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MASTERING THE SAT
CHAPTER 1 - THE BEST TEST PREP AND TESTWARE®
Your Total SAT Solution gives you everything you need to master the SAT exam, get an excellent
score, and move closer to your goal of getting into the college of your choice.
Written by test-prep experts, this book will refresh your subject knowledge, boost your testtaking
skills, and test what you’ve learned. REA’s all-in-one prep package includes our exclusive
TestWare® software and bonus online practice that makes it a cinch to improve your command of must-know SAT words.
• Our comprehensive, yet concise review covers the entire SAT. We provide test-taking tips and
preparation techniques you can use on the SAT—and on other standardized tests.
• A diagnostic test helps you become comfortable with the format of the SAT and shows you
the types of questions you’ll encounter on test day.
• Four full-length practice exams replicate the SAT question format and level of difficulty. The
timed exams on our TestWare® CD offer powerful scoring analysis and diagnostic feedback, to
help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses.
• Each practice test answer is explained in detail. If you answer a question wrong, we’ll show
you why. We don’t just say which answer is correct, we explain why the other answer choices
Bonus SAT Study Materials! Visit www.rea.com/ and enter REA’s online world of exclusive test prep resources:
• Online Practice Questions—boost your math, reading, and essay-writing skills!
• Exclusive SAT Vocabulary—hundreds of must-know SAT words you can study
• Free Practice SAT Exam—many colleges and universities require students to take SAT
Subject exams. REA helps you get a head start on your education by giving you a free exam.
Our goal is to help you get the best possible score on the SAT. By studying effectively and
concentrating on the material in this test prep, you’ll be ready to tackle the test.
WHAT’S THE SAT ALL ABOUT?
The SAT features two main sections (Critical Reading and Mathematics), as well as the Writing
section. Each of the three test sections (Critical Reading, Math, Writing) is scored on a 200–800
scale, making 2400 the highest score possible. You will also receive subscores on the multiple choice
and Essay portions of the Writing section. The total testing time is 3 hours, 45 minutes.
The Writing section contains an essay portion that asks you to take a position on an issue and
support it with examples from your studies and experience. The question is designed to be open ended, so you can successfully write your essay in many different ways. You are not required to
have any prior specific knowledge about the topic to write your essay.
The Writing section also includes multiple-choice questions that test your ability to identify
errors in sentences, improve sentences, and improve paragraphs. You are allotted 60 minutes to
complete the Writing section.
The Critical Reading section of the SAT focuses on vocabulary skills. A solid vocabulary is a
requirement for a good performance on all portions of Critical Reading. Other questions test your
ability to read at a quick pace while grasping a solid understanding of the material. The time allotted
for this section is 70 minutes.
The Mathematics section of the SAT includes algebra I, algebra II, arithmetic, and geometry
problems. The time allotted for the Math section is 70 minutes.
ABOUT THE TEST
Who takes the SAT? What is it used for?
Juniors and seniors in high school take the SAT. College admissions personnel use your test
results to decide if you can be admitted to their school. Because high schools across the nation
have a variety of grading systems, the SAT score is designed to put all students on an equal footing.
Your SAT score, along with your grades and other school information, helps colleges predict
how well you will do at the college level.
If you score poorly on the SAT, it does not mean you should change your plans about going to
college. Nor does it mean you will not do well in college. It just means you scored low. Should this
happen, remember that you have options:
First, you can register to take the SAT again. Use the time before the next SAT administration
to prepare as best you can. Second, a poor score does not automatically shut the door to all colleges.
College admissions officers use several criteria when reviewing applicants, such as your high
school grades, your extracurricular activities, and the levels of your courses in high school.
Who administers the test?
ETS, a client of the College Board, which owns the SAT, develops and scores the test and currently
administers it with the assistance of educators from across the United States.
When is it best to take the SAT?
You should take the test as a junior or senior in high school. We recommend taking the SAT
early in the school year. This allows you more time to retake the test if you are not satisfied with
your first set of scores.
When and where do I take the SAT?
The SAT is normally offered seven times a year nationwide. The test can be taken at hundreds
of locations throughout the country, including high schools. The standard test day is normally on
Saturday, but alternate days are permitted if a conflict—such as a religious obligation—exists.
For information on upcoming SAT testing dates, see your guidance counselor for a SAT Registration
Bulletin or contact ETS:
Educational Testing Service
Princeton, NJ 08541
phone: (609) 921–9000 | e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.ets.org
Is there a registration fee?
Yes. You must pay a fee to register for the SAT. Some students may qualify to have this fee
waived. To find out if you qualify for a fee waiver, contact your guidance counselor.
Are there Accommodations for Students with Disabilities?
