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I get a lot of emails about this, so I thought it would be a good idea to create a post I could update as things develop. I’ll get back to posting challenge questions soon. 🙂

Since I published the Math Guide at the end of last year, I’ve been looking into ways to sell it outside the US. As an independent author, though, I don’t have very many options. I basically have to wait until the services I use (Amazon and Google Play) expand their reach into a new country, and then I can enable sales in that country.

Please understand that if my book isn’t currently for sale where you live, it’s not because I don’t want to sell it to you, it’s just that I don’t have the capability. I’ll make it available there as soon as I can.

Here’s the current list of non-US Amazon sites that sell the physical book:

And here’s the list of countries in which the ebook is available through Google Play (I don’t know how to link to different countries’ Google Play sites, but if you go to Google Play and search, the book should be there):
  • Australia
  • Brazil (NEW!)
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • India (NEW!)
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Russia (NEW!)
  • Spain
  • South Korea (NEW!)
  • United Kingdom

I’ve been asked a few times lately about the PSAT/NMSQT, and I figured it might be helpful to put up a brief FAQ about it. So…here that is. 🙂

How are the PSAT and the SAT different?
For one, the PSAT, at 5 sections, is much shorter than the grueling 10 section SAT. The PSAT contains no essay section (although you still get a writing score, based solely on your performance on multiple choice grammar questions). PSAT scores are a little different, too. While each SAT section’s score range is 200-800, in intervals of 10, each PSAT section’s score range is 20-80, in intervals of 1. Although the SAT is given 7 times per year, the PSAT is only given once, in October. Schools get to decide whether to administer it on Saturday or Wednesday of the appointed week.
PSAT sections break down like this:
  • 2 reading sections. Each contains 24 questions and and is 25 minutes long. One section will contain 8 sentence completions and 16 critical reading questions, and the other will contain 5 sentence completions and 29 critical reading questions.
  • 2 math sections.  One will contain 20 multiple choice questions, and the other will contain 8 multiple choice questions and 10 grid-in questions. Each is 25 minutes long.
  • 1 writing section. It’s 30 minutes long, and contains 20 sentence improvement questions, 14 error identification questions, and 5 paragraph improvement questions. Total: 44 questions (slightly longer than the long SAT writing section).

For more on the structure of the test, click here.

Who takes the PSAT?
Most schools sign all juniors up for it automatically. Many schools allow (or force) sophomores to take it as well. It’s less common for freshmen to take the PSAT, but it’s by no means unheard of.
 
Why is the PSAT scored differently than the SAT?
Well, because the tests are different and the scores mean different things. It’s OK to make a rough estimate of your SAT score by multiplying your PSAT score by 10—so, say, a 182 PSAT score corresponds to an SAT score of 1820—but remember that it’s a rough estimate of where you were on that particular morning in October. Chances are decent that, by the time you get your scores back in December, you’re already in a different place. I’ve seen SAT scores swing much higher than PSAT scores without any additional prep, and I’ve seen them swing much lower.
What does NMSQT stand for?
The PSAT doubles as the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship, and that’s what the NMSQT stands for: National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Only juniors are entered into the National Merit Scholarship competition. Freshmen and sophomores who take the PSAT, even if they score perfect 240s, will have to repeat that performance during their junior years if they want to enter the NMS competition.
Will colleges see my PSAT scores?
Nope.
What if I want them to?
There’s no score reporting mechanism for the PSAT. If you receive any National Merit Scholarship recommendation, obviously you can announce that as an accomplishment and colleges will know roughly the range in which your score fell, but colleges don’t generally care about the PSAT, whether you want them to or not.
Should I prepare for the PSAT?
You should take a practice PSAT and see how you do. If you score 180 or higher, you should consider doing a bit of serious prep to see if you can hit the cutoff for National Merit recognition. This number varies slightly from year to year, but is usually about 200.
Many people who aren’t shooting for National Merit still prepare assiduously for the PSAT, and that’s fine. Any prep for the PSAT is also prep for the SAT, so it’s not wasted time.
How should I prepare for the PSAT?
Pretty much the same way you should prepare for the SAT. You can read the hundreds of pages on this site for detailed advice, but the basic gist of it is this:
  1. Learn some test-specific techniques and strategies
  2. Take a practice test
  3. Review the practice test like crazy until you understand every mistake you’ve made and could explain how to answer the question correctly to your little brother
  4. Identify your weaknesses based on practice test results
  5. Drill those weaknesses until they’re strengths
  6. Take another practice test
  7. Repeat
College Board-made PSATs aren’t so easy to come by, unfortunately. You can get one for free from your guidance office (it’s in a booklet called the Official Student Guide to the PSAT/NMSQT, which is available online except for the practice test part). After you take that one, you might have to start taking SATs instead, unless you’ve got older siblings or friends who will erase their old test books and let you use them. Using SATs isn’t the worst thing in the world. If you get yourself into the kind of shape where you’re PWNing the PSAT by October, you can sign up to take the SAT in October, November, or December, and maybe get all your testing out of the way before you’re halfway done with junior year.
Am I missing anything? Let me know in the comments.

