Improve Your Score on the SAT® in Just 7 Days
Written by renowned SAT® expert David Benjamin Gruenbaum, seven dynamic chapters cover everything you need to know about the SAT®. Read one chapter a day and explore the SAT®, learn about the test format, and get inside the minds of the test-makers and the test-takers. Targeted practice exercises sharpen your skills as you study.
After reviewing with the book, test what you've learned with a full-length practice exam. Detailed answer explanations for each question show you where you need extra study.
7 Days to a Better SAT® Score? It's the smart approach to improving your SAT® performance in one week!
About the Author
David Benjamin Gruenbaum, founder of Ahead of the Class, a private education and test prep company in Irvine, California, has worked with thousands of students, helping them prepare for tests like the SAT®, SAT Subject Tests™, and the ACT Assessment. In 1991, David and Fred Joblin co-authored a radical vocabulary book, Word Up. 7 Days to a Better SAT® Score is David Gruenbaum's third book.
Read an Excerpt
What's It All About?
How This Book Works
The purpose of this book is to show you quick, fun ways to handle the SAT and to give you the confidence you need to do well on the test.
The first thing you will notice when you open this book is how short it is in comparison to other SAT books. In this time-crazy world, this is a good thing. Most people who write test preparation books have no idea what teenagers' schedules are like these days. You don't have time to read a 600- to 1,000-page book.
So, be happythis book is short! Most of you could easily read it in a week or less. And that's exactly how it's been designed. The format of the book is also simple. There are seven main areas:
1. An introductory area that covers general questions about the New SAT and also introduces you to the characters in the book
2. An area that discusses the new Writing section
3. An area that discusses the new Critical Reading section
4. An area that discusses the new Math section
5. A complete sample test for the New SAT
6. The answers and explanations for the sample test
7. A final area that tells you what you can do in the future to keep boosting your SAT score
Most of the areas, apart from the full-length practice test, have three components:
1. A dialogue between Dr. S. A. Tea (an SAT preparation instructor) and, shall we say, an "interesting" class of students, The Incapables. There are a lot of jokes. You're allowed to laugh.
2. Suggestions for handling different portions of the SAT. Unlike many other SAT preparation books, this book will only suggest different approaches to handling the New SAT. In the end, you should pick what works for you.
3. Practice Exercises
Before We Get Started
Throughout this book:
1. The pre-March 2005 SAT I will simply be referred to as the Old SAT.
2. The SAT Reasoning Test will be referred to as the New SAT.
3. Unless they are specifically named, colleges and universities will be referred to as colleges.
Destroying Some SAT
and Education Myths
First, I would like to debunk some SAT and education myths.
Myth Number 1: The SAT Is a Bad Test
Several test-preparation companies have perpetuated this nonsense over the years. The truth is that the Old SAT was an incredible test of math and English, and the New SAT is an incredible test of math and English. The College Board (the organization that owns the SAT) and ETS (Educational Testing Service, the company that designs the SAT questions) work very hard to make sure that the test is as fair and unbiased as can be. First, imagine how difficult it would be to create an exam that is a fair test of reading, vocabulary, and math. Then factor in constantly monitoring and changing the test to try to satisfy critics who complain that the test is biased in some way.
The SAT is a terrific test. It is biased against only one group: the uneducated.
Myth Number 2: Studying for the SAT Doesn't Help You Beyond the SAT
When I took the PSAT (Preliminary SAT) in high school, I had only a slightly above-average verbal score. Yet I was one of the best students in my school and I went to one of the best high schools in the United States. In addition, I was a voracious reader. How could I have gotten such a low verbal score?
The answer is simple: My vocabulary was horrible. Before I took the SAT, I worked with a list of 3,500 words and tried to learn as many of these words as possible. This started a lifelong interest in vocabulary for me.
Unlike school, where students can often get by with memorizing formulas for math or renting videos instead of reading books, the SAT actually forces every test taker to think. Students who spend time preparing for the New SAT will find that their writing, reading, and math skills will improve.
Myth Number 3: Education Can't Be Fun
Many students hate going to school. They can't wait until school is over to do something "fun." Why can't learning be fun and educational at the same time? The point is that learning can and should be fun and educational at the same time. I hope you find this book to be a testament to this theory.
Who Says You Can't Have Fun and Learn at the Same Time?
The typical boring SAT preparation book merely lists a lot of methods and has a gazillion practice problems. The goal of this book is for you to learn and have fun at the same time . . . Novel concept, eh?
Anyway, let's meet the New SAT!
Questions About the New SAT
Dr. S. A. Tea: Good morning, class. First, let me introduce myself. My name is Doctor Samuel Aardvark Tea, but you can call me Dr. S. A. Tea.
Class: Good morning, Dr. S. A. Tea!
Dr. S. A. Tea: Okay, now does anyone know what SAT stands for?
Thor: That's sooooo easy. Surfing and Tanning, roight, Du-hude?
Wictoria: Spells and Trolls?
Uhhhhh: What's da AST?
