Acing the new SAT: A Beginner’s guide

The limited resources for the new SAT and the fact that most guides available are rather broad and not precise inspired me to write this. At the very beginning I must warn you that this guide doesn’t contain fool-proof techniques which will ensure you higher scores but rather directions which, in my opinion, should help you face the new SAT exam with ease.

Guidelines that I have mentioned here are the ones that I found really useful and implementing them helped me obtain 99th percentile scores in all individual sections, and I believe that following them can help you get your desired score as well, if not the perfect one. I have tried to mention the things you need to cover or the approach required in each section for a strong prep.

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And finally, I have added extra notes for students of the NCTB curriculum since some concepts of the SAT have been used in an unfamiliar way and might be new to them in particular (just problems I faced during my time). Some terms I used here might seem difficult, but you will realize they are actually simple once you start practicing. Hope this helps!

You need to understand that SAT exam is NOT a measure of your intelligence or academic merit. It’s only an exam which tests particular concepts and that’s it. So in order to beat this exam (I use the word ‘beat’ since the exam tests the same concepts every time which one can outwit with efficient practice), one has to PRACTICE a lot in order to improve.

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I am stressing on this since the concepts never came to me naturally and the way I improved on them was by practice. One must REALLY WANT a high score in the first place otherwise one might not find him/herself practicing sincerely.

The SAT does play a huge role in the admission decisions and so higher the score, the better the chances. Do follow a PRACTICE ROUTINE, it helps a lot. And finally, as cliché as it may sound, BELIEVE in yourself,confidence does wonders, trust me.

INTRODUCTION

SAT Format:

The new exam format is provided below:

Must:

At the very beginning OPEN A KHAN ACADEMY ACCOUNT. The Khan Academy is the best resource for the new SAT and the content is SUFFICIENT for getting a perfect score. The link has been provided: https://www.khanacademy.org/

The books I have mentioned can also be purchased from Nilkhet.

Note: I didn’t cover the ESSAY PART of the SAT in this guide. Since it is optional and I never practiced it, I believe I don’t have the right resources to provide the necessary guidelines

The guidelines of other sections have been described in details below:

MATH

Resource needed:

KHAN ACADEMY only.

Tips for NCTB:

The following are simple concepts that can be learned with a little study. All of them have been covered by KHAN ACADEMY. But if problems still arise, learn the following from the new Barron’s SAT/ Princeton Review SAT

  1. Learn ‘How Graph Shifts’ with changes in its equation
  2. Get a hang of the ‘Circle Formulas’ (How degrees of a circle’s sector can be used to find out the area/circumference it covers)
  3. Understand how a ‘Parabolic equation’ can be converted into its ‘Vertex form’ and what the variables mean.
  4. Know how ‘Standard Deviation/Mean’ are represented in scatterplot, graph etc.
  5. Names of various ‘Data Collection Methods’ and what they mean
  6. The basic ‘Linear and Exponential growth functions’ and what they mean

General Guidelines:

  1. Go to Khan Academy, and go to the ‘Topic wise-section’ of Math.
  2. Practice each topic individually.
  3. Practice until you get to 4-skill-level of each topic.
  4. Then try each topic at 4-skill-level without errors (5 in a row)
  5. Always note down the mistakes you made and then learn the concepts. The EXACT concepts are always tested.
  6. Always time yourself.
  7. Learn the basic uses of a scientific calculator (solving linear/quadratic equations etc.)

This should take a few days only. After that just start giving the mini overall Math test and keep up the practice. Try to not have any errors. And INSTANTLY learn a concept the moment you do any mistake

Extra Tip:

Always UNDERLINE what the question wants. Most of the math errors are not because of LACK OF KNOWLEDGE but are SILLY mistakes. Underlining that specific part of a question minimizes that.

E.g. 2X+6=12, find out 3X+6. Our brains usually lead us to find X and to choose the value of X from the choices. Underlining the QUESTION REQUIREMENT stops this error.

See also: বিদেশে পড়তে যাওয়ার সুবিধা-অসুবিধা

Finally, with enough practice, getting a decent score shouldn’t be tough.

Resources:

I highly recommend new SAT Princeton Review for the grammar rules. They are to the point and sufficient to cover the SAT syllabus. In this case, use Khan Academy for only practice (mainly the questions which ask for passage improvement). The link has been provided here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3MarER47imQaHlHSk50bkZyeGc/view

Tips for NCTB:

Learn the grammar rules from Princeton Review. They are bound to test these rules every year and knowing them will earn you 50% of the marks in Writing.

  1. Learn the rules of Punctuation (semi colon, colon and comma usage etc.)
  2. Know about parallel structure.
  3. Understand the dangling modifiers and run on sentences
  4. Be careful about Subject-Verb agreements and Pronoun references.
Take preparation for SAT with ease!

To study in USA, you have to sit for SAT. Here is a complete playlist to guide you through your preparation for the exam. May the force be with you!

And to know more about study hacks, you can check out this playlist!

10 Minute School’s Study Hacks Series

WRITING

General Guidelines:

  1. Learn the concepts clearly from Princeton Review. I can’t stress this enough.
  2. Go to Khan Academy and practice the Mini-tests. This is the ONLY efficient way of practicing Writing as far as I know.
  3. Identify your mistakes and use the ‘Topic-wise section’ to hone those skills.
  4. Sections like ‘Conventional expressions’, ‘Frequently Confused Words’, ‘Precision and Concision’, ‘Style and Tone’ don’t fall under specific grammar rules and have to be understood for accuracy. But fortunately, practicing from the ‘Topic-wise section’ a few time gives you a clear understanding and should be sufficient to tackle all sorts of derivations.
  5. Always time yourself.
  6. TIME is a SERIOUS ENEMY in this section.

