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SAT Tip of the Week: How to Find Idiomatic Errors on Test Day

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Find Idiomatic Errors on Test Day

Of the errors on the SAT, the idiomatic error can seem to be the most difficult to spot. Though these kinds of errors are particularly tricky, there are some clear steps that can be taken to help prepare for the dreaded error of idiom.

What is an idiomatic error?

Essentially, an error of idiom is a mistake in the word or words, often prepositions, that are used in association with other words, often verbs. An example would be the previous phrase, “used in association with”. It would be incorrect to say “used for association with” or “used in association to”. There are literally thousands of idiomatic phrases in English. For this reason, it can be very difficult to strengthen this particular skill, though there are ways to increase one’s ability to spot an idiomatic error.

SAT Tip of the Week: Can You Answer These 3 Comma Questions?

SAT Tip of the Week: Can You Answer These 3 Comma Questions?

Considering how ubiquitous a piece of punctuation the comma is, it is surprisingly misunderstood. The comma has a number of uses that are described quite thoroughly here, but the most common comma errors on the SAT are comma splices, omission of commas when used with a conjunction to combine two independent clauses, and misuse of commas with the word ‘which’.

SAT Tip of the Week: Should You Retake the Test?

SAT Tip of the Week: Should You Retake the Test?

A lot of students, after they have gotten their first score, feel unsure whether or not they should take the SAT again.  There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to endeavor to conquer the four hour test after it has already been battled, but here are a few things to consider when deciding what to do.

An Easy Way to Solve Theoretical Math Problems on the SAT

An Easy Way to Solve Theoretical Math Problems on the SAT

One of the biggest tricks the SAT uses is to confuse students is putting a question in theoretical terms instead of in practical terms. This simply means the questions on the SAT will sometimes reference a general term, for example an even integer, rather than giving a concrete number that fits that description, such as two or four.

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Solve Difficult Probability Questions

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Solve Difficult Probability Questions

When students, even those who consider themselves strong in math, get to the final two problems of the SAT, many begin to sweat like they are about to embark on some epic journey from which they may never return. The hard probability problem makes students very uncomfortable, but in reality most harder math problems simply require one or two more steps than less difficult problems. Probability questions are actually some of the simplest to solve.

SAT Tip of the Week: 5 Easy Ways to Ace the Essay

SAT Tip of the Week: 5 Easy Ways to Ace the Essay

The essay begins the SAT and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of writing a five paragraph essay in 25 minutes, but there are a few steps that can make the essay a piece of cake!

1.  Make 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. 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, three body paragraphs which use examples to support the thesis, and a conclusion which restates the thesis and briefly reminds the reader what it has just read.

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Identify Agreement Errors in the Writing Section

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Identify Agreement Errors in the Writing Section

In grammar, as in life, agreement can be tricky. Subjects and verbs have to agree, verb tenses have to agree, sentence structures have to agree, and pronouns have to agree.  Much agreement is necessary for a sentence to function properly, but one of the trickiest of the many agreement issues that can pop up on an SAT is the hidden agreement issue between some non-pronoun and its referent. This can be particularly tricky to spot, but with a little practice it will be easier than buying a pie (making a pie is actually pretty tough to do well).

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Find What Isn't There

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Find What Isn't There

Sometimes the most difficult thing to do on an SAT question is to see something that isn’t there. The SAT provides test takers with enough information to solve the questions, but sometimes the information is not stated explicitly.  The easiest way for the makers of the SAT to disguise information is to give written description rather than a picture.  Luckily, it doesn’t require Picasso’s eye for line to translate words into pictures.  Here is an example:

SAT Tip of the Week: 3 Things You Need to STOP Doing While Studying for the SAT

SAT Tip of the Week: 3 Things You Need to STOP Doing While Studying for the SAT

Studying for the SAT is a fantastic idea and really the only way to ensure that you will succeed on the SAT, but not all studying is created equal. I have encountered a number of mistakes students make while studying from watching “Sex In The City” because they think it is a good place to look for essay ideas, to studying non-Euclidean geometry to study for the math.

SAT Tip of the Week: 4 Ways You Can Increase Your Reading Score Right Now

SAT Tip of the Week: 4 Ways You Can Increase Your Reading Score Right Now

In my tenure as an SAT teacher I have heard all explanations imaginable as to why the reading on the SAT is the most boring and awful reading in the known universe.  Students tell me the reading is too dense, too dry, too descriptive, too hard.

There is no arguing with the fact that some of the passages on the SAT are less than thrilling, but in order to score at the highest level on the SAT, students must find a way to stay present and actively consume the material.  There are a couple of techniques that can help with this process and allow students to answer questions about the passage effectively.

Let Order of Difficulty be Your Guide on the SAT

Let Order of Difficulty be Your Guide on the SAT

As trembling hands turn the first page of the SAT, the heart of students drops like a rock.  This first problem is a WORD problem and word problems are IMPOSSIBLE! The student drops his or her head.  How can the test begin with such a hard problem?  Be of good cheer young test taker, not all word problems are created equal.

SAT Tip of the Week: Essential Skills for the Test

SAT Tip of the Week: Essential Skills for the Test

So much time and energy is spent in preparing for the SAT. Many consider it the gate keeper to their college acceptence. It is a way to distinguish oneself on a level playing field from all others who are attempting to gain admission to college, but what is the SAT really?  Is it an IQ test? Is it a college prep test?  Does one really have to succeed on the SAT to do well in college?

SAT Tip of the Week: 4 Ways to Score Above 2200

SAT Tip of the Week: 4 Ways to Score Above 2200

Picture in your mind the kind of person that gets a 2200 or above score on the SAT.  You are probably picturing some Harvard bound wunderkind who attended the finest prep schools and excelled at all of them, or perhaps a bookish recluse whose entire life has been spent pursuing academia.

Friends, I am not those people, but I still managed to score in the 99th percentile on the SAT.  I’m not a genius (ask the neighbors whose mailbox I destroyed because I was in reverse when I thought I was in drive), and I had a relatively normal upbringing in the public schools of North Carolina. I also did not do particularly well on the PSAT, which is generally an indicator of strength on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: Simplify Hard Questions in the Reading Section

SAT Tip of the Week: Simplify Hard Questions in the Reading Section

The Reading Section is often considered the most difficult section of the SAT. Here’s a game-changing tip from a SAT 2400 tutor that’s guaranteed to boost your score.

Often, students find the Reading Section to be the trickiest section of the SAT because of the sheer amount of information they have to remember. In an earlier blog post, I discussed how making targeted summaries can help students process the information in a passage. Although this strategy is a lifesaver for many, questions that reference specific details from the passages can still throw students off. These include questions that ask what the author of one passage would think of a quoted line from the other passage, such as the one below:

7 Ways to Score Above 700 on the SAT Reading Section

7 Ways to Score Above 700 on the SAT Reading Section

“NOT READING!”  I can hear the cries of thousands of young SAT test takers as they get to this section of their SAT.  “This section is impossible! And subjective! And you can’t study for it!”  Dear student, you are wrong on all accounts!  Not only is this section as objective as any other section of the SAT, but it can also be dominated like the other sections by taking into advisement a few simple steps:

5 Ways to Score Above 700 on the SAT Writing Section

5 Ways to Score Above 700 on the SAT Writing Section

Last week, we talked about 5 ways to score higher in math, and this week we’ll take a look at how to do that in the writing section. It’s actually easier than it sounds! I used to personally loathe (hate) this section of the SAT.  I would have anxiety dreams about it: a giant semicolon would be trying to eat me and my children (I don’t have children). As time went by, however, I found that there is no need to fear as there are concrete steps that you can take to ace this section of the SAT. Here are 5 tips to help you succeed on the writing section of the SAT:

5 Ways to Score Above 700 on the SAT Math Section

5 Ways to Score Above 700 on the SAT Math Section

The SAT, one of the most loathed and feared tests for high school students, can feel impossible to conquer.  For many ambitious young people, above 700 on math is the holy grail of scores: you hear that it can be achieved but actually reaching it seems impossible.  Dear friend: fear not!  The grail has been found and there are concrete steps that can be taken to help you achieve above a 700 on the math portion of SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Strengthen your Approach to Passage-Based Questions

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Strengthen your Approach to Passage-Based Questions

The Reading Section is often considered the most difficult section of the SAT. Here’s a game-changing tip from a Veritas Prep SAT 2400 tutor that’s guaranteed to boost your score.

At Veritas Prep, we’ve made it our mission to teach students how to simplify their approach to the Reading Section. In particular, students struggle with the passage-based questions because of the sheer amount of information they have to process, as well as the difficulty they face in choosing the most ‘logical ‘answer choice. After all, a passage-based question isn’t like a math question with only one possible answer, right?

SAT Tip of the Week: Use Your Gut and Your Brain to Get a High Score

SAT Tip of the Week: Use Your Gut and Your Brain to Get a High Score

You’ve always been a person who trusts your gut.  You’ve got good instincts, everyone says so.  It’s why you were such an early adopter on Instagramming pictures of your dog dressed as different fruits and why you knew not to eat the “cold noodles” at the sketchy Chinese food place on the corner that sent your friends into an abdominal abyss for days, so it’s no wonder you’re so good at tests.  You just pick the answer that feels right, and most of the time, your feeling is right! Great, right? WRONG!

SAT Tip of the Week: Be Specific in Your Answer Choices

SAT Tip of the Week: Be Specific in Your Answer Choices

Once again there are two answer choices that seem equally alluring and dangerous.  You know your stuff: the answer is always in the passage, but as you look at the two choices with growing unease you remember both statements being discussed.  Which one is it? Which one is supreme!

This is a common situation that many students face during the reading comprehension section of the SAT.  The first and golden rule of the SAT reading section is that the answer is always in the passage.  If the passage doesn’t mention it, or accomplish the task that the question indicates, it is NOT the correct answer.  However, our understanding cannot stop here!  It is not just mentioning something in the passage that makes an answer choice correct, it is the presence of evidence to support that the answer choice is 100% true in the section being referenced.

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Improve Your Timing When You're Stuck on a Hard Question

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Improve Your Timing When You're Stuck on a Hard Question

Before getting into test prep, I was a classical music composer.  I worked pretty long hours composing pieces for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and symphony orchestras.  Sometimes I would run into writer’s blocks at very specific places in a composition.  I couldn’t decide which motive the oboe should play, or whether or not to double the counterpoint on the harp.  How I found my way out of such binds is also how I later found my way out of tough questions on standardized tests like the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Write a Better Essay

SAT Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Write a Better Essay

Twenty-five minutes to complete the essay portion of the SAT seems like an impossible feat, but with the right preparation you can tackle this task with ease. Writing an essay usually requires a great deal of time, information gathering, planning, and drafting, but you can still pull off a well-written essay that will give you the score you are yearning for.

SAT Tip of the Week: Beware of Tricky Wording in SAT Math Questions

SAT Tip of the Week: Beware of Tricky Wording in SAT Math Questions

Many times, our talented and accomplished students report that they know all of the math concepts on the SAT and are fully capable of solving all of the problems.  However, they frequently complain that they make “dumb” or “careless” mistakes on the SAT and lose points.  While some of these mistakes seem silly in hindsight, many of the questions on the SAT are designed to lure students into tricks and traps or force errors if the students are not paying close attention to the wording.

SAT Tip of the Week: Avoid Traps in Sentence Correction

SAT Tip of the Week: Avoid Traps in Sentence Correction

The SAT is a standardized test, which means that it aims to be an objective measure of performance for test-takers regardless of whether the test is taken in October or May and regardless of which version of the test is taken.  The actual questions on the test might change, but the SAT needs to allow college admissions officer to confidently compare the score of a student who took the October SAT to the score of a student who takes the May SAT even though the two students will see different questions on the tests.

