In fact, most math facts aren’t relevant to the SAT. It’s really important to remember that the SAT math section is NOT A MATH TEST. There’s some math on it, sure, but if you spend your time trying to absorb every arcane property and axiom you encounter, you’re not preparing effectively.

Test prep behemoth Kaplan surely feels pressure to have a constant presence on every social media platform known to man, but such ubiquity comes at a price. In this instance, the price is that Kaplan’s reputation as a tone-deaf, corner-cutting organization whose primary concern is not student improvement is, once again, reinforced.

Let’s be clear: you do NOT need to know what “relatively prime” numbers are for the SAT. I have seen every published test since the new test format debuted in March 2005, and although I suppose my memory could be failing me, I don’t remember ever seeing a question about relatively prime numbers. Furthermore, if such a question ever did appear or were to appear in the future, I can guarantee that it was or would be accompanied by a definition of what it means to say that numbers are relatively prime.

It’s disingenuous of Kaplan, which should have at least as much knowledge about the SAT as I do, to present it as something you might want to know for the SAT. As has been pointed out more methodically over at The Fat Envelope, sometimes the big test prep companies seem to be trying to perpetuate the mystification and panic that surrounds college admissions testing, because such confusion and fear benefit their bottom lines. I don’t know if this is an example of such cynical fear-stoking, or just the product of entrusting the job of drip-feeding the insatiable Twitterverse to a hapless intern without much SAT knowledge, but either way it’s pretty inexcusable from the likes of Kaplan.

Kaplan: I expect so little of you, and still you give less. Get it together.

UPDATE: Not long after I wrote this post Kaplan was at it again, posting the SAME TIP as an ACT tip of the day. Bell Curves founder and generally cool dude Akil Bello was all like “WHATTTT?” I took some screenshots of a truly bizarre exchange between him and Kaplan, and I submit them without further comment:

Comments (10)

Oh, I didn’t realize you could order your test booklet. I guess that means there is a copy of every test ever given floating around out there somewhere. I will have to look around as I am way ahead of the curve in quizzing my kids and would surely run out of actual College Board questions if I only used the Blue Book.

I don’t think it matters as much for math as the other sections (although I am probably biased here as I have more trouble with the other sections). I don’t think the test prep companies are at all competent in reproducing quality reading comp questions. And from what I’ve seen on other blogs the writing section is absolutely butchered by the big test prep companies.

You can’t order your booklet for every test, only the January, May, and October ones. And I’d caution you that it’s not easy to find them in the wild. College Board is very protective of their copyrights, so anyone offering an electronic copy doesn’t last long.

It is, in general, very difficult to write questions that are faithful to the style of the SAT, and I don’t think the big prep companies find it to be worth their while to go the extra mile. They’re making money hand over fist with their approximations; what’s the incentive to change?

Sorry, @c808a286fd32fe29893ccc0228f2721a:disqus  we’d missed your @ reply before! To be clear – relatively prime numbers are not tested on the SAT or ACT. We had included a tip on relatively prime because many of our students ask about this concept and confuse it with prime numbers. We’ll remove that tip in the future to prevent confusion – thank you for letting us know!

-Eitan @ Kaplan

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