Part 1 of this series covered some misconceptions about grades, the SAT, and the PSAT, as well as some strategies for improving your scores and chances of getting free college. Today, I’ll explain some specific strategies for the different sections of the SAT.
By knowing that each test must follow the same patterns, profiles and standards, students can ace the SAT test once they learn to forgo studying content and learn to study the test itself. It is a standardized test that is objective and can be beaten.
The SAT reading passages are the most-hated section of the test. Not surprising really, when you realize that students have 65 minutes to read 6 passages and answer 52 questions. That boils down to only one and a quarter minutes per question—and that’s without factoring in reading time.
Speed-reading is not the answer.
With the right know-how, you can cut in half the time you need to answer all the questions successfully! By understanding that most of the information is superfluous (and even misleading), students can learn to discern exactly what they should read.
Students unknowingly tend to approach it like English class by analyzing or interpreting the passages, when in fact up to 75% of the passage is unnecessary to read. Not knowing what to expect on the test is a hindrance to getting a great score. There are 3 types of passages and 5 types of questions that recur on each test, and techniques to tackling one type helps with tackling the next types.
Students tend to worry about not knowing all the math answers, especially if it is not their strong suit.
There are many who love mathematics and are good at it, but find that the SAT math section is their lowest score. One reason is that they work out problems the long way and even show all their work. Approaching the SAT math as you do in school will end in frustration, especially when you come across what appears to be an unknown concept.
The good news is that every SAT math problem can be answered quickly and often without calculations, by learning built-in shortcuts. The questions do contain basic math, but they are written in a logical format so what is being tested are your skills of critical thinking, using math as the medium.
The first resort for a student is to use a calculator, but the more calculations that you perform, the greater the chance of making mistakes, and the more time you could be wasting. You only have about one minute per question, so testing all four answers eats up a lot of time.
With the right knowledge, you won’t need to test more than two answers, which automatically cuts your answer time in half. And you won’t need to be like most other students who tend to read the question and then look for the answer in the four choices. Once you know where to look, more often than not you’ll find that the question itself points directly to the answer, avoiding the need for you to go back to crunching numbers.
The Writing and Language section is now combined with the Reading score with 4 passages, 44 questions, and 35 minutes in which to finish. That’s a blisteringly-short 40 seconds per question. One of the patterns that appears up to 75% of the time allows students to answer these questions in only 10 seconds! Imagine how that little-known shortcut could change your college aspirations.
The beauty of a standardized test is that the system is designed to be reliable and sustainable. The college system is here to stay and you can take advantage of that.
For example, you may have forgotten a lot of the grammar rules learned in elementary school. No worries though—the writing section uses 13 recurring patterns that you need to know and, of course, can learn to recognize, so you don’t need to recall every rule you memorized (and forgot)!
There are several reasons always to write the essay that can yield great benefits:
- It creates a complete profile for scholarships
- It might mean an exemption from writing classes
- It can be a determining factor for college (and scholarship) eligibility.
The essay is a 50-minute format at the end of the SAT. Students can follow a proven template and write an analytical paper demonstrating how the given document’s author built his or her argument.
There are 3600 judges across the nation faced with the overwhelming responsibility to read and grade tens of thousands of subjective essays. Fortunately, they use an objective and standardized grading system. They apply it to every essay regardless of who writes it, where they live or how they are schooled.
Students will always be faced with standardized testing—whether at college, on the job, or at post-grad school. But rather than see it as something to be feared, you can be smart, take advantage of the inbuilt nature of the testing environment, and benefit to an amazing degree.
You can help your child get trained in test-taking skills. The specific techniques and strategies will help them with most standardized tests since by their very nature, all standardized tests must reliably follow the same patterns.
What you learn for college entrance will stand you and your child in great stead for life beyond—perhaps for the even more expensive grad school, law school, or med school. Hopefully with your deepening knowledge of the whole system, you’ll feel more hope and faith that your student will have a far easier time of getting where they want to go.
When the time comes, you’ll be pleased to learn that farther down the line, entrance exams are also standardized and receiving full rides to post-grad school can also be reality. There are various financial avenues to pay for college, and it’s reassuring to know that many can even follow you long after graduation.
Ultimately however, the ideal goal is to be debt-free when you start your new life and career. I hope you have gained a great deal from this series. These take-home points will improve your chances to get a free ride to college.
It is possible—that being a homeschooling parent—you have had a lot less exposure to the intricacies of the SAT (and similar standardized tests) than those who have had direct links to mainstream schooling.
But if I have helped you with anything, I hope it is this:
- Take advantage of the reliable standardized nature of SAT testing;
- Know and take advantage of the testing and scoring rules;
- Find the right program to teach your child how to recognize the repeated patterns in the tests and get plenty of practice;
- Sit back and watch the positive impact
I want to leave you and your child with this final point: your ultimate decision to go to college should always be based on your passions, not the finances.
Stack the cards in your favor by getting the very best SAT score you can. When you do that, you open up many, many doors to your own bright future. With the right knowledge and practice, that future could very well start with a brilliant SAT score, leading to amazing scholarships and even free college.