Friday, October 13, 2006

12 Last Minute SAT Test Tips

1. The night before the test get ready. Make sure you have your admission ticket, valid photo ID., new batteries in your calculator, several No. 2 pencils, and some energy snacks for the breaks.

2. Get good nights sleep. Do not stay up studying. This should have been done by now and a good nights sleep is the best thing for you.

3. You do not know if it is going to be hot or cold so make sure you have a sweater or light coat if it gets cold and can roll up your sleeves if it is hot.

4. Try to go to bathroom before you leave.

5. Commit to the SAT test. Tell your self its fun. Have a positive outlook.

6. Have some caffeine in the morning. Not to much you don’t want to get jittery.

7. Get to the SAT test early. Make sure you know where it is before the day of the test.

8. Remember all the questions are worth the same. If you don’t understand a question or it seems like it will take a long time to do, just skip it and go to the next one. If at the end you have more time you can go back and work on the ones you skipped.

9. Try circling the answers on the booklet, and the transferring every 5 answers to the answer sheet. Also circle the number of the questions you want to go back and look at. This will save you some time. As time starts to run out, transfer every answer immediately.

10. Know where you are on the SAT test. As we all know the questions go from easiest to hardest, so the obvious answers early in a set are more likely right then near the end of a section.

11. Make educated guesses. The math Grid-in questions have no wrong-answer penalties and on the other sections if you can eliminate one answer choice it pays to guess.

12. The most important thing is to relax, stay calm. Take a deep breath. You must be confident and positive.

Written by Glen Myers

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What SAT test prep courses don’t tell you...

How to score well on the SAT test essay section!
1. Learn historical and literary facts so you can use them in your essay.
2. Write short concise well written essays.
3. Simply write a LONG, LONG essay with made up facts that support your essay.

The proof behind this logic is below in an article the NY Times did on May 4, 2005. I have put the important parts in red for you.

You can also look at “The Official SAT Study Guide” put out by the College Board. If you look at the example of an essay that scored a 3, you will see a well-written essay with no spelling or grammatical errors, and the sentence structure is varied. Then when you look at the essay that received a 5, you find an essay that is okay, but has grammatical and spelling errors. Why did this essay receive a 5? There is only one reason. It is much longer.
Written by: Glen Myers
Score Raising Programs

SAT Essay Test Rewards Length and Ignores Errors
By MICHAEL WINERIP Published: May 4, 2005 CAMBRIDGE, Mass.

IN March, Les Perelman attended a national college writing conference and sat in on a panel on the new SAT writing test. Dr. Perelman is one of the directors of undergraduate writing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He did doctoral work on testing and develops writing assessments for entering M.I.T. freshmen. He fears that the new 25-minute SAT essay test that started in March - and will be given for the second time on Saturday - is actually teaching high school students terrible writing habits.

"It appeared to me that regardless of what a student wrote, the longer the essay, the higher the score," Dr. Perelman said. A man on the panel from the College Board disagreed. "He told me I was jumping to conclusions," Dr. Perelman said. "Because M.I.T. is a place where everything is backed by data, I went to my hotel room, counted the words in those essays and put them in an Excel spreadsheet on my laptop."

In the next weeks, Dr. Perelman studied every graded sample SAT essay that the College Board made public. He looked at the 15 samples in the ScoreWrite book that the College Board distributed to high schools nationwide to prepare students for the new writing section. He reviewed the 23 graded essays on the College Board Web site meant as a guide for students and the 16 writing "anchor" samples the College Board used to train graders to properly mark essays.

He was stunned by how complete the correlation was between length and score. "I have never found a quantifiable predictor in 25 years of grading that was anywhere near as strong as this one," he said. "If you just graded them based on length without ever reading them, you'd be right over 90 percent of the time." The shortest essays, typically 100 words, got the lowest grade of one. The longest, about 400 words, got the top grade of six. In between, there was virtually a direct match between length and grade.

He was also struck by all the factual errors in even the top essays. An essay on the Civil War, given a perfect six, describes the nation being changed forever by the "firing of two shots at Fort Sumter in late 1862." (Actually, it was in early 1861, and, according to "Battle Cry of Freedom" by James M. McPherson, it was "33 hours of bombardment by 4,000 shot and shells.")
Dr. Perelman contacted the College Board and was surprised to learn that on the new SAT essay, students are not penalized for incorrect facts.
The official guide for scorers explains: "Writers may make errors in facts or information that do not affect the quality of their essays. For example, a writer may state 'The American Revolution began in 1842' or ' "Anna Karenina," a play by the French author Joseph Conrad, was a very upbeat literary work.' " (Actually, that's 1775; a novel by the Russian Leo Tolstoy; and poor Anna hurls herself under a train.) No matter. "You are scoring the writing, and not the correctness of facts."

How to prepare for such an essay? "I would advise writing as long as possible," said Dr. Perelman, "and include lots of facts, even if they're made up." This, of course, is not what he teaches his M.I.T. students. "It's exactly what we don't want to teach our kids," he said.

AT graders are told to read an essay just once and spend two to three minutes per essay, and Dr. Perelman is now adept at rapid-fire SAT grading. This reporter held up a sample essay far enough away so it could not be read, and he was still able to guess the correct grade by its bulk and shape. "That's a 4," he said. "It looks like a 4."

A report released this week by the National Council of Teachers of English mirrors Dr. Perelman's criticism of the new SAT essay. It cautions that a single, 25-minute writing test ignores the most basic lesson of writing - that good writing is rewriting. It warns that the SAT is pushing schools toward "formulaic" writing instruction.

This is a far cry from all the hoopla when the new SAT was announced two years ago. College Board officials described it as a tool that could transform American education, forcing schools to better teach writing. A "great social experiment," Time magazine said.
In an interview, five top College Board officials strongly defended the writing test but sounded more muted about its usefulness. "The SAT essay should not be the primary way kids learn to write," said Wayne Camara, vice president for research. "It's one basic writing skill. If that's all the writing your high school English department is teaching, you have a problem."

They said that while there was a correlation between writing long and a high score, it was not as significant as Dr. Perelman stated. Graders also reward good short essays, they said, but the College Board erred by failing to release such samples to the public. "We will change that," said Chiara Coletti, a vice president.

As to facts not mattering, they said it was a necessary accommodation on such a short, high-pressure test. "We know students don't write well when they're anxious," said Ed Hardin, a College Board test specialist. "We don't want them not to go forward with that little detail. Our attitude is go right ahead with that missing date or fact and readers should be instructed not to count off for that."

Cynics say the new essay is window dressing added to placate California officials who in 2001 were calling the old SAT outmoded and were threatening to stop requiring it. In a recent paper, Edward White of the University of Arizona notes, "As long ago as 1999, in College Board Report No. 99-3, a research team pointed out that 'writing assessments based on a single essay, even those read and scored twice, have extremely low reliability.' "

Indeed, the College Board's own advanced placement tests require multiple essays, but officials say that is not possible for the SAT, which at nearly four hours, is being criticized as too long."You can't base a lot on one essay," Dr. Camara of the College Board admitted. He said that was why the new SAT writing section also included 49 multiple-choice questions on grammar and style. Multiple-choice counts for 75 percent of the new writing grade; the essay 25 percent. "The multiple-choice makes the writing test valid," he says. In short, the most untrustworthy part of the new SAT writing section is the writing sample

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ten online SAT Test preparation services reviewed

This is the best independent review of SAT Test prep companies I have ever seen. This review was done by Consumer Reports WebWatch on May 1, 2006.

The 10 services they evaluated were: Barron’s test prep, Boston test prep, Kaplen’s SAT online prep,, Peterson’s SAT online course, Prepmy SAT secrets, Test Preparation program, The official SAT online course, and The Princeton Review.

Overall the tester found 7 of the 10 sites generally effective. WebWatch did note the blending of advertising and educational content and aggressive marketing on some of these sites.

Key Findings:-- was the only free-of-charge service tested, and it performed exceptionally well against expensive, better-known services such as The Princeton Review and Kaplan's.-- Testers found the prep service created by The College Board, creator of the SAT itself, had technical glitches and lacked interactive features common on other sites.-- Mistakes in online sample tests -- including grammatical problems, questions with no answers, missing sections of text, font problems, or poorly constructed questions -- were consistently present in six of the 10 services evaluated.-- One program charging $29.95 for three months contained frequent spelling errors, including words like "whore" instead of "where." The home page contained 20 non-functional links and no information about the publisher. The site's Internet Service Provider was traced to Bangkok, Thailand, and e-mail requests for refunds and technical support were not answered.

The testers did see their test scores improve 38 points per student. This is a 1.6% gain.

This report is free. It is 44 pages of great information. What I got out of reading it is that which is free is at least as good as the other more expensive ones.

Summery written by Glen

Download the report here:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Choosing the right calculator for the SAT’s (and school)

With so many different calculator options out there, choosing the right one for the SAT’s can seem like a daunting task. Texas Instruments isn’t the only calculator maker out there, but they are by far the most popular, so I would suggest purchasing one of their calculators. The main calculators they offer are the Ti-83 plus, Ti-84 plus, Ti-84 plus silver edition, and the Ti-89 titanium edition. All of their other calculators are being phased out, so I would recommend going with one of these options. To further narrow the options down, you can group the 83 and 84 calculators together (they are 100% compatible keystroke for keystroke), leaving you with the 83/84 family and the 89 titanium.

Now that we have narrowed our calculator choices down to the Ti-83/84 series and Ti-89 series, the first thing that should be noted is that the Ti-89 series is more advanced than the 83/84 series. This does not necessarily mean it is better, however, as the 89 is more expensive and also more difficult to learn and use. The added capability of the 89 allows it to use variables and solve problems that the 83/84 calculators simply cannot. The Ti-89 could potentially help you solve more SAT problems than the Ti-83/84 series would, however you must take into account the time you might save with an easier to use calculator. The way I tell people to decide is first by asking what version your teacher will be using – this is usually in the 83/84 series, and if you are not so great with computers/technology I’d say stick with one of those. If you are a little daring, however, and pick up things quickly when it comes to technology, I’d recommend the Ti-89. A word of caution: remember that because the Ti-89 is more complex you will want to be very familiar with it before the SAT test so that you don’t waste any time figuring out your calculator during the SAT.

A quick sum up:

Go with the Ti-89 if you

  • Are a fast learner when it comes to technology and ready to spend a little more time figuring out your calculator
  • Want a more powerful calculator that could potentially help solve more SAT problems

Go with the Ti-83/84 series calculator if you

  • Are not great with technology (not “tech savvy”)
  • Want the most common calculator on the market (easier to troubleshoot problems)
  • Don’t have the time or patience to learn how to use a new calculator

Next time I’ll examine the differences between the 83 plus, 84 plus, and 84 plus silver edition models, and remember you can find SAT programs at for each of these calculators which are used during the SAT to help increase your math and verbal scores.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How you should deal with the math Grid portion of the SAT

This is the only part of the SAT that is not multiple choice. You actually have to calculate the exact number ( programs really help here) and fill in the grid.
The problems you will have on this section are that the grid can be confusing. You could very easily put the right number in the wrong column. This means that even though you got the right answer, you still got the question wrong. Another problem is that you can’t look at the answers (they do not give them to you) so you can not eliminate these choices. You also can not just plug the numbers given in order to see which ones work, like you can on the multiple choice portion of the test. programs are very useful for the multiple choice part also.

Some tips on how to Grid:
The first and easiest is to write your answer in the boxes above the columns before you fill in the ovals.
You should also use a whole number instead of an improper fraction. Convert fractions to decimals. Do not round up your decimals. Always drop the zero before the decimal point. Then put in as many digits as will fit.

If your answer is greater then 9999 or a negative number you know you have the wrong answer. You can not put these numbers into a grid.

Monday, July 31, 2006

SAT help blog getting up and running

I am starting this blog to provide SAT test taking tips/links, and to keep everyone informed about what we're doing over at

Before I get into specific test taking tips I thought I’d first give a quick overview of what our programs (Score Raising Programs) actually do for those who do not know:

Our programs are loaded onto your calculator and used during the actual SAT test. The benefit here is that you do not have to go to a class or memorize formulas, you can shift your focus from memorization to taking practice SAT tests. Also, the programs will help you to answer many common SAT questions faster and with less chance for human errors.

We also offer SAT verbal flashcards that are used on your calculator. Obviously you cannot use these during the verbal part of the test, but they can be very useful to look at between classes or whenever you have some downtime at school (I know I always kept my calculator with me all day at school).