Dr. S. A. Tea: Well, I can see that I have a lot of work to do here. Actually, SAT used to stand for Scholastic Aptitude Test and, later, Scholastic Assessment Test. Because the new test measures both aptitude and knowledge, however, the initials SAT now no longer stand for anything in particular. The College Board (the people who own the SAT) continues to use the name SAT because it has such high name recognition. Are there any other questions?
Xasmine, waving her hand: Oooh, Dr. S. A. Tea, is it okay if I call you "El Doctor"? I'm all so the whiz at Espa-ol.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Sure (struggling to read the name), what's your name, X-as-mine?
Xasmine: Actually that's pronounced JASmine, El Doctor.
Dr. S. A. Tea: But, uh, Xasmine, how can you possibly pronounce an X as a J?
Xasmine: Like, it was so my parents' idea. My mom and dad were all "Let's be original," and besides they didn't have spellcheckers back then.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Okay, did you have a question?
Xasmine: So-oooh, can you take the test wherever you want to? Like, I was all talking to my friends and we were all, "Let's take the SAT at Beverly Hills so we can scope out all the rich, cute guys. Then after the test, like we could so-oooh go shopping on Rodeo Drive and . . ."
Dr. S. A. Tea, cutting her off: Yes, Xasmine, if you sign up early you can take the test any place that it's offered. HOWEVER, don't sign up late because sometimes the spaces fill up at the more popular test sites. Last year, there was a kid from Boston who had to take the test in Guam. Are there any other questions? Yes, Uboreme?
Uboreme: Why do we exist?
Dr. S. A. Tea: Okay. Well, clearly some of you are very strange. . . . Zino, you have a question?
Zino: Just-a-one, Dottore. When-a do we start a-learning how to meeta the women onna the Internet?
Dr. S. A. Tea: Actually, Zino, this is an SAT class. Okay, one final question . . . Thor?
Thor: Doctor Du-hude, lo-ike, can you take the SAT outside? You see I am working on this mondo tan . . .
Dr. S. A. Tea, cutting him off: First of all, for those of you who don't know, let's quickly break down the different college admissions tests:
What Are the Different Admissions
Tests Required by Colleges?
1. NEW SAT or SAT Reasoning Test. The New SAT is a verbal and math test. The name of the organization that owns the SAT is the College Board.
2. ACT. The ACT is also a verbal and math test. The name of the organization that owns the ACT is ACT Inc.
3. SAT Subject tests. The College Board offers a series of SAT subject tests. Some of the subjects are Math, Literature, Biology, U.S. History, and a range of languages.
Which Colleges Require Which Tests?
1. The majority of colleges require either the New SAT or the ACT. The country is split between students who take the ACT and the SAT. Students from the East Coast and West Coast tend to take the SAT more, while students from the South and Midwest tend to take the ACT more. Because students from different areas are taking two different tests, the majority of colleges will accept either test. In addition, many colleges have developed conversion charts that compare the SAT scores directly to the ACT scores. Most of these colleges just take whichever score (SAT or ACT) is higher. Always make sure that the colleges you are interested in will accept either test.
2. Some top colleges also require SAT subject tests. Some examples are the Ivy League schools (Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, etc.), other top-notch private colleges (Stanford, University of Chicago, Northwestern, etc.), and the University of California system (UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Irvine, etc.). In the past, the majority of colleges that have required the SAT subject tests asked applicants to take three separate SAT subject tests. Now, this may change for some colleges. For example, the University of California has already indicated that it will require only two SAT subject tests for its application process for the freshman class of 2006. Other colleges have indicated that they will require three SAT subject tests. You should always check to find out which tests are required by the colleges you will be applying to.
Dr. S. A. Tea's Suggested Schedule for Seniors
1. SAT Reasoning Test in October
2. SAT Reasoning Test or SAT Subject Tests in November (Take the SAT Subject Tests if you are applying to colleges that require this test. Take the SAT Reasoning Test again if you need to improve your score.)
3. SAT Reasoning Test or SAT Subject Tests in December if necessary (Taking the December exam is only necessary if you need to improve your score.)
Dr. S. A. Tea's Suggested Schedule for Juniors
1. PSAT in October
2. SAT Reasoning Test in November
3. SAT Reasoning Test (2nd time if necessary) in March (or April, if the test is not offered in March)
4. SAT Subject Tests in May (if you are applying to schools that require the SAT Subject Tests)
Dr. S. A. Tea's Suggested Schedule for Sophomores
1. PSAT in October
2. SAT Subject Tests in May (if you are applying to schools that require the SAT Subject Tests)
Why is it important to take the PSAT?
What is the PSAT? For the most part the PSAT is merely a shorter version of the SAT. The biggest difference is that the PSAT does not have an essay. There are two reasons to consider taking the PSAT in your junior year. First of all, it's a chance to experience what it will be like to take the SAT without all of the pressure. The second reason to take the PSAT is that if you do exceptionally well on the test as a junior, you may qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. Ideally, sophomores should also take the PSAT in their sophomore year to become accustomed to the format and the pressure of the SAT.
How Is the New SAT Scored?
Dr. S. A. Tea: Now, let's talk about how the New SAT is scored. On the Old SAT, there were only two areas: Verbal and Math. On the New SAT, there are now three different areas: Writing, Reading, and Math. What's the highest score you can get in any one area?
