Stephen Colbert: How to Ace the SAT

May 29, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What is Stephen Colbert’s advice on how to ace the SAT? Spend a lot of money- perhaps as much as $8400 for private SAT tutoring at Princeton Review, as Colbert says, “Turning children’s fear into cash.” For the rest, watch below:

How to Ace the SAT’s


How can parents help students on the SAT?

May 24, 2010 at 12:24 am | Posted in SAT Advice | Leave a comment

Parents should provide the student with the appropriate tools to study effectively, as well as provide some additional motivation to study.  Most parents are confused as to which path to take when helping their son or daughter to prepare for this important exam.  Many parents buy a daunting 600+ page book that all too often goes unopened.  Others spend $1,000+ dollars on classes and private tutors.  At Perfect800, we provide a question-focused, efficient approach to SAT studying that fully explains the answer to each question as well as the underlying tricks that the SAT uses to throw students off.  While automating the process for determining your child’s strengths and weaknesses, by tracking progress made on question type, time per question and difficulty level. Furthermore, each user has the option of entering a sponsor when they sign up, so parents can be updated and be aware to their son / daughter’s progress and improvement each day, week or month. If you do hire a tutor to assist,  be sure to do your background research and ask for a referral.

How to get a high score on the SAT?

May 23, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Posted in SAT Advice | Leave a comment

The answer to this might surprise you.  Although a lot of corporations would like for you to believe that you need an expensive, lengthy class a couple of times a week for a few months, this isn’t the case.  In fact, in our experience as tutors in prior lives, we can tell you that these classes can be very inefficient.  The pace of the class is dictated by the instructor, who cannot go beyond the pace of the slowest student and cannot adapt lesson plans to individual learning styles.  Every question that the slowest student needs covered is thoroughly explained to the most minute detail, while students who already understand how to get the correct answer become incredibly bored.  This problem occurs in every SAT class as it is impossible to have a class of students who will all understand the same questions to the same level.   Everyone has different questions and issues they struggle with.

One way to get around this inefficiency / boredom issue is to hire a private tutor.  However, going this route can be incredibly expensive for the parents of those students, and quite honestly there is only so much someone can teach you in a period of a couple of hours. And even then, the tutor must decide to allocate time to tutoring the student on content or test taking strategies.  Unless you are willing to spend a fortune, it is difficult to get enough private tutoring to be fully prepared for the exam.

Our experience in working with students has led to the understanding that the SAT is constructed of a whole bunch of questions with ‘trick’ answers.  Basically the creator of the exam needed a way to weed out all students from getting the right answer, so they constructed each question with answer choices that you would arrive at after making a mistake.

This brought us to the realization that the key to scoring well on the exam is to become familiar with the tricks that the exam uses to induce mistakes (the SAT uses the same tricks over and over…).  Of course you need a basis of knowledge to be able to compute the correct answer in the first place, but most high school students taking this exam are far beyond SAT Math (doesn’t go beyond basic algebra and geometry) in their current math classes.

Can my SAT score compensate for my high school grades?

May 10, 2010 at 4:06 am | Posted in General SAT | Leave a comment

Absolutely.  In fact, most colleges place equal weighting on SAT scores and cumulative high school GPA.  Putting this into perspective, this means that all of the work you have done, and all the classes you have attended throughout your entire high school career aggregate to be as important as this one exam.  Therefore, you should regard this as the most important test you have ever taken, and perhaps will ever take. Don’t stress out too much though, as the recent decision in March of 2009 to reverse course and give students the option of choosing which scores to send to universities (named second choice), means you can retake the SAT with no impact to college admissions. Conserving the precious resources of time and money though should be the goal. By taking the PSAT twice and using our course you should be prepared to do your best on the  math section of the SAT certainly by your second taking if not your first.

How are the new and old formats of the SAT different?

