SAT Exam Preparation

Everyone becomes more or less stressed during the senior year of the school as they have to face various entrances in order to get admission in colleges. Different countries follow different rules regarding the entrances. SAT is one of those kinds of entrances. SAT or Scholastic Aptitude Test or Scholastic Assessment Test or Scholastic Reasoning Test is one of those standardized tests which the students have to take in the USA in order to get the admission in colleges.

It was introduced first in 1926, since then its pattern, scoring, the process of evaluation has changed many times. In 1990 they changed the acronym into “Scholastic Assessment Test”, to distinguish themselves from their real connection to IQ testing. Then again in 1996, they opted for the initials to no longer stand for anything. Initially, the test was supposed to measure the ‘aptitude’, which gradually changed into ‘generalized reasoning ability’ to ‘critical thinking’ as the test items and format has been revised continuously.

The main owner of SAT is a private, non-profit organization of the USA, namely The College Board. The board is founded in 1900 and composed of more than 5700 schools, colleges, universities. The exam is developed and administered by the Educational Testing Service or the ETS.

Help with SAT Exam Preparation

Structure:

It’s a computerized test. It examines the Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematical ability of the students. Each section is scored on a 200 to 800 scale. All scores are the multiples of 10. The total scores are the sum totals of the 3 major sections, amounting to 2400 generally. Each section is further divided into 3 parts making it all together 9 subsections and the other one includes an additional 25-minute Experimental section. In most cases, the test is almost a four and a half hours including the time for orientation, distribution of materials, completion of biographical parts, the fifteen minute time break. The question types rise gradually from easy to middle and then, hard.

Critical Reading:

This section consists of three subsections, two 25 minutes section and one 20 minutes section including various types of questions like sentence completion and questions regarding short and long passages. The sentence completion test generally examines the student’s skill of vocabulary, his or her understanding of sentence structure and the ability to select the most appropriate word to complete the given sentence. The rest part contains questions on reading passages, passages on social science, humanities, physical science or personal narratives and the students have to answer the questions on those passages.

Mathematics:

This section is also known as the Calculation or the Quantitative section. Like the critical reading section, this one also consists of two 25 minutes and one 20 minutes section. One of the 25 minutes question consists of 20 multiple choice questions. The other one consists of 8 multiple choice questions and 10 grid-in questions. The students have to write the answers in the space provided on the exam sheet. There is no negative marking for incorrect answers in this part. The last 20 minutes question part contains 16 multiple questions. Recently the inclusion of topics like Algebra II, Scatterplot, makes the section more quantitative.

Calculators or Graphing calculator can be used only for the maths section. However, use of mobiles or netbooks or calculator with QWERTY keyboard is prohibited.

Writing:

This portion includes multiple choice questions and one essay. The essay score occupies approximately 28% of the total score while the rest of the questions contribute about 70%. These questions include error identification, sentence and paragraph improvement questions. The knowledge of grammar can be examined through the error identification questions. The paragraph improvement questions require the logical presence of mind of the student which enables him or her to re-built the paragraph, following a logical organization of ideas, presented in a poorly written paragraph.

The essay section is 25 minutes long. The students are supposed to compose the essays in response to a given idea. The ideas are often philosophical but nothing out of the box so that students with any background can have access to those essays. The students may be asked to express their opinion on the value of education or value of honesty in the human lives. The essay contributes about 6 to12% of the main score.

Planning:

In the USA SAT is offered 7 times a year, in October, November, December, January, March or April, May and June. Generally, it is taken by the graduating students of the high school.

Generally, it costs $50-$70.

Candidates who have problems in giving the exam on Sunday due to religious belief may request to take the test on following day, though these are subject to denial. Students with any kind of verifiable disability are it learning or physical, can also take the exam with accommodations. Students with a learning disability are given extra time too.

Score:

Approximately 3 weeks after the exam, the students receive their online report card with the score of the two main sections, two sub scores for the writing part, the essay score and subscore. They also get the percentage of other test takers with a lower score and the raw score, i.e. the scores gained from correct and negative marks gained from incorrect ones. Apart from these, they may also receive, for an additional cost, their answers, the correct answers and the online resources, explaining the answers. The scores are valid for 5 years after the examination.

Preparation:

Many educational organizations, coaching centers offer test preparation in form of books, classes, online tutoring, flashcards and so on. But as the research by the College Board has shown us, these courses are not of much help. The students need to practice again and again whatever he or she has learned during the school life.

SAT is an important examination through which the students can themselves check their ability, disability, reading, writing and mathematical skill which help them to identify their weak points and strong points too.

How to Prepare for SAT and SAT English Subject Test

Everyone becomes more or less stressed during the senior year of the school as they have to face various entrances in order to get admission in colleges. Different countries follow different rules regarding the entrances. SAT is one of those kinds of entrances. SAT or Scholastic Aptitude Test or Scholastic Assessment Test or Scholastic Reasoning Test is one of those standardized test which the students have to take in USA in order to get the admission in colleges.

Since 1926, when it’s introduced, its examination pattern, process of evaluation, syllabus, rules and regulation have been changing, following the course of time. The College Board, the owner of the examination procedure does all the necessary assessment and the Educational Testing Service or ETS takes care of all the mandatory changes, recommended by the College Board.

