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Welcome to the SAT Exam Cram! Whether this is your first or your fifteenth Exam Cram series book, you'll find information here that will help ensure your success as you pursue knowledge, experience, and acceptance to the college of your choice. This introduction explains the SAT in general and talks about how the Exam Cram series can help you prepare for the SAT exam. Chapters 1 through 8 are designed to remind you of everything you'll need to know in order to take--and do well on--the SAT exam. Chapter 9 includes a wide-ranging discussion of test-taking strategies for the SAT. The two sample tests at the end of the book should give you a reasonably accurate assessment of your knowledge--and, yes, we've provided the answers and their explanations to the tests. Read the book and understand the material, and you'll stand a very good chance of doing well on the test.
Exam Cram books help you understand and appreciate the subjects and materials you need to pass many types of exams. Exam Cram books are aimed strictly at test preparation and review. They do not teach you everything you need to know about a topic. Instead, we'll present and dissect the questions and problems we've found that you're likely to encounter on a test. We've worked to bring together as much information as possible about the SAT exam.
Nevertheless, to completely prepare yourself for this exam, we recommend that you begin by taking the Self-Assessment that is included in this book, immediately following this introduction. The Self-Assessment will help you evaluate your knowledge base against the skills that the SAT tests, andwill help you determine the areas where you might need some additional study and practice.
Based on what you learn from the Self-Assessment, you might decide to begin your studies with some classroom training, some practice exams, or some background reading. On the other hand, you might decide to start working immediately with the material in this book.
The very first step in taking the SAT is to register for a test session. There are four ways to register for the SAT:
Online registration (go to collegeboard.com/student/ testing/sat/reg.html) is probably the easiest way for most students to register these days. You'll select a test date, pay with a credit card, and complete the transaction entirely online.
Phone registration is available, but only if you've registered by another means at least once before. Call (800) 728-7267 or (609) 771-7600 to use the automated system, or (609) 771-7600 to speak to a customer service representative.
Mail registration lets you do everything with paper rather than online. You'll need a copy of the Registration Bulletin, which you should be able to get from your high school guidance counselor.
Standby registration is for the chronic procrastinator. You fill in the same forms that you would to register by mail, but you bring them, along with an extra $35 fee, to the test center on testing day. Then you hope there will be room to cram you in.
Deadlines and prices change from year to year. (though the prices never seem to go down). You can get the details from your guidance counselor or from the College Board website.
However you register, you need to get some information together to navigate through the process. Here's what you'll need:
Your grade point average and class rank.
Your intended college major.
Information about the colleges you're considering, such as whether they're public or private, 4-year or 2-year, and so on. You can just check "undecided" if you want to breeze through this section of the registration.
Information about the high school courses you've taken or plan to take: how many years of math, of English, and so on.
Information about your high school extracurricular activities.
Which exam you want to take (for the regular SAT, select "SAT Reasoning Test").
Your six-digit high school code. You can get this from your guidance counselor. If you're registering online, you can also select your high school from a list.
The date that you intend to take the exam.
Whether you want to sign up for the Student Answer Service. This service will give you a report on whether you answered each question correctly, and helps you find areas where you should study harder. It costs $9 in 2005, and we recommend signing up if you're planning to take the SAT more than once.
The code for the test center where you want to take the test. You can find this in the printed Registration Bulletin, or select it from a list if you're registering online. If you're fortunate enough to live in an urban area where several test centers are close to you, talk to students who have already taken the SAT to find out which test centers offer comfortable testing conditions.
The colleges you want to get a copy of your scores. You can select up to four free when you're registering; if you wait until later, you'll need to pay for each score report. If you have any idea which colleges you're going to apply to, you might as well get the scores sent free.
Tip - The College Board also offers some special services, including special accommodations for students with disabilities, fee waivers for low-income students, and alternative testing dates for religious reasons. You should discuss these services with your guidance counselor if you feel you qualify.
After you've registered, you've got at least a month (hopefully more, because there's no point in waiting until the last minute to register) to study for the SAT. Of course, we think you can spend that time profitably with this book! This is also a good time to take practice exams so that you become familiar with the format of the SAT.
On test day, you need to be at the testing center a few minutes before 8 a.m. You also need to bring the test day essentials:
Your admission ticket. You'll need this to get in, so don't forget it. If you lose your admission ticket before the test, you can print a fresh one by visiting the College Board website.
A photo ID (usually your driver's license or passport, or a school ID with your photograph).
Your calculator. You're allowed to use a calculator on the math sections. Make sure that it has fresh batteries.
