Posts Tagged ‘SAT strategy’

Guessing on The SAT

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Sat Exam

College Sat Exam

When is guessing a good idea on the SAT Test?

The SAT is a very tiring and lengthy exam. At times, when you take the SAT exam you will be unsure which answer choice to select or how to even approach a problem..  These are critical moments in your test taking and it integral to your success on the SAT test that you have a clear guessing strategy.

On the SAT exam you are awarded one point for each correct answer, deducted a quarter of a point for each incorrect answer, and neither awarded nor deducted points for leaving a question blank. So, basically, it really matters when you choose to answer questions on the SAT and how you come to that decisions. If you make wild guesses on questions on the SAT when you have no idea of the answer you seriously jeopardize your score. (more…)

Super Scoring and You

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

What is Super Scoring and what does it mean for me? How does it affect my SAT process?

Super Scoring

Super Scoring

The SAT testing process is a long and daunting one. Hours of study, hours of preparation, hours of anxiety, and hours of test taking don’t make for a generally easy or enjoyable experience.  Few things along this road make your life easier, so when you find something that does, grab a hold of it and use it for all its worth.  One such thing is Super Scoring.

Super Scoring is the informal practice of poaching sectional scores from various SAT testings to make one optimal test score.  Meaning, if you take the SAT multiple times, you can pick your best math score from one test, your best writing score from another test, and your best reading score from yet a different test to form a super score.  Under the lens of Super Scoring, you can view your SAT testing as a process, and not a series of do or die moments.

To be clear, Super Scoring is not something the College Board – the company that creates and administers the SAT – does.  It does not appear on your score report or your College Board home page. More importantly, Super Scoring is something that many college admissions offices engage in.  And the practice is growing.  Admissions officers want to see you in your best light, so they are considering your achievement on the SAT, through the lens of Super Scoring.  When you visit schools, be sure to ask the admissions office if they Super Score.

As a student, you want to take full advantage of Super Scoring, and this means you should start your SAT process early.  You want to be sure that you are giving yourself adequate opportunities to sit for the SAT test and do your best.  Super Scoring thrives on having numerous test scores to choose from.  Only by thinking ahead and planning your SAT test dates can you reap all the rewards of Super Scoring.

5 Key Steps to Improving Your SAT Scores on the Beach

Thursday, July 26th, 2012


It’s the summer before your senior fall, and you’ve got a lot on your mind. You just finished off a big year, and you’re headed for an even bigger one. You worked hard, and it’s understandable that you want a break from the grind—SAT prep is probably not number one on your list of fun summer vacation activities. However (of course there’s a however), fall will be here before you know it, and it will hit hard—school, sports, extra-curriculars, SATs, college essays and college visits will blow in like a hurricane. You DO deserve to enjoy your summer vacation, but you also need to be thinking ahead to the fall, and figuring out what you could do now to prepare yourself—it’s all about balance and planning ahead. Here are our tips on making and enacting an SAT game plan:

Revisit your Score Reports

Begin by analyzing your SAT score reports from the spring. The SAT Online Score Report is a good place to start, and can tell you where you need to improve and gain the most points.

If you got gouged on the sentence completions, vocab is a great thing to get started on over the summer, since it takes a while to improve (and you can bring your flashcards to the beach!)

  • If the math sections gave you trouble, take a closer look at the difficulty of the questions you got wrong. If you got mainly difficult questions wrong, and a few mediums, you probably want to focus on content, and making sure you’re solid on all of the math that will be on the test. If you did well on the difficult questions, but missed some easy ones, perhaps you’re making careless errors that could be avoided through being neater, checking your work, or slowing down and focusing on answering the questions that you can get right.
  • If the writing sections tripped you up, you need to focus on improving your grammar skills (a little poolside reading, anyone?)

If you ordered the SAT Question & Answer Service for the May SAT, it should have arrived by now. Go over it with your tutor, and determine how many questions you missed, but could have answered successfully. Figure out what went wrong the first time around, and what you can do to solve those issues, and reach your target scores.

Drill the Material

Once you have identified areas of weakness and traps you are prone to falling into, it’s time to drill, baby, drill. Use content-specific tools such as:

  • CATES Drill sheets for Math Content, Common Writing Errors, Reading Passages, and Sentence Completions
  • Hot Words by Barrons
  • Kaplan & Princeton Review Workbooks
  • McGraw Hill Top 50 Skills on SAT Math, Reading, and Writing

Be Honest With Yourself

Think back to how you prepared over the past year. Did you REALLY give it your all? If you had it to do over again, there are probably things that you would do differently…if only they offered the SAT in October, so you could take another shot at it…oh wait, they do! Hooray! This time, give it everything you’ve got.

Time is running out. It’s easy to avert your eyes from the SAT/College Essay/Applications wave looming large on the horizon, but it won’t serve you very well, and it will make for a much more stressful fall term. Once school starts, it will be difficult to find time to dedicate to doing SAT prep right. Use this summer break wisely, and prepare yourself for what’s coming, so that it’s manageable, rather than overwhelming.

Set Weekly Goals

Once you have your priorities and resources in order, create a schedule for each week to help yourself stay on track with your test prep. Summer goes fast, and you don’t want to spend Labor Day weekend inside doing a summer’s worth of work—procrastination is a killer.

Consider the ACT

If you’re struggling to reach your target scores, and don’t feel that you’re getting closer, it might be a good idea to consider whether the ACT might be a better test for you. It is given in the first week of September, which doesn’t leave a lot of time, but the work you’ve done on the SAT will pay off on the ACT, too, and with a few tweaks, you might be able to shoot for a strong score on the September ACT (and be done with standardized tests!).

What is Score Choice?

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

What is Score Choice? What is Super Scoring? What’s the difference?

When you are taking the SAT exam many hours go into studying and preparing for the exam.  You take mocktests, work on practice problems, and formulate your perfect strategy to beat the test. Then you take the SAT test and, for many people, the work ends here. Don’t be one of these people. You still have a couple strategies you can consider.

One of them is Score ChoiceThe College Board, the company that creates and administers the SAT, allows you to implement Score Choice if you so choose.  Essentially, Score choice allows you to elect which SAT score you can submit to colleges.  If you take the SAT multiple times, Score Choice enables you to select your best score and submit that score, and that score alone, to colleges.  There are some schools that require you to submit all your test results and your college counselor will know which ones, but Score Choice allows you, whenever possible, to put your best foot forward.

Another tool at your disposal to help you along with your SAT process is Super ScoringSuper scoring allows you to select the best sub scores from different tests and amalgamate them into a single Super Score. That is, if your best score in math occurred the first time you took the SAT Exam and you received at 700, your best writing score occurred the second time you took the SAT Exam and you received a 650, and your best reading score occurred the third time you took the SAT exam and you received at 730, you could combine these three scores to get a combined result of 2080 through the magic of super scoring.  Not every admissions office accepts super scoring, so you should check with your College Counselor, but, like Score Choice, Super Scoring is a valuable resource to be aware of.

Choosing a Test Center for the SAT

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

How do I choose the right test center to take the SAT?

When taking the SAT, it doesn’t matter which test center you choose, since you’ll either know the material or you won’t, right?  Well, not quite.  While it’s true that you’re not going to magically remember what a function is the minute you set foot on a well-run testing site, a poorly run site can really shake you up.  This aspect of taking the SAT is often under appreciated, and you should take it seriously.

At certain public school testing sites in Manhattan, for instance, you’ll have to walk through a metal detector and you may need to wait in the gym for as long as an hour before the test begins.  These aren’t the kinds of distractions you want to have on the day you finally take the SAT.

If possible, take the SAT at your own school.  You know how to get there, and you’ll be familiar with your surroundings.  The SAT is just like football: it’s always best to have the home-field advantage.  You’re likely to be calmer and more confident than you would at another site.

If it’s not an option to take the test at your own school, however, don’t worry.  Look for a nearby private school site, since these testing sites tend to be quieter and better run than public school sites.  There are also a handful public school testing sites that are run well.  (For instance, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, in Yorkville, NY, is a great place to take the test.) CATES tutors and administrators have years of experience with guiding students to different sites, and we can help you find the site that’s best for you.

Of course, if you’re going to an unfamiliar school to take the test, make sure to take the time in the weeks leading up to the SAT to make sure you know exactly how to get there.  The last thing you want is to get lost on your way to the testing site.

The best testing sites are quiet, organized and without distractions.  That’s the environment you want to find.