kitchen table math, the sequel: SAT Question

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

SAT Question

I started reviewing typical math questions in a SAT test prep book I have. My reaction is that preparation would make a VERY big difference. I think I will have to put together my own simplified list of things you have to know automatically.

However, I read in this book that when you apply to college, they get to see ALL of the scores from all of the times you took the test. They said that some colleges will average the scores and not just take the highest ones. I was thinking that I would have my son start taking the test several times to get him up to speed. The book said that this isn't the best thing to do. You're better off practicing at home and then taking the test. If the results are about 100 points (total) below what you get in practice, only then should you take the SAT a second time.

Haven't been there and haven't done that.

When I was in school, I took the PSAT and the SAT once, with absolutely no preparation.


Anonymous said...

Score reporting for the SAT changed as of March 2009. You can read about the changes on the College Board website, but you no longer have to report all of your scores.

concernedCTparent said...

Thanks for that info, Anonymous. Considering my daughter may take the test as a seventh grader, this is a huge relief. The thought that these scores could come back to haunt her when it really counts was a huge drawback. You've given me something else to consider.

concernedCTparent said...

I believe what Anon is referring to is "Score Choice".

I'll have to do my homework, it seems.

Parentalcation said...

I'm the same way... I took the SAT once with no preperation.

Course, I believe me and CT Parent were raised in the same town.

Luke said...

I took the SAT twice. The second time my score was 340 points higher--which was great for my academic scholarship [smile].

I did absolutely no extra prep/practice tests prior to the second test, so I have no idea how much they would have helped.


Tex said...

Scores for SAT tests taken before high school are not reported to colleges. At least that’s the way it was for tests taken through CTY.

Also, some (many?) colleges are opting out of Score Choice, and are asking to see all scores.

concernedCTparent said...

Tex, thank you. I was wondering how CTY handled the scores. Clearly a seventh grader isn't going to perform at the same level they will once they are in high school. So, that makes sense; otherwise there's just too much at stake. I also noticed that a number of schools on the college board list have opted out, my alma mater included.

Parentalcation, yes we were California neighbors, I think. Downey, right? I was Cerritos and like you I took the PSAT and SAT cold. No prep, no review, no nothin'. Our counselors were so terrible then it's amazing we even got to the tests at all.

Anonymous said...

My son took the ACT twice. The first time the scores were only sent to us. The second was for a talent search.

I think the prep made a huge difference.

Count me in as one of those who didn't prep for the SAT.


SteveH said...

I took the PSAT and the SAT once, with absolutely no preparation.

Of course, with recentering, my scores even worse to kids nowadays.

Barry Garelick said...

I never took the PSAT, and only took the SAT once. Test prep courses didn't exist, but test prep books did: Barron's was the bigee, and the practice tests and word lists bore no resemblance to the real SATs.

College entrance wasn't as competitive in those days (late 60's for me). Also, the Truth in Testing law for NY State was passed in the early 80's which for the first time made the answers to the SAT available to all who took it. That led to the development of the test prep industry because for the first time the actual tests and the answers could be scrutinized. Princeton Review came into being around that time.

After some public pressure, ETS admitted that test preparation could help for the SAT. This is less so for the subject matter tests (called Achievement Tests then, and now called SAT II), since the questions were more in depth and required an understanding and mastery of the subject matter.

I believe but am not positive that the California university system stopped requiring SAT's but requires the SAT II.

Niels Henrik Abel said...

Took the PSAT and the ACT in the late '70's; neither I nor my friends even thought about test prep or taking the test multiple times.

It's one thing to take a practice test or two to eliminate the element of surprise. It's quite another to think that test prep is going to work miracles.

When you stop and consider the situation, it's amazing to think that all the stuff that should have been learned/taught in three or four years of high school can be crammed into a 30-some hour test prep course.

Students who have struggled through algebra or precalculus think that test prep is going to turn that around.

Students who have inadequate vocabulary because they don't read unless it's a class assignment think that the test prep fairy will wave her magic wand so they can commit to memory a word list as long as their arm filled with words they've never encountered before.

What's wrong with this picture?

GoogleMaster said...

Back when I was in high school (1978-82), test prep was considered a remedial thing, as were summer school and tutoring.

I took the PSAT once (I think), the SAT twice (c'mon, 790 math, wouldn't you have taken it again too?), and about 4-6 Achievement Tests (what are now SAT II). Oh, and I took the SSAT near the end of 8th grade. No test prep for any of these.

So now I am looking at the GRE test prep book and I am confident in my ability to do well on the regular math and verbal sections, but the "new" third section (writing/critiquing arguments) scares me silly.

VickyS said...

Although I know college is more competitive than it was in the 70's (my era), I just can't see putting my sons through any formal test prep. Sample questions, okay. Big money test prep, no thanks. Call me old-fashioned, but I want the test to reflect where they currently are, without formal prep or coaching. I am aware that this might limit their college options but on the other hand, if they can't do well (enough) without coaching, maybe they'd be better off in a different college any way.

My one concession to the new order was to have my now-high schooler take the ACT, PSAT and SAT at least once in 7th-10th grades, then "for real" as a junior or senior. I figure most colleges will notice that his first scores occurred when he was pretty young. I want him to experience true test-taking conditions b/c I think these are rare in school these days (the SAT he took this winter was brutal--5 hours with only one 15 min break). I also wanted him to try that new writing segment in the SAT.

You can take the SAT or ACT early through a talent search program like Johns Hopkins CTY or Northwestern's MATS, or you can just sign up at the College Board website. They are very happy to take your money.

I think I mentioned this before but when I had him take the ACT in grade 7/8 we discovered he had an undiagnosed reading problem. He was only able to make it halfway through the reading section during the allotted time. A year of vision therapy ensued, and the following year when he took it again, he made it all the way through the test and raised his reading subscore by a full 20 points (total points available is 36 per section).

C T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C T said...

My mother also thought I should take the SAT once while in junior high. Somehow, I ended up taking it four more times after that. And I took the ACT three times. No test anxiety for me! I was having fun competing with myself by the end. It paid off scholarship-wise, too. (This was in the early 90's, and I'm fairly certain the college saw all my test history.)

TerriW said...

Luke! Welcome to KTM! (We're Sonlight Core K users at home and I read your blog.) Hope you enjoy it here. Lots of resources.

My path through the SATs was a little goofy. I had to take it in 8th grade so I could get into high school honors classes, I got around 1100 or so. Enough to get into the honors track, at least.

Then, come 10th grade and I transitioned to what is known as "PSEO" here in the Twin Cities -- meaning that I started going to the local community college in place of attending 11th and 12th grade. After that, I transferred to a 4 year college as a Junior.

So I never ended up taking it again. I suppose having a GPA reflecting about 100 community college credits was considered reflective enough of my college ability than an SAT taken in 8th grade. I only applied to one college, and they accepted me, so I can't really say much about the actual competitiveness of my situation. Heh.