At least three No. 2 pencils. If you're hard on pencils, or want to be able to break a few to get over frustrating sections, bring more.
A travel clock, watch, or stopwatch to keep track of the time even if you can see a clock in the testing center.
Note - For more tips on preparing for the SAT, see Chapter 9, "Strategies for Raising Your Score."
The format of the SAT is fixed. That is, although the questions vary from test date to test date, there will always be the same number of questions. Here's how it breaks down:
A writing section consisting of 18 questions on identifying sentence errors, 25 questions on improving sentences, 6 questions on improving paragraphs, and 1 essay. You'll have 25 minutes for the essay, and the other questions will be broken up into two 25-minute sections and one 10-minute section. We'll cover the writing section in Chapters 1 and 2.
A critical reading section consisting of 19 sentence completion questions and 48 passage-based reading questions. This will be broken up into two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section. We'll cover the critical reading section in Chapters 3, 4, and 5.
A math section consisting of 44 multiple-choice questions and 10 student-produced response questions. This will be broken up into two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section. We'll cover the math section in Chapters 6, 7, and 8.
If you add it all up, it comes to 170 questions and an essay, for which you have a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes. That's a long day indeed. One of the 25-minute sections is what the College Board calls a "variable section": This section doesn't count toward your score, but is used to make sure that the different forms of the SAT are comparable. Not every student gets the same SAT; the sections will be in different orders, or there might even be different sections. The ungraded variable section is used as a way for the College Board to check the difficulty of a particular form of the SAT. But because there's no way for you to know which of the sections is the variable section, you might as well not worry about it.
SAT scoring is relatively simple. Your score takes into account three different types of questions:
Most of the SAT questions are multiple-choice questions with five possible answers. Each correct answer adds one point to your raw score, and each incorrect answer subtracts one fourth of a point. If you don't answer a question, it doesn't count one way or the other. This system is designed to make random guessing have no effect on your score.
There will be one math section containing student-produced response questions. On these questions, you fill in a grid to indicate the digits in your answer, rather than selecting answers from a list. On these questions, each correct answer adds one point to your raw score, but there is no penalty for a wrong answer. So, if you have the slightest idea what the answer is on these questions, go ahead and guess.
Finally, there's the essay. Your essay will be graded by two separate readers, each of whom can assign a score from zero (the lowest) to six (the highest). A score of zero is reserved for essays that are blank, that have nothing to do with the topic assigned, or that are completely illegible.
The raw scores are then converted into a scale that runs from 200 (the lowest) to 800 (the highest) in each of the three areas of the exam (critical reading, writing, and math). Your essay counts for about 30% of the writing score. The conversion process is designed to even out the differences between different forms of the SAT, so that a score of 700 on one date is meant to be exactly equivalent to a score of 700 on another date--even a score of 700 on an SAT taken in a different year. The idea is that no matter which set of SAT questions you saw, you did as well as anyone else who got the same score.
This book will not teach you everything you need to know about reading, writing, and math, or even about a given topic within those fields. Nor is this book an introduction to the subjects covered on the SAT. For learning the material from start to finish, there's no substitute for your high school textbooks and coursework. This book will review what you need to know before you take the test, with the fundamental purpose dedicated to reviewing the information needed on the SAT exam.
This book uses a variety of teaching and memorization techniques to analyze the exam-related topics and to provide you with ways to input, index, and retrieve everything you'll need to know in order to pass the test. Once again, it is not an introduction to the skills covered by the SAT.
This book is designed to be read as a pointer to the areas of knowledge you will be tested on. In other words, you may want to read the book one time, just to get an insight into how comprehensive your knowledge of the SAT is. The book is also designed to be read shortly before you go for the actual test and to give you a distillation of the entire range of subjects that the SAT covers in as few pages as possible. We think you can use this book to get a sense of the underlying context of any topic in the chapters--or to skim for Exam Alerts, bulleted points, summaries, and topic headings.
We've drawn on material from the College Board's own listing of knowledge requirements, from other preparation guides, and from the exams themselves. We've also drawn from our own experience with writing, critical reading, and mathematics. Our aim is to walk you through the knowledge you will need--looking over your shoulder, so to speak--and point out those things that are important for the exam (using Exam Alerts, practice questions, and so on).
The SAT makes a basic assumption that you already have a strong background of experience with reading, writing, and mathematics on a high school senior level. On the other hand, because the scope of the SAT is so broad, no one can be a complete expert. We've tried to demystify the jargon, acronyms, terms, and concepts. Also, wherever we think you're likely to blur past an important concept, we've defined the assumptions and premises behind that concept.
If you're preparing for the SAT for the first time, we've structured the topics in this book to build upon one another. Therefore, the topics covered in later chapters might refer to previous discussions in earlier chapters. However, the writing, reading, and mathematics sections of the book are all independent from one another.
We suggest you read this book from front to back. You won't be wasting your time because nothing we've written is a guess about an unknown exam. We've had to explain certain underlying information on such a regular basis that we've included those explanations here.
Once you've read the book, you can brush up on a certain area by using the Index or the Table of Contents to go straight to the topics and questions you want to reexamine. We've tried to use the headings and subheadings to provide outline information about each given topic. After you've taken the SAT, we think you'll find this book useful as a tightly focused reference that you can use in your future studies as well.
Each Exam Cram chapter follows a regular structure, along with graphical cues about especially important or useful material. The structure of a typical chapter is as follows:
Opening Hotlists--Each chapter begins with lists of the terms you'll need to understand and the concepts you'll need to master before you can be fully conversant with the chapter's subject matter. We follow the hotlists with a few introductory paragraphs, setting the stage for the rest of the chapter.
Topical Coverage--After the opening hotlists, each chapter covers the topics related to the chapter's subject.
Exam Alerts--Throughout the topical coverage section, we highlight material most likely to appear on the exam by using a special Exam Alert layout that looks like this:
Caution - This is what an Exam Alert looks like. An Exam Alert stresses concepts, terms, or activities that will most likely appear in one or more exam questions. For that reason, we think any information found offset in Exam Alert format is worthy of unusual attentiveness on your part.
Even if material isn't flagged as an Exam Alert, all the content in this book is associated in some way with test-related material. What appears in the chapter content is critical knowledge.
Notes--This book is an overall examination of the topics covered on the SAT. As such, we'll dip into many aspects of critical reading, writing, and mathematics. Where a body of knowledge is deeper than the scope of the book, we use notes to indicate areas of concern or specialty training. The following is an example of a note.
Note - Cramming for an exam will get you through a test, but it won't make you a competent student. Although you can try to memorize just the facts you need in order to pass the SAT, you'll be much better off to spend time understanding the underlying concepts.
Tips--We provide tips that will help you to build a better foundation of knowledge or to focus your attention on an important concept that will reappear later in the book. Tips provide a helpful way to remind you of the context surrounding a particular area of a topic under discussion. The following shows you what a tip looks like.
Tip - You should also read Chapter 9, "Strategies for Raising Your Score," for helpful strategies used in taking the SAT. The introduction to the sample tests at the end of the book contains additional tips on how to figure out the correct response to a question and what to do if you draw a complete blank.
Exam Prep Questions--This section presents a short list of test questions related to the specific chapter topic. Following the questions are explanations of both correct and incorrect answers. The practice questions highlight the areas we found to be most important on the exam.
The bulk of the book follows this chapter structure, but there are a few other elements that we would like to point out:
Practice Exams--The practice exams, which appear in Chapters 10 and 12 (with answer keys in Chapters 11 and 13), are very close approximations of the types of questions you are likely to see on the current SAT.
Answer Keys--These provide the answers to the practice exams, complete with explanations of both the correct and incorrect responses.
Glossary--This is an extensive glossary of important terms used in this book.
Cram Sheet--This appears as a tear-away sheet, inside the front cover of this Exam Cram book. It is a valuable tool that represents a collection of the most difficult-to-remember facts and formulas we think you should memorize before taking the test. Remember, you can dump this information out of your head onto the margins of your test booklet as soon as you enter the testing room. These are usually facts that we've found require brute-force memorization. You only need to remember this information long enough to write it down when you walk into the test room.
You might want to look at the Cram Sheet in your car or in the lobby of the testing center just before you walk into the testing center. The Cram Sheet is divided under headings, so you can review the appropriate parts just before each test.
We've tried to create a real-world tool that you can use to prepare for and pass the SAT. We're interested in any feedback you would care to share about the book, especially if you have ideas about how we can improve it for future test takers. We'll consider everything you say carefully and will respond to all reasonable suggestions and comme reach us via email at MikeG1@larkfarm.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let us know if you found this book to be helpful in your preparation efforts. We'd also like to know how you felt about your chances of passing the exam before you read the book and then after you read the book. Of course, we'd love to hear that you aced the SAT--and even if you just want to share your triumph, we'd be happy to hear from you.
Thanks for choosing us as your personal trainers, and enjoy the book. We would wish you luck on the exam, but we know that if you read through all the chapters and work with the sample exams, you won't need luck--you'll do well on the strength of real knowledge!