# What is the SAT really testing?

Much hay is made about what the SAT is actually testing. Does it function as some strangely-defined “college readiness” measurement? Is it a pure reasoning test? Is the SAT a test of innate intelligence, like an IQ test? Is it a completely meaningless hoop that you just have to jump through like a circus dog (more…)

# Why don’t I post solutions to my drills?

A bunch of people have emailed me asking why I only post answers, and not full solutions, for my drills. That’s a fair question, so I figured I’d answer it publicly. I don’t post solutions because I think the best way to improve your skills is to figure the solutions out on your own. When (more…)

# How to know whether you should guess on the SAT

Because there’s a penalty of ¼ raw score point for incorrect multiple choice responses on the SAT, many students experience extreme trepidation about guessing when they aren’t sure about an answer. I’ve stated my general advice on guessing before, but the truth is that while I almost always find that my students benefit slightly from (more…)

# Review: My experience with Grockit

About a month ago I realized that, as someone who blogs about SAT prep, I really should have an informed opinion on what’s out there in the online test prep space. With the June SAT prep cycle winding down, I’ve finally had time to sign up for a free trial and give Grockit a test spin (more…)

# May SAT scores got you down?

My sincerest hope is that when you loaded the page at College Board’s site that contained your May SAT scores, you were elated. If, however, the numbers on the screen left you dismayed, you shouldn’t waste time sulking. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start plotting your revenge. Here, I’ll help: Is the June (more…)

# It ain’t over until it’s over.

I remember taking a short, but very hard calculus test in high school, and watching my friend hand in his test 10 minutes before time was called. I shot him the requisite stink-eye glare, and got back to work, struggling to integrate a function that was giving me absolutely no love. I don’t remember the (more…)

# Study with purpose, and set incremental goals.

You don’t need to move mountains to significantly increase your score; you just need to focus on weak areas, a few at a time, and make them strengths. This entire site is dedicated to the specifics of doing just that, but I wanted to take a bird’s eye view today and point out that in (more…)

# A strong vocabulary is necessary, but not sufficient, for a high CR score.

Credit: the very talented Mike R. Baker I’ve already covered the importance of a good vocabulary, and I hope that you’ve been clicking the red vocabulary links on this site as you meander through. They’re meant to teach you a few good words, and to show you that strong vocabulary doesn’t have to be shoehorned (more…)

# Want an 800 in Math?

Before we really get into this, let’s get one thing straight: It’s incredibly unlikely than an 800 will open any doors for you that a 770 or so won’t. In fact, it’s usually not a good idea to think of SAT scores opening doors at all. It’s better to think of high scores preventing admissions (more…)

# Not every math fact is an SAT math fact.

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 (more…)

# I hope you’re happy with your score today. But if you’re not…

March SAT scores are out today and I’ve heard almost exclusively good news from the students I’ve worked with. The smiles and laughter of children, they are like manna to me. I know, however, that score day is never a happy day for everyone. If your results today fell short of your expectations, here’s some (more…)

# Jack, be nimble.

Here’s a question I love to throw at students early on in the tutoring process (let’s call this a grid-in for now, to keep things simple): If , what is x? It’s a beautiful question because no matter what, it’s going to show me something about the kid with whom I’m working. Almost everyone goes (more…)

# On the whole reality TV kerfuffle

image source It’s been over a week, and still not a day goes by that I don’t see a new article bashing The College Board for its decision to use reality TV as an essay topic. The topic caught me off guard just as it did everyone else, but I can’t justify all the hand-wringing (more…)

# What Halo and the SAT have in common

source. I’m constantly reminding students to look for patterns. The key to transcendent scores is pattern recognition. If you want to be a truly adroit test taker, you’re going to have to devote yourself to taking every test you take actively. Obviously, you should be looking for patterns in the kinds of mistakes you’re making, (more…)

# #20 is the LEAST Important Question on the Test: An Economic Argument.

I’m getting a bit tired of all the focus on #20, which is usually the hardest math question on the test. I guess I’m a bit complicit in all the hype, since I like to illustrate techniques on here using difficult problems, but that’s only because I like to show how powerful those techniques can (more…)