kitchen table math, the sequel: Hack the SAT on the writing section

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hack the SAT on the writing section

Hack the SAT on tutoring the writing section:
The grammar portions [of the SAT writing test are far more important [than the essay]. And they're very easy to prepare for. In fact, there are only a handful of grammar rules that the SAT loves to test, and they repeat them over and over. So if you can just memorize the rules that we'll lay out in this section, you'll find that the actual test won't be that much of a challenge. During test prep, scores on the writing section tend to increase most reliably, and by the most number of points.
Hack the SAT by Eliot Schrefer
p. 159
I believe it.

Last week I skimmed an SAT roster for our high school from a couple of years back. I saw no 800s on math, one 800 on reading, and four 800s on writing. (Not sure how many students in that group -- perhaps 125?)

I think that's consistent with Schrefer's observation that the writing section is easiest to coach.

Hack the SAT: Strategies and Sneaky Shortcuts That Can Raise Your Score Hundreds of Points


Jean said...

But what are those few grammar rules the SAT loves to test?? We need to know!

(I looked on amazon, but it skipped that page.)

Catherine Johnson said...

Erica Meltzer has the list -- it's fantastic!

Here it is: Complete SAT Grammar Rules

Jen said...

I think it depends on your language skills and reading background. Students who have actually done the school reading and read on their own, and who take a foreign language, sure. And I guess, those are the kids who will be privately coached!

But as a tutor I do find that the math is very easy to increase, even if the result isn't an 800, a 75-100 point gain isn't at all unreasonable. But again, I'm tutoring kids who do know how to do 7th-9th grade math (basically what's on the SAT, plus geometry). We can spend our time on identifying what the question asks, how the answers may lead you astray, etc. because I'm merely reminding and reviewing the actual mathematical concepts, not teaching them outright.

Catherine Johnson said...

So you find the math section easier to tutor than writing?

The math section is definitely coachable; I know that from personal experience. (C's score last summer was a good 60 points below where it is now, and I think basically all of that gain comes from the work we've done.)

Trying to pick up another 90 points before October.

Jen said...

Yes, usually the kids I tutor know their basic math, but they are far less likely to know their basic grammar.

Once we get past "subject and verb" I have to explain terms before we can even get started -- modifier? preposition? clause? It all turns to soup in their heads!

However, with enough practice the scores definitely will go up as they learn to recognize what the errors sound like.

I can usually tell who reads outside of school and who doesn't just by their scores/mistakes on the writing. I wonder as books have more and more grammar errors in them if that will still hold true!