Extra Tip:

REMEMBER, ALL the basic grammar rules WILL BE TESTED for sure in the exam. Be vigilant to score those solid marks allotted to questions testing every rule.

And with a clear understanding and timed practice, a good score shouldn’t be that tough.

Resources:

I highly recommend that you DO NOT FOLLOW any other source EXCEPT KHAN ACADEMY. ONLY Khan Academy provides accurate Reading Passages similar to the real SAT. Barron’s and Princeton Review are highly INCONSISTENT with the original test and its questions, and should NOT be used for practice.

I found this article from PrepScholar really detailed. It clearly shows how to APPROACH a passage and how to efficiently use the LIMITED PRACTICE MATERIALS. The link has been provided: http://blog.prepscholar.com/how-to-get-800-on-sat-reading-10-strategies-by-a-perfect- scorer

The article mentioned above contains the perfect advice for tackling the reading section.

Tips for NCTB:

1. Although vocabulary isn’t a core issue in this new format of SAT, a strong vocabulary is essential for a high score. For good vocabulary, learn from the OLD BARRON’s SAT book.

Start with the ‘High Frequency and Hot Prospect’ words for an initial foundation. Keep practicing them by maintaining a notebook. Write down any new word you find. This will not only help you in the SAT but for a required English Proficiency in your whole life.

READING

2. Practice a lot of reading. Long passages like those in the SAT will feel like a massive boulder thrown at you if you don’t have prior habits of reading, and by reading I mean reading any English book any general, be it academic or literary.

Read as many books as you can. Try reading novels, because the ones that suit your tastes will give you the pleasure of a lifetime all the while preparing you for the SAT boulders as well.

Steps:

  1. Practice the individual mini-tests from Khan Academy, I repeat, it’s the ONLY reliable source for reading.
  2. When reading a passage, keep in mind that YOU WILL BE ASKED some similar questions, so read accordingly and be prepared to form an answer in mind. Some similar question examples are: Single passage
  • The main purpose of the paragraph is to
  • Over the passage the author’s focus shifts from
  • The word ‘abcd’ most nearly means
  • Which statement best summarizes the passage
  • The quote ‘abcd efghi’ was used to infer Double passage
  • Which choice best describes the relationship between passage 1 and 2
  • The difference between passage 1 and 2 is
  • To which statement will authors of both passage agree
  1. In case of Paired Questions:
    E.g. Question 1: ‘ABCD’ can be characterized as Question 2: Which choice provides the best evidence as answer to the previous question?Sometimes I used this approach where I first noted the options of the 2nd question and tried to see if an option of the 1st question directly matched with the concept of a particular option in the 2nd question. This approach allowed me to answer almost all paired questions correctly and in less time.
  2. Time is a serious enemy in this sector as well.
  3. Always time yourself. I can’t stress this enough.
  4. This is crucial in reading. Don’t ponder on any question for more than 25 seconds. Skip it and return to it at the end. The question ALWAYS seems easier when you return. Trust me.
  5. There is always a correct answer. Don’t guess, eliminate other answers first.
  6. Deduce from the EXACT words of the passage. I recommend you do not bring your prior knowledge  on the subject matter into action.
See also: Vocabulary দ্রুত এবং সহজে শেখার ৬টি নিয়ম

Extra tip:

After every paragraph of a passage, write down a mini-summary beside it. If possible, write down the connection between two consequent paragraphs. Just doing this can help you answer 4-5 questions of every passage. And this saves time as well.

And with a clear understanding of the question patterns and timed practice, a good score shouldn’t be that tough.

USING PRACTICE MATERIALS

I must remind you that the 6 Practice Tests available at Khan Academy are the only RELIABLE materials and should be used wisely so that you improve radically after every one.

  1. ALWAYS maintain proper timing. Create the perfect exam-environment for practice.
  2. When giving a practice test, do it EXACTLY like the exam format, at a stretch, with gaps of only 10 minutes. The SAT is designed to hit on the fatigue that comes from continuous exam-taking. So the MATH section that comes after the ENGLISH section might seem tougher when given continuously than when given separately.
  3. After every exam, analyze EVERY answer:
    • Skip it if you were correct without hesitation.
    • If you were correct with hesitation/wrong, note down the correct answer without looking at the explanation and solve it again. Try to eliminate all wrong answers before looking at the explanation.
    • Once you are done, know the answer, note down the reason for your mistake and hone the relevant concept.
    • Remember the SAT always HAS ONE CORRECT answer and CLUES required to ELIMINATE the wrong answers. Be sure to find them.
  4. Only once you have revised and corrected all concepts of one exam should you move onto the next one.
  5. Your scores might not improve drastically after a certain range or might even deteriorate,don’t get demotivated. Keep on practicing.
  6. Analyzing and improving on 6 tests with sincerity will surely take you to the top score ranges.
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CONCLUSION

The guidelines provided above are by no chance restrictive or fault-proof. These are just personal suggestions I believe can be useful. One can improve or practice by other methods, or from other resources and can get perfect scores in their own methods as well. This guide serves a simple purpose of providing a precise direction to those who are pondering over how to start preparing for this exam. Hope it helped.

Finally, the SAT isn’t the only criteria deciding your chances of admission. So despite the attention it requires, it shouldn’t be one’s only area of prioritization. So, good luck for your SATs, good luck for your applications. May the odds be ever in your favor!


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Author
Seeam Shahid Noor

Seeam Shahid Noor

Seeam Shahid Noor is a freshman currently studying at Harvard University. He spends his leisure playing futsal, cricket or dreaming about the plate of Biriyani he can eat once he returns to Bangladesh for a vacation.
You can reach him at [email protected]
Seeam Shahid Noor
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