The newly redesigned SAT is nearly upon us, with the first administration set for March 5. There are major changes to the exam, which goes from three parts to two (math and a combined language and writing with an optional essay), is 45 minutes shorter and has shifted its focus from an emphasis on general reasoning skills to knowledge and skills.
Here are some tips for taking the new SAT from a test prep expert named Shaan Patel, who is the founder of Prep Expert Test Prep (formerly 2400 Expert), a #1 bestselling SAT prep book author and an MD/MBA student at Yale and the University of Southern California. He raised his own SAT score from average to perfect and teaches students his methods in an online SAT prep class. He recently went on ABC’s Shark Tank and secured a deal with billionaire Mark Cuban for $250,000 in exchange for 20 percent equity in Prep Expert in order to expand the company’s SAT and ACT prep classes to 20 cities and online.
The College Board, which owns the SAT, insisted for years that the college entrance exam was not coachable, or that if it was, improvements were never better than slight. But now the organization has gotten itself in the test prep business itself, entering into a partnership with the online Khan Academy for free SAT help.
By Shaan Patel
Many students are taking the redesigned New SAT that comes out on March 5th. For the first time in over a decade, the College Board is making some major changes to the SAT, including going back to a 1600-point scale (instead of 2400). Here are some last-minute prep tips for this new test:
(1) SAT General Strategy: Don’t Flip Back & Forth — Most students approach standardized tests by circling the correct answer in the test booklet, flipping to the answer sheet and bubbling in the answer, and then returning to the test booklet to tackle the next question. This is not the most efficient approach because it wastes time and interrupts the flow of the test. To save time and decrease interruptions, only flip to the answer sheet after you have answered an entire page of questions in your test booklet. For example, if there are five SAT questions on one page of the test booklet, don’t flip to the answer sheet to bubble-in answers until you’ve circled the correct answer to those five questions on that page of the test booklet first. In addition, answering an entire page of SAT questions will increase your confidence to tackle the next page of SAT questions.
(2) SAT Math Strategy: SAP — Substitute Answers in Problem — You can avoid algebra altogether on the SAT Math section when there are variables in the question and numbers in the answer choices. Simply plug in the numbers from the answer choices back into the original algebraic equation to see if the problem works out fine. This strategy is especially effective on the new radioactive decay and exponential growth problems on the New SAT.
(3) SAT Reading Strategy: BOSS — Build (Your) Own Simple Solution — This is the key to unlocking the SAT Reading section. Create your own answer before looking at the answer choices. In order to avoid peeking, cover answer choices with your hand. BOSS solves the biggest problem associated with the SAT section: selecting enticing, but incorrect answer choices. Imagine going on a treasure hunt without knowing what the treasure looks like. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, then it’s hard to find the right item. Similarly, reading through answer choices without knowing what you’re looking for can make it hard to find the right answer. BOSS is like having a picture of the treasure!
(4) SAT Writing Strategy: COP — Cross Out Prepositions — Grammar errors are almost never in prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases only distract you from grammar errors. You can remember many prepositions by thinking of anything a squirrel can do to a log (ex. in, on, out, under, etc.). To quickly identify writing errors, cross out prepositions. By focusing on the simplified sentence that does not contain prepositional phrases, you will be able to identify grammatical writing errors more easily. For example, let’s examine the following sentence:
“Until it is managed by a new, more effective, and more understanding administration, the teachers will continue to strike.”
The pronoun mismatch error between “it” and “teachers” becomes much more apparent when you ignore the prepositional phrase “by a new, more effective and more understanding administration.”
“Until it is managed, the teachers will continue to strike.”
(5) SAT Essay Strategy: Essay Templates — Although the essay section is technically optional, many competitive colleges will require students to submit their New SAT score with the essay. The New SAT requires students to write an analysis essay based on an argumentative passage that they read. To have a competitive advantage over other students, develop a pre-formed essay template that will work for almost any argumentative passage you read on test day. Templates will not only help you write unbelievably powerful essays, but also save you a lot of time other students would waste on test day. SAT graders can’t score your essay lower even if they know you’re using a template because the SAT is a standardized test. Because the SAT is a standardized test, essay graders must give standardized scores. This means that if you write an essay that is very similar to a perfect-score essay, then you too must get a perfect score. Otherwise, the scores would no longer be comparable, which would ruin the whole point of a standardized exam.
Here is the template for the introduction paragraph that we teach at Prep Expert:
“In [Article Title], [Author Name] synthesizes a compelling dissertation that [Passage’s Key Point]. Although some detractors may believe [What Detractors Believe], the arguments set forth in the article dismiss such romantic critics as excessively dogmatic in their provincial ideology. One of the broader notions presented in the essay is that [Major Idea in Article]. [Author’s Last Name] deftly delivers a cogent argument to sway his/her readers by [3 CREW SAID Tools].”
Here’s how a student could use our introduction essay template when analyzing a passage about the humanities.
In “The Enduring Value of a Humanities Education,” Jane Smith synthesizes a compelling dissertation that knowledge relating to the humanities is indispensable to the progress of society. Although some detractors may believe the advancement of education strictly focused on technology is key to national development, the arguments set forth in the article dismiss such romantic critics as excessively dogmatic in their provincial ideology. One of the broader notions presented in the essay is that an education in the humanities magnifies a person’s versatility to be a productive member of society. Smith deftly delivers a cogent argument to sway her readers by citing prominent authorities, implying broad repercussions, and using stark contrast.
The above represents just five of the 100 strategies that we teach in our New SAT courses at Prep Expert (formerly 2400 Expert).