Displaying 11-20 of 529 result(s).

Can You Crack 700 and Still Miss 10+ Math or CR Questions?

2012-01-10 19:52:09

If your goal is to break 600 or 700 on the Critical Reading or Math sections of the SAT, you should probably know how many questions you can reasonably miss. Not only will this information help you determine how many and which questions to omit, but it will also help you understand the amount of prep you need to reach your goal.

Warning: These numbers are estimations only. Actual SAT administrations are individually curved, which may affect the scaled value of each raw point.
Tip: When you practice, pay attention to your scoring patterns. Of the questions you answer, how many do you typically get correct? How frequently are your wrong answers due to blind guesses? Use this information to help decide how many questions you can afford to guess on, and how many you should really omit.


Critical Reading ~ 57/67 raw points
This means you can omit 10 questions and still break 700, if you get everything else right. Remember that while there is no penalty for omitted questions, you will lose 1/4 point for every attempted question gone wrong. Thus:

5 omitted questions + 5 wrong questions = 55.75 Raw points -- 680!

Although only 10 questions were missed, the wrong point penalty stole our 700! On the other hand, if you answer every question, you can afford to get a maximum of 9  questions wrong. If you're aiming super high on any SAT section, you'll need to keep such nuances in mind.

Math ~ 48/54 raw points
Either omit the toughest 6, or ensure no more than 5 questions are wrong on your fully completed test. Don't forget that there is no point penalty for incorrect grid-ins. Wrong answers here count for omitted questions.


Critical Reading ~ 46/67 raw points
You may have missed 21 points, but you're still scoring in the 80th percentile! If you attempt every question, you must get no more than 17 questions wrong.

Math ~ 37/54 raw points
Omit 17 questions, or miss no more than 14 if you answer everything on the test. More realistically, if you omit 8 and get 7 wrong, you will get a raw score of 37.25 -- just breaking 600! Just tailor these numbers to suit your particular scoring patterns.

If you're uncertain how to calculate your raw score based on the number of questions you get wrong, leave a comment on this blog entry. I am more than happy to explain!
Note: Because the Writing section includes the (dreaded) Essay, it's a bit more difficult to say precisely how many questions one can afford to get wrong and still reach his/her goal. I will tackle this topic in an upcoming blog entry.

These key SAT words are expertly identified by Sentia tutors

Nuance: A slight degree of difference

Career Planning in High School: Pros & Cons

2012-01-17 22:29:16

While many people don’t begin career planning until they have entered (or graduated from) college, there are the lucky few that know precisely what they want to do, seemingly from the moment they were born. I’ve often wished I was of this breed, for there is something seriously appealing about forming plan and then championing your way through the less-settled parts of life.

Guess what, high school student? You’re well-poised to begin this process of picking a career, and there are many online resources to help you do this. You can begin by visiting Rutgers University’s career planner for high school students. This website attempts to breakdown some methods by which high-schoolers can select and plan for their future careers. In short, you should use this time to explore your talents and inclinations, and then volunteer, work part-time, or research specific careers that appeal to you. Once you have made a decision, plan ahead to ensure safe travels on your chosen path. Not only should you select a college with an appropriate major, but you might also start thinking beyond that. Understanding how to break into the field will help you best use your college time.

But is this information antiquated? According to a blog post by Penelope Trunk, unlike in the past, young people today will change careers about four times in their lives.  Trunk further argues that while school may teach you knowledge and skills, it is not a place where students discover who they are or where they fit into the world. All of this suggests that over-committing to a particular career before thoroughly understanding one’s values and abilities is futile—if not wasteful. “Try being lost,” Trunk says. “It’s normal.”