Class, in unison: 800 points.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Very good. Now, on the Old SAT, 1600 was perfect (2 ´ 800). What would be perfect for the New SAT?
Uboreme: If we didn't have to take it?
Dr. S. A. Tea: First of all, I'll tell the jokes here, babe. Second, on the New SAT, because there are now three areas: Math, Writing, and Critical Reading, a perfect score is now 2400 (800 ´ 3). Now, let's go the other way: What would be the lowest score you could get in any one area?
Class, in unison: Zero?
Dr. S. A. Tea: No, actually the lowest score per section is 200 points. It's also known as writing your name. . . . Now I am going to put up a chart with the scores from the practice New SAT. Because the scores are now calculated on a 2400-point scale, the totals are going to look a little strange.
Dr. S. A. Tea: As we can see, most of you are good at one category. Wictoria scored high in the Writing category, Xasmine aced the Math section, and Thor did very well on the Reading portion. Then, we come to Uhhhhh. Uhhhhh, on each of the sections you had a 200, and you ended up with a total of 600.
Uhhhhh: 600, dat's good, right?
Dr. S. A. Tea: Uhhhhh, let me explain it to you like this . . . If you look at the chart, you'll notice that I had a monkey take the test. The Guess Monkey earned his name because he is randomly guessing all the way through the test.
Uhhhhh: Dat's interesting, but what does dat have to do with me?
Thor, laughing: Uhhhhh, du-hude, you did worse than the GuessMonkey!
Dr. S. A. Tea: Now, Thor . . . that's not very nice. We didn't talk about your Math and Writing Scores, which were quite low . . . .
Thor: Doctor Du-hude, at least I beat the GuessMonkey!
Dr. S. A. Tea: Anyway, moving on, there are two people in the class we don't have starting scores for: Zino and Uboreme. Zino is new to the class, so that's his excuse. In the case of Uboreme, however, you walked out to use the bathroom during the beginning of the practice test and never came back! What happened?
Uboreme: I was approached by some folks from the planet Septicor. They wanted to have a chat with me.
Dr. S. A. Tea, to himself: I bet they did.
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for How
Colleges May Use the New SAT:
Before we discuss how many times you should take the New SAT, let's first examine how colleges may use the New SAT in the future.
1. In the past, many colleges have taken the highest overall score from the Old SAT on a given day. This trend will likely continue with some colleges taking the highest overall score from the New SAT on a given day. In other words, on the Old SAT, if the first time you took the test you scored a 1000 and the second time you took the test you scored a 1200, most colleges would just use the 1200.
2. In the past, a few colleges have taken the highest individual section scores from different days. For these few colleges this trend will likely continue as well. For example, on the Old SAT, if the first time you took the test you scored a 600 in Math and a 500 in Verbal, and the second time you took the test you scored a 550 in Math and a 580 in Verbal, some colleges would use the 600 in Math from the first time and the 580 in Verbal from the second time. These colleges would be taking the highest Math score from one day and the highest Verbal score from a different day. It is possible that these same colleges may do a similar thing with the New SAT. In other wods, they would take the highest individual scores from all three sections: Math, Writing, and Reading, even if the highest scores occur on different days.
3. Since there are two Verbal sections and only one Math section on the New SAT, there is a possibility that some colleges may start doubling the math section. It is also possible that some colleges may double the math score for certain math-related majors (engineering, computer science, etc.). One source of major concern for colleges is the diminishing number of male applicants. It's an old cliché, but on average, boys still do seem to score higher on the Math sections while girls tend to score higher on the Verbal sections. If colleges double the Math section score, that may increase the amount of male students who are accepted.
4. Some colleges are taking a "wait and see" approach to the newest section of the New SAT: the Writing Section. These colleges are only using the Math and Critical Reading scores from the New SAT to help determine admission."
5. There have been rumors for years that some colleges average the scores or limit the amount of times you can take the SAT. It is possible that there are some colleges that do average scores or limit the amount of times students can take the test, but I have never encountered a college that does this.
How Many Times Should You Take the New SAT?
Wictoria: Great Wizard of the SAT, I heard that you're not allowed to take the SAT more than two times.
Thor: Doctor Du-hude, awl roight, I heard that they start averaging your scores if you take it more than three times.
Zino: I've-a signed up to take the SAT twenty-five times.
(The whole class turns to look at Zino.)
Dr. S. A. Tea: Twenty-five times . . . Why?
Zino: Well, when I-a came to this country, they said that I shoulda go to college. To go too-a college, you gotta taka this test, the SAT. So I sign uppa for the test. They send me a paper that says the test gonna be given in Daytona Beach. So I go to Daytona Beach. I get to the beach and there's a-nobody there. But, it'sa nice sunny day, so I sit on the beach and play with the sand and watcha the seagulls . . .
Dr. S. A. Tea, cutting him off: Okay, okay! So, what happened the second time?
Zino: The second time, they send me a sheet of paper that says this time the test gonna be given in Miami Beach. So I go to a-Miami Beach. I get to the beach and there's a-nobody there. But, it'sa nice sunny day, so I . . .
Dr. S. A. Tea, cutting him off: Okay, okay! I think we get the point.
