Prepare for SAT Math with These Tips & Tricks: Math Vocab

October 1, 2011 at 1:48 am | Posted in Perfect800 Tips & Tricks | Leave a comment

Some SAT Math questions are tricky because of the vocabulary used. Here are four terms that you should get to know. Memorize them and remember to underline them when you see them in practice problems. This should help reduce careless errors.

Factors: Numbers that divide evenly into a number, ie without a remainder. For example, the factors of 12 are 12, 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1.

Multiples: All the numbers that can be divided by a certain number. For example, the multiples of 2 are 2, 4, 6, 8, etc.

Prime Number: A number whose only factors are 1 and itself. For example, 2, 3, 5 and 7. Don’t be tricked! The number 1 is NOT a prime number, and the number 2 is the ONLY even prime number.

Units Digit: A fancy schmancy way to say the “ones” digit in a number; for example, the 4 in 534.


How much variance is there for SAT scoring between tests?

March 2, 2011 at 2:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The first thing to remember is that the SAT is scored on a curve – that is, you are graded against everyone else taking the same exam. Therefore, unless there are specific things within the exam that you happen to know better than others with comparable ability (ie. you get lucky by studying the correct vocabulary words), there will not be too much variance. That being said, the SAT is all about preparation and practice. The more familiar with the format of the exam and with solving its questions, the better you will do on test day.

Is there any way to determine what the ‘practice section’ of the SAT exam is?

February 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Posted in SAT Advice | Leave a comment

The practice section of the SAT is a section that isn’t scored, but used for College Board’s testing purposes.  Unfortunately, there is no way to tell which section is the “practice section,” other than you know it isn’t the first or last section.  The first section of the exam is the essay, and the last section is distinct in terms of time given and number of questions asked. Ultimately, the best advice is to try your hardest on each individual section, and hope that your best scores were not in the practice section.

What is “rapid-fire learning”, and how does it apply to SAT preparation?

January 12, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Posted in SAT Advice | Leave a comment

“Rapid-fire learning” is a term we use at Perfect800 to describe the learning style we are trying to facilitate. As students, recent students, and teachers, we believe that the traditional learning model is changing to fit the “information now” culture of today’s society. Especially when it comes to test prep, we believe that students are growing tired of 45 minute lectures that teach them things they already know, or gloss over things they don’t quite understand. It doesn’t make sense to us that all students should have to learn the same material at the same pace when every student has different needs.

Furthermore, we don’t believe in “concept check” type questions that will never appear on an actual exam. As students who have aced tests our entire lives, we know that the most efficient way to prepare for any exam is to practice challenging exam questions. Therefore, we call the practice of quickly and efficiently going through exam questions “rapid-fire learning.” In our opinion, this is the fastest way to increase your test score, no matter what the exam. Using this philosophy, we built – a Website designed to confront students with the very challenges they will face on exam day ahead of time. Because all of our questions are constructed by thoroughly studying real SAT questions, our content accurately reflects questions you may see on the real SAT. Attempting these questions beforehand and going through the methodology to solve them will assuredly give you a huge advantage over your peers.

Can my SAT score compensate for my high school grades?

January 9, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Posted in College Admissions, General SAT | Leave a comment

Absolutely the SAT can help compensate for sub-par performance in high school. Although some elite schools (think Harvard, Yale, Stanford) will want to see stellar performance in both high school and on the SAT, the SAT can go a long way towards convincing admissions officers of your potential. Furthermore, every high school has different standards for achieving grades, so the quality of the courses you took and the quality of the high school you attended will make an impact as well. The SAT stands alone as the only admissions criteria that is standardized across all students, no matter what their background, and for this reason it is given a lot of weight in admissions decisions.

Additionally, it is better if there are certain periods of your high school experience where you had significantly poorer performance than the rest, that you can explain because of some issue you were going through at the time. This can be anything from an illness in the family, divorce, or simply not being mature enough to try your best in school (this works best if you were a freshman when you got your worst grades). Of course, it is better if your grades have been consistently good throughout your high school career, but temporary periods of sub-par academic performance can be explained away more convincingly with a top notch SAT score.

How much time do I need to study for the SAT?

January 7, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Posted in SAT Advice | Leave a comment

There is no “magic” number of hours that will guarantee you success on the SAT. Every student is different, and therefore every student has different needs when it comes to preparing for the most important exam of their lives. In order to determine how much you should study however, there are a few things you can do.

First, take a practice exam (you can find a SAT Math diagnostic on Perfect800, or you can use a full length exam from the College Board’s Blue Book) and score yourself. Then, compare your score with the median (50th percentile) SAT score of those admitted to your choice schools in previous years. This will give you a sense of where you stand in comparison to the “average” student admitted to your school. No matter where you stand in relation to these scores, you will likely want to improve your score to increase your chances of admittance. At Perfect800, we recommend practicing SAT questions daily for a few months leading up to the exam. Pay special attention to those questions you miss, and if possible, revisit these questions as the exam date gets nearer (On Perfect800, we automatically save all questions you missed previously).

