A successful “morning of” preparation to take the Dec 6 SAT

early morning

Yesterday I woke up around 6:15 to start my SAT morning.  I made coffee, grabbed a water, two pieces of chocolate, two Kind bars and half a bagel, and packed those up in my baggalini bag.  I did about five minutes of jumping jacks and running-in-place.  I chose to eat a bowl of chicken-noodle soup in order to get the nutrition without weighing down my digestive system.

I am glad I left extra early: 7:15 for a 7:45 deadline to arrive.  I missed the turn for the school and parked in the most completely inconvenient part of the parking lot for the test location.  I had to work through a byzantine stretch of silent dimly-lit corridors with zero signs posted until I heard the din of teenagers crowded in the main entrance.  Next time, I’ll definitely check out the location ahead of time!

The staff was well-organized and seated us quickly.  My proctor put up a digital timer, so the digital watch with silent timer that I had diligently researched was completely unnecessary.  He allowed the five minute break after every two sections, although he cut it short if he saw everyone was back in the room.  During my breaks I used the restroom, drank a lot of water, sipped coffee, and ate either parts of a Kind bar or chocolate.

I felt physically and mentally strong during the entire test, so I would definitely repeat this morning prep in the future!

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Save Time and Eliminate Possibilities with These Four SAT Math Grid-In Tips

scantronMath is the toughest part of the perfect SAT score goal for me.  The fact is (and you can check this with the scoring guides at the end of the first four tests in the blue book) there is almost no room for error or blanks.  This is in contrast to the Critical Reading where you can leave three blank and still score an 800!

The tips below are specifically about the 18-question math section(s) on the SAT.  Hopefully you’ve noticed that this section is quite different in appearance than the 16 and 20-question sections.  After question 8, it has a grid-in section with no multi-choice answers!

Did you also realize that the order of difficulty is different?  …that there can be no negative answers? … that you must bubble in the answer, but you don’t have to write it in the squares?  … that you should never try to fill-in a mixed number?

Let’s start with the order of difficulty.  This 18-question section doesn’t go from easy to hard in a straight shot like the other sections; it goes easy to hard from 1-8, then easy to hard from 9-18.  What does that mean for you?  That means if number 7 or 8 is giving you the sweats, you should choose to collect easier points (they are all worth the same, you know!) by starting number 9 in the grid-in and come back to those later.

The second point is simple: there is no option to bubble-in a negative sign, so the answer will NEVER be negative!

The third point is for those of you that are always worried about time- and who isn’t?  If you are confident that you don’t need to handwrite the numbers in order to correctly bubble them in, then don’t handwrite them.  It’s only a suggestion to do so, not a requirement.  The writers don’t want to be blamed because you mis-bubbled 1/3 as 1/(space)3 by accident.

Finally, always bubble in the improper forms of fractions instead of their mixed numeral forms (if they are top-heavy).  In other words, don’t try to bubble 53/4 for “five and three-fourths”.  It will be read as “fifty-three fourths”.  Instead, bubble in the improper version: 23/4.

Remember to work with focus and speed on the math, and make sure to time yourself as you practice the blue book tests.  Best of luck on next Saturday’s test!

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Two tips for Error IDs on the SATs

I’ve uploaded a YouTube video to introduce the way to look for pronoun and verb errors on the Error ID section of the SATs.

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Facts about the Redesigned PSAT

Many families are aware that the redesigned SAT will be administered starting in March of 2016, but they may not be aware that the redesigned PSAT will be administered months earlier in the fall of 2015.

The new PSAT will be longer than the current one: 2 hours 45 minutes instead of 2 hours and 10 minutes. It will still have reading, writing and math sections but the College Board has fancy new titles for them: “Evidence-based reading and writing” instead of “Critical Reading” and “Writing”. These are, like the old PSAT, exercises in understanding word choice and reasoning.

Side note: When one reads the new College Board descriptions one is bombarded with references to “making students college-ready”. This concept comes out of a lofty ideal that the PSAT will be used by educators in the high school classroom to gauge their students’ abilities in reading and writing. Having been a social studies teacher, and at the AP level at that, I can safely say I’ve never been offered, nor asked to see a student’s PSAT score. Despite the fact that I’ve met teachers from all over the country, I’ve never heard of other teachers using the PSAT in this way either. So if there’s a school doing this- let me know!

Back to the facts about the PSAT…

Some good news is here about the scoring of the PSAT: the scores will be in ranges similar to the real SAT. The old PSAT had a completely different range, so parents often wondered “how would this PSAT translate to a real SAT score?” Hopefully this makes assessing a student’s progress easier. Also, there will actually be a breakdown of the individual scores so that family members can clearly see where deficiencies and strengths may be.

For more info: https://www.collegeboard.org/delivering-opportunity/sat/redesign

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Over 2000 Business Schools Accept Either GMAT or GRE!

Good news for those of you who worried about that GMAT math section. (No calculator!)
More and more MBA programs will accept the calculator-friendly GRE instead.

Here’s a current list:

http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/about/mba/programs/

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What is “data analysis” according to GRE math?

The data analysis questions on the GRE Quantitative Analysis (i.e. Math) section require skills such as “describe past and present trends, predict future events with some certainty…” (The Official Guide to the GRE).    What that means for the test-taker is that questions will contain frequency distributions, bar graphs, circle graphs, histograms, scatterplots, and time plots.

histogram This is an example of a histogram.  The Y axis will often have probability or, in this case, frequency.  The percentages you see in the picture are frequencies that simply refer to how often the event in the X axis occurred.  In this case, we are told that out of a total of 25 families, the children were chosen for something.  There were six families who had 3 children and one can see on this histogram that the probability of one of those being chosen is 6/25 or 24%.

(Look at the x value of 3 and follow with your finger to the top where it would match about 24% on the Y axis.)  This is the kind of histogram interpretation that would be involved in an actual question.

 

Other data analysis questions may not involve a chart, but just be represented as a word problem.  For example, when given daily temperatures for 5 days in July, one would have to find the mean, median, mode and range.  A follow-up question might involve changing the given temperatures and then figuring the new quantities.

5 days in July: 90, 88, 85, 85, 87

Mean = (90+88+85+87)/5 = 87

Median = the number in the middle when put in order=  87

Mode = the most frequent number= 85

Range = the difference between the highest and lowest quantity= 5

If each day was 5 degrees cooler, what would the new mean, median, mode and range be?  (82, 82, 80, 5)

 

Hopefully this quick summary has been helpful.

Best of luck!  Tanya Panossian-Lesser

 

 

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Geometry on the GRE

This is a second post about the quantitative reasoning sections on the GRE.  In the previous post, I gave an arithmetic example.  Now I’m following up with a “medium” geometry question in that same “quantitative comparison” style, then a “hard” question in a multi-choice style.

photo(7)

from the Official Guide to the GRE

 

 

In the figure above, the diameter of the circle is 10.

Quantity A

The area of quadrilateral ABCD

Quantity B

40

Is Quantity A higher than B?  Or vice versa?  Are they the same?  Or is there too little information?

When reviewing our knowledge of quadrilaterals, we remember that this shape is a kite.  Kites’ properties include the following: the diagonals multiplied together equals twice the area of the figure.  This would be a good lead if we had information on what a BD chord (not shown) length would be… but we don’t!  So the answer will be that there is too little information.

Perhaps it’s been too long since you’ve thought about all the different quadrilaterals and their properties.  It is a great idea to review those topics.  Here’s one post about kites, for example.

 

There is also the multiple choice format in geometry.  The following is an example of a “hard” question.

photo(8)

from the Official Guide to the GRE

 

 

Parallelogram OPQR lies in the xy-plane, as shown in the figure above.  The coordinates of point P are (2, 4) and the coordinates of point Q are (8,6).  What are the coordinates of point R?

A. (3, 2)

B. (3,3)

C. (4,4)

D.  (5, 2)

E. (6, 2)

What we know about parallelograms is that their sides are parallel, and therefore have the same slope.  We are given the endpoints of PQ, so we should find the slope using the slope formula.  That requires you take the difference of the Ys and put them over the difference of the Xs.  This “rise over run” would be found with 6-4 over 8-2, or 2 over 6.  This is the same slope for OR, since it’s parallel to PQ.  So if we rise 2 and run 6 from point O, which is (0,0), then we will match answer E.

PWN the SAT’s Mike McClenathan’s review about lines is here and is super-helpful!

 

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