Today’s post, inspired by the SAT Question of the Day for 3/11/12 offers us another opportunity to remind you of one of the few remaining truly magical test-taking techniques: Plugging In!
Not long ago the question above was the Question Of The Day on the College Board website and it inspired another blog post (found here), well this question is the question that keeps on giving (or teaching). Here we go again, taking this question apart so that you can learn from it and be ready for your SAT. Like many questions on the SAT you can look at them from multiple perspectives. We previously looked at this one for the content of the questions and what rules/terms you needed to learn, now we’ll explore what this question has to teach us about SAT strategy.
One of the first things you need to do when prepping for a test is learn the lingo. SAT Math is prone to using vocabulary that you’ve probably not seen in a while – words like integer, factor, and multiple probably haven’t come up since you were in 7th grade. And even when you saw them in 7th grade, it probably wasn’t in the same context as how they are used on the SAT. So one of the best starting points for the SAT is to learn vocab, both the words common to Sentence Completion questions but also the words common to Math questions. The College Board QOTD on President’s day stumped 60% of the people who tried it and the only things tested are the understanding of a few math terms. Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll head over to the College Board site and be one of the 40%.
On February 10, the College Board posted a Sentence Completion question that bamboozled 219,021 of the 331,851 people that attempted to answer the question. This question once again got us thinking about SAT vocabulary, the way the SAT tests vocabulary, and why so many people got this question wrong. And as usual whenever SAT questions get “stuck in our craw,” we have to blog about it to help you conquer this test.
Over the course of a few weeks in December and January I received a number of practice test results from students preparing to take the GMAT. As the fourth or fifth result came my way I noticed that all of these students happened to be struggling to break the 35-point barrier on the verbal section. The realization gave me pause (I mean, I’m a test prep geek, why wouldn’t it?). Over the years I’d come to realize that many students at one point or another struggle to maximize their verbal score, and more importantly, these struggles were usually tied to reading comprehension.
I wanted to see if I could quantify this a bit for folks, so I started by going back through those student’s results to see if there were any trends. Sure enough, an initial investigation revealed what looked to be a pretty strong correlation between RC and Verbal subscore.
My interest piqued, I started to dig a little deeper. Bear with me, there’s gonna be a few numbers with this. Numbers? you ask. In a blogpost about verbal? Yup. Think of it like an integrated reasoning blog post.
So, with the help of one of our interns (big shout out to Cannie L!) we tabulated the results of about 220 GMATPrep, and broke out their respective accuracy %s on CR, RC, and SC. After grappling MMA-style with those percentages (grappling I’m not going to bore you with – let’s just say it was ugly…almost as ugly as this knockout), were able to see some pretty clear – and surprising – trendlines. Let’s take a look at our sample:
Total GMATPrep Results: 216
# with Verbal 35 or greater: 92
# with Verbal 34 or less: 124
Essentially, I aggregated and compared these results to see if, in fact, there was some strong correlation between RC accuracy and Verbal score. Turns out, there kind of is. Of the 92 results that scored 35 or above on the verbal, only 3 of those had managed that score with an RC-accuracy below 71%. It’s important to note that we just studied results where test-takers answered all of the Verbal questions. Reading comprehension totals 14 questions of the verbal, and 71% is 10 out of 14 questions correct. So basically, only three of the 92 results had fewer than 10/14 of the RC questions correct. That’s approximately 3.2% of the sample. 96.8% of the results that were 35 or higher had 10 or more RC correct! The breakdown is illustrated here:
In our continuing series of SAT Tips, today we’ll show you another way the SAT Writing test applies pronoun rules to questions. (You might want to first check out this older post about pronouns before reading further.) Also remember that the goal of doing the QOTD is to learn at least one thing about the SAT. If you’re not learning from each problem then you’re not getting the most out of your practice. Today’s post teaches us about a couple of the more rare pronouns.
As we’ve stated before, the SAT is standardized, and what that often means is that the types of questions they ask and the type of information they expect you to know reappears over and over from test to test. Today’s question of the day, which a surprisingly small percentage of people got correct, is a great example of how the SAT loves to present Right Triangles. So before we send you off to the College Board’s site to give this question “the old college try,” let’s explore what you need to know about right triangles on the SAT.
While many people talk about SAT tips and tricks, you also have to know a fair number of math rules, terms, formulas, and logic in order to get a top score. When you’re preparing for the SAT, you should focus on learning the rules and terms in conjunction with (or before) worrying about any tricks. You’ll get more points knowing the information tested than you will trying to rely on “tricks.”