As you might have noticed, I’m trying to give away books like crazy this summer. Here’s a contest for you creative types. 🙂

Your mission is to produce an educational video about the SAT. You may work alone, or in teams of up to three people. If I think your video is helpful, in the sense that if your peers watch it they might learn something, it’s a winner! If you win, everyone on your team will win a Math Guide.

Rules
  • To enter, post your video to YouTube (or Vimeo, or some other video site), then link to your video in the comments for this post. Because the general rule for this site is that comments with links need to be approved manually, your comment probably won’t appear right away. Please be patient.
  • So I know you produced it for this contest, you must mention PWN the SAT in the video, and link to the site in your video description.
  • Your video cannot be more than 5 minutes long. There is no minimum length, but it obviously has to be long enough to make a point.
  • As long as it’s SAT prep related and within the bounds of good taste, the content of your video is up to you. You could write a vocab song, explain a tough math problem, create an animation that illustrates a grammatical concept that’s tested on the SAT, etc.
  • For this contest, you have my permission to use any of the questions I’ve written and posted to this site. Do not use copyrighted material in your video that you do not have permission to use. If you have questions about what you can use, feel free to ask me.
  • As usual, I am the sole judge of the contest. You have hundreds of pages of my writing to peruse to try to figure out what I might like. 🙂
  • If a ton of people enter this, I might start to get picky about who wins so I don’t go broke. Sorry. I’m just one guy with a blog, and I’ve got tuition bills to pay. The point is, it would behoove you to enter early and avoid that eventuality.
  • If you’re not in the US, you can still win, but you have to pay for shipping.
  • Contest ends August 31, 2012.
  • Rules about teams
    • You all have to be in the same geographical location, because while I am willing to give away up to three books at once, I am not willing to pay to ship books to three different places.
    • All team members must make an appearance in the video; you can’t just make a video by yourself and then win a book for two of your friends.

It’s an idea that I’ve had kicking around for a while, but that never really seemed appropriate to post on this site. Basically, I made a bunch of assumptions, did a few rough calculations, and tried to put a dollar value on SAT score improvements. I hope the post inspires some conversation about high-stakes testing, the value of education, and the role money plays in both.

You can check it out here. I’m super grateful to Caroline Howard at Forbes for giving me the opportunity.

Honestly, this makes me really nervous because I have no idea how it’s is going to work and also because I hate looking at a moving image of my face while I talk—my mouth moves weirdly—but I’m gonna dive in.

So mark your calendars, homies. Monday, June 11 at 8 PM EST: SAT prep Google+ hangout numero uno. For this first one, I want to talk about plugging in on math questions. We’ll talk briefly about the technique, and work through a few questions from my book together. You won’t need the book to participate, but it’d make me feel good to see a few people hanging out with Math Guides in hand. (I have this fantasy of one day getting on the subway and seeing some kid working through my book as he heads downtown. I’ll be like, Hey, is that book any good? And he’ll be like, Who are you, weirdo? It’s OK I guess. And then I’ll be all, AWWWWW YEAAAAAHHHHHH.)

If you want to participate, make sure you get a Google+ account if you don’t already have one, and add PWN the SAT to your circles on by Sunday, so I can invite you when things get rolling.

