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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Strategies to Use When Taking the SAT

The Princeton Review is an immensely popular test-prep company that offers programs to customers who are facing standardized tests (SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT, etc.) and hope to score higher by purchasing services that companies like The Princeton Review provide.  Kaplan is another popular provider.  Anyway, The Princeton Review recently offered EOS students the opportunity to take a full-length practice SAT on a Saturday morning and then followed up with a presentation two weeks later that included a detailed analysis of each student's performance on this practice test.  Student feedback on this whole experience was very favorable.  If you're wondering, by the way, how many students took up the offer, 41 signed on - but 35 actually got up that morning to travel to EOS and spend almost five hours completing the test along with instructions, etc.

It's worth noting some of the "tips" offered in the follow up session that supposedly can help students increase their scores.  Below are some of these suggestions;
  • instead of looking for the right answer, it may be more useful to look for the wrong answers and eliminate them.  The thinking here is that by process of elimination you'll arrive at the right answer - or at least you'll be able to choose between two possibilities rather than among four.
  • read the italicized section before each reading passage in the Critical Reading section.  It provides helpful clues.
  • if you face a reading passage that just doesn't spark your interest, it may be wiser to read each question FIRST and then search for the answer in the lines provided.
  • there are six basic rules you need to know in the Writing section - subject/verb agreement, verb tense, pronouns, parallelism, idioms, and comparisons.
  • when writing the required essay, it's not important which side of a position you take.  What's more important is that you open with a strong statement expressing your position that is followed by three descriptive examples (each developed in a paragraph) and a concluding paragraph that ties it all together.  It's your basic five paragraph essay.
  • you can earn a 600 on any of the the three sections simply by correctly answering all of the easy and medium difficulty questions. 
  • answering 8 questions correctly and leaving 2 blank will result in a higher score than if you answer 8 questions correctly and get 2 wrong.  This is because you lose a 1/4 of a point for each incorrect answer.
There are more, but this is enough for now.  Like it or not, tests like these are a reality that you will likely face at some point in life.  Even if college is not in your plans, you may still need to take an exam for licensure or certification in an occupational field.  And, although more colleges are making the SAT optional, it rarely hurts to submit high scores.  So, it makes sense to learn how to take these tests.

A reminder - the Guidance Department has purchased a test-prep program that is available on Naviance under the "Colleges" tab.  It's a free SAT practice program.  Use it if for no other reason than to familiarize yourself with the kinds of questions asked.

Keep in mind, too, the tips listed above.

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