Wednesday, January 25, 2017

SAT Survival Guide

          Seniors can forget it with a smile, juniors get stress lines thinking about it, and underclassmen? You should have started studying yesterday. As our juniors begin to plan for their futures, taking and preparing for the SAT is on our minds. I'm stressing out too, friends! I'm being proactive. Preparing for the SAT is important to getting a high score. Think of the SAT as the academic version of the playoffs. You wouldn't go into the big game without practicing, would you? Here's what I do and I suggest for all of you!

Know This.
       The College Board updated the SAT so it is now out of 1600. It is vital for you to do well! We're a bright bunch, we can do it. You must be committed and motivated - don't bother buying books and downloading apps if you are only looking to commit for 10 minutes. I know it is not fun and you will want to give up (or break down) but the score and your future college will appreciate it! Hard work always pays off.
      On the old SAT, 1/4 of a point was deducted for every answer wrong, but now NO points are deducted for a wrong answer - don't be nervous to guess! The new SAT will present you with your raw score.
      The English sections are now much more involved with not just understanding, but analysis and supporting that analysis - don't sweat. Our English and History teachers are doing a phenomenal job preparing us with these skills in the classroom. Practice, practice, practice! While the essay is now optional, I highly recommend writing it! Many colleges will be impressed of your willpower and will be looking at the essay score. It could be an admissions decision between you and another student!
     Unlike the old SAT and more like the NJASK (remember those days?) our math section will have a 'calculator' and 'no calculator' section.

Suggested Apps - Not Social Media.

Yes, I'm a super geek for having a folder of SAT apps on my phone, but hey, it's inevitable. We are always on our phones. Next time, skip refreshing your Instagram feed and download these free apps. You're only helping yourself!

The app begins by taking a diagnostic test (13-18 minutes). For students who prefer to reference to the text as they go through the questions, this app may not be "it" for you. In order to view the questions, you must exit the passage. Besides this, the app is not the easiest to navigate. It is not one of my favorites, but if you are seeking for the most assistance as possible like myself it is still an app to consider having. The app does, however, let you know when you achieve mastery on a certain topic, such as Evidence-based Reading. This app allows you to have an online tutor for an additional paid cost.

2. Ready4SAT
Ready4SAT is an app that really gets to know you as a student. They allow you to build a custom profile of yourself academically - adding colleges you're interested in (to compare academic information, such as average SAT/ACT scores and GPAs) and inputting your desired score on the test.

Again, you must take an assessment test built of nine questions. There is a section of 175 vocabulary words - you must master 25 before moving on to the next set for constant repetition. The app allows you to take tests on math, reading and writing or both, and you can set the length of the test from 8 to 100 questions. The app sends a notification daily to continue practicing your skills through a "map" and once you do enough practice, there is a quiz! This app is very involved with the individual as a student.

3. SAT Pocket Prep
I found this app to be less engaging and effective. While its features include practice questions, a countdown until your SAT test day and some methods for test taking, it is primarily concerned with getting you to purchase the paid version.
4. Visual Vocab
For all of you visual learners and those who like to be entertained when learning, this is for you! With a large library of vocabulary words, there is first a picture with the word to prompt you. You can then tap the screen and find the definition of the word. Swipe your screen to see more words, and you can even hear the word. Perhaps the funny visuals will entice some to truly get into their studying. There is also a quiz available at your convenience based on the words you have been studying.

5. SAT Flash 
I highly recommend this app! You may input the score you wish to achieve, and after daily practice sessions, it updates itself to what your estimated score would be if you were to take the SAT that day. So you don't forget, the app sends a notification - and another one, if you don't do your practice within a couple of hours!

6. SAT 
More of a cutesy app than anything, this app provides approximately 120 of the top SAT vocabulary words. The game is fun and can help with retaining definitions.

The Internet, At Your Service
Again with my inner nerd, I'm hooked on Khan Academy! I have heard about it for years and now i swear by it. I have not been on for long, but I'm completely obsessed with its service. Once you sign into your Khan Academy account, you can link it with your College Board account to allow access your PSAT scores - for juniors, this will show the scores from sophomore and junior year. Khan Academy is also able to pinpoint exactly which skills you were weak on on the PSAT to work hard towards achieving mastery in the subject. Input the date you anticipate to take the SAT and set a schedule for yourself - be realistic. You can set which dates and for how long you want to practice each day - they recommend 15 minutes as an average starting point. 14 weeks before the official test date, be prepared to set aside an hour for full practice tests. A week or two before your official SAT test date, there will be an Official SAT Practice Test - set aside three hours. As I said, you must be motivated! Watch it pay off.
The questions do mimic those that would be expected on the SAT, as do most of the apps, just as you would hope and expect. I guarantee Khan Academy will lead Spartans to SAT success!

Books are another helpful source. I have not divulged deep enough to review any of them, but ask any teacher who will gladly assist you. Having a book, or a few, is great prep because you can annotate and write inside it to get yourself acquainted in a hands-on manner. Do your research! Expensive doesn't always mean best, and you would want your purchase to be beneficial.

   I don't expect any of us to begin chanting "standardized tests!", but it is something we have to face and with effort, we deserve and we will achieve a grade we can be happy with. We are Spartans, after all.

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