Important notes
  • There are a limited number of seats. Google+ limits Hangouts to ten people at a time, and one of them is me. That means there can only be nine of you. I cannot reserve seats, so if you get locked out, you get locked out.
  • This is for high school students only. Due to the above, you’d be occupying a seat that a student could use. Sorry.
  • Please test out the hangout feature with your friends ahead of time so we can avoid tech issues. I like you guys a ton, but I don’t want to be your tech support, and if this thing devolves into a bunch of I can’t get the sound to work! then it’s probably not worth doing. So please make sure you can get all that working before Monday at 8.
  • There’s no guarantee that this happens more than once. If it goes well, I’m excited about doing it again. I just don’t want to commit myself to doing something crappy all summer. I’ll do my best to make it good. You do the same? Cool.

I’ve been feeling pretty mushy lately about you guys. This blog started a little over a year ago because I was bored, and has grown into something that I’m really proud of and spend all day thinking about. I have you to thank for that. So thank you for continuing to come back to this site. Thank you for asking me questions, thank you for telling your friends about me, and thank you so much for supporting my work. I am beholden to you.

So if you’re taking the June SAT, I wish you the best of luck. Get in there tomorrow morning and PWN the stuffing out of it.

If you’re just gearing up for a summer of SAT prep, then stay tuned. I’ve got some neat stuff planned.


PWN the SAT books available at Amazon.com.
Follow @PWNtheSAT on Twitter, add me on Google+, and like me on Facebook.
Ask me questions at qa.pwnthesat.com.

May SAT scores are in today, and as is usual for a score day, site traffic is up. Sincerest congratulations to all who have achieved their goals—you have earned yourself a summer of doing something other than SAT prep. Try to stay mostly out of trouble.

If you’re a bit disappointed today, keep your chin up. A low score is not a reflection on your character, nor is it an indelible mark on your academic career. It’s a reflection of a moment in time—specifically May 5, 2012. A lot can change between then and October. And it’s within your power to make that happen.

This site is all about helping you make the changes you need to make. I hope, whether you’re planning to self study, take a course, or work with a tutor, that you find some useful information here that helps you along the way. Here are a few places you might like to start.

Although this site has amassed, over time, a fair amount of loyal readers (thanks guys! <3 u!) the single greatest source of traffic for this site is still Google. Which means a lot of people find their way here by searching for “SAT tips,” (I’ve got some) or “is C the most common SAT answer” (no) or, hilariously, “5 hour energy on day of test” (I wouldn’t if I were you).

I’ve done a fair amount of SAT-related Googling myself, so I know what else is out there. There’s some good stuff (for a sampling of what I think is good, see the “Brothers and sisters in arms” section in the left sidebar on this site). There’s also a lot of junk. Some of it’s benignly awful—space-filler articles in local newspapers that purport to tell you how to do well on the exam but actually just tell you to bring #2 pencils and get a good night’s sleep the night before. Those aren’t helpful, but they’re usually written by well-meaning people and they’re mostly harmless. Then there’s the more insidious stuff—the folks who try to squeeze large sums of money out of you or your parents by stoking your anxieties about the SAT, and then claiming they’re the only ones who can help you. You should avoid these charlatans like the plague. Which means you need to know how to identify them.

The two biggest, most glaring indicators that you should be skeptical about the efficacy of a test prep resource are big secrets and big promises. 

Big Secrets

The last major change to the SAT was in 2005, which means folks like me have had the better part of a decade to dissect and analyze the test in its current format. SAT prep is big business, and profitable business, so even though they’re not all blogging about it there are many sharp minds thinking about how to do prep the right way. On the fundamentals, there are more similarities than differences among expert test prep providers. Most of us use plug in and backsolve when appropriate, and we all talk about dangling modifiers and run-ons, even if we use different terminology for those techniques and concepts. Sure, many of us have little quirks that are fairly unique, but those are like the paint job on a car—a cool paint job is only worthwhile if the car actually runs.

Slick marketing and quality test prep don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but you need to make sure there’s steak behind the sizzle before you sign on the dotted line. If a potential prep provider claims to know something about the test that nobody else knows, or claims to have unlocked the secrets of the test, but won’t back up her claims until you’ve opened up your wallet, keep your wallet closed and find another resource that will be more forthcoming about the test prep process.

Big Promises

Nobody can sprinkle fairy dust over your head and raise your score 400 points; people who claim otherwise are suspect. A large score increase depends more on you and your hard work than it does on even the most adroit tutor. If someone on the Internet is willing to guarantee huge score increases in just a few hours of work before even meeting you, he probably either hasn’t been in this business long enough to be any good, or has his fingers crossed behind his back.

