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SAT Question of the Day

2013-09-30 09:00:27

Critics remarked that the movie's sentimental ending was so cloying as to offend those who despise such ______.

(A) tremors
(B) trenchancy
(C) triages
(D) treacle
(E) traction

The correct answer is D
Explanation: To find the missing word, try to predict its meaning by using keywords in the sentence. Here, the best clue are the words "sentimental" and "cloying," both of which describe how the film's ending was interpreted by the critics. The missing word also describes that view, and it can be inferred that the word is a noun form of sentimental or cloying, as the word "such" modifies it. As such, choice D is the best choice: "treacle" is "cloying sentimentality."

None of the other choices work, either:

tremors: involuntary quivers
trenchancy: incision or sharpness
triages: assignments of degrees of urgency to emergency medical situations
traction: the ability to stick to a surface or become accepted

Ten Songs that Use SAT Vocab Words!

2012-09-20 23:00:26

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of words, a flurry of phraseology! I have been swept up and carried away by a veritable, formidable tornado of terminology!

“How can this be?” you ask. Well, here at Sentia we’re working on assembling a most excellent vocabulary course for students to work through online, on their own time. The course will cover 250 of the highest-frequency SAT words. We’re also coming up with funny and original mnemonic devices to help students understand and retain the meaning of each word.

All of this has made me think back to my old SAT-studying days. Back then, I really appreciated when vocab words popped up in popular songs. I'll never forget a word I can put to a tune.

Since we're not using song lyrics as mnemonic devices in our vocab course, I figured this strategy for vocab study deserves a blog entry of its own. Below, I list 10 awesome songs that include SAT-level vocab in their lyrics. Can you think of any others?

1.) Fidelity by Regina Spektor

Regina Spektor’s songs are so pretty! To find the vocabulary word in this song, you need look no further than the title. “Fidelity” means “loyalty.”

2.) The Past is a Grotesque Animal by Of Montreal

Of Montreal is another band you’d have to be crazy not to love! Additionally, A LOT of their songs include SAT-level vocab.

The Past is a Grotesque Animal is a really beautiful (12-minute!) song that will teach you the words “lilting” (meaning: “rhythmic swing or cadence”) and “grotesque” (meaning: “fantastically ugly or bizarre”).

3.) A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left by Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird is a big fan of big words. When you listen to A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left, be sure to keep an ear out for “bereft” (meaning: “deprived; lacking”), “banal” (meaning: “cliché; unoriginal”), and “imbibe” (meaning: “to drink”).

4.) Vicarious by Tool

Tool was my favorite band in high school—I just couldn’t get enough! This was great news for my vocabulary, as the band’s lyrics often use SAT-level words.

Listening to "Vicarious"—the hit single off Tool’s most recent album—is a great way to acquaint yourself both with Tool and the high-frequency SAT words, “vicarious” (meaning: “felt through imagined participation in the experience of others”) and “credulous” (meaning: “gullible”).

5.) History by Mos Def (Feat. Talib Kweli)

By listening to this classic rap song, you can learn the vocab words “ubiquitous” (meaning: “existing everywhere; omnipresent”) and “ephemera” (meaning: “things that exist for only a short time”).

6.) Born this way by Lady GaGa

Although Lady Gaga’s songs don’t exactly promote… erm… school-friendly activities and values, Born this Way will at least teach you a vocabulary word! Listen to the catchy, feel-good tune to learn “prudence” (meaning: the quality of being cautious or wise with regard to practical affairs.)

7.) Naïve by The Kooks

A bittersweet song, "Naïve" became popular when it was played in the movie 17 Again (2009). The word “naïve” is important SAT vocabulary and means “unsophisticated, inexperienced, and innocent.”

 8.) Testify by Common

In this song, Common tells a chilling tale of murder and betrayal, so it’s no surprise that he’d make use of such an tyrannical, fear-inducing vocab word as “stifling” (meaning: “suffocating; oppressively close”).

9.) The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel

I’ve recently become obsessed with this 1960s duo, and, in my rapacious listening, have learned that they use TONS of great SAT vocab words!

The Boxer is one of my favorite Simon & Garfunkel songs and includes the word “squander” (meaning: “to spend wastefully”).