Although Trunk’s article targets 20-somethings who are considering graduate school after desperately prying the job market’s jaws, her points have bearing on pre-college concerns. I, for one, had little idea what I wanted to do with my life during (or even after) high school. It was only post-graduation that such questions became urgent to me. Several of my friends have likewise complained about feeling pressured to pick a college major too fast, which suggests that even the profoundly exploratory college years are too sheltered to elicit certainty. In other words, perhaps your lifestyle and values must be seriously challenged before you can really identify what’s important to you. Maybe it’s only through the process of fighting that one learns what is worth fighting for.

None of this means that high school students shouldn’t begin to form ideas about what they like and want to do, nor does it suggest that high school is the time to decide on a career trajectory. Rather, it should remind you, oh wise high-schooler, that you now possess the maturity and the wisdom to begin contemplating the skills you have and the activities you enjoy and how you may wish to apply them to your education, career and beyond.

These key vocabulary words are expertly identified by Sentia tutors

Anachronistic: No longer in use; outmoded in design or style
:  to bring out

Avoid Tomorrow's Anxieties Today: 3 Tricks to Start Studying

2012-01-18 20:11:31

We’ve already given some pointers on avoiding test-day anxiety, but the number one way to avoid such jitters is to be prepared for the test. Here are the three best tricks we have for getting started on a long-term study plan and avoiding tomorrow’s anxiety.

1. Don’t Procrastinate

Everybody procrastinates, since everyone would rather put off today’s problems until tomorrow. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Wrong. The longer you put off studying for the test, the more work you’ll have to do at a later date. This means that you’re actually creating more stress for the future than you would otherwise handle in the present, because the amount of stress you’ll have the week before the test will be infinitely greater than the total amount you would have had over the months leading up to the test if you were to attack the test in small pieces instead of all at once...which leads us to Tip #2.

2. Make a Study Plan Today

This is probably the most beneficial piece of advice we have. Don’t try to go into test preparation blindly—rather, take a practice test, and see what you need to study. Then, make a plan for how to study it. Keep track of long term projects, such as memorizing and learning vocabulary words, and shorter ones, such as brushing up on grammar rules. Try to practice a couple hours a week at minimum, and expand the amount of time you need to study as the test approaches.

3. Make Studying Fun

To be frank, there is nothing fun about studying for exams like the ACT or SAT. However, you can motivate yourself to study by making your brain associate it with something else fun. Get in the habit of rewarding yourself after a lesson by doing an activity you like, preferably something you wouldn’t normally get to do, something that is a treat for you. Treat yourself, because you deserve it: after all, you’ve shown initiative in preparing for a successful future by not procrastinating. In doing so, you’re tricking your brain into associating something you don’t want to do (SAT prep) with something you do want to do.

Food can be a great motivator too. I (in my tutoring career) once had a student whose mother bought him his favorite snack food before every lesson with me, thus triggering in his brain that studying for the SAT meant getting his favorite food. As a result, he was more motivated to study because studying had an immediate upside instead of just the usual boring long-term upside of a perfect score. Little tricks like this work wonders, which is why I champion them so much.

In the future, we’ll give some more pointers about what sorts of steps should be included in your study plan , but for now, just remember our first tip—don’t procrastinate. Start your studying today by taking a practice SAT test and beginning to learn vocabulary. Also, remember, studying for the test should be a marathon, not a sprint. If you can wrap your brain around that fact—that mastering the test will take a seemingly interminable amount of time and cannot be crammed for—you’ll already be more relaxed about the process than your friends who don’t understand that.

These key SAT words are expertly identified by Sentia tutors

Procrastination: the act of putting off or delaying something that requires immediate attention
: helpful, useful
:  support militantly
: monotonously continued or unceasing

Khan Academy for SAT Math: A Review

2012-01-23 15:25:21

Thousands of students are thrilled to study at Khan Academy—a nonprofit, online learning center that distributes detailed videos on motley subjects, ranging from Art History to Organic Chemistry. In each video, site creator Salman Khan couples patient, step-by-step voiceover instructions with clear, color-coded visuals to ensure no student is left confused.

