude. While still very coachable, the new SAT will not be as easy to boost your score to such extreme levels as the old one.

What I mean by this is with the right preparation and study habits, a student can go up by 300 or 400 points from their initial practice test on the old SAT. However, on the new SAT, students will be able to see large increases in their score with the right tutoring and preparation, but 400 point jumps will be much more infrequent. If a student is still on the fence about taking the old one versus the new one, I would say it depends on how much one wants to prepare.

It comes down to understanding the type of student you are and in what way you succeed. If school doesn’t come as easy to you and you spend hours studying for tests, you will fare better on the old one. On the other hand, if sitting down to study for months does work for you, the new test is better. There is one caveat that exists with both tests. No matter how smart you are, it’s very hard to obtain an elite score on either test without a lot of guided preparation. The SAT is just not one of those things anyone really skates by on natural intelligence, even with the progressive changes. Here a couple key changes you will see on the SAT in 2016:

Vocabulary Words in Context:

On the new SAT, College Board says you won’t have to memorize a bunch of obscure words that you will never use again. While this is good for your sanity and productivity in the grand scheme of things, vocabulary provided a great opportunity for any student to bump up their score if they put in the time to prepare for it. On the new test the vocabulary will be similar to what you see on passage based reading now. It will ask you what the word most nearly means in context. Understanding vocabulary will still be a crucial component of the new test, but there won’t be an easy 50 to 100 point boost from vocabulary that you used to have.

No Wrong Answer Penalty:

There will be no penalty for wrong answers on the new test. On the old test, you got docked a quarter of a point for every wrong answer. That is not the case on the new one. This allows you to guess at will. However, if more students start guessing and hitting on correct answers, the curve will go up a bit. If you have prepared and wouldn’t use this new feature too often, I highly recommend taking the old test.

New Essay:

The old test essay was extremely coachable. Any student, with the right training could be taught how to write a 10-12 essay. While this will still be possible on the new SAT, it will take a lot more time and training to get a 10-12 type score if you are not a naturally gifted writer. It still can happen, but the new SAT definitely favors stronger writers for this section.

There are other key changes to the SAT in terms of Math and Reading Comprehension, but these will be just as coachable as the old test. What it comes down is if you put in three months of studying under the right guidance of Veritas Prep, your efforts will be better rewarded on the old test than the new one.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

 

SAT Tip of the Week: New Year, New You, New Score

SAT Tip of the Week - FullEveryone makes a few New Year’s resolutions. Most of them are about getting in shape, reading more, and other activities that improve one’s livelihood. In 2015, if you are a high school student gearing up to take the SAT, you should start it off with a different sort of resolution. Resolve to study one hour each day until the test on Saturday, January 24th.

Unlike most resolutions, this one is measured and specific – if worked on diligently it will result in tremendous gains. The SAT may not change your life, but jumping up in score by 200 or 300 points can really enhance your portfolio for perspective colleges. It can mean thousands and thousands of dollars in scholarship money and better odds for admission at selective universities. Getting a high score on the SAT is your chance to differentiate yourself from other similar applicants and showcase your aptitude to admission committees.

It all starts with this New Year’s resolution. Take the time each day to study your vocab, practice your math strategies, improve your essay structure, and enhance your reading comprehension abilities. While it may seem daunting, here is how you should break it down:

1. Start every day off with vocabulary for fifteen to twenty minutes. Whether it is learning new words, reviewing old ones, or doing a mix of both, this time will be well spent. Vocabulary is a crucial aspect of the SAT, with nineteen questions testing you solely on your ability to memorize and understand random words. The only way to succeed is to put in the time and learn these words. Fifteen to twenty minutes a day will get you on the right track.

2. Split time doing practice problems of the various components of the SAT. Aim for two practice essays a week to hone and sharpen those skills. In terms of the other sections, build up your weaknesses. While it may be fun to do all math sections if you are scoring in the 700’s already, your time is much better spent improving reading comprehension and writing. Balance out the sections, to make sure you are improving in every single one. Plus, if you are in the 500 to 600 range for a section, it’s a lot easier to boost your score than if you are already close to perfect.

3. Review old practice tests. Each weekend try and set aside five extra hours to take a simulated test that should mirror exact testing conditions. It will be well worth it!

If you are taking the test January 24th, an hour a day is 24 hours total (excluding practice tests). That’s literally just one day out of your entire life. Isn’t it worth it to spend one day to take your score to the next level? The SAT can make or break your college decision. So with 2015 coming in, make it a goal to spend one hour each day. The results will surely follow. Happy New Year!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

 

SAT Tip of the Week: You’ll Want To Avoid These Errors On Test Day

SAT Tip of the Week - FullOne of the most difficult things to teach students is how to avoid careless errors. Very few things are as frustrating as looking down at an answer sheet on the SAT and seeing that your process was correct for arriving at the right answer and yet some small error made you choose the wrong answer. Careless errors are in insidious blight on those who wish to achieve at the highest level on the SAT. Here are a few simple, practical steps that can be taken to ensure that you are being judged on your process not on some small arithmetic error.
1. Circle the answer choice. One of the easiest careless mistakes to make is simply answering for a variable that the question does not require. Luckily this is also one of the easiest mistakes to avoid. Simply circle of the desired variable or unknown and draw an equal sign next to it. This will ensure that you do not move on from this problem until you can complete that equation.

2. Check work as you go. Checking work as you go is not only one of the keys to efficiently and effectively attack the math section, it is also one way to ensure that you avoid careless errors. This can take a number of different forms. Mainly, this manifests as an awareness of what you are writing so that you don’t engage in any copying or arithmetic errors. If you find yourself to be a fairly quick math student you may want to attempt problems with two different approaches to see if you can arrive at the same answer. This is not practical for the entirety of math section as it would nearly ensure that you would run out of time. However, it can be an effective tool if solving a problem does not lead to a plausible outcome. Which leads to the next step.

3. Ask yourself, “Does this answer makes sense?” It is always important to ask yourself this. You will want to question whether the answer is plausible given the other numbers in the problem and the parameters of the problem. If the answer choice doesn’t make sense, or the answer is not represented in the answer choices, it’s a good indication that you may have made a careless error.

4. Use the calculator to double check arithmetic. In general using calculators to solve problem should be avoided as it can lead to calculator reliance, but using your calculator to check arithmetic can be an effective tool to prevent careless errors.

5. Refer back to the problem to avoid copying errors. This tool is the personal life saver. Another extremely common careless error is simply copying down the wrong numbers. All that must be done is to look back at the problem and previous equations to make sure that you’re copying correctly. In a glance you can see if you wrote a two instead of a three and change the mistake before it causes further mischief.

6. Be systematic. Use columns and lines to ensure that your work stays organized. Organization in the way equations are set up helps to ensure that no careless errors are occurring. This is actually specifically hard for students who are particularly good at mental math or who consider SAT math easier than what they are used to.  Because of this, many students do not work the problems as systematically as the hard Calculus problems that they encounter at school. This is a trap!  The SAT has many multistage problems that require students to keep track of a number of other derived quantities or details from the problem in order to ascertain a solution.  This is a lot to ask of a brain and can get really confusing if your paper is not organized.  Line up all numbers in arithmetic problems in columns, write out every step and look at what you have written to be sure it matches what you meant to write.  This practice of looking for errors will make you more vigilant and better able to spot mistakes if they do happen.

Careless errors are not “stupid mistakes”, they are simply mistakes. While it is most important that students are able to apply the concepts that they are taught in classes, a firm grasp of concepts is not useful if the equations do not produce the right answer. In order to make sure the right answer is reached, students must be meticulous and on the look out for their own errors. With this level of awareness, students need never again look at a careless mistake and will dominate the exam. Happy Holidays!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

 

SAT Tip of the Week: 5 Sources to Prepare Essay Examples

SAT Tip of the Week - FullAre you struggling with finding sources for your essay? You’re not alone! It can be challenging to find current examples to help you prepare for this part of the SAT. Check out these 5 tips to help you gain ideas to craft your essay:

1.  CNN Student News (http://www.cnn.com/studentnews/) – Hate reading the newspaper? Want to watch a fast-paced video instead? CNN Student News is your answer. One caveat: while the “fun facts” may interest you generally, they probably aren’t good material for the SAT essay. After all, how would you sculpt an argument about the importance of privacy based on the fact that dark chocolate is good for your heart? (No kidding, that was part of a video three months ago.)

2. Sparknotes Videos (http://www.sparknotes.com/sparknotes/video/) – Pretty self-explanatory, Sparknotes Videos translate lengthy plot summaries into animated 7-10 minute videos that sum up several commonly-studied novels. While you’re watching, be sure to have your SAT2400 Workbook handy so that you can note down full names of characters, the setting, relevant plot points, the author, and the time period.

3. History ClassWhy not kill two birds with one stone and refresh your memory on something (a battle, a major treaty, etc.) you recently had to study for a history test?  While choosing events – and this goes for your current events and literary examples as well – always make sure that the example can be “twisted” in multiple fashions to fit multiple topics. Several such multi-faceted examples will ensure that you are prepared to answer any question with ease.

4. Wikipedia – Believe it or not, several students each class ask me if “it is okay” to use Wikipedia to look up specifics of their examples. Yes! This is not a high school research paper where your teacher has banned Wikipedia as a source. The website is a time-efficient way of noting the details you need for several examples in each category.

5. Facebook News – I mention this one because most of you are probably spending hours a day on Facebook anyways. You might even be inadvertently aware of what’s going on in current events because you just can’t help but glance to that upper right part of your home page! Let’s face it, taking a break from the “OMG LOOK AT THE SANDWICH I JUST ATE” pics will not only help you on the SAT but will prevent brain decay. Seriously. I studied Neuroscience in college.

Lastly, NO NO NO personal examples! Do as much as you can to make yourself seem more educated than the average test-taker. Be sure to keep in mind academic tone when you write your essay. For more guidance on how to master this, check out last week’s tip here. Happy Studying!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Sidhi Gosain studied Neuroscience at Brown University. She tutored for BRYTE, a student-led program which pairs undergraduate tutors with refugees from Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. While she is currently pursuing a film career in both acting and production in Los Angeles, Sidhi is excited to keep tutoring students to beat standardized tests!

SAT Tip of the Week: 6 Ways to Master Academic Tone on the Essay

SAT Tip of the Week - FullThe SAT essay calls for a more formal and academic tone of writing than some students are comfortable with. Over my two and a half years as an SAT instructor, I’ve received an extraordinary number of questions about what formal tone should look like. Far too often, students mistake complexity for formality, misuse of advanced vocabulary or simply focus too much on tone that they forget the importance of strong content. Here are a few of the most common errors I’ve seen regarding SAT essay tone and how to avoid them.

1. Remember the assignment. Your job is to write an essay that expresses and explains a point of view. In other words, your job is to communicate with your reader in an understandable way. Clarity is always more important than tone; an informal sentence is always preferable to an incomprehensible or grammatically incorrect one.  Do not modify the tone of a sentence if doing so will compromise its clarity or correctness.

2. Academic writing does not need to be complex. The first sentence of this tip had a formal and academic tone, but was still very simple and understandable. To achieve an SAT-appropriate tone, simply avoid contractions, omit slang, keep your analysis as objective as possible, and avoid writing in first or second person. Ensure that nothing you write could come across as offensive, and unless you’re writing proper nouns, only use words that you are sure you could find in a reputable dictionary. Flowery language, needlessly long sentences, and overuse of allusions do not improve tone; usually they only inhibit a reader’s ability to understand your main idea.

3. Advanced vocabulary is only helpful if used correctly. Advanced vocabulary can leave a good impression on a reader, but misused advanced vocabulary is considered an error. Every grammatical error detracts from your credibility as a writer and can badly damage the tone of your essay. Before incorporating an advanced vocabulary word, be sure you know both its definition and its usage. If you are ever unsure about either, use a different word.

4. Read your practice essays aloud. Could anything that you’ve stated come across as offensive or biased? Would you feel comfortable speaking in that manner to a judge, an employer, or a government official? Do you sound respectful and confident? If not, you may have an inconsistent or informal tone.

5. Have someone read your essay to you. Ask a friend to read your practice essay to you, and ask yourself these same questions. Sometimes it’s easier to recognize tone problems by listening rather than speaking.

6. Identify words you would use in a speech. Imagine that you’re the President speaking to a classroom full of high school seniors. What words would you use, and how would you present your argument? The tone you’re imagining—both formal and understandable—approximates correct SAT tone.

Be aware of vocabulary, read your essay aloud, and know how to be concise and clear. Following this advice and you’ll be a master of academic tone on the SAT essay. Happy Studying!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

SAT Tip of the Week: The Best and the Worst of Online SAT Study Tools

SAT Tip of the Week - FullFree web resources can be useful supplements to your SAT study, but only when used correctly. Practice questions, essay hints, and sample passages vary widely in their correctness and helpfulness. At best, web resources can provide free information and explanations to aid your understanding of concepts. At worst, they can mislead and confuse students about the SATs expectations, format, and scoring system. Here are a few tips about making the most of what Google has to offer.

1. Check out the CollegeBoard website—both the student and the professional version. These sites are full of useful information about scoring, format, subjects covered, and average performance. They even include practice questions, essay prompts, scored sample essays, and test day advice. Many times while perusing the site, I’ve found interesting and useful answers to questions that I didn’t even know I had.

2. Don’t trust unofficial practice tests and questions. Many of these contain errors and most aren’t representative of real SAT tests. For example, some strategies that are effective on official tests don’t work on unofficial ones, and some unofficial questions reference concepts that don’t appear on official tests.

3. Khan Academy, Grammar Girl, dictionaries, and other reputable online sources for explanations of concepts are almost always useful. Even after two years of teaching classes on misplaced modifiers and semicolon use, I still refer to Grammarbook and the Purdue Online Writing Lab whenever I encounter a grammatical ambiguity. I also refer some of my students to various Dummies and freemathhelp.com pages for explanations of math concepts, since alternative forms of explanation help many students to better understand ideas.

4. Forums are generally unreliable. Though they occasionally contain useful information, more often they contain overgeneralizations, opinions, and guesses about how the SAT works. Unless you’re looking for reviews of test prep resources or a way to connect to other test-takers, avoid relying on these for facts.

5. Libraries, schools, and counselors are extraordinarily underrated sources of test prep help. Counselors can clarify the logistical and financial aspects of the SAT, as well as offer personalized advice about when to take the test and how to submit scores to colleges. Teachers can explain concepts that appear on the SAT and look over your practice SAT essays. Libraries contain plenty of different books that explain SAT concepts in different ways, and some libraries even offer tutoring services, practice tests, and test prep guides.

The Internet can be useful but we may miss out on resources right in front of us. Once you know how to identify what will truly help to support you in your studies (and pair it with a Veritas Prep course) you’ll be ready to handle the SAT come test day.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

SAT Tip of the Week: 3 Steps To Stay Sharp During The Holidays

SAT Tip of the Week - FullAs the holidays ramp up and the focus of many students shifts from tests to turkey, (or a delicious vegetarian alternative) it is easy to put studying for the SAT to bed for a long winter’s nap.  It is almost certain that taking a little bit of time to not think about standardized tests is beneficial, but that does not mean that the next two months should be devoid of any work. With a work out plan, the two most important things are consistency and attitude. This is true of SAT studying as well. Students can use these three steps (which should take less than twenty minutes) four days a week to help continue the process of conquering the SAT, while still leaving you lots of time to hang out with your great aunt as she tells you how tall you’ve become.

  1. Do Four Problems From Every Type Of SAT Section. In my mind this is three or four math problems, three sentence completions, two short reading passages or one medium reading passage, three improving sentences problems, and three identifying sentence error problems. Once or twice a week, just go through every type of problem to give you some practice changing your mindset to attack different types of questions.  All of this together should take about fifteen minutes of your day and keep you in the mind set of answering SAT questions through the holidays.  Set a clock for fifteen minutes and see if you can get through the whole section in the allotted time. Try to do the types of questions you find challenging but not impossible.  If you make careless arithmetic errors, be sure to include some easy and medium problems so that you can practice avoiding such errors.
  2. Every Couple Of Days, Pick A Section And Do Half Of It In A Timed Setting. On your other two days, pick a section and do half of it in a timed setting. This doesn’t have to be exact as the reading section can be difficult to split that way. But the usual recommendation is to do four sentence completions and a long passage (or the long comparison passage).  This keeps you sharp in making sure you are dealing with the time properly.  For many students, one of their biggest problems is that they don’t do enough practice in a timed setting so pacing on test day becomes overwhelming.  Help acclimate yourself to this stress by normalizing the timed nature of the test.  Make it a game to see how quickly you can do problems without making errors.  Feeling like you have a handle on the timing of the SAT can go a long way toward helping you to feel confident during the test.
  3. Learn Five Vocabulary Words, Review Ten Words. Developing a system for vocabulary with regular learning and reviewing is crucial on the SAT.  This kind of concerted vocabulary training will not take more than five minutes, but can produce fantastic results.  In just the six weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years, students can add 120 vocab words to their repertoire.  If you are using vocabulary lists in the SAT 2400 In Just 7 Steps book by Shaan Patel, remember to eliminate words you already know to maximize your efforts (though it’s a good idea to review all of the words, just in case). This method will actually prove extremely effective in creating long term memory for these definitions as gradual repetition is one of the best methods for forming memory.  Challenge yourself to use all five words in a conversation the day you learn them.  Show your great aunt you are brainy as well as tall.

The Holiday season should certainly be a time of rest and relaxation and I firmly believe that it is good for the brain to have periods where it is not asked to complete arduous tasks.  With that said, the slightly lower work load from school provides an opportunity to utilize your time for other efforts (like college applications, extracurriculars, and the SAT).  Remember, consistency and attitude are the two keys to success, so carve out twenty minutes, turn off all distractions, and use the Holidays to bolster your studying so you come out of them rested and ready to attack the test!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: Breaking Down the Critical Reading Section

SAT Tip of the Week - FullOver the last two weeks, we reviewed how to break down the SAT. First, we examined the Writing Section and then we investigated Math. Today, we finish this series with Critical Reading.

For a lot of students, Critical Reading is the most daunting aspect of the SAT. Whether it is because it seems vague and esoteric, critical reading can psyche out even the most advanced students. This is unfortunate because, in reality, critical reading is objective and quite similar to the math and writing sections. Overall, it is a fairly easy topic to prepare for.

Students make the mistake of comparing critical reading on the SAT to English class. In English class, students analyze the text and make assumptions about what author is really saying. In English class, there are a variety of possible interpretations that could possibly be right. This couldn’t be further from the truth on the SAT. Once students are able to get over this mental block, the critical reasoning section becomes a lot easier. Here are some helpful tips that any student can use to boost their score by a substantial margin.

There is only one right answer. While this is inherent in any multiple choice test, students often overlook this. This is what separates the SAT from high school English. There are no assumptions on the SAT. There is a clear, evidence based reason for why one answer is right on the test and the other four are wrong. Inference is key, as each correct answer has to have substantial evidence to prove that it is the right solution to the particular question. There are a variety of strategies you can employ to elevate your score but the most effective one is a pretty simple. Don’t assume. Every correct answer on the SAT has a reason for being right. Instead of trying to justify why answers could be right, a much better strategy is to attack the answer choices and prove to yourself why some answer choices are wrong.

Awareness of questions. The critical reading portion of the SAT is comprised of three sections. Two twenty five minute sections and one twenty minute section. There are two types of questions in critical reading. Sentence competition questions which deal with vocabulary, followed by passage based reading which deal with reading comprehension. There are nineteen total questions that deal with sentence completion, in addition to a few passage based reading questions that deal primarily with vocab. Each sentence completion question tests you on either five or ten vocabulary words. All in all, this means that the SAT is testing you on anywhere between ninety five and one hundred ninety vocabulary words. These are words that have, for the large majority, been used on past tests.

Memorize Vocabulary. Vocabulary is the easiest place to go up on the test. You can prepare for this part of critical reading by memorizing the vocabulary words most likely to appear on the test. This is a simple process and the only real part of the SAT that is based purely on memorization. However, just because it is simple does not mean it is easy. To really excel on the SAT vocab, it requires fifteen to thirty minutes a day of memorizing new words and reviewing old ones. If you really nail down these words, you can see a tremendous boost in your score just by answering four or five more vocabulary questions correctly.

If you study vocabulary and avoid making assumptions, there is no reason why your critical reading score will not increase by leaps and bounds. Happy studying and best of luck as you prepare for the December 6th SAT test!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: Breaking Down the Math Section

SAT Tip of the Week - Full Last week, we discussed how to break down the Writing Section of the SAT. Today, we’re focusing on Math.

Anyone can get an 800 on SAT Math. It doesn’t matter if you struggle just to get through class in high school or you’ve tested out of advanced Calculus. The content of the SAT Math section is designed in a completely different manner than that of conventional math class. This is good news for anyone who wants a high score on the SAT. This means regardless of how you might fare in class, you can succeed on the math section . All it takes is knowledge of Algebra I and II, Geometry, and basic arithmetic. If you have all that down (and work hard to understand patterns of SAT questions) you will be on the road to success! Here are some helpful tips that will assist you dominate the SAT math sections.