May 10, 2010 at 3:19 am | Posted in General SAT | Leave a comment

In 2005, when the SAT changed the reasoning test to align with the modern curriculum of high schools and colleges, the primary assumption elemental to the change is that scores on previous versions of the SAT test would be fully comparable to and interchangeable with scores on the newer version. There are many differences between the two formats, as analogies were removed, paragraph readings were added, third-year math content was added, quantitative comparisons were removed, however the biggest change is the addition of a writing section.  Prior to the addition of the writing section, most four-year universities required their applicants to take the SAT II for Writing. However, now students are faced with an added section in the same test, which makes it more difficult to stay focused.

Do companies use practice SAT tests to demonstrate inflated score increases?

May 10, 2010 at 3:13 am | Posted in Choosing a SAT Prep Course | 1 Comment

Yes, taking a practice test from any test facility other than College Board can lead to incorrect score assumptions. Many prep sites actually design their questions to be especially difficult in order to show more dramatic score increases. In fact, the College Board has designed the SAT with an experimental section to normalize future tests. Research completed by the College Board states that “high gains are computed using flawed research methods, and the ‘guarantees’ may simply permit students to continue participating in coaching programs at no additional charge after initially paying a large fee.” Additionally here are some reasons for why score increases can be inflated:

  • An assumption by test prep companies that their prep course is the only reason for score increases, even when the course may have been taken more than a year prior or when additional methods of study were used.
  • Most test prep companies use an initial diagnostic test to determine starting score. However, many students are likely to be much less motivated to perform on a diagnostic and have done zero preparation at all.
  • Students who enroll in expensive test prep courses may perform at higher levels because of subjective reasons, such as coming from families with more formal education, or having higher education aspirations or are simply more motivated.
  • Large test prep companies have huge overhead costs that need to be paid by exorbitant class fees to run their business.  There are executives with huge salaries and bonuses, venues for the classes that need to be rented, quality assurance and logistical people to answer phone calls and handle day to day issues, not to mention all of the other expenses incurred to keep a business in operation.  When you purchase a $500-$1,000 course, most of your money is going to help cover this overhead, and very little is being used to directly improve your son or daughter’s SAT score.

That being said, students enrolling in some sort of formal test prep will on average have higher test scores than if they did no preparation. Just be wary when a test prep company claims to guarantee the biggest score increase.


What are the three primary areas of focus for SAT prep?

May 10, 2010 at 3:09 am | Posted in Choosing a SAT Prep Course | Leave a comment

To prepare for the SAT Reasoning Test, you will need to study these three areas:

  • Overall familiarity with the test. You’ll want to know the instructions, format, time, etc. before walking into your first SAT.
  • An understanding of the content relevant to the math, verbal and writing sections. Knowing the type of questions you’ll be seeing will allow for more refined and focused studying.
  • Learning the tricks College Board utilizes to throw you off your game. Knowing these tricks and reviewing broad strategies for guessing, answer elimination, time management, in addition to specific tricks within questions will lead to much improved scores.

We recommend a Learn by Doing approach that covers all three focus areas in a simple and straightforward way, without the need to choose between short-term or long-term programs. Where short-term prep courses generally focus on test taking strategies, and  long-term prep courses can be more associated with supplementary education. We’ve found the long-term commercial style test prep is too focused on manipulated score increases and high costs, while short-term programs focus mostly on familiarity with the test and lack the quality to delve into specific question tricks or needed content coverage.

Should I use a calculator on the SAT?

May 10, 2010 at 3:00 am | Posted in SAT Advice | Leave a comment

According to research performed by College Board, test scores on math sections are on average higher when a calculator is used on approximately a third to a half of the questions, than when a calculator is used more or less frequently. However, regression testing and the addition of more variables shows this as a classic case of correlation and not causation between calculator usage and higher test scores.

Intuitively, their research also found that students relying more on calculators struggled more often to finish their sections in the allotted time. As such, we recommend using a calculator where necessary and avoiding usage on conceptual based questions or questions that require less complex computations. The best way to understand whether a calculator is needed, is to know the intent of the question prior to solving. Additionally, the type of calculator should also be factored into the decision. For example, if you’ve never used a graphing calculator, then you may want to use a scientific calculator.


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