10.) Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins

A childhood classic. I’ll let the lyrics speak for themselves:

Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious!
If you say it loud enough, you'll always sound precocious,

(“Precocious” means “unusually advanced or mature in development.”)

Five Ways to De-stress after the SAT

2012-10-09 20:12:19

High school seniors: How did this Saturday’s administration of the SAT go?

Wait! Don’t answer that!


...Because now that the test is over, you should be focused on de-stressing. After all, scores won’t be released for another three weeks! Why get all worked up evaluating your test-performance when you don’t even know your grade?

Yes. I thought you would agree with me. That’s why I wrote this blog entry on five ways to de-stress after the SAT. With these strategies, you can decompress and remain relaxed while you wait for your scores.

Let go of your mistakes

Pencils down!  Turn in the test. Take a deep breath and... Crap! I just remembered the meaning of that vocab word! And it was the answer! Or: Shoot! I should have used the Pythagorean Theorem to solve that math problem I left blank!

An especially crappy aspect of the SAT is that we tend to realize our mistakes once the test is over—and obsess about them endlessly. While reflecting on your test experience is important, it is NOT useful to consume yourself with questions missed. This is because fixating on questions bombed without also acknowledging those we aced can lead us to think we failed the test. In reality, we probably did just fine.

If you truly believe you BOMBED the test (as in, you didn’t answer the questions, got a vomit-inducing migraine, or wrote your essay on Fifty Shades of Gray) you can cancel your scores. Once you decide to do this, however, there is no going back. You must accept this decision without regret, and then start prepping for the next SAT.

Grab lunch with friends

The only fun part of the SAT is eating lunch when it’s over. Once dismissed from the test-site, head to the diner with a few of your friends to eat and laugh off post-SAT stress.

Exercise or Meditate

Exercise is a fantastic way to let go of stress built up during the exam. Not only does exercise trigger the brain to produce endorphins (natural, mood-enhancing hormones) but exercise also requires you to focus on your body’s movements in the present moment—that is, away from the SAT. Finally, exercise is literally exhausting. After a good workout, you’ll simply feel too tired to worry about how you scored on the SAT.

Meditation is also an excellent way to dispense with stress accrued through the day. My last blog entry focused on the benefits of meditation for students. Without restating the whole thing here, I will say that meditation teaches us to accept and let go of frustrations and mistakes. Like exercise, meditation also commands deep, unwavering focus. If you are having trouble enacting de-stressing technique #1, meditation should help you let go of your mistakes and tolerate uncertainty about your scores.

Spend some time with the television  

Months of test-prep on top of regular school work, socializing, and extracurricular activities means you probably missed out on a lot of TV. Celebrate the fact that the SAT is done by watching a movie/TV or by doing another completely passive (but thoroughly relaxing) activity.

Even if you’re planning to test again, allow yourself a couple of study-free days to enjoy some free time and bathe in the television’s soft blue glow.

Remind yourself that all will be fine—even if you bombed the SAT.

As much as the SAT matters… it really doesn’t matter.

Solid SAT scores are a vital part of your application to college, but it’s important to remember that admissions officials also consider your grades, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and personal statement. In other words, the SAT is not the be-all and end-all that determines your fate.

Even if lower-than-desired SAT scores keep you from admission to your top-choice school, you may find yourself at a college better suited to your interests, current academic skillset, and style of learning. In this case, lower-than-desired SAT scores would actually have benefited your personal, social, and academic growth.

The SAT means working hard to do your best on a grueling test, and then putting the experience behind you. Now that the test is over, you should rejoice! No matter your score, you should feel proud of yourself; you have just completed a necessary step on the pathway to college.


These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

Accrue: to accumulate

SAT Question of the Day

2012-09-24 09:00:21

James Joyce's writing style has a tendency to seem ______, because it is difficult for the casual reader to fully grasp its meaning.

(A) succinct    (B) elegant    (C) derivative (D) arcane    (E) comprehensive

 Answer and ExplanationThe correct answer is D

Explanation: To predict the missing word, try to predict its meaning by using keywords in the sentence. Here, the phrase "because it is difficult for the casual reader to fully grasp its meaning" explains why Joyce's writings can seem the way the missing word describes. Thus, the missing word must likewise mean difficult for some to understand. "Arcane" means "understood by only a few," so choice (D) is correct.

