“Is there a math way?”

When a student asks me how to solve a math problem, my default response is to show, if possible, how to solve it by plugging in, backsolving, or guesstimating. I do this because I figure if the “math way” was obvious, the student wouldn’t be asking me for help in the first place. Besides, problem (more…)

The forest and the trees

As far as I’m concerned, the single most important difference between a good SAT taker and a truly adroit one is the ability to see the common threads that tie questions together. Pretty much everything you’ll find on this site was written to help you do that. That’s why, if you try my math drills (more…)

Make your own SAT

Source. I came across a great LinkedIn group discussion recently about an in-school SAT class (not a big prep company running a course at a school, an actual class during school run by school faculty) and it really got me thinking about ways I would try to engage students in the SAT in a classroom (more…)

Relativism (On the skinning of cats*)

* I don’t advocate violence towards cats (or other animals). “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” is a phrase that I used to hear all the time growing up, but that I now realize (having received some mortified stares at its utterance) that it’s not as common as I thought it was. (more…)

Why it’s important to check your work

Sometimes, you make mistakes. I don’t care who you are, what your GPA is, or what your SAT scores are. Sometimes, you make mistakes. If you’re the kind of student who is able to finish sections before time is called, it’s pure hubris not to use that opportunity to check your work. An anecdote: yesterday (more…)

Want an 800 in writing?

I’m compelled, as I was when I wrote a similar post about the math section, to begin by saying this: If you’re striving for an 800 as a means to an end (admission to the school of your choice, etc.) you should know that close is probably good enough. An 800 is unlikely to open (more…)

SAT prep roadmap for self-studiers

As I see it, SAT prep has two main objectives: Discover the most efficacious ways to solve common problem types. Become proficient at recognizing opportunities to use those techniques in the wild. It’s important that you devote equal time and effort to both. In other words, if you only take practice tests repeatedly, or if (more…)

The Size of the Fish

Disclaimer: This post is intended as pragmatic advice, not rebuke. Please don’t misconstrue anything herein as nastiness. This blog is still a big love fest, and any appearance otherwise is simply a result of a temporary inarticulateness. Promise. I don’t like to talk about it in real life because honestly nobody wants to hear about (more…)

The SAT is not like other tests.

If you’ve been wondering why things have been a bit quieter around here for the past few weeks, there are 3 reasons: I’ve been scrambling to finish this book so that I can ship it off to print. I’ve been trying to keep up with all the great questions I’ve been getting at qa.pwnthesat.com. I (more…)

A bit of practical advice about maximizing your SAT math score

I’ve covered this before at length, but it’s important to remember that, in general, you’ll increase your score more by making fewer silly mistakes than you will by getting more of the hardest questions right.  I’ve always left the actual calculations and decision making in your court, though. Well, the decision making is still in (more…)