Obviously, the more time you spend preparing for the exam, the better off you will be going in, but some methods of preparation are definitely recommended above others. For example, while it can be helpful to listen to (or read) someone else’s opinions on the exam, the time isn’t as valuable as time spent practicing test questions. In all reality, becoming “good” at the SAT isn’t much different from becoming “good” at anything else – it requires lots of practice and hard work. For a free SAT Math diagnostic exam, simply sign up for Perfect800 then go to “Serious Mode.” Good luck in your studies!

Choosing the Right College… By Understanding the Purpose

December 13, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A recent survey by the American Council on Education showed almost 90% of young alumni say going to college was worth it, and almost as high a percentage said their undergraduate education had prepared them for jobs they currently posses.  Just as interesting, and a great indicator for the success of our national university system, is 80% of respondents said they would attend the same undergraduate institution if given the chance again. The numbers lead one to conclude that going to college is the most important decision, and determining which college or university to attend is second. More often than not, students will fall in love with their school, whichever college that may be.

One of the other interesting pieces of the survey is the question addressing the purpose of college.  Respondents were relatively split over whether colleges’ purpose is to prepare students for employment, or should the purpose be to teach students how to think critically. When considering college choices at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, consider what is best for you and do your research. For instance, UC Berkeley courses tend to be more theoretical and focus on teaching you how to critically think. Just look at their motto, “Let There Be Light.” Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on the other hand, has a stronger emphasis on vocational skills, not coincidentally the focus can also be seen in their motto of, “To Learn by Doing.”  There is no correct answer or better answer, just make sure it’s the correct fit for your needs. Perhaps start with the motto?

Further Reading…

Less Calculating and More Math

November 19, 2010 at 3:41 am | Posted in Technology | Leave a comment

In a recent Ted Talks, Conrad Wolfram addresses the question of why there is falling interest in math, despite the greatest need ever for increased learning in math. Mr. Wolfram believes we focus too much of our education on learning how to calculate, rather than on the concepts of math. The reason? Math is actually interesting, but the math we learn in schools is not. In order to make math more interesting again, we must utilize computers as a primary mechanism for teaching math.

1. Pose the right questions
2. Then turn these questions from a real life question into a math problem
3. Then turn that problem into an answer in mathematical form
4. Lastly, turn that answer back into real life

The irony that Mr. Wolfram points out is that our educational system spends the vast majority of time on step 3, the step computers do best. Math is not limited to calculating and is a much broader subject. In fact, we hardly have the need to calculate at all. Education and societies across the globe need to understand this, because we have a “unique opportunity to make it [math] more practical, and more conceptual,” simultaneously. Computers enable the learning of math concepts, without having to do the calculations. For instance, Calculus is taught very late in life, but mostly because the calculations are so difficult to solve. However, the concepts of Calculus can be taught much earlier in life.

If we focus on and utilize computers throughout our education, then Mr. Wolfram believes we can better learn the procedures, processes and concepts of math. Thus, enabling math to be more practical and more conceptual.

To see more examples and analogies on how we can move from school math to real-world math, listen to the lecture. Another great Ted Talks.

Improve Grades…. by Lecturing Less?

October 10, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Posted in Technology | Leave a comment

Contrary to popular belief, online learning today produces results significantly higher than conventional instruction. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education reported their findings on a 12-year study they had been conducting since 1996. The report used research based on both online and traditional classroom learning from subjects in K-12, colleges, and adult educational programs. The analysis concluded that, on average, students doing some form of online learning would rank in the 59th percentile, whereas the common classroom student would rank in the 50th percentile. How does this happen? Since everyone learns in different ways and different paces, online learning can tailor to the individual, providing them with a more effective learning experience.

Years ago, the idea that online learning would be more effective seemed ridiculous. However, times have changed and so has online education. What used to be simply a platform for housing electronic text resources, is now a tool – the modern textbook, game and application rolled into one – used to engage people in unique and effective ways. The online tools are growing and increasingly providing students with a more individualized and tailored learning experience than what they have been traditionally receiving in classrooms. While it may sound like the announcement of a near end to classroom education, experts and educators alike are optimistic that education will be evolving to utilize both teaching styles together. Internet tools will most likely enable teachers to spend more attention on those that need it most: the struggling and the brightest students.

How? We believe that proper use of the Internet will allow teachers to facilitate and guide students, thus limiting the need to lecture to a broad set of students. With the Internet as a supplemental tool to classroom learning, educators hope students, young and old, will be able to draw a greater understanding of academic material than the inherent challenges posed by lecturing to wide audiences. This hope is not unrealistic, especially considering much of it was completed during the days of dial-up modems. Think of the dramatic improvements on the Internet within these past 12 years (notably cloud-computing and high-speed Internet), and imagine what sort of improvements can be developed over the next 12 years, and you can see why we too are optimistic about online learning.

The full Department of Education review of online learning.

SAT 2010-11 Test Schedule

September 14, 2010 at 7:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The SAT exam will be offered on the following days for 2010-2011:

Oct. 9, 2010: SAT and Subject Tests
Nov. 6, 2010: SAT and Subject Tests
Dec. 4, 2010: SAT and Subject Tests
Jan. 22, 2011: SAT and Subject Tests
March 12, 2011: SAT Test Only
May 7, 2011: SAT and Subject Tests
June 4, 2011: SAT and Subject

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