Today’s review is Rules of Zero. Before we get to the rules let’s check out a sample problem:
In the world of test preparation, December brings not only presents from Santa but it also brings many gifts from the College Board and colleges. Today’s College Board gift is a copy of the October 2012 SAT, which we get because one of our staff took the test and ordered the Question and Answer Service (for an additional $18, unless you have a fee waiver which will also waive the fee for the QAS if you choose to order it.) The QAS is available for the June, October and Jan SAT administrations each year and whenever its available we get it so we can peruse the test for trends, patterns, and any fun new words the College Board has decided to throw at college-bound students.
If you’re planning to take the SAT soon you should make sure you learn all the words on the list below, which were taken from the October 2012 SAT.
If you’d like a few other lists to keep your studying going click here to see the others we posted.
Good luck and remember if you need help preparing for the SAT or ACT visit us at sat.bellcurves.com!
Editor’s Note: Bell Curves periodically enlists our teachers to take the official GMAT to keep themselves sharp, help them better inform their students about current testing trends and procedures, and provide additional insight for materials development and instruction. Sometimes, we have gung-ho teachers that just want to take the test for fun. To which we say, Rock On! Today’s post comes from Andrew Geller, one of our NYC-based instructors. Below, he provides some insights on making your test day as stress free as possible.
Test day can be stressful but the more you know about the logistics of the test center the better you will feel on your big day. As we all know: feeling comfortable = better performance.
So what can you do to make the test day easier? Plan in advance!
The Night Before
The night before, pick out your clothes, know what you will have for breakfast, pack your snack pack, pick out 5-10 quantitative questions as warm-ups (I like to pick ones from my error log that are challenging but that I have reviewed at least once), and know the route to the test center.
The Morning Before
Arrive early to your exam. A half hour or so should suffice. It helps to arrive early because you get to check in first and end up waiting less. The test center provides lockers where you must store all of your personal belongings. You can only enter the testing room with the clothes on your back (you are allowed an extra sweater) and your ID. No watches. No bracelets. No lucky coins. You will be asked to empty out your pockets for inspection. If you have forgotten to store an item before checking in you may be sent to the back of the line. This happened to three people on my test day.
During the Test
Scratchwork – At your cubicle you will be provided with one ten page plastic notepad, one marker, ear plugs, and over-the-ear headphones. I tried on the headphones but did not like the feeling of being in a sensory deprivation chamber. I could see them being useful if another test taker were making a racket. Test your marker BEFORE the section begins. If you need another notepad during a section you have to raise your hand and wait for the proctor to retrieve your pad and replace it with a fresh one. During each break you can get a fresh pad, however. My recommendation is to only get a new pad between sections. It is a waste of time to get a new pad mid-section. If you must get a new pad then signal for one BEFORE your old pad is full so that you have the least disruption possible. A quick tip to get the most out of your pad: you can use the cover page for notes.
Snacks and Breaks – The test is long so the snack pack is important. Your snack pack should have a caffeine beverage, water, and a sugary snack (I like Cliff Bars and Snickers). I brought some dark chocolate as well. Be aware that you can only access your personal items during the eight-minute break between sections and that the timer is running while you sign in and out. If you are late getting back the time is deducted from the section. The proctor had issues with the computer while I was signing in so I was late getting back to my cubicle. Luckily, the proctor reset my timer. Do not expect this to happen if you are late getting back from a bathroom break. You have time for a gulp of coffee, a bite of Snickers, a quick bathroom stop, and a quick stretch (this helps!).
The Testing Room – Whenever you need anything you must raise your hand. You are not allowed to get up from your cubicle without an escort. Even after the test is over, you will be ushered back to the waiting room and given a printout of your score report.
Tackling the GMAT – Performing well on the GMAT is dependent on many factors. Some of these factors have nothing to do with the content but with your state of mind. A couple of things that can help during the test: First, we all can get a bit dazed during a section. I like to take a moment every once in a while (2-3 times per section) to reset myself – disengage from the screen, stretch my legs, roll my neck, refocus. Second, after you confirm an answer choice that question is over, MOVE ON!
The GMAT is an arduous undertaking in the best of circumstances, but as we can see there are steps you can take to make test day go a little more smoothly. The biggest piece of advice: plan ahead. Know where your test center is, how to get there, especially if you are taking public transportation which may experience delays and construction re-routes. Know the testing procedures, and the ins and outs of the test center. Know what you can and cannot bring, and what you can and cannot do. Know how you’re going to approach the test, and know that once a question has been answered that question is finished. One great way to plan ahead is to practice as you expect the test to go. When doing your practice tests, try however much as possible to mimic what you’ll be doing on test day. That’s right, put together a snack pack for your 8-minute breaks. Rush through your break rituals when you’re doing your practice test, and by all means stick to the 8-minute break on your practice tests as well. Following these helpful tips will help you make the best of your countless hours of preparation come test day. Good luck!