Zino: But then, I-a figure out, when they say Daytona Beach, they-a no mean the beach. They-a mean the city, Daytona Beach. . .
Dr. S. A. Tea: Ah, progress.
Zino: So the third time I go to taka the test, I get to the test site and there's just-a one problem . . .
Dr. S. A. Tea: What's that?
Zino: The test is inna English, and to tella the truth, back then I'm notta the master of English that I am-a today.
Dr. S. A. Tea, to himself: Clearly . . .
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for How Many Times You Should Take the New SAT:
1. First, attempt to familiarize yourself with the Old SAT average scores for the colleges you are most interested in attending. It is also important to see if you can discover separate average scores for Math and Verbal sections. For at least a year or so, many colleges will either post the average SAT scores or a range of SAT scores for the most recent freshman class. (Remember again that these are the Old SAT scores.) If you can find separate average scores for the Math and Verbal sections for the individual colleges you are considering, you may be able to make an estimate of what the average scores might be for the New SAT. Because there are two Verbal sections on the New SAT, it will probably be best to double the number from the Verbal section from the Old SAT and then add that to the Math section score of the Old SAT. Using this equation, you can get an approximation of what the averages for the New SAT score would be (based on your Old SAT score).
2. If you can't find separate average scores for the Math and Verbal sections of the Old SAT, multiply the overall average score by 11/2. In other words, if a college only states that the average for the freshman class was about 1200, multiply that number by 11/2. That would mean the average New SAT score for the freshman class at that college should be somewhere around 1800.
3. Your initial goal is very simple: Try to beat the average SAT scores for the colleges you would like to attend. This is sometimes a difficult task because some colleges are deliberately vague with their numbers or may only use ranges. (In other words, a college might state that 50% of the freshman class scored between 500 and 600 on the Verbal section and 60% scored between 500 and 600 on the Math section.) Just do your best to try to estimate the averages.
4. Your final goal: Try for a great score on the New SAT. There is certainly nothing wrong with taking the New SAT two or three times. Maybe you'll be nervous one time, or maybe there will be a large number of math problems on one particular test that you can't solve. Since most colleges take the highest overall score there is no reason not to try to keep improving your score. Most importantly, though, some colleges are even rejecting students who score above the average SAT scores for their schools. In today's competitive college environment, it is difficult to know what SAT score is high enough. Contact the colleges you would like to apply to and ask what score they regard as good enough for admission to their schools.
How Important Is the SAT for the
College Admissions Process?
1. For many colleges, SAT scores are an important part of the overall admissions decision. Many admissions officials rank the SAT scores as the second most important component of your record behind your GPA and schoolwork. But think about how much time students spend going to school and doing homework, and compare that to the amount of time most students spend on the SAT. Clearly, studying for the SAT is very important.
2. Colleges look at other factors besides GPA and SAT scores. Beating a college's average SAT scores does not mean that you are going to be accepted automatically. Many schools now consider leadership, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities when making admissions decisions.
Three Big Changes for the New SAT
1. There is less time pressure on the New SAT. For those of you who are slow and methodical test takers, there's good news: The New SAT features fewer questions per minute than the Old SAT.
2. The times of the sections vary wildly. The Old SAT featured mainly 30-minute sections with only two minor 15-minute sections. The New SAT has 25-minute sections, 20-minute sections, and even a 10-minute section. Be prepared for the time differences.
3. English now counts twice as much as Math on the New SAT. If you are strong at English, great. If you're stronger in Math than English, you are now at a disadvantage.
New SAT Question Types
Dr. S. A. Tea: Okay, class. When you took the practice New SAT, perhaps some of you noticed that there were some new sections that did not exist on the Old SAT. Who spotted something new on the test?
Xasmine: El Doctor, El Doctor, like, oh my god, there was all of these borrrring reading sections.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Yes, the College Board has added some new short reading-comprehension passages and eliminated the Analogy section.
Zino: There vas dis writing bissness.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Right, the College Board has also added a new Writing section to the New SAT. This section consists of an essay and a few different multiple-choice question types that test grammar.
Uboreme: Besides the aliens, the other reason I left the test was because there was all of these difficult math problems.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Yes, the College Board has also added some Algebra II math problems.
Uhhhhh: I had a lotta problems with the questions, like what should I do when I see a yellow light or when dere's an amublance coming up from behind you?
Dr. S. A. Tea: What's an amublance? Oh, ambulance. . . . Uhhhhh, we're talking about the SAT, not your driving test!
Uhhhhh: I spent a lotta time preparing for da testyou mean that I studied da wrong thing?
Dr. S. A. Tea, to himself: All of your life . . .
What Are the New Question
Types on the New SAT?
1. Three multiple-choice grammar question types (Identifying Sentence Errors, Improving Sentences, and Improving Paragraphs). These question types are the same as those on the multiple-choice grammar section of the old PSAT.
2. An essay. Unlike the other question types, the essay will be graded by readers.
3. Short reading passages. There will be some single short reading passages (about 100 words long) and some double short reading passages (about 200 words long).
What's New on the Math Section?
Some math questions from Algebra II. The Old SAT did not test concepts from Algebra II; however, the New SAT will include some Algebra II questions.
