This weekend, students will take the “new’’ version of the SAT, which features an optional essay, no penalty for guessing, fewer impossible vocabulary words, and wordier math problems.
Shaan Patel, founder of Prep Expert, a test-prep company that just opened a Boston location this month, offers some last-minute prep tips for the new test:
1. SAT General Strategy: Don’t Flip Back & Forth
Most students approach standardized tests by circling the correct answer in the test booklet, flipping to the answer sheet and bubbling in the answer, and then returning to the booklet to tackle the next question.
This is not the most efficient approach because it wastes time and interrupts the flow of the test. To save time and decrease interruptions, only flip to the answer sheet after you have answered an entire page of questions in your test booklet. In addition, answering an entire page of SAT questions will increase your confidence to tackle the next page of questions.
2. SAT Math Strategy: SAP – Substitute Answers in Problem
You can avoid algebra altogether on the SAT Math section when there are variables in the question and numbers in the answer choices. Simply plug in the numbers from the answer choices back into the original algebraic equation to see if the problem works out fine. This strategy is especially effective on the new radioactive decay and exponential growth problems on the new SAT.
3. SAT Reading Strategy: BOSS – Build (Your) Own Simple Solution
Create your own answer before looking at the answer choices. BOSS solves the biggest problem associated with the SAT section: Selecting enticing, but incorrect answer choices.
Imagine going on a treasure hunt without knowing what the treasure looks like. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, then it’s hard to find the right item. Similarly, reading through answer choices without knowing what you’re looking for can make it hard to find the right answer. BOSS is like having a picture of the treasure!
4. SAT Writing Strategy: COP – Cross Out Prepositions
Grammar errors are almost never in prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases only distract you from grammar errors. You can remember many prepositions by thinking of anything a squirrel can do to a log (ex. in, on, out, under, etc.). To quickly identify writing errors, cross out prepositions. By focusing on the simplified sentence that does not contain prepositional phrases, you will be able to identify grammatical writing errors more easily. For example, let’s examine the following sentence:
“Until it is managed by a new, more effective, and more understanding administration, the teachers will continue to strike.’’
The pronoun mismatch error between “it’’ and “teachers’’ becomes much more apparent when you ignore the prepositional phrase “by a new, more effective and more understanding administration.’’
“Until it is managed, the teachers will continue to strike.’’
5. SAT Essay Strategy: Essay Templates
Although the essay section is technically optional, many competitive colleges will require students to submit their new SAT score with the essay. The new SAT requires students to write an analysis essay based on an argumentative passage they’ve read.
To have a competitive advantage over other students, develop a pre-formed essay template that will work for almost any argumentative passage you read on test day. Templates will not only help you write unbelievably powerful essays, but also save you a lot of time other students would waste on test day.
Here is the template for the introduction paragraph that we teach at Prep Expert:
“In [Article Title], [Author Name] synthesizes a compelling dissertation that [Passage’s Key Point]. Although some detractors may believe [What Detractors Believe], the arguments set forth in the article dismiss such romantic critics as excessively dogmatic in their provincial ideology. One of the broader notions presented in the essay is that [Major Idea in Article]. [Author’s Last Name] deftly delivers a cogent argument to sway his/her readers by [3 CREW SAID Tools].’’
Here’s how a student could use our introduction essay template when analyzing a passage about the humanities.
“In “The Enduring Value of a Humanities Education,’’ Jane Smith synthesizes a compelling dissertation that knowledge relating to the humanities is indispensable to the progress of society. Although some detractors may believe the advancement of education strictly focused on technology is key to national development, the arguments set forth in the article dismiss such romantic critics as excessively dogmatic in their provincial ideology. One of the broader notions presented in the essay is that an education in the humanities magnifies a person’s versatility to be a productive member of society. Smith deftly delivers a cogent argument to sway her readers by citing prominent authorities, implying broad repercussions, and using stark contrast.’’