Many students qualify for extra time to take the SAT, but you must make these arrangements
in advance. For information, talk to your guidance counselor or contact the College Board or ETS
Our TestWare® can be adapted to accommodate your time extension. This allows you to practice
under the same extended-time accommodations that you will receive on the actual test day. To
customize your TestWare® to suit the most common extensions, visit our website at www.rea.com/ssd.
When will I receive my SAT score report? What does the report contain?
Your score report will arrive approximately four weeks after you take the test. Your high
school, any colleges you indicated on your answer sheet, and select scholarship services will also
receive your scores. An online score delivery system of secondary schools and districts is now
available. Visit the College Board’s website for information.
Your SAT score report contains your total score for all three test sections and a list of the colleges
you designated to receive your scores. Your total score will also be broken down into raw
scores and scaled scores for the Critical Reading, Writing, and Math sections.
What is the Student Search Service?
The Student Search Service sends your SAT scores to colleges. Colleges enrolled in this service
receive information about you, especially if you express interest in their school. On your SAT
answer sheet, you can indicate that you want enrollment in this service.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK AND TESTWARE®
When should I start studying?
Make the best use of your time by following our study schedule (located in the front of this
book). The schedule is based on a ten-week program, but it can be shortened to five weeks if you
are starting late.
It is never too early to start preparing for the SAT. Time is your ally here. The sooner you begin,
the more time you can commit to performing better. It takes time to learn the test materials.
It takes time to learn the SAT’s format. It takes time to familiarize yourself with the test. Make the
most of your time to master the essentials necessary to achieve a higher score.
Where do I begin?
Start by reading the subject reviews and the test-taking tips. Then take Practice Test 1 on CD
to determine your strengths and weaknesses. Afterwards, go back and focus your study on those
areas. Reviewing the areas you did well on can help you improve your success on those types of
questions. Repeated study of the review material helps build and reinforce your skills. After you
have reviewed suffi iently, take the practice tests to familiarize yourself with the SAT’s format.
I started too late. What do I do now?
Last-minute cramming is not the best way to prepare for the SAT, but Your Total SAT Solution
can still help you raise your score. First, take Practice Test 1 on CD to pinpoint your strengths and
weaknesses. Review the areas where you are weak. Review the test-taking tips in this chapter; then
take Practice Test 2 on CD. Grade yourself and see where you did well and where you did poorly.
Review your weak areas again, paying close attention to the detailed answer explanations. If time
permits, take the diagnostic exam and Practice Test 3 in this book.
While this “crash course” method requires extra energy and focus, we realize that not everyone
always gives themselves enough time to prepare for the test the right way. Of course, if you score
poorly, you can always register for the next SAT exam. Just remember to plan ahead and schedule
your study time wisely for the next test, so you can get a great score.
Remember that your results may vary, but with enough time and preparation with this study
guide, you are well on your way to mastering the SAT.
FORMAT OF THE SAT
Critical Reading Sections: 70 minutes
There are two types of Critical Reading questions on the SAT:
• Reading Comprehension & Sentence Completion: 67 multiple-choice questions. Reading
Comprehension questions follow four reading passages that test your reading comprehension
and analysis skills. Sentence Completion questions require you to choose the
word or words that best fi t the meaning of each sentence provided.
Mathematics Sections: 70 minutes
In the Mathematics sections, you will encounter the following question types that test your algebra,
arithmetic, and geometry skills:
• Regular Math: 45 multiple-choice questions that test your general math knowledge.
• Student-Produced Response: 9 questions requiring you to solve problems and then enter
your answers onto the provided grid. There are no multiple-choice answers in this section.
Writing Sections: 60 minutes
In the Writing sections, you will answer multiple-choice questions that test your grammar and
reasoning skills as well as write an essay similar to the type required on in-class college essay
• Writing (35 minutes): 49 multiple-choice questions to measure your ability to identify sentence
errors, improve sentences, and improve paragraphs.
• Student Essay (25 minutes): Write an essay that effectively communicates your viewpoint
as well as defi nes and supports your position.
The use of calculators
Although solutions can be found to every math problem without them, calculators are permitted
during the SAT. You may use a programmable or nonprogrammable four-function, scientific, or graphing calculator. Pocket organizers, hand-held mini PCs, PDAs, paper tape, noisy calculators,
and calculators requiring an external power source are not allowed. Sharing calculators
is not permitted.
PREPPING WITH OUR STUDY REVIEWS
Use the reviews in this book to help sharpen your test-taking skills. During your studying, you
will acquire strategies for mastering each type of question. You will also find drills to reinforce
what you have learned. Using the reviews along with the practice exams will better prepare you
for the actual test.
Basic Verbal Skills Review
In this review, you will learn how to build your verbal skills. This review includes an extensive
vocabulary enhancer containing many of the words commonly found on the SAT. Separate reviews
are provided for both types of verbal questions: Critical Reading and Sentence Completion.
You will also get a feel for the type of questions you can expect on the SAT, along with step-bystep
strategies for mastering them.
The math drills in the Basic Math Skills Review will help to reinforce the algebra, arithmetic,
and geometry concepts needed to master the SAT. Separate reviews are provided for Regular
Math multiple-choice questions and Student-Produced Response questions. These reviews present
the types of questions you can encounter on the actual test, along with key strategies and tips on
solving math problems.
SCORING THE PRACTICE SAT EXAMS
How do I score my practice exam?
Math, Critical Reading, and Writing
To score these multiple-choice sections, count the number of correct responses. Enter the
numbers into the corresponding blanks on the Scoring Worksheet that follows this section. Next,
count up the number of incorrect responses and multiply this number by one-fourth; this is the
penalty for answering incorrectly. Enter this number for each section on the Scoring Worksheet
and subtract it from the number of correct responses. Total the scores for each subsection to get
your total unrounded raw scores for Critical Reading and Math. (Wait to total the Writing subscore
until you have scored your Essay.) Now, fractions should be rounded off. Round up for one-half or
more, and round down for less than one-half.
Two scorers will evaluate your SAT Essay, so make sure to have two people read your practice
essays. Because it is difficult to judge your own writing objectively, ask for a second opinion from
a friend, parent, or teacher. Comparing your essay according to the sample Essay in the Detailed
Answers and Explanations section can also help yu analyze your writing.
TEST-TAKING TIPS & STRATEGIES
There are many ways to familiarize yourself with the format of the SAT. Familiarization is a
great way to help alleviate test day anxieties. The following list will help you become accustomed
to the SAT.
Become comfortable with the SAT’s format: When practicing, simulate the conditions of the
actual test. Pace yourself and stay calm. After repeating this process a few times, you will boost
your confi dence and improve your chances of performing well on test-day.
Read all of the possible answers: If you believe you know the correct answer to a question, it
is best not to assume that your answer is automatically the correct answer. Read through all answer
choices to ensure that you are not making an error by jumping to conclusions.
Use the process of elimination: Examine each answer to a question. Eliminate as many of the
answer choices as possible. By eliminating just two answer choices, you have given yourself a better
chance of getting the correct answer out of the remaining three answer choices. Guess only if
you can eliminate at least two answers. Remember that ¼ point is deducted for every wrong answer
on multiple-choice questions.
Skip difficult questions: You are not penalized for not answering every question. Questions
left blank are not counted. Maximize this to your advantage by using a smart guessing strategy
where you are unsure of the right answer. Keep in mind that if you are truly stumped, you do not
have to answer.
Work quickly and steadily: You will only have 20 to 30 minutes to work on each section of the
SAT. Working quickly and steadily helps you avoid focusing too much attention and time on any
one problem. Use the practice exams in this book to help you manage your timing.
Learn the directions and format for each section of the test: Familiarize yourself with the directions
and format of each of the different test sections. This will help you avoid “direction shock”
during the test, when you might read directions that were better read at the start of the test.
Shocks like these can make you nervous. Nervousness causes mistakes, and these kinds of mistakes
are completely avoidable.
Work on the easier questions fi rst: The questions for each section of the SAT are arranged in ascending order of difficulty. The easier questions are at the beginning of each section, while the more
difficult questions are at the end of the section. If you find yourself working too long on a single question, make a mark next to it in the test booklet and continue with the next question. After you have answered the remaining questions, return to the ones you skipped.
Mark your answers carefully: Be sure that the answer sheet oval corresponds to the question
and answer of your test booklet. Because the multiple-choice sections are graded mechanically,
marking one wrong answer can throw off your answer key and ruin your score. Be extremely
Eliminate obviously wrong answers: Sometimes a SAT question has one or two answer
choices that appear odd or out of place. These answers may be obviously wrong for one or more
• Impossible to achieve given the problem’s conditions
• Violation of mathematical rules or principles
• Simply illogical
Being able to spot obviously wrong answers before you finish a problem gives you an advantage
because you are able to make a better educated guess from the remaining choices. This works best
when you find yourself unable to fully solve a problem.
Work from the answer choices: Use the multiple-choice format to your advantage by working
backwards from the answer choices to solve a problem. This strategy is not applicable to all
questions, but it is helpful when you can plug choices into a given formula or equation. The answer
choices often narrow the scope of responses, allowing you to make an educated guess based on
eliminating choices that you know do not fit the problem.