What Sections Have Been
Eliminated on the New SAT?
1. The Analogies section: The verbal section in which you were asked to compare two words and find a similar relationship in the answers.
2. The Quantitative Comparison section: The math section in which you were asked to compare two columns, Column A and Column B, and decide which quantity was greater.
What Is the Format of the New SAT?
Critical Reading: 70 minutes total (two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section)
Math Section: 70 minutes total (two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section)
Writing Section: 60 minutes total (one 25-minute essay, one 25-minute multiple-choice section, and one 10-minute multiple-choice section)
Equating Section: 25 minutes total (This is an area of the SAT where the test makers try out new questions and question types. It doesn't count toward the SAT score.)
This all adds up to 3 HOURS and 45 MINUTES OF TESTING!
Five Keys to Improvement on the New SAT
Your five keys to improvement on the New SAT are
(1) Self-Motivation and Practice, (2) Understanding the Test, (3) Building Your Brain, (4) Last-Minute Preparation and Attitude, and (5) Focus. Now let's take them one at a time:
1. Self-Motivation and Practice
Obviously, self-motivation and practice are two crucial elements in changing your SAT score.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Let's now talk about practicing. Uhhhhh, how many hours a day do you practice sports, like basketball, weightlifting, running, etc.?
Uhhhhh: Da coach has us practice for four hours each day after school. Den I go to the weight room for an hour and sometimes I run for an hour after dat.
Dr. S. A. Tea: So, let's say during the week you are practicing six hours a day.
Dr. S. A. Tea: And when did you start playing sports?
Uhhhhh: When I was three.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Uhhhhh, I just want you to think about this. Imagine if instead of playing sports six hours a day for the last twelve years, you had spent six hours a day studying for the SAT. Maybe we'd be having a conversation like this:
(Imaginary conversation between
Dr. S. A. Tea and an intelligent Uhhhhh)
Dr. S. A. Tea: So, Uhhhhh, congratulations! You got a 2390 on the New SAT. The only reason you didn't get a perfect score was you missed one question on the Sentence-Completion section.
Uhhhhh: Trés true, Samuel Aardvark; however, I am disputing that one question because I felt that "pejorative" was just as valid a response as the so-called right answer, "malevolent."
Dr. S. A. Tea: Wow, Uhhhhh. I can see your point.
Uhhhhh: By the way, what is this "Uhhhhh" business? You must really work on this guttural verbal habit. Next thing you know you'll be stuttering, old man. You couldn't possibly be referring to me by a childish nickname, could you? If so, please call me by my proper name, Horatio, in the future.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Uhhhhh, gee, Uhhhhh I don't know what to say . . .
Uhhhhh, cutting him off: Sorry, old man, I've got to run. I'm off to debate club. Today we'll be discussing the future implications of human cloning . . .
(Back to reality)
Dr. S. A. Tea, to himself: Instead we're having a conversation like this . . .
Dr. S. A. Tea: Uhhhhh, I'm not saying that you need to spend six hours a day studying for the SAT. I just want you to think about it. Imagine what your score could be if you even practiced a few minutes each day for the SAT.
Uhhhhh: What's da ATS?
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Self-Motivation and Practice
1. Set college goals for yourself. Think about which colleges you would like to attend. Get to know their old average SAT scores so you can estimate what you need to score on the New SAT to have a good chance of admission.
2. Set numerical goals for yourself. On the Old SAT, students used to say, "I want to get a 1200" or "I want to get a 1400." On the New SAT, you might hear students saying things like, "I want to get an 1800" or "I want to get a 2100." (Sounds funny with the new numbers, doesn't it?) Use the scale on page 28 to pick a number that you want to aim for.
3. Use this book for practice and to identify your weaknesses. For example, if you are strong in math, perhaps you should work more on your reading and writing skills. At the end of this book the conclusion will suggest different books and materials you can use for practice to strengthen your weaknesses.
2. Understanding the Test
The SAT is unlike any other test that you have ever taken. It is crucial to understand as much as possible about how the SAT works. For example, what subjects are covered on the New SAT? When should you be guessing? How do the tricks work on the test? These are all important questions that you need to understand in order to feel comfortable with the SAT.
What subjects are covered on the New SAT?
Zino: I don't understand zis SAT? Vere is ze German test? Vere is ze French test?
Xasmine: Who cares about French? Who cares about German? What about the shopping test? I could ace a test on sales at Bloomingdale's!
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tip: Get to Know What's Actually on the New SAT
1. Use this book to get a feel for what subjects the New SAT will cover. As we have discussed, the New SAT is divided into three sections: Math, Writing, and Critical Reading. These three sections are further divided into different question types. For example, the Math section has both multiple-choice questions and a question type called Student-Produced Responses. By practicing with this book now, you will gain an overall sense of the new test.
2. Keep up with any new changes by going to REA.com. REA will provide the latest news on the New SAT at our Web site, www.REA.com.
When should you be guessing?
Wictoria: Great Wizard of the SAT, I never know when I should guess and when I should leave something blank.
Thor: I heard you shouldn't guess unless you can eliminate two answers.
Xasmine: I heard that you shouldn't guess unless you can eliminate three answers.