The Bottom Line

Gimmicks, secrecy, and salesmanship are all too common in the SAT prep world, but only good teaching is worth paying for. A good tutor or prep course teacher is good because she knows how to communicate concepts and ideas effectively—if you’re not resonating with her when she explains something the first time, she figures out your learning style and alters her approach accordingly. If you’re considering spending some money on test prep, seek good teaching.

Of course, it’s possible that I’m wrong and there is a tutor out there who can improve your score 700 points just by whispering some gibberish in your ear and doing a special dance. I’m just saying I wouldn’t bet my hard-earned money, or my precious time, on it.

[See also: Six questions to ask a potential SAT tutor]
If you don’t know li’l brudder you’ve got some viewing to do.

I don’t know if this is going to work or if it’s going to blow up fantastically in my face, but I’ve been toying with this idea for a while now (my original thoughts here) and I’ve decided I want to give it a whirl. I’m looking for a smallish group of students who would be interested in participating in an unorthodox and labor-intensive SAT experiment this summer.

Here’s the deal

I want to see if, collaboratively, a bunch of students can create a mock SAT—a whole test, from soup to nuts. I’ve talked to a few other test prep folks who might be interested in helping me advise the project (I won’t name names until they officially sign on) but my vision is that students do all the heavy lifting and research, and the other experts and I provide guidance along the way. If you participate, you’ll comb through tests in the Blue Book looking for patterns to decide things like how many run-ons should be tested in the 14-question final writing section. You’ll argue with each other about what the essay question should be, or how hard the final question on a math section should be. You’ll debate whether you’re really using a word properly in a sentence completion question. By the end of the summer, you’ll hopefully have a deep understanding of the content and structure of the SAT. My hypothesis is that this knowledge will increase your score.

Of course, it’s only a hypothesis. As far as I know this hasn’t been tried before, anywhere, and I obviously make no guarantees that you’ll see a huge score bump, or any bump at all. I really think you will, but if you decide to devote time to this you do so in full knowledge that it’s not a sure thing. Along those lines, I can’t guarantee that a finished product emerges from this. If you sign on, you take some of the responsibility for keeping this project going. If people lose interest halfway through, then it just fizzles and we all walk away.

logistics

I’m planning for most of the work to be done on a wiki, which will completely open to the public. Obviously, some work (like layout work) will need to be done offline, but that’s only in the final stages and we’ll cross those bridges when we come to them. Our finished product, and the wiki we used to create it, will remain available publicly, too. The idea is that if this works, other people might want to replicate and refine the process. Nothing is going to be bought or sold through this project. All content will be licensed with Creative Commons.

where do I sign up?

You don’t even have to! If you’d like to participate, you can access the project here. Just start contributing!

Feel free to tell your friends about this if you think they’d be interested, too.

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 (1, 2, 3), the answer keys link you back to posts containing similar questions.  That’s why the Blue Book Breakdowns I’ve posted (Test 1, Test 2, Test 3, Test 11) do the same. That’s why, in my book, each chapter ends with a list of questions in the Blue Book to which the chapter applies. That list is meant to show you all the different ways the same concept can be tested, so that you can start to see the similarities, not the differences, between questions.

The lists also serve another purpose: they’re rough indicators of how frequently concepts are tested and how often techniques can be applied. Across sections, it’s important to internalize a sense of what you’re likely to see and what you’re not. The chances of you seeing an hard exponent question to which plug in might apply are pretty good. The chances of you seeing the word jejune (or any single vocab word) on the SAT are pretty small. The odds of you seeing a comparison error somewhere in the writing section? Incredibly high. And so on and so forth.

I’m spelling all this out now because it’s high season for self studiers, and I want to encourage you, if that shoe fits, to seek the forest behind every tree. As you take practice tests, focus not only on the mistakes you made, but the patterns that begin to emerge in the questions you’re getting right. Ask questions about your mistakes, sure, but remember that you’ll never see that exact question again, so the value of any explanation you get is in what you can take from it and apply to similar (or not-so-similar) questions going forward.

It’s easy to get hung up the details—and the details are important—but SAT prep is all about the big picture.

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 setting given the luxury of time and the resources of a school system. I contributed a half-baked response before heading out for the day, but I’ve continued to ruminate on the idea ever since, so I figured I’d try to flesh it out a bit more here on my own blog. More so than most, this post will be a living document, in that I plan to add to it as more ideas come my way, and if I get any feedback from you all.

If I worked in a school, and was given the opportunity to run a semester-long, 5-days-per-week SAT prep course, I would spend the first few weeks teaching the requisite strategies and making students do practice drills and full tests. And then I would reinforce those first few weeks by making the class try to create an SAT of its own, from the ground up. The idea here is to really get students engaged in thinking about what the test is, and what it is not. I’ve toyed with the idea of question writing as pedagogy in the past, and although I’ve received pushback from students when I’ve proposed it, I remain convinced that under watchful, expert eyes, the construction of mock questions (and even a mock test) could be an incredible teaching tool.

I would model this part of class loosely around something that already exists in many schools: yearbook class. There would be, for example, people on a design team trying to emulate fonts, layout, and other design elements of the test. There would be teams dedicated to each subject, and possibly subteams to work on different question types. Depending on time constraints, I might or might not provide reading passages of my own choosing.

Learning objectives
  • Determine, based on available tests, what the most commonly tested concepts are.
  • Explore all the the different ways common concepts are tested.
  • Understand how incorrect answer choices are chosen. For example:
    • Common calculation missteps
    • Predictable misunderstanding of reading passage contents
    • Sentence Improvement questions that fix original problem, but introduce a new one
    • Phrases that “sound weird” but are grammatically correct
  • Learn how to write precise, unambiguous questions (and in so doing, gain an appreciation for how precise and unambiguous the SAT is).
  • Repeatedly reinforce important concepts and techniques as students emulate the style and substance of the SAT in their own questions.
  • If possible, administer both an official SAT Blue Book test and the student-built test to another group of students over a few weekends (some students do Blue Book test first, others do student-built test first).
    • Perform rudimentary statistical analysis to try to see how well the student-built test approximates the real thing.
    • Write report(s) on what worked about the process, and what didn’t.
Requirements

Of course, to pull this off a teacher would need really deep understanding of the test, to provide guidance and to keep students focused on designing an SAT—simply designing a really hard test that doesn’t feel much like an SAT might be a fun exercise but isn’t going to do anybody much good from a test prep perspective. And students would need to be motivated, curious, and not easily frustrated.

Last word

Difficulties and improbability of this ever being attempted aside, I really feel like in the right circumstances, this process could create some real powerhouse SAT takers. Aside from giving students some perspective on how the sausage is made, it would give the instructor tons of opportunities to go beyond teaching the basic test-taking strategies and really dig into students’ problem areas in a nontraditional way.

It could also, done right, be a lot of fun. Just sayin’.

If you’re taking the SAT next weekend and you haven’t really started studying yet, you should know right now that you’ve not set yourself up for overwhelming success (or even regular-whelming success). Still, you’re not alone in your predicament, and Goonies never say “die.” I’m not going to say anything profound here, but I figured I’d write up a last-minute study (cram) plan to try to maximize your score in as short a time as possible. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, then use this as a starting off point for your more assiduous preparation schedule with the May or June in mind.

  • MONDAY: When you get home from school, take a full SAT, strictly timed. If you have the Blue Book, use one in there (preferably one of the first 3). If you don’t, you can get a free test from the College Board, but you’re going to have to print it (I don’t recommend taking it online—the real test won’t be on a computer screen). Assuming you don’t have extra time accommodations, this should take you just under 4 hours. Correct it and score it. Scoring instructions are included at the end of the test—make sure you’re scoring it correctly. Go to sleep.
  • TUESDAY: Set aside 2 hours (or more) to review all your errors in the READING section (Reading comes first because I don’t want you to forget what the passages were about). Review means understanding why every single wrong answer was wrong, and why each right answer was right. Disabuse yourself of the notion that questions on the SAT are subjective. Each right answer is right, and each wrong answer is wrong. Note line references that reveal or discredit answers. You should be able to explain any question to a complete stranger. You should also take note of any vocabulary words you don’t know, although honestly you’re unlikely to increase your vocabulary much in a week.
  • WEDNESDAY: Again, set aside 2 hours (or more) to review the MATH sections of that test. If you took one of the first 3 Blue Book tests, use my technique guides (Test 1 | Test 2 | Test 3) to help you understand your mistakes and refine your approach to those question types. See if I (or one of my friends) has posted longer solutions to any questions that stump you. If we haven’t, ask me! Again, you should be able to explain each question on the test to a stranger before you call it a night.
    • It’s also of paramount importance that, if you don’t already know how the math section is set up and how that should inform your test taking strategy. Read the following:
    • THURSDAY: You guessed it: today is WRITING day. You know the drill by now. Set aside a couple hours, and review your mistakes. Pay special attention to the SAT’s favorite errors to test—the ones that sound simple but can be very tricky to spot: Verb errors, Pronoun Errors, Run-on Sentences. Watch out for Dangling Modifiers, too. Don’t worry too much about the essay—it won’t affect your score as much as the multiple choice grammar questions—but read this Dos and Don’ts post to avoid some of the most common errors.
    • FRIDAY: Set your stuff out for Saturday: Calculator (with new batteries if possible), pencils, admission ticket. And then chill. Seriously. Just chill. The best thing you can do now is get some rest, so you can wake up on Saturday ready to go. Eat a good meal, watch a movie, and go to bed early. In the morning, you’ll have work to do.
    • SATURDAY: Don’t break your usual routine. Eat breakfast if you usually do. Have coffee if you usually do. Try to get to the test center early so you aren’t stressing on the ride over about being late. Breathe.
As I said, there’s nothing sagacious in this advice. It’s a brute force solution, not an elegant one. But if you can carve out time to do this, you’ll be in a much better position on test day than you otherwise would have been. Make the best of this week, take the test with as much swagger as you can muster, and if Saturday doesn’t go as you’d hoped, use your work this week as the baseline for your prep moving forward.

Things have been absolutely bonkers for me lately, a fact which has been deleterious to the frequency of posts on this site. Although I’ve been keeping up with the Q&A alright, long-form posts on this blog have taken a bit of a back seat. That probably bothers me more than it bothers you, but I’ve decided to run guest posts every so often to stave off any staleness around here, and to give a voice to some colleagues of mine who I deem to be legit.

Peter Peng is a fellow Brunonian and a tutor based in Los Angeles, although I understand he does the online tutoring thing, so he’s a citizen of the world. He’s been working on an SAT book of his own, of which I’ve seen only excerpts. I hunger for more. He’ll be posting around here every so often, and I’m sure he’ll be so kind as to provide you his contact information should you want to get to know him better.

You’ll be hearing from Peter relatively soon. You’ll know which posts are his because they’ll be clearly marked, and you’ll be able to read all his posts, should you desire, by clicking your way to the brand new Peter Peng label.

Ever true,
Mike

I get asked about guessing on the SAT all the time. All the time. And I’ve written about guessing on this blog often enough that there’s a special label for those posts, so that you can always find them. But I wanted to give a quick tip to aspiring tutors who come to my site looking for advice (judging by the number of hits I get from Ivy League schools, there are many of you). Regardless of what the laws of probability say, you should not be dogmatic about forcing your students to guess.

Explain to your students the way the scoring system works (+1 for a correct response, -ÂĽ for an incorrect one). Explain how random guessing, statistically, is a break even. Explain how, if a student can eliminate an answer, the odds say she should guess. But leave it at that. Because if you don’t, and she guesses, and it costs her, you’ll be Trent from Swingers. You’ll be maligned for giving good advice, because you insisted on it too strongly instead of letting your student make the final call.

There are some things you, as a tutor, should insist on. Writing out algebra instead of doing head math, for example, costs the student nothing although he may resist. This is a good fight, because when you win you’ll probably make an improvement in his score. You’re changing his habits, and causing him to do something that will at worst, make no difference, and at best, drastically reduce his careless errors.

When you have the guessing fight, you’ll often find that even if you win, you’re not making a huge score difference. That’s because guessing has a lot to do with luck. SAT guessing strategy is just a way to make it slightly more likely that a student will get lucky. Once in a while, your student might actually get unlucky and lose points. And then it won’t matter that you’re right. When you find yourself having to defend your guessing strategy to a student who is looking at a 690 instead of a 700 because of guessing, you’re in a bad fight.

I like to run this experiment with students on practice tests. And then, after we’ve done a few tests that way, I shut up about guessing and let them make their own decisions.

I always double down on 11. But I don’t make my friends do the same when the stakes are high.

Here’s to hoping Score Day is your day. But if it’s not…here’s to dusting yourself off, and getting right back on the horse to make sure your next Score Day is much better.

Hopefully, I can help! Take a look around. Here are a few places you might like to start: