SAT Tip of the Week: Don’t Let Unfamiliar Content in Reading Passages Scare You

SAT Tip of the Week - FullPassages in the SAT Reading Section encompass a wide array of content areas – there are scientific passages, literary excerpts, parts of famous historical documents, and much more. If you’re like me, you may think that having the opportunity to read all these different pieces is exciting. If you’re not like me (aka, less nerdy), reading these can be boring, or even scary.

The scary part comes when students get nervous about getting a passage on the SAT that’s about something they’re not comfortable with. Some students think that this makes the test harder, and some might even think they have to study up on different subjects to be prepared for this.

Luckily, this is unnecessary. There’s nothing to worry about in terms of content on these reading passages – every question can be answered without any outside content knowledge. All you need to do is use the information presented in the passage to answer the given questions – no special knowledge required.

A passage about gene mutations doesn’t take a degree in biology to ace. A passage from John Milton can be manageable without being the most well-read Junior in the country. Everything that you need to answer the passage-based questions will be directly present in the passages themselves (on the SAT, this is always the case).

In fact, having a lot of outside content knowledge can actually be a detriment to scoring well on that passage. One of the biggest dangers on the SAT Reading Section is using information that’s not in the passage to answer questions. Going beyond the text and making assumptions is a pitfall that many students fall into, especially for students who want to rely on their outside expertise because they think it will make answering passage questions about that topic “easier.”

For example, if I got a passage about Abraham Lincoln (my favorite president), I might get really excited and try to answer the questions using the knowledge I’ve accrued over my lifetime. This would be problematic because I would be tempted to choose the answers that made the most historical sense, or I would get frustrated when the answers weren’t totally historically accurate, rather than focus on the given text. In this case, I would have to be extra careful to justify all my answers solely using evidence from the text – something that is always necessary for these reading passages.

This leads to a sort of irony, that the passages that have content which is unfamiliar to a student might be the passages that are easiest for that student to do well on. Without background knowledge, students are forced to pay careful attention to the details of the text and base their answer choices solely off of that. So, instead of being afraid of complicated-looking passages, see them as the gifts they can really be!

Still need to take the SAT? Check out our variety of free SAT resources to help you study successfully. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

SAT Tip of the Week: What Are You Risking When You Cheat on the SAT?

SAT Tip of the Week - FullMost high school students know that it takes time and effort to properly prepare for the SAT. Unfortunately, there are some students who think that cheating on the SAT is the only way to obtain a high score. What they may not know is that test officials have put many barriers in place to prevent cheating on this exam. Still, every year there are students who stubbornly try to cheat on SAT questions.

Let’s take a look at what you will be risking by choosing to cheat on the SAT:

The Risks of Cheating
Not surprisingly, there are serious consequences for students who are caught cheating (and even for students who are under the suspicion of cheating) on this test. SAT testing centers assign a proctor to each group of students taking the exam – this proctor monitors the group and reports any questionable activity he or she may see.

For instance, if a proctor sees a student texting or otherwise using a cell phone during the test, that student will be asked to leave. When a student is caught cheating like this, the proctor will destroy the student’s answer sheet and report the incident to test officials. The student will then not be able to retake the test for a period of time set by the College Board, which may mean that the student has to delay their college application process.

Having one’s score canceled is another risk students take by cheating on the SAT. If testing officials find any irregularities in a student’s scores or performance on the test, they can open an investigation or cancel that person’s test scores altogether. And keep in mind, a student’s scores can be canceled even if they’ve already been submitted to colleges.

For example, testing officials may suspect cheating if a student earns a very low score on their first SAT attempt and a very high score on a retake – an unusually large discrepancy in scores like this will sometimes trigger an investigation, but of course, tremendous improvement in test performance doesn’t automatically mean a student has cheated. If a student’s test scores are canceled, they must prepare for the SAT again in order to retake it, which can definitely be an inconvenience.

Another important thing to remember is that if a student is accepted into a college based on an unearned SAT score, they may not be able to handle the level of academic rigor at that school. Furthermore, this student will have taken the place of another student who applied to the college with high SAT scores that were earned fairly.

Preparing For the SAT the Right Way
When it comes to the SAT, cheating is never a good idea. Instead, students should set a study schedule that allows them to gradually learn the material they will need to know.

At Veritas Prep, our skillful instructors earned scores on the SAT that placed them in the 99th percentile of test-takers, and students who take our prep courses benefit from these instructors’ practical knowledge! Our online and in-person course options allow students to choose the most convenient way for them to practice with the experts for this exam.

Our students receive individual attention that allows them to focus on what they need to do to improve. We offer tips on how to complete all of the questions on the SAT and still have time left to review answers. Our instructors understand how stressful it can be for students who are preparing for this challenging exam, so in addition to offering academic guidance, our instructors also offer much-needed support and encouragement. Students who work with our team of professional instructors get help every step of the way as they study for the SAT.

Our instructors at Veritas Prep know that most students want to do their best and earn high scores on the SAT, but cheating on this exam is never an option for them. We use quality study resources and materials to give students the tools they need to showcase their abilities on the SAT. As students move through our prep classes, they begin to experience increased confidence. Contact Veritas Prep today and let our instructors help you to true success on the SAT! And as always be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!