Uhhhhh: I heart dat you shouldn't guess unless you can elim . . . elim . . . uhget rid of five answers.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Uhhhhh! There are only five answers!
Dr. S. A. Tea's
Tips for Guessing
1. As long as you can eliminate any answer, you should be guessing. You may have heard that there is a penalty when you mark something wrong on the SAT. While this is true (for all sections except for the essay and the Student-Produced Responses, a math question type), the point is that you only lose a fraction of a point. The crucial thing to realize is that when you get an answer right, you are gaining a whole point. Don't be afraid to guess. This book will teach you how to guess more intelligently, and the points you will pick up from intelligent guessing are crucial if you want to have a good score on the New SAT.
2. Don't panic if some of your guesses are wrong. Even if you get one out of four guesses right, you are gaining points on the SAT.
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Handling the Tricks on the New SAT
1. If you're answering a difficult question, and you have truly solved the problem, go for it. When you know the right answer to a question, don't worry about tricks.
2. If you can't solve a difficult question, be careful of falling for a trick. On the difficult questions, the answers that seem to be obvious are often wrong.
3. Instead of obsessing about how the SAT shouldn't have tricks, learn how to spot the tricks. Hey, life is full of tricks. The SAT is doing you a favor.
3. Building Your Brain
Let's be frank; unfortunately much of your school life now revolves around three things: memorization, constriction, and machines. The problem is that the SAT and life revolve largely around your ability to think: to use logic and common sense. If you want to get a great score on the SAT, it is crucial to improve your reasoning and logic ability.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Thor, describe to the class how you learn vocabulary for school.
Thor: Doctor Du-hude, that's simple. I take the list of words and I memorize them the night before the test.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Okay, and what happens after the test?
Thor, laughing and looking around for support: Du-hude, I forget them. I mean, what would be the point of remembering them? The test is ohhhhver.
Dr. S. A. Tea: So, in other words you spend all of this time memorizing and you haven't learned anything permanent.
Thor: Come on, Doctor Du-hude, how could I be learning anything permanent? This is school.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Thor, what if I told you that all the things you love, like TV, could help you remember vocabulary words and solve math problems.
Thor: Doctor Du-hude, that would be awwwwwwwwesome!
Zino: Yeah, Dr. Dud, zat vould be freezing.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Huh?
Thor, sighing: I'll translate. Zino is trying to say, "That would be cool."
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tip:
Learn, Don't Memorize
Use your own pop culture to help you learn English and math. In this book you will learn several ways to battle the Memorization Plague. One of the more powerful methods is to use your own pop culture (TV, music, movies, etc.) to help you make great connections for English and math. Why try to memorize the definition of candid as honest, when you can just remember that the TV show Candid Camera catches you as you honestly are? If you aren't sure what's bigger2/3 or 3/4, just think about baseball. You have a better batting average if you go three for four than if you go two for three. By using clues from your own culture, you will find that without even studying you already know a good deal more than you think you do.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Uboreme, why do you hate school so much?
Uboreme: It's limiting. The teachers only teach me one way to do everything and when I try to use my own methods, they don't give me any credit for my work.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Uboreme, the SAT is your dream test. You can use any method you want, no matter how weird, as long as you get the answer right.
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tip: Breaking the Grip of the Constrictor
This isn't school; as long as you get the right answer, you can use any method you like. Let's say that one of the problems on the New SAT is an equation that you need to solve. In school, when you are faced with an equation, your natural instinct is to use algebra. However, in this book you will learn that you don't necessarily have to use algebra to get a question right. Instead we will show you one method, Dude, Check Out Their Answers, that will allow you to take advantage of the multiple-choice answers so that you are able to avoid using algebra in many instances. In addition, we will show you that sometimes you can eliminate answers without doing much work at all.
Throughout this book, you will learn how to look at questions from new perspectives that will allow you to handle even difficult questions.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Xasmine, when you write an essay at home, what's the first thing you do when you're done?
Xasmine: El Doctor, the spellchecker, duh-uh!
Dr. S. A. Tea: Then what do you do after the spellchecker has highlighted the words.
Xasmine: El Doctor, so duh! I punch in all of the changes as fast as I can.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Xasmine, I read one of your papers you wrote in class when you couldn't use a spellchecker and you used the word theer.
Xasmine: Yeah, so?
Dr. S. A. Tea: That word doesn't exist. Did you mean the word there or the word their ?
Xasmine: I don't know. What's the difference?
Dr. S. A. Tea: Exactly. Because of your complete reliance on the spellchecker, you now spell like a dyslexic gibbon.
Xasmine: El Doctor, who has time to spell properly? I mean, like, come on . . . Will and Grace is on at 8:30.
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tip: Control the Machines, Don't Let Them Control You
Machines are great, but you shouldn't be completely dependent on them. It is great to have a calculator, but because of your reliance on this machine, many of you have forgotten things as basic as multiplication tables. Merely practicing simple calculations without a calculator will improve your score on the SAT. Similarly, many of you rely too heavily on the spellchecker. When you are at home, use the spellchecker to help you identify which parts of the sentences are possibly incorrect. Then look at the underlined words and make a guess on your own as to a possible correction. After that, look at the spellchecker's suggestion.
4. Last-Minute Preparation and Attitude
Last-minute preparation and your attitude play a huge part in determining your success on the SAT.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Okay, now it's time to be frank. How many of you went out the night before you took the practice SAT?
Xasmine, waving her hand: I did. There was an all-night rave in Hollywood. It was the world!
Uboreme: I don't sleep.
Dr. S. A. Tea: You mean sometimes, right?
Uhhhhh: Went out . . . You mean, like for the team?
Wictoria: I was worried that I would be tired for the practice test, so I went to sleep last month.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Last month? Wictoria, you did look a little bit out of it during the test.
Thor: Doctor Du-hude, a little bit out of it? Wictoria was looking wooscious!
Dr. S. A. Tea: I ask, being very afraid of the answer: What is "wooscious"?
Thor: Doctor Du-hude, you got to get on the scene. "Wooscious" is halfway between woozy and unconscious.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Wooscious, huh. Well, I think Thor is right. I was watching you, Wictoria. When you took the practice test you were "ComaChick."
Thor: ComaChick, Doctor . . . Du-hude. That's a funny one, but it's not as funny as "wooscious."
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Last-Minute
Preparation and Attitude
1. Get a good night's sleep. Many high school students are only averaging five to six hours of sleep each night. Clear everything out the few nights before you take the SAT so that you can relax.
2. Eat a good breakfast. If you normally have cereal and fruit for breakfast, this is not the morning to discover meat.
3. Pump yourself up to take the test. Just think: If you have a good day, you might never have to take the SAT again.
If you're like most high school students, you're probably already sick to death of the word focus. You have heard this word a thousand times before, not because of school, but because of sports. Focus is not just important for sports; it is obviously equally important for intellectual tasks.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Class, what do you think your greatest problem is with this test?
Xasmine: There are those really hard things with all the letters in them.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Ah, you mean words. Anything else?
Wictoria: They keep asking me these silly questions with numbers in them.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Also known in the human world as math. . . . Anything else?
Uhhhhh: What was da question?
Dr. S. A. Tea: Exactly! For most of you, your greatest problem with this test is focusing.
Dr. S. A. Tea: Here's a chart of the focus level for each of you during this test:
Dr. S. A. Tea: If we look at the chart, Thor starts high and ends low. Wictoria starts in the middle, then goes higher and ends low. Xasmine starts down low and actually improves her score by the end of the test. Then, as we discussed, Uboreme simply ups and leaves the test within just a few minutes. And, finally we have Uhhhhh, who isn't even on the chart.
Dr. S. A. Tea: How many of you lost focus during the practice test?
(All hands in the class go up)
Dr. S. A. Tea: It is hard to focus on this test. Let me put it to you this way. If I had a movie of everything you were thinking about during this test, I wouldn't want to watch it. (Rim shot) But, think of it this way. Wictoria and Thor, if you could maintain the level you have at the beginning, and Xasmine, if you could snap in right away, and Uhhhhh, if we could get you ON the chart . . . think how much better all of your scores would be!
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for
Maintaining Your Focus
The keys to maintaining focus are very similar to the keys for self-motivation and practice.
1. Try to beat the average SAT scores for the colleges you want to attend.
2. Set numerical goals for yourself. "I want to get an 1800," or "I want to get a 2100," etc.
Thor's Tip for Acing the New SAT:
Dude, Check Out Their Answers
Er. . . . Excuse me. Well, awl roight, could I have everyone's attention . . . Du-hude, this is Thor. Dr. Du-hude, er . . . Dr. S. A. Tea has asked me to introduce a cruuu-cial method that will help you to do gnarly on the SAT. One moment, du-hude. . . . Yes? (Thor has a brief conversation with Dr. S. A. Tea.)
Okay, I'm back. I guess that Dr. S. A. Tea wants me to drop the surfer's accent so that all of you can understand what I'm saying. Lame! Anyway, here are my tips for using the method called Dude, Check Out Their Answers:
1. When you do multiple-choice questions, one of the five answers is right. Why not check out their answers?
Let's look at a sample from a reading passage:
The farmers would spend days on end contemplating the future of the wheat industry. Because of the economy it was often difficult to predict how much wheat they should grow in a given year and how they should market their product. There would be three years when the farmers couldn't produce enough wheat and then they would have to endure a stretch when they could only sell their product at a loss.
Let's say that you were asked this question:
In line 34, the word stretch most nearly means
A) spread out
Sure, you could try to read around the word stretch for context, but wouldn't it be easier just to substitute in the test makers' answers to see which one fits the best? By "checking out their answers," you can clearly see that answer (C) works the best.
" . . . they would have to endure a period when they could only sell their product at a loss."
2. The Dude, Check Out Their Answers method also works for other sections on the test.
Let's look at a math problem:
The width of a rectangle is three times the length. If the perimeter of the rectangle is 32, what is the length?
A) 4 B) 5 C) 6 D) 8 E) 12
Now for most of you, your first inclination is to use algebra. In fact, in this case you could just make an algebraic equation to solve the problem. However, the Dude, Check Out Their Answers method may be a simpler way to approach the problem.
Let's start with answer (C). First of all, the question asks you to determine the length of the rectangle. If you assume that 6 is the right answer and you substitute in 6 for the length, everything else has to make sense in the problem for this to be the right answer. In other words, in this case the width would be three times the length, or 18.
However, 2(6) + 2(18) = 48 and we were looking for a perimeter of 32, as the problem states. This means that answer (C) is wrong. Clearly, we need to move down to an answer with a lower number. If you try answer (B), you will see that this answer will not work as well.
Now, let's look at answer (A). If you substitute in 4 for the length, then the width will be 12.
2(4) + 2(12) = 32
This is what we were looking for. Therefore answer (A) is the right answer.
(Looking behind him) Du-hude, it's Thor again. I think Dr. Du-hude has disappeared, so I am just going to say this in my own way. Don't forget to use the Du-hude, Check Out Their Answers method, Du-hude, awl roight!
Why Start Practicing Now?
Some of you may not be taking the SAT for several months. Why would you want to start practicing now?
The point is that even though you may not be taking the SAT immediately, you can best impact your score by studying now and getting ahead.
So, be smart. Start practicing now. Calculate pi to the three hundredth place, write a 200-page essay on the plight of humankind, read every book on this planet! Whip yourself into a New SAT frenzy!!!! Whoopee, Yee-Ha! Oops, sorry, got a bit out of hand. Anyway, do yourself a favor: Start studying now.
Congratulations! You have now finished the introductory area of the book. Next up, the Writing section. . . .
Table of Contents
About Our Author
Cast of Characters
Introducing The Incapables
DAY 1: The New SAT: What's It All About?
How this Book Works
Destroying Some SAT and Education Myths
Dr. S. A. Tea's Suggested Schedule for Juniors
How Will the New SAT Be Scored?
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for How Colleges May Use
the New SAT
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for How Many Times You
Should Take the New SAT
How Important Is the SAT for the College Admissions
What Are the New Question Types on the New SAT?
What Sections Have Been Eliminated
on the New SAT?
What Is the Format of the New SAT?
Five Keys to Improvement on the New SAT
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Self-Motivation and Practice
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Guessing
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Handling the Tricks on the
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tip: Learn, Don't Memorize
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tip: Breaking the Grip of the Constrictor
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tip: Control the Machines, Don't Let
Them Control You
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Last-Minute Preparation
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Maintaining Your Focus 46
Thor's Tip for Acing the New SAT: Dude, Check Out
Why Start Practicing Now?
DAY 2: Writing
The Permanent Effect of Improving Your Writing
How Long Is the Essay and How Is It Graded?
What the College Board Says About Grading the Essays
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Structuring and Developing
How Should You Choose a Direction in Your Essay?
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Picking a Good Topic for
Practice Exercises: Essay Introductions
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Time Management (2-21-2)
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for How to Make Yourself Sound
More Intelligent in Your Essay
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Handwriting and Spelling
Dr. S. A. Tea's No. 1 Pet Peeve
Practice Exercises: Horrible Essay
Dr. S. A. Tea's Essay Analysis
Examining an Excellent Essay
Quick Evaluation of the Essay
Practice Exercises: Essay Writing
Practice Exercises: "Matching" Rewrite
Practice Exercises: "Vagueness" Rewrite
Practice Exercises: "Hillbilly English" Rewrite
Practice Exercises: "Awkwardness" Rewrite
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for "Identifying Sentence Errors"
Practice Exercises: Identifying Errors
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for "Improving Sentences"
Practice Exercises: Improving Sentences
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for "Improving Paragraphs"
Practice Exercises: Improving Paragraphs
DAY 3: Critical Reading
The Permanent Effect of Working on Your Reading
Dr. S. A. Tea's General Tips for the Critical Reading
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Easy Sentence Completions
Practice Exercises: Easy Sentence Completion
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Difficult Sentence
Practice Exercises: Difficult Sentence Completion
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for the Reading Passages
Short Reading Passages
Long Reading Passages
DAY 4: Math
The Permanent Effect of Working on Your Math
How Will the Math Section Change for the New SAT?
How Will this Book Approach the Math Section?
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Calculators
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Cutting Down on Careless Errors
Make Connections to Everyday Life
Practice Exercises: Real-Life Connections
"Dude, Check Out Their Answers" Method
Practice Exercises: Algebra
"Dude, Pick Your Own Numbers" Method
Practice Exercises: Algebra
"Dude, Pick Set Numbers" Method
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tips for Handling Difficult Math Questions
Practice Exercises: Algebra & Geometry
Dr. S. A. Tea's Tricks for Eliminating Tricks
Practice Exercises: Learning the Tricks
Errors to Avoid on Student-Produced Responses
Practice Exercises: Student-Produced Responses
DAY 5: Full-Length Practice SAT
DAY 6: Go Through the Answers
DAY 7: Go Through the Conclusion
Signing Up for the Test 373
What Extras Do You Want to Pay for?
Day of Test
What Can You Do Beyond this Book to Help Study
for the New SAT?
The Incapables Say Goodbye
This book is truly the work of thousands of authors, the students I've personally helped prepare for the SAT I, SAT II, and ACT over the last 16 years. David Benjamin Gruenbaum