SAT Tip of the Week: Avoid this Common Error

SAT Tip of the Week: Avoid this Common Error

If you’ve been reading our articles, you already know that there are only so many techniques and tricks that the SAT can use to make questions difficult.  On the writing multiple-choice section, there about only a dozen grammar and style rules that you need to know in order to get a perfect Writing score.  On the SAT, it is particularly important to pay attention to one specific punctuation mark:  the comma.

SAT Tip of the Week: How Missy Elliot Can Raise Your Math Score

SAT Tip of the Week: How Missy Elliot Can Raise Your Math Score

Next time you’re doing a practice SAT math problem, you might just find that it could be helpful to channel a little Missy Elliott from her classic hit song “Work It” and ask yourself “Is it worth it?  Let me work it.  I put my thing down flip it and reverse it.”  Let’s explain.

The SAT is primarily a reasoning test as opposed to a test you might see in high school.  On the math section, although the SAT tests some math, it primarily tests reasoning skills and students abilities to think critically with math as the common language.  SAT math questions will rarely be the straightforward type that you see on high school math tests.

SAT Tip of the Week: Identifying Sentence Errors

SAT Tip of the Week: Identifying Sentence Errors

Once again you find yourself staring at an “Identifying Sentence Error” problem.  You are prepared! You have in your arsenal all the common errors that occur on the SAT. You know to avoid the common indicators of awkward phrasing and you can identify a subject and verb disagreement with both eyes closed and two hands and a foot tied behind your back.

SAT Tip of the Week: Brainstorming for Your Essay

SAT Tip of the Week: Brainstorming for Your Essay

It’s easy to jump an extra point on the SAT essay when you’ve got specific, relevant examples. Good logical reasoning can definitely help you get a better score, but if you can combine your solid logic with powerful, concrete, real-world examples, you’ll be well on your way to a 12!

To do this, create an “Example Chart” like the one pictured below, and add at least 3-5 items to each category. Choose things that you are an expert in, not ones that necessarily sound the most scholarly.

SAT Tip of the Week: Tackle Reading Comprehension Questions

SAT Tip of the Week: Tackle Reading Comprehension Questions

One benefit to the Reading Comprehension questions on the SAT test is that not every passage is nine paragraphs long. You’ll come across short passages – alone, and in pairs. Less reading time leaves more time for analysis and careful study of the questions posed. Remember that you can complete the questions within any SAT section in any order, so if the longer passages stress you out, you might want to tackle the shorter ones to get your brain “warmed up.”

SAT Tip of the Week: 6 Verb Tenses on the SAT

SAT Tip of the Week: 6 Verb Tenses on the SAT

The most common way verbs are tested on the SAT is in subject-verb agreement, however sometimes Identifying Sentence Errors will contain other verb errors. While it’s important to make sure that verbs always agree with their subject in number, it is also important to check to make sure that the verb tense makes logical sense in the context of the sentence.

SAT Tip of the Week: 6 Ways to Get a High Score

SAT Tip of the Week: 6 Ways to Get a High Score

Studying for the SAT may feel daunting, but remember that this test has been around in one form or another since 1926, and its latest format was introduced back in 2005. That means millions of students have taken the exam, gotten high scores, and gone on to attend their dream school. Here’s what you can do to be among those high-scoring students:

SAT Tip of the Week: Punt Your Way to a Higher Score

SAT Tip of the Week: Punt Your Way to a Higher Score

While our SAT program is called SAT 2400 and trains students to successfully get perfect scores on the SAT, in the wider world of all SAT test-takers, only a small percentage of test takers can get close to a perfect 2400.

Depending on your college goals, you may not be targeting a perfect 2400 and may just need a certain score to qualify to get recruited to a sports team or another special program at a college.  As a result, if you’re scoring under 1500 on the SAT and want a quick and easy boost to you score, it might be advantageous for you to use the “Punt Strategy” on the SAT.

SAT Tip of the Week: 4 Tips to Solve Pie Chart Questions

SAT Tip of the Week: 4 Tips to Solve Pie Chart Questions

The SAT Math section is guaranteed to have some Data Analysis questions. These questions can take several forms: tables, graphs, charts, etc. These figures may look intimidating, but most of the questions that follow them require relatively easy algebra skills: setting up equations, finding percentages or averages, and using substitution. To do well on Pie Chart (also called Circle Graph) questions, follow these basic tips:

SAT Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Conquer Test Anxiety

SAT Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Conquer Test Anxiety

The SAT is often the first major standardized exam that many students take. It is their first footstep into the world of higher education. Because of the horror stories of the infamous SAT that circle around high school lunchrooms across the nation, fledgling juniors and seniors who haven’t taken the exam can feel a lot of pressure on test day. Here are 5 ways to get rid of that unnecessary stress:

SAT Tip of the Week: 3 Types of Antecedent Errors

SAT Tip of the Week: 3 Types of Antecedent Errors

The word “antecedent” in grammar refers to a noun that a pronoun takes the place of, and since we see a lot of pronouns on the SAT Writing questions, we see a lot of antecedents. There are three main ways antecedents can make an Improving Sentences or Identifying Sentence Error statement wrong: by not agreeing in number with its pronoun, by offering more than one possible antecedent, or by not being present in the sentence at all! Let’s brush up on our antecedent knowledge, then we’ll examine these errors:

SAT Tip of the Week: Scientific Notation and Exponents

SAT Tip of the Week: Scientific Notation and Exponents

Scientific Notation is not a heavily-tested concept on the SAT (whew!) – and you might not see it at all! But it’s definitely useful to review, and it’s a concept that goes hand-in-hand with understanding exponents.

Large numbers and very small decimals are often expressed with exponents using scientific notation. Scientific notation means expressing a number as a product of a decimal and the number 10 raised to a certain power. The reason scientific notation is used is that is saves space. Who would want to write .000000000000000000547, when 5.47 x 1019 saves us a lot more room?

SAT Tip of the Week: Memorizing Math Formulas

SAT Tip of the Week: Memorizing Math Formulas

The SAT Math sections test three distinct categories of measurement: Perimeter, Area, and Volume. Luckily, many formulas are provided for you at the front of each Math section, but if you do enough practice problems, you’ll soon have these need-to-know formulas committed to memory, and won’t waste valuable test-time flipping pages.  Memorizing these formulas is also great practice for the ACT if you plan to take it, since unlike the SAT, the ACT exam does NOT provide them for you!

SAT Tip of the Week: How I Scored a 2350 on the SAT in 5 Easy Steps

SAT Tip of the Week: How I Scored a 2350 on the SAT in 5 Easy Steps

In March of 2006, I took the SAT for the first and only time and scored a 2350. I was very excited to score so well, and would like to share some of my study tips with you! So, without further ado…

1.) My Number One tip: Practice! Take lots of practice tests – and not just any practice tests, but tests that are written by the College Board.  If you don’t have one, I highly recommend buying a copy of the Official SAT Study Guide, so you can practice using material that’s actually written by the makers of the SAT. I can’t emphasize enough how helpful practice tests are: the more you practice, the more you’ll get used to the pacing of a four-hour test, the timing element of the test, the strange and SAT-specific question types that tend to pop up, etc. So, practice, practice, practice!

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Solve 3 Types of Algebra Problems

SAT Tip of the Week: How to Solve 3 Types of Algebra Problems

Algebra problems on the SAT may take several forms, but they generally involve some variation on solving for a variable or expression.   In this article, I will break down the process of working through a few variations of those lovely “solve for x” or “what is the value of x?” types of problems.

4 Tips to Find the Main Idea in SAT Passages

4 Tips to Find the Main Idea in SAT Passages

It’s important to keep in mind for all SAT Reading Comprehension questions that just because an SAT answer choice is reasonable, true, or mentioned in the SAT reading passage, does not mean it is automatically correct. Always ask yourself: which answer choice in this SAT question best addresses this specific question being asked? To be able to answer “Main Idea” questions, try to adopt these quick tips: