kitchen table math, the sequel: SAT prep

Thursday, June 10, 2010

SAT prep

I'm going to take the SAT, and I want to score a 700 on math, minimum.

Any suggestions?

I love anti Nerd's advice re: Math Workbook for the New SAT (Barron's Math Workbook for the Sat I) 3rd Edition.
I've taken my SATs May of 2003, and October 2003. I scored 740 for May SAT and achieved 780 for October SAT. This book is one of the best books for mathematics. It depends on how well you use this book. Anyways, I'll tell how i used this book.

First week: I bought the book, went over the concepts, structures, tricks, strategies, one of 10 REAL SATs practice exam to know what score i would rank, read through beginning stuff.

Second week: Starting this week, I work on chapter 3, which deals with arithmetic skills and concepts. There are 8 lessons in chapter 3. I did 2 lessons a day starting Monday, and then Friday, I relax and review the lessons I've practiced. When you study, you must MASTER the concepts. Knowing the concept does not help.

Third week: There are 7 lessons in Chapter 4 which deals with Algebra. I do two lessons a day, for 4th day, when I only do 1 lesson, I work on my weaknesses in Chapter 4. Then 5th day, I review and study. When review, review lessons from previous chapters so that you won't forget.

Fourth week: There are 5 lessons in Chapter 5. I work 2 lessons a day, and then I review and study as usual.

Fifth week: Chapter 6 deals with Geometry, which was one of my weaknesses. So I decided to learn 1 lesson a day since there are 8 lessons and SAT strongly emphasizes a lot on geometry. So fifth week, I've done 4 lessons, one lesson each day. 5th day, I reviewed.

Sixth week: I've continued and finish last 4 lessons and reviewed as well

Seventh week: I went back to my routine plan and studied two lessons a day, and then reviewed.

Eighth week: I worked on Chapter 8, last chapter before practice exams. 5 lessons, study.

9th week: Then after I've studied these chapters, I go over and review all the problems, questions, concepts from previous chapters. I review chapters 3-5.

10th week: Same as 9th week but I reviewed chapters 6-8.

11th and 12th week. I took practice exams to familiar myself with the exams. After you see the score you've got, go to problems and check to see if you made a mistake because you weren't careful enough. Then assume that it's correct and check your score again. For instance, You got 630 on practice exam but if you didn't make stupid mistakes, what could you have gotten?, 650? 700?

From this point, you're pretty much set for SAT Math. Note that I'm one of the biggest slacker with horrible English skills who's from Korea and still get high score. I am NOT a genius or some nerd. I received grades of Bs and Cs in mathematic courses in past and if I can pull this off, you can. This is a 3 month plan I've made beginning of junior year.

My parents told me that cramming does not work and that I should space out studying to learn more effectively. I am a fan of Bruce Lee and he has stated long time ago that "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." This means that you shouldn't assume you know the concept just because you've solved few easy problems. You should apply the concept as many times as you can and do them properly.

People say "practice makes perfect". It does not. PERFECT practice ALMOST makes perfect. You'll never get your goals to be perfect if you don't practice it properly and people make mistakes once in a while, so nobody is perfect.

In Psychology, It shows that spaced practice and overlearning helps for studies because overlearning and spaced practice puts your learning to long-term memory where it wont' decay for a long time.

When I say review and stdy everytime, it means, know the concept really well and master them by applying them as much as possible to every problems. When i say two lessons, it means, solve every problems in those lessons. I've also used Kaplan Math Workbook for practice problems to strengthen my concepts. I've studied previous chapters When I was studying chapters 4/5/6/7/8 to prevent my brain from forgetting.

I used this method to tutor students also as well. It worked for my studnets. I've raised most students' scores. My best student raised his score from 580 to 720, then he quit learning from me after 3 months, learned on his own from knowing this method for 2 months, and achieved 800. Student getting higher than a teacher? If I can do this, anyone can.


Anonymous said...

You should take a test from one of the books right now and see where you are weak.

You won't be weak equally in everything. you should find your weakest points and study those the most and the earliest so you can do the most distributed practice on those parts.

You should also practice test taking--knowing how much time you will have, will you be slow overall or fast enough, etc. Then follow the anti-nerd's advice.

Catherine Johnson said...


At least, I thought I'd done it; the fact that I can't for the life of me do what seems to me a simple percent problem is making me very unhappy.

Catherine Johnson said...

function notation

function notation

function notation

Catherine Johnson said...

also, I have completely forgotten how to set up and solve a simple inequality involving absolute value

Anonymous said...

You need to think about what it means.

The absolute value of any number equal to or greater than 0 is itself. x-->x

The abs value of any number less than 0 is the number*-1, or the number with its sign dropped: x --> -x.

So break down the inequality you see into other inequalities.

|x| - 2 > 3

|x| > 5:

allowable positive values of x satisfy
x > 5

allowable negative values of x satisfy
-x > 5

you "solve" this by switching sides (do you know why you're allowed to do that?)
and that becomes
x < -5

Now, you do |x - 3| < 5 in a similar way. To make yourself less confused, write (x-3) = y
and work on
|y| < 5

Then after you've got that into equations without the abs value, sub back in the x-3.

Anonymous said...
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TerriW said...

Sightly OT for the original post, my apologies.

I read all of these SAT posts with great interest -- far more interest than someone whose oldest child is 6 should probably have. But if there's one thing that I have gleaned from all of the homeschool mailing lists that I am on, it's that the vast majority of colleges out there care about one thing -- and one thing only -- if you're a homeschool applicant: SAT score. One mom recently posted that the college in question said to not bother providing anything else.

I mean, I don't really blame then. Sure, a portfolio is nice, but a transcript with grades could be complete fiction. (Probably isn't, but how could they know?) But SAT? Disinterested third party? Bring it on.

I get a little nervous for all the homeschool folks I hear talking about never testing their kids and talking with pride about how their kids have never ever taken a #2 pencil test ... and then you hear the stories on the math curriculum mailing lists about how their kid bombed the SAT and how said curriculum is, therefore, deficient.

True story just recently on a math mailing list I'm on: It was a few rounds into the thread before the mom casually mentioned that the kid had never taken a standardized test before. And she mentioned this for some other reason, never seeming to piece together that, perhaps, standardized test taking -- particularly if it's a high stakes test at 8am in a room full of other stressed out kids -- might be a skill that needs to be taught.

Catherine Johnson said...

The current SAT math test is orders of magnitude harder than the one I took in high school.

I've worked my way through Saxon Algebra 1 & 2, ALEKS Geometry, Mathematics 6, and the 3rd grade Singapore Math Challenging Word Problem book (which helps!) & I'm barely breaking 600 on practice tests.

Plus, as far as I can tell, there aren't a whole lot of 'strategies' you can use to bump up your score. You have to know what the question is asking & then you have to have a clue how to go about finding the answer AND you have to do all this very, very quickly.

It seems to me, too, that you need to have quite a lot of material memorized. I just took a sample PSAT math test (did worse on that than I did on SAT, sigh); I needed to know the various angle relationships in a cirle in order to answer questions.


65 minutes for 54 questions, 10 of which are **not** multiple choice.

ChemProf said...

TerriW -- I think people underestimate how important it is to be used to taking standardized tests in order to do well. When I took the SAT for the first time, I was in 8th grade (for CTY) and by the time I was taking the PSAT, it just wasn't a big deal to me. Everyone else was freaked out, but I knew exactly what was coming.

Catherine -- the only strategies have to do with guessing. In the old grading system, you got penalized for wrong answers, so the rule was not to guess unless you could get it down to two answers. Don't know if that's true now, or not, though.

Catherine Johnson said...

Apparently there are all kinds of strategies that work on reading.

The math test is a different ball of wax.

Catherine Johnson said...

The last thing I read on the subject of guessing was that it neither helps nor hurts, supposedly. The scoring is rigged so as to account for guessing.

Anonymous said...

Here in the midwest, there is far more emphasis on taking the ACT, which is shorter. I also think it's less "tricky."

The SAT still penalizes for guessing the last time I checked, but the ACT does not.

Plus, you can skip the writing portion of the ACT if you want since there are two tests to choose from, one with the essay, and one without, although all schools want students to have taken the one with writing.


ChemProf said...

Catherine, the system is rigged in that you gain one point for a right answer and lose .25 points for each wrong answer. Since there are five choices, if you guess blindly, you'll generally hurt your score (since the expectation value for a blind guess is .20 or 1/5). If you assume you always get it down to four answers, then it won't help or hurt. BUT if you can get it down to two or three answers quickly, then you should guess, since overall you will raise your score.

Also, what test prep book are you using? Barron's is supposed to be harder than the actual SAT (or that's the rumor for the GRE anyway).

Bostonian said...


May I ask why you are planning to take the SAT?

On a different matter, Allison has explained the meaning of absolute values algebraically. One can also visualize the number line and think of absolute values in terms of distances. The numbers satisfying |x-3| < 5 are the numbers that are closer than 5 units away from 3 on the number line. So on the "right" of 3, they extend up to but exclude 8. On the "left" of 3, they extend down to but exclude -2.

David said...

Excuse the nitpick, but the expectation from guessing is 0.

(0.2)*(1) + (0.8)*(-0.25) = 0.

ChemProf said...

OK, David is right. So the expectation value for random guessing is zero. In theory, that means even if you can only eliminate one answer, you should guess.

Bostonian said...

Steve Sailer (a blogger I like) writes about

Hereditary Privilege through Rights and Complexity in the context of preparing his son for the math SAT:

For example, when I was a kid, taking the SAT was pretty simple. For example, you didn't have any right to look at your test once you turned it in. But, now, you have the "right" to order (for a non-nominal although not extortionate sum) from College Board your SAT test booklet along with a reproduction of your answer sheet (at least for certain test dates) so that you can study what you messed up on. I just spent two hours looking at my son's May test performance looking for patterns in his mistakes so he can do better on his next try. It's an intellectually challenging process.

I suspect there are a lot of little angles like that that have emerged in recent decades that help upper middle class families stay ahead of broken lower middle class families.

I did not realize that SAT booklets were available for a fee. It will be almost a decade before my son needs to the SAT, but given this option I think I'll have him taking it yearly from about 7th grade.

Catherine has said her goal is to score 700 or higher on the math SAT. Children under 13 who do this qualify for the The Study of Exceptional Talent (SET).