None of the other choices work, either:

succinct: briefly and clearly expressed (this is the opposite of being difficult to understand)
elegant: pleasingly graceful and stylish (this has no relationship to being difficult to understand)
derivative: imitative of the work of an earlier artist (this has no relationship to being difficult to understand)
comprehensive: thorough or complete (this has no relationship to being difficult to understand)

Meet the Team!

2011-10-11 21:19:32

SAT Question of the Day

2013-09-23 09:00:25

The sum of 5 consecutive integers is 20n + 5. What is the largest of the integers in terms of n?

(A) 4n + 1
(B) 4n + 2
(C) 4n + 3
(D) 5n + 1
(E) 5n + 3

The correct answer is C
Explanation: In a set of consecutive integers, the middle number will be their average. Thus, if the five integers in question sum to 20n + 5, then the middle number will be 4n + 1, as 4n + 1 is the average of five numbers that sum to 20n + 5 (put differently: 20n + 5 ÷ 5 = 4n + 1).

Thus, 4n + 1 is the middle number. That means two numbers will be less than that and two numbers will be greater than it. The numbers would, as such, be

4n – 1, 4n, 4n + 1, 4n + 2, and 4n + 3

The question asks for the greatest integer, so it is 4n + 3, which is choice C

Reflections: SAT Cheating in Great Neck, Long Island

2011-12-12 15:00:35

By now, most concerned with standardized testing have heard, read, talked about the SAT cheating scandal in Great Neck, Long Island. The situation saw roughly 15 high school students pay college proxies $500 – $3,600 to take the SAT on their behalf.

The scandal has sparked debates about the merits and drawbacks of the SAT. Reams of comments flow through the online forums at the New York Times. Most people cite their personal lives to support or challenge the SAT as a useful predictor of individual success.

In my opinion, debates about the efficacy of the SAT are futile as long as students continue to cheat. The cheating suggests pandemic attitudes of entitlement—notions that it’s OK to skimp the system as long as you don’t get caught. Ultimately, such attitudes must be dealt with first and foremost. There really aren’t any surefire shortcuts.

There are many ways for students to improve SAT and ACT scores over time—hard work, perseverance and careful planning are the ticket. As I see it, if standardized tests measure these qualities, they can predict college success. It should never be easy to achieve a high score.

That said, it’s important for students to set realistic and achievable goals. High scores may open doors, but that doesn’t mean there’s no future for average scores. The trick is to make the most of your resources, work hard and do your best.

These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

Futile: Completely useless; doomed to failure
An epidemic that is geographically widespread and affects a large proportion of the population

Excellent SAT Study Apps

2011-12-14 15:00:17

It’s no surprise that technology has increasingly encroached the flashcard’s throne. While decidedly useful for memorizing facts, flashcards are annoying to make, easy to lose and cumbersome to carry. When I was a pup prepping for the SAT, the website, Free Rice gained notoriety for its fun and philanthropic approach to vocabulary study. Visitors engage with stacks of pre-made, electronic flashcards that adjust for difficulty based on a user’s performance. Students watch their levels increase and rice piles grow. Thus the site provides a score-based and game-like approach to learning—about as relaxing as Angry Birds, but far more productive.

Bonus: The website donates 10 grains of rice to help end hunger for every question a kid gets right.

Perhaps sites like Free Rice foreshadowed the advent of SAT study apps. Recently, Bob Tedeschi of the New York Times reported on several helpful apps for SAT preparers. The Sentia List (below) draws from his suggestions as well as others rated highly throughout our glorious Internet. Enjoy!

  • SAT Ladder: Perfect for anyone with a competitive edge! Users of this app race to correctly answer 5 rounds of SAT Math, Critical Reading and Writing questions. You can play solo, with a friend or against another, similarly leveled Ladder member.

  • ACT/SAT Math Booster: A must-have for Android users looking to beat the much-hated ACT/SAT point-stealer: time. The app offers tutorials for programming shortcuts into your TI-83 or TI-84. Never worry about remembering or hand-performing a complex equation again!

  • Adapster is a math app for both Android and iPhone that adapts a plethora of quizzes and practice questions to users’ personal scoring patterns. Lessons on math concepts are likewise included.