A great blessing to any scholar of the SAT, the website also includes over 100 videos that explain every math problem in the old version of  the College Board’s “Official SAT Study Guide." If you’re using the College Board’s second edition of this book, just note that tests 4-10 are identical to tests 2-8 in the old version.

For more thorough content review, refer to Khan’s math playlist. This section of the website holds over 1600 videos to treat just about every math topic—from basic addition to calculus. The site also has many exercises, so students can practice using new concepts and advance their skills.

Extremely clear, thorough, and easy to follow, these videos are an excellent resource for students who have fallen behind in math and need to re-learn certain topics to prepare for the SAT.  Still unconvinced? Check out the video of Khan explaining some SAT practice problems, below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWtZ9jpN_3k]

These key SAT words are expertly identified by Sentia tutors

Motley: made up of different colors or parts

Boost your score without studying!

2012-01-30 22:42:18

As if you need another reason to take a break from studying and bust out the basketball or strum your guitar! According to a recently issued College Board report, students who participate in extracurricular activities generally score 45 points higher in SAT Math and 53 points higher in Verbal than those who do not.

The difference is especially pronounced for practicing musicians and students who have taken classes in music appreciation. In 2002, The College Board quantified this as well and found students with some (formal) experience in music performance or appreciation scored between 51-61 points higher in Verbal and 39-46 points higher in Math than students with no musical background. In another study, researcher J.R. Ponter found that “instrumental music training uniquely enhances the higher brain functions required for mathematics, science, and engineering.” I’m starting to regret quitting the violin!

These findings suggest that offering and encouraging extracurricular activities should play a fundamental role in efforts to close the achievement gap between students from high and low-income families. This view is echoed in Outliers: a pretty cool book by Malcolm Gladwell that examines the source of genius. In the last chapter, Gladwell describes a study where achievement tests were given to Baltimore students at the beginning and end of each year. The study found that the achievement gap widens over the summer, as opposed to during the school year. The reason? Students from wealthier families are more likely to participate in structured summertime activities that support scholastic growth—promoting not only motivation, time-management and organization, but also, as we saw above, the skills and brain functions tested on the SAT.

So, tune your trombone, prepare your pastels, or lace up your cleats! Using your leisure time well might have even more benefits than you think.

These key SAT words are expertly identified by Sentia Tutors

Quantify: to express or measure the quantity of something

Set the Perfect Study Plan!

2012-01-26 16:35:52

Last week, we told you that the best way to avoid test-day anxiety was to be prepared for the test (which should make sense, right?) and suggested a few tips on how to stop procrastinating and start studying today. Those who perused the posting carefully may recall that our second tip was to make a study plan. We’re sure you’ve been trembling with anticipation about just how to approach such a seemingly difficult travail, but now you can relax, for today’s post is all about making the best study plan possible—and in just 7 short steps!

Step 1: Take a Practice Test Right Away

Regardless of which test you’re studying for, your first step should be to take a sample test. Treat it like you would the real thing—take the test in one sitting (yes, it makes for a long day) with proper timing on each section. This way, the score you get will be an accurate reflection of your abilities.

After you’ve taken the test, score it and look at the questions you got wrong. The trick is to make this test a diagnostic for what you need to study. Thus, identify your strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you noticed that you got all the questions on geometry right but continually missed questions about percentages, you would know that geometry is a strength area and does not need as much focus as percentages do going forward.

Step 2: Set a Realistic Goal

Use your diagnostic score to set a realistic goal for yourself. Keep in mind the kinds of scores you’ll need to get into the schools of your choice, and make sure you have enough time to achieve your goal score. You are a better gauge of your abilities than anyone else, so you should be able to know what you’re capable of. But remember, don’t push yourself too hard—it’s virtually impossible to get a perfect score on any standardized test.

Step 3: Identify Short-Term and Long-Term Study Projects

With your goal set and your weaknesses identified, separate what you need to study into categories of short-term and long-term projects. If you’re taking the SAT, for instance, memorizing the most common SAT vocabulary words will definitely be a long-term project, something you should work on every week from now until test day. But other things you need to work on—like the aforementioned percentage questions—would probably be something to brush up on once, early in your studying. You always want to start your studies with your biggest weakness so you can maximize your test score right away. Then, as you get closer to test-day, start working on things you didn’t need as much improvement on, but don’t waste time relearning your strengths. If you got every geometry question right, you cannot ameliorate your geometry score anyway, so don’t waste your valuable study time on it.

Step 4: Make a Calendar

The first step to making a calendar is to pick a test date. Try to give yourself a few months to study, but also make sure to leave a second test date open after that test date so you can retake the exam (if necessary) before your college applications are due. On your calendar, mark off specific areas of study each week, and set aside at least (we mean at an absolute minimum) two hours per week of actual studying time. The purpose of the calendar is to make sure you aren’t just sitting down and opening an SAT book blindly—you should be sitting down knowing what you’re supposed to be studying that week and the weeks after that.

Step 5: Keep Testing Yourself

In your calendar, build in time for monthly checkpoints, full-length practice exams so you can track your progress and reevaluate your study plan. Make sure what you’re doing is working and causing score increases; if it’s not, reevaluate, and maybe add more study time each week to your calendar.

Step 6: Stick to Your Plan

This should go without saying! You’re making a plan to be followed, not just a plan to look at and ignore. Don’t let anything get in the way of this study plan! Make sure that each week there is time set aside for your studying, and treat that time as a commitment that cannot be avoided, a permanent appointment that cannot be canceled. Letting even one week pass without following your plan can derail the whole project, so don’t let that happen.

Step 7: Peak at the Right Time, Then Relax

Finally, on your study plan, build in time to relax, especially the week of the test. Ideally, your plan would increase the amount of time you study per week as you get closer to the test, with the acme of study time reached about two weeks before test day. After that, take one last diagnostic, and use the weeks before the test to only focus on the small details you struggled with on said final diagnostic.

Then, and this is of the utmost import, make sure to build two days of relaxation in right before the test. Don’t plan on doing any strenuous studying those days, and instead just use the time to recover before the big day and review the vocabulary words and math formulas you’ve already memorized. Make sure you’re going into test day fully recharged and rested, because you’ll need a clear head and lots of energy for the real thing.

But, if you’ve made and followed a successful study plan, the real thing should be practically old hat for you…

These key SAT words are expertly identified by Sentia tutors

Peruse: read carefully
: painful labor
: improve
: Peak, top, pinnacle

Celebrity SAT Scores: How do yours match up?

2012-02-01 22:45:31

Few celebrities disclose their SAT scores, but those who do may surprise you! How do you match up?

Natalie Portman

Photobucket Actress Natalie Portman reportedly scored in the 1400s on her SAT. Of course, Portman’s supreme score comes as no surprise since she also skipped the premiere of Star Wars: Episode 1 to study for her high school final exams. In 2003, Portman graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in Psychology, which she famously explained by saying: “I’d rather be smart than a movie star.” Wise words, pretty lady!

Bill O'Reilly

PhotobucketBill O’Reilly, a political commentator best known for his FoxNews Show, The O’Reilly Factor, scored 1585 (wow!). After graduating high school in 1967, O'Reilly attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Will Smith

Photobucket Rumor has it Will Smith got a perfect score and a full scholarship to MIT, where he didn’t even apply. The Fresh Prince, however, humbles his story. On his admission to MIT, Smith states, “I had pretty high SAT scores and they needed black kids, so I probably could have gotten in. But I had no intention of going to college."

Bill Gates

Photobucket Bill Gates, former CEO and co-founder of Microsoft, earned a 1590 on his SAT. Of course, this comes as no surprise, since Gates revolutionized computer technology. In 1974, Gates famously dropped out of Harvard University to start his company alongside his 1600-scoring partner, Paul Allen.


Photobucket International pop sensation, Ke$ha reports a “near-perfect score” on her SAT. In high school, Ke$ha explains, “I was this weird paradox of a person. I was in the marching band, and I played music in a really cool punk band with the hot seniors, and I’d write bratty pop songs.” Ke$ha further reveals that she used to audit Cold War classes at the local college, “just for fun.” Nevertheless, crazy Ke$ha never went to college, instead opting to exclusively pursue music.

Bill Clinton

Photobucket The 42nd president of the United States scored a 1032—12 points above average—on his SAT. Still, Clinton excelled at Georgetown University, where he majored in Foreign Service and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Later, Clinton attended Yale Law School and earned a Juris Doctor in 1973.

George W. Bush

Photobucket Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush is known to have scored a 1206. Bush attended Yale University and majored in history. In 1973, Bush earned a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He is the only U.S. president to have earned a M.B.A.

These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

Cataclysmic: terrible, tragic

Expert Test Tip: Strong Goals = Strong Results

2012-02-02 22:36:08

Imagine that you’re at a train station, and you see an unlabeled train that you think is heading in the right direction, but you’re not sure. Would you board it, potentially riding it for all eternity, and never arriving at where you want to be?

Strangely, this is exactly what many test-takers do when it comes to preparing for the SAT (or the ACT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc.). They study blindly, only thinking that their studies will move them in the right direction of improvement. But, like the riders on that unlabeled train, their path is fated toward the antithesis of glory: failure, the tragic fate of the goalless.

One of the best pieces of advice for achieving anything, whether it be running a marathon or getting your perfect test score, is to set a goal. A goal is, of course, the end point of your path, the final destination of your metaphorical train ride. We already talked about your starting point (when we discussed the need for diagnostic testing), and with an end point in mind, you’re just connecting the dots. Thus, when you set a good goal, you’re putting yourself on a trajectory to success; you’ll have a path to follow, namely the line that connects your starting point to your final goal. But, of course, not just any goal will do. Your goal needs to be specific to you. Heed this advice to set the perfect goal.

First, Find Your Starting Point

We’ve said this practically a billion times now, but it bears repeating: take a diagnostic test and find out where you are.

Figure Out What Score You Need

Open up a college guide, and find out what scores last year’s admitted students got on their SAT and ACTs at your dream colleges. Your goal score should be a score in the same range.

Set a Specific Goal

But don’t just aim for a goal that is within a certain range. Rather, set a specific number. Vague goals lead to vague results, so don’t merely aim to improve by some ambiguous point in the future; rather, aim for a specific score by a specific date.

Make the Goal Realistic

A perfect score overall is probably not going to happen. But a perfect score for you is possible, so long as you’re willing to do some hard work. As a general rule (remember “general” means it works for a lot of students but is not guaranteed to work), you should be able to improve by about 10% of the difference between your baseline score and a perfect score, per month of focused study. For example, let’s say a student scored 1600 on his/her SAT diagnostic and has three months of study time. The difference between 1600 and a perfect score is 800 points, so that student should be able to improve by about 80 points per month to score around 1840.  A hypothetical student starting at 2100 with two months of preparation would be able to improve by about 60 points total (30 points per month). Either student would ideally set a goal just above that so that both students had something even higher—though still realistic—for which to strive. The first student should aim for a 1900, and the second student 2200.

Obviously, this is somewhat subjective, and you’re a much better gauge of your abilities than is anyone else. So remember to think of how much time you can devote to studying for the test and what seems realistic to you.

Keep Checking in on Your Goal

Finally, with your goal made, write it down, and keep thinking about that number. Eyes on the prize, right? More than that, though, keep re-testing yourself to see if your train is still on track to your goal score. If it’s not, reevaluate your study plan.

These key SAT words are expertly identified by Sentia tutors

Antithesis: the direct opposite of something
: path taken by a projectile
: pay attention to
: lacking clearness or definiteness

Are Standardized Tests Still Important?

2012-02-07 09:47:03

Recently, the New York Times revealed that Claremont McKenna College, a highly regarded California school, has reported false SAT scores to publications like U.S. News & World Report for the past 6 years. For the September 2010 freshman class, Claremont McKenna's median score jumped 10 points--from 1400 to 1410--and the 75th percentile score of 1475 was reported as 1510. Small bumps, but enough to rank Claremont McKenna #9 in the U.S. News & World Report’s widely followed college rankings.

The revelation of the deception must be humiliating—especially considering that academic dishonesty is higher education’s most heinous crime. So, why would an already prestigious institution risk its national reputation for a few measly SAT points?

The scandal shows the crucial role standardized test scores play in public perception of a college’s prestige. And, as long as high scores = high rankings, colleges will continue to select students based on test performance.

What about the growing number of test-optional schools? Doesn't this suggest the phasing out of standardized tests? According to Fair Test, more than 800 schools don’t require SAT scores for admission! True, but many test-optional schools spend thousands to purchase the names of high scoring students. As Janet Lorin for Bloomberg News explains, The College Board sells these names to over 1,000 schools—among them, such prestigious test-optional institutions as Bowdoin and Smith—for 33 cents apiece.

All of this casts unequivocal doubt on test-optional schools’ commitment to looking past standardized test scores. While test-optional schools may allow some highly capable students to work around poor scores, the schools still believe that standardized tests reveal student aptitude and skill. Accordingly, Lorin reveals that between 60 and 80% of applicants to test-optional schools submit their scores.

Though they certainly don’t reveal everything, test scores actually aren’t empty. As one member of College Confidential put it, "The SAT measures developed reasoning skills. The extent to which you can develop these skills depends on your IQ." Although tons of students score lower than their intelligence should allow, there is some foundation to the use of the tests. Test scores help colleges compare students from different high schools, which can vary greatly in size, rigor and competitiveness.

Knowing this, we can assume that the SAT & ACT will continue to impact admissions decisions, at least until we come up with a decent alternative to standardized tests.

These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

Heinous: abominable, evil, or atrocious
: having only one possible meaning or interpretation; unambiguous, clear

SAT Question of the Day

2012-02-06 09:00:28

Carly ran a certain distance on Monday, then set a goal of increasing her distance each day of the week. For the next four days, she ran 10% farther than she ran the previous day. Approximately what percent of Monday’s distance did she run on Friday of that week?

(A) 110%

(B) 121%

(C) 136%

(D) 140%

(E) 146%

The correct answer is E.

Explanation: There are a couple ways of approaching this question, which focuses on percentages, a favorite topic of the test makers. You could use algebra, but it’s probably easier to use some strategic thinking.

The best thing to do in a question like this is to plug a number in for Carly’s starting distance.  Whenever you have a percentage question that does not give you a starting value, use 100, because it’s the easiest number to work with. Thus, let’s say she ran 100 miles on Monday (Carly could be a really great runner, right?); then, on Tuesday, she would have run 10% more than 100, or 110 miles (since 10% of 100 is 10). On Wednesday, she would have run another 10% of 110 miles, or 11 miles more for a total of 121 miles. On Thursday, she would have run another 10% of 121 miles, which is 12.1 miles, for a total of 133.1 miles. And on Friday, she would have run another 10% of 133.1 miles, which is 13.31 miles, for a total of 146.41 miles. The percent of Monday’s distance she ran on Friday would then be simply the quotient of Friday’s and Monday’s distances, or 146.41/100, which is 1.4641. As a percentage, this is 146.41%, which is approximately 146%. Thus, choice E is correct, and you found it without using that pesky algebra (side note: to solve it algebraically, use m for her starting distance and multiply it by 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 to account for her distance traveled each additional day… you’ll get the same answer).