Structure:

The test is computer based. It has three major sections: Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematics. Each section is scored on 200 to 800 scale making the total scores of the three sections are 2400 generally. Each section is further divided into three sub sections, making it all total nine sub sections along with an additional 25 minutes sub sections. Here I’ll discuss the syllabus and the preparation for the Critical Reading and Writing part.

Critical Reading:

The section contains three sub sections, two 25 minutes section and one 20 minutes section including several types of questions like, sentence completion, questions regarding short and long passages. This is to examine the knowledge of vocabulary of the students, their understanding of sentence structure and ability to select the most appropriate word to complete the given sentence. The rest of the questions are generally from passages on Physical science, English, Humanities etcetera.

It seems that this section can be a hard part for the students if they don’t have the habit of reading fast. The students have to read the passage and comprehend those good enough to answer the questions. The pressure to finish the entire section within the given time period makes the students feeling more problematic. Some of them end up reading the question first and then going back to the passage in search of the answers. However, here are few tips which may be able to help:

  • You need to learn time management. Some questions may seem to be hard and confusing and problematic. Keep those questions for the end. First solve the easy ones. If you spend too much time on the difficult ones, at the end you might not get time to answer the easy ones, so save the difficult ones for the end.
  • Read the passage with utmost attention. Then read the questions, try to figure out what they want and then go back to the passage to find out the answers.
  • First complete a passage and then start reading the other one. Once you are done with one passage it will provide you with a peace of mind which will help you to concentrate in the next one.
  • You can do the sentence completion test before everything as it’s easier and doesn’t take much time.
  • Improve your vocabulary skill as the sentence completion test is given mostly in fill in the blanks format.

Writing:

This potion includes multiple choice questions and one essay. The entire section is divided into three sub sections. Two sections of 25 minutes length each and one section of 10 minutes length. One of the 25 minutes section contains the essay, the other one contains 11 improving sentences, 6 improving paragraphs, and 18 sentence errors. The final 10 minutes section contains 14 improving sentences. These questions are supposed to examine the grammatical knowledge of the students and the paragraph improvement questions judge the students’ ability to re-build the paragraph following certain logical organization of ideas given in the paragraph. This section also judges the students’ idea to communicate ideas with a sense of clarity, their grammatical knowledge.

  • The students must work on their grammatical and vocabulary skills
  • Improve your vocabulary through reading several newspapers, story books with literary value.
  • Be organized in your studying, then you will be able to find your study materials, all in one place.
  • Maintain a diary to jot down all the new words you learn.
  • Know your weak points and strong ones. Study everything but focus on your weak points more.
  • Practice the sample papers every now and then. No matter how much you read, it will be of no work if you don’t practice whatever you’re learning.
  • Study the words carefully, its roots, origins, anonyms and synonyms, suffixes and prefixes.

The essay section is a 25 minutes long section. The students are supposed to compose the essay in response to the idea given in the test. The ideas are often philosophical but nothing too much scholastic so students from all background can work it out. While writing the essay the students are required to remember few things.

  • Read the assignment again and again and while reading mark the important points which will help you to develop the ideas.
  • Develop your points based on sound reason and logic.
  • Develop your argument with couple of thoughtful, well-formed examples and juxtapose them with multiple, over simplified ones. Develop the argument in sections.
  • Give examples from real life and write in standard written English.
  • Use the word ‘I’ in your essay along with ‘my opinion’, ‘I believe so’, such and such. After all it is your essay, you are the one who is writing it, and therefore you need to assert your dominance.
  • Try to maintain the quality rather than the quantity.

SAT Subject Test:

SAT Subject test allows the students to show their achievement in specific subject area. The five general subjects are English, History, Languages, Mathematics and Science. It indicates your preference for one specific subject.

SAT Subject Test in English Literature is a one hour multiple choice test on English literature. Earlier it was known as Achievement Tests and later as the SAT IIs.

Topics to be covered:

Though they haven’t recommended any book list yet, according to the College Board these are the topics needed to be covered:

  • English literature
  • American literature
  • Other literature written in English
    • Renaissance and 17th century
    • 18th and 19th century
    • 20th century
    • Poetry, Prose, Drama and Other works.

The score level is from 200 to 800. People can turn up for the examination for more than once, in order to improve their scores.

Types of Questions:

Questions in this section can come in various formats. Let’s take a look.

  • Analyse and Interpret the theme and the meaning of the given text
  • Interpret the denotation and the connotation of the words in the given context
  • Recognize the structure
  • Respond to the use of language, diction, tone, characterization
  • Analyse the poetry in terms of speaker, the audience, the surrounding situation and so on.

How to prepare

  • It's better to read certain universally approved book on history of literature
  • Read many novels, books outside your syllabus to improve your vocabulary skill.
  • You have to know the basic terminology, like 'sarcasm', 'irony', 'pun' and so on, well enough.
  • Learn to critically analyse poetry, prose or drama.
  • Try to develop your own view points and perspective. Being original in your answer is always better than just copying some critic.

These are the few ways which enable the students of both SAT and SAT Subject Test to secure good score.

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