ORDER AND DIFFICULTY. There are three sections on the test. There is one twenty five minute, twenty question section (all multiple choice). There will be another twenty five minute, eighteen question section (eight multiple choice and ten grid in questions). Finally, you will have a twenty minute, sixteen question section near the end of the test composed solely of multiple choice questions.

The SAT math questions follow the “order of difficulty rule.” More specifically, question one is the easiest and question twenty is the hardest. The same rule follows on the sixteen question, twenty minute section. The order of difficulty resets on the grid in section, with questions increasing in difficulty from one to eight and then restarting from nine to eighteen. The one caveat to this rule is when you have a graph of table and two questions referring to the example. In this case the first question is fairly easy and the second question is significantly more difficult. If you find yourself having trouble with these remember that the question is generally more challenging than the normal question for that stage of the test. These types of questions appear almost always near the middle of a section.

TYPES OF QUESTIONS. It’s important to be aware of where each question lies on the spectrum of the test. If a question is in the early stages and you are having trouble with it, it is fair to say you are probably doing something wrong. These questions are usually pretty easy and only take a step or two to solve. On the other hand, if there is a question near the end of the test and you solve it pretty quickly, you might have fallen into a trap laid by the SAT. These questions are multi-step problems that require a level of critical analysis before using math to find the answer.

In addition to the order of difficulty it is helpful to be cognizant of the type of questions that come up on the test. A lot of times, a more difficult question will deal with geometric figures. Occasionally, this will be asking for the volume of a cylinder or something of that nature. However, the bulk of these types of questions deal with circles. The circles can have circumscribed squares or triangles, they can be on graphs, or they can be asking for the arc, radius, or area of segments. Whatever the case may be, it will serve you very well to familiarize yourself with the difficult circle questions. Many students are able to solve one or two difficult questions each test just from practicing the multiple variations of these types of problems.

CONCEPTUAL TRICKS. In addition to geometric figures, the SAT will also try to get you with abstract concepts through the use of multiple variables. The best thing to do in this case is to plug in numbers for the variables. Whenever you do this it takes abstract ideas and turns them into concrete concepts. Doing this helps you avoid traps the SAT sets knowing students will try to solve these problems using letters instead of numbers.

If you understand the structure of the test, do enough practice tests and sections, and remember to study geometric figures and plug in numbers, there is no doubt you will succeed on the Math sections of the SAT.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: Breaking Down the Writing Section

SAT Tip of the Week - FullFor many students, the writing portion of the SAT is the easiest section to study and prepare for. There a variety of contributing factors towards this phenomenon, but most importantly is the set structure of the writing sections.

Every test will start with the essay. Every test will end with a ten minute, fourteen question writing section. Somewhere in between section two and section seven will be a twenty five minute, thirty five question section. If there are two, you can quickly identify that the writing portion is the experimental section on the test.

The structure provides a measure of comfort to students as they prep for the test. While the math and reading comprehension sections are also fairly predictable, they still have a degree of variability that is not present in writing. Students feel more assured as they enter the test, knowing it will start and end the same way all of the practice tests have. This mental boost plays a major role in helping students get in the right mindset to succeed on the writing section. In addition to this inherent bonus, there are some other easy tips and tricks that can help any student significantly improve their score.

Come in with your essay already written. The prompt is not revealed ahead of time. However, SAT prompts almost exclusively focus on very broad topics. If you have solid examples ahead of time that you feel comfortable applying in any context, you will ace the essay. It is best to use a variety of examples, pulling from current events as well as your education in literature and history.

Most essays should follow the same template on the SAT. The only real difference between practice essays and your real one will be the explanation of your evidence. You should have a template that you feel comfortable with and have it ready to go prior to the test. This will substantially boost your essay performance. Additionally, when you leave the first section feeling great about the test, it can pay off later as you will be mentally engaged and ready to conquer the meat of the test.

Use order of difficulty to your advantage. On the two writing multiple choice sections of the test, the order of difficulty increases as the questions continue. On the twenty five minute section of the test, numbers one through eleven increase in difficulty on each problem. It restarts and continues from number twelve to twenty nine. Thirty through thirty five are improving paragraphs, and the rule does not continue there. On section ten, it will be a straight increase as number one will be the easiest and fourteen the hardest.

While it’s pretty simple to understand this, taking advantage of this structure is a bit harder. Knowing this, it is important to do all the easy ones first. You don’t want to leave any points on the table by spending too much time on a difficult one, and not having time to even analyze an easier question. Furthermore, sometimes some of the more difficult questions will seem like they have no error. A lot of times, these are idiom type questions and are harder to spot errors. Be cognizant of this fact and really examine the question in detail. That being said, if nothing sounds wrong don’t hesitate to go with no error as there are generally a few questions that are correct.

Ignore prepositional phrases. This is something you should be doing on almost every question. I see the most benefit on these with subject-verb agreement questions. There will be three or four questions on each test where the error becomes readily apparent the minute you ignore the prepositional phrase. Just from these questions, you can see a tremendous jump in your scores.

Knowing all this, with a lot of practice and preparation, every student has the ability to ace the writing section. Best of luck and happy studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: Why You Should Take Our Live Online Class

SAT Tip of the Week - FullThe future is now, and that does not simply mean that we must all Instagram pictures of puppies  wearing hats on an hourly schedule (that said, it would be a shame to keep such pictures to yourself). There has never been a greater capability of connecting with people across the globe, and this means that learning does not simply have to take place in an “in person” classroom.  Live Online classes and tutoring allows eager students to access the best educational methods for SAT prep.

1. What is this technology?

Online platforms are not simply a Facetime call. They are actual online classrooms that utilize the same tools of an in person classroom but from the convenience of the students own home.  From virtual whiteboards that can be manipulated, to file sharing that allows green transfers without printing. These classrooms can feel just as intimate as some regular classrooms, and more intimate than many others. Online classrooms provide an avenue for real time responses to questions, voice and video communication, and the ability to pose questions without raising a hand or disrupting the flow of a lesson via chat and private messaging functions. As a teacher, I am able to simultaneously use multimedia resources, including videos, 3D models, and Powerpoint presentations, while commenting and expanding on these ideas through the video and audio chatting.  The most astounding part of all of this is that it all can happen from anywhere that has an internet connection and can incorporate the vastness of internet resources into the lesson.

2. What are the benefits?

The greatest benefit of all of this is convenience.  I know as an instructor, a huge portion of my time is devoted to scheduling when to meet with my students, which must incorporate travel time, the potentiality of traffic at different times of day, and many other logistical considerations.  This is also a big issue with my students, many of whom are jetting from soccer to violin lessons and after to some charitable work before trying to make it to a tutoring session.  Imagine if just the time in the car or train could be eliminated from a few of these activities?  Online learning can be done from home, school, or sitting by the soccer field with a wireless hotspot.  This saved time can equal hours more constructive work time or even a few more hours of much needed sleep. Online learning can also provide real time feedback for work.  I can have my students do practice problems or even full sections from standardized tests and have access to what they missed and what topics should be covered in seconds.

This type of digital learning can connect some of the best teachers in the world, not simply with students in their close communities, but with anyone who has access to an internet connection.  I have personally worked with students from the Dominican Republic, Chile, Switzerland, and throughout the United States.  Many locations do not have a large number of instructors with the same familiarity with the material and experience in teaching these fields that the instructors at a highly effective organization like Veritas Prep possess. Many of the Veritas instructional practices that I have found most useful are difficult to convey to students who don’t live close enough to facilitate a face to face meeting with an instructor unless these online tools can be utilized.  Because of the convenience of this type of meeting, online learning also tends to be more cost effective for many students.

3. How can you troubleshoot?

It used to be the case that online learning was very passive and did not allow for participation from students.  Now, this is no longer the case.  While it can still be tricky to not have the ability to go around a classroom and examine work being done, with web cams and still cameras, students can simply show me their processes and I can diagnose issues with approach or method and demonstrate an improved method in real time.  It used to be that it was a challenge to obtain a reliable internet connection.  Now that the internet has become so ubiquitous, if I have some technical issue with my computer or my internet connection, I can simply switch locations to a nearby coffee shop, or move to another device to conduct my lesson.  As time goes by and internet distribution technologies become even better, these problems will only become less and less frequent.

The potential applications of the widespread use of cameras, microphones, and wireless information transfers are limitless, but with education the ability to utilize these to aid with didactic processes is now.  For anyone who is on the fence about this technology, I would encourage giving it a try.  It might be surprising how personal and effective this seemingly cold new technology can actually be.  Happy studying in the new technological world, and keep those puppy pics coming!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.