  •  SAT Remix isn’t exactly an app, but its still cool. Available for any cellphone, SAT Remix delivers a daily vocab lesson that is set to music and thick with repetition. Students can further set lessons as ringtones, promoting a sweet, easy way to learn by osmosis. Check out the above link to sample a lesson!

These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

 Plethora: A surplus
: A gradual, often unconscious process of assimilation

How has SAT scoring changed over time?

2012-01-02 19:07:20

Have you ever wondered about your parents’ SAT scores? My parents won’t tell me theirs, but even if they did, I couldn’t take them at face value. This is because prior to 1995 SAT scores were alloted according to a different scale.

In 2002, the College Board issued a report that explains the methods by which SAT scores are scaled, or translated into a score from 200 – 800. SAT scaling helps admissions teams compare scores from distinct tests administered to different groups of students throughout the year. In other words, SAT scaling lets admissions committees know that an applicant who scored a 2050 in October has comparable knowledge and skills to someone who scored a 2050 in June.

In April 1941, SAT scores were scaled so that an average raw score translated to roughly 500. In June the same year, SAT scores were linked to this original set via a process called common item equating. Until 1995, all subsequent administrations were likewise linked to the original April 1941 scores, thus permitting the fair comparison of examinees over time. As the test became more popular, however, and more students from less rigorous schools began taking it, averages dropped to around 422 Verbal and 475 Math. In 1995, SAT scores were thus re-centered to counter this trend and make the “new” average score around 500.

Some educational organizations censured the change, stating that it was merely an attempt to evade international embarrassment about declining test scores. Such organizations explained that even though the number of test-takers had grown by over 500,000, the number of students with a Verbal score above 600 had plummeted from 112,530 in 1972 to a sad 73,080 in 1993.

Still curious about how your parents’ scores match up to your own? Use this official College Board table to adjust pre-1995 Math and Verbal scores to today’s scale.

These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

Censure: strong or vehement expression of disapproval
: to distribute; allocate

Tips for Managing Test Anxiety

2012-01-05 23:50:39

Have you ever “gone blank” or felt paralyzed by fear while studying or taking a test? If so, you may have experienced test anxiety. Although it’s normal to feel nervous before a big test (mild excitement can even keep you alert and adrenalized), sometimes healthy energy gives way to distracting distress. This blog entry will identify a few symptoms of and provide some suggestions for managing test anxiety.

Common Symptoms of Test-Anxiety:

--- Physical symptoms: sleeplessness, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, lightheadedness
--- Thoughts of Worry and Dread: Uncontrollable, self-deprecating and overdramatic thoughts like “I’m bad at taking tests,” “I can’t do this,” or “I’m going to fail.”
--- Impairment: Inability to focus, “going blank” and confusion

What to do if you’re experiencing test anxiety:

--- If you are having troubling thoughts, accept them and try to move on: Automatic thoughts like, “I’m bad at taking tests,” “I can’t do this,” or “I’m going to fail,” may feel fleetingly good, since they provide an excuse to not try, but they are ultimately useless and untrue. If you find yourself bombarded by such thoughts, accept their presence, and then try to refocus and move on.
--- Remind yourself that you are more than your score: Your test score is not a measure of your talent, abilities or worth as a person. It only measures your knowledge and how hard you have studied. If you are not doing well, simply use this as a wake-up call to work harder in the future.
--- Prepare for the Test: This should be obvious. It is highly unlikely you will do well on a test for which you are unprepared. Thoroughly review test directions, format and covered material so you know what to expect on test day.
--- Do NOT compare yourself to others: However well or poorly others are doing is not relevant to your own performance. In fact, comparing yourself to others will only give you a false sense of security and/or dread. How about using some of this contemplative energy to prepare for the test?
--- Take a break: If you become anxious while studying, go for a walk, call a friend or watch TV to calm down. If you start to panic during the test, take a break while in your seat. Close your eyes and try some deep breathing, or repeat a relaxing and encouraging mantra. Don’t worry about wasting time: you will use your time more effectively if you are able to calm down and focus.
--- Set realistic goals: Be mindful of the tremendous space between perfection and failure. Just because you didn't get 100%, doesn't mean you haven't succeeded or done well.
--- Finally, remember that there is always a second chance: There is always hope, even in the most seemingly bleak situations. Don’t forget that you can (and most people do) retake college entrance examinations if something went wrong, if you were unprepared, or if you just feel you can do better.