The SAT evaluates a college-bound student’s abilities in critical reading, writing, and math. Historically, it was not supposed to be a test that a student “prepared for,” but rather a test that would measure cumulative progress in these subject areas over the period of a student’s enrollment in school. However, about 30 years ago studies emerged that demonstrated that students could significantly increase their scores with the right preparation. The industry of SAT Prep was born, and since you are reading these tips, presumably you are interested in performing your best on the test and preparing for it as thoroughly as you can.
Critical Reading, aka Vocabulary
Vocabulary is an integral part of the SAT. Therefore, students who are serious about enhancing their SAT scores must devote a significant amount of time to enhancing their vocabulary. How? The best approach is to layer learning with several tacts: a) study word origins, roots, prefixes, and suffixes; b) study extensive SAT vocabulary lists; c) read SAT novels in order to evaluate words in context; and d) read English essays from the 18th and 19th centuries and become familiar with word usage and essay structures.
When a student reads a difficult essay or passage with challenging vocabulary, he or she should immediately identify those words that are unknown and begin the process of picking out context clues. The SAT is a timed test, and if a student is not sure how to find context clues in a paragraph, too much time will be lost. Specifically, look for words in series, clues such as synonyms or antonyms in a sentence, or examples.
A notebook of word roots, prefixes, and suffixes is an exceptionally good idea for prospective SAT takers. These word parts should be defined and linked to familiar and unfamiliar English words. It has been shown that this study will increase a student’s working vocabulary a great deal.
SAT vocabulary lists are dry and dull, let’s admit it. A more interesting way to develop word lists is to use www.freerice.com, which gives a small incentive to students for studying vocabulary: every time a student answers a multiple choice vocabulary question correctly, he donates a small bit of rice to a developing country. The best part about this website is that it has many levels. A student can log in and progress to a certain level, then develop vocabulary on that level and subsequent levels.
SAT novels incorporate SAT vocabulary with an interesting story to enable students to view vocabulary words in context and read definitions and perform exercises to strengthen word usage. Developed during the last decade, these specialized novels are very helpful in studying the specific word lists that are prescribed for SAT preparation.
Why read old English essays? Because they are exemplary models of vocabulary and sentence structure. A student who really studies the essays of John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, Jonathan Swift, and others will be enlightened to a new vocabulary and sense of English essay construction. It is not easy subject material for high school juniors, but it will be an elevating subject study.
For the SAT, one should put away childish notions of the “five paragraph essay” and develop more sophisticated constructions to support one’s thesis. Again, the writings of early British authors will be invaluable as templates for a sophisticated writing style. A student who strives to make a high mark in writing will do well to read extensively and make note of essay structure, grammatical style, and vocabulary of those who have been published in the past.
Obviously, an example of a fine essay includes the requisite introduction, body, conclusion… a student who desires an outstanding score on the SAT must endeavor to push that structure with sophisticated examples, elaborations, and even quotes. Yes, quotes. Memorize a dozen or so quotes from master authors (be sure to correctly attribute them), and gain points while doing so.
It is essential to remember that time is limited while writing an SAT essay. Do not allow time to expire without concluding an essay satisfactorily, or lose many points as a result.
Math questions on the college board exam covers arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics, and probability. On this of all test sections, student test preparation should involve practice tests to reveal areas of weakness.
The College Board provides free, timed practice SAT testing; students need only complete the tests and results are available immediately online. These results will allow students to study those areas of the math section that are weak. Once a weakness is identified, specific prescriptive exercises can be performed to develop skills in that area.
Nothing beats practice when it comes to the SAT test. The more a student practices, the higher his or her score, according to many research studies. Thus, the best way to practice for the SAT? Take tests, analyze results, and learn from your mistakes. Good luck!