With the final paper SAT coming up in a mere month, many students and parents have questions and concerns about the new, digital version of the SAT. Foremost among those concerns is the fact that the test is adaptive
Adaptive technology is not new
Both the GMAT and GRE have been adaptive tests for decades, so the industry has a lot of experience with this technology. This should allay people’s concerns about the effectiveness of adaptive testing - while it is new for the SAT, it is not new to testing!
The Digital SAT is section adaptive
Like the GRE, the Digital SAT adapts in sections. This means that your performance on the first section determines which version of the second section you are given.
How the Digital SAT adapts
There are two sections (what the SAT calls modules) for the reading & writing portion of the exam and two sections for the math portion of the exam. Everybody gets the same version of module 1. If...
Test anxiety is one of the most challenging hurdles that some students deal with when taking the SAT and ACT. Test anxiety is an emotional and physical response to the stress of taking a test. Here are some techniques students can use to effectively cope with this issue.
Learning content and efficient strategies is an important part of the test prep process; however, taking real, timed, practice tests is an often overlooked – but crucial – part of this process!
Build familiarity with the test format
Use real practice tests to get familiar with the different types of questions, the structure, and the format of the SAT or ACT. Familiarize yourself with the instructions and rules. You don’t want any surprised on test day, and you want to feel at ease as you take the real test
Figure out your weaknesses
After taking a practice test, look at your results to see what you need to work on (and what you don’t need to work on). Let your results guide your studying, so you know what rules and strategies to study to improve.
Get accustomed to pacing
The last thing you want to do is to stare at the clock on test day! This wastes time and distracts you. Taking timed practice tests will allow you to build an innate...
Good test scores strengthen your application
Strong test scores can only improve your chances of admission into the colleges of your choice, allowing you to stand out from applicants who chose not to include scores (they aren’t omitting their scores because they aced the test). They give yet another data point for schools to assess your candidacy, so even if you have the option of applying without scores, applying with good scores can only work to your benefit.
You can improve your chances at scholarships
Many merit-based scholarships either require or strongly prefer good SAT or ACT scores. Skipping standardized testing can potentially leave tens of thousands of dollars on the table.
Standardized testing can demonstrate academic preparedness
While your grades are one measure schools have of your academic performance, different schools have different measures, so it’s a less reliable tool for schools. Some (or many…) schools are...
The summer is my favorite time to prepare for the SAT or ACT! It’s much easier to focus on preparation when you don’t have the rigors of the school year to contend with. Here are my recommendations for getting the most of out your time this summer:
Study up on your grammar rules and review past math concepts. Both the SAT and ACT cover math topics from pre-algebra, algebra 1 & 2, trigonometry, and geometry.
It’s really important to learn the best ways to tackle each section and question type. It’s also important to learn how to pace yourself, what to do when you run out of time, and when to guess.
Taking practice tests allow you to put your knowledge into practice. It also allows you to work on your pacing; make sure to always take your practice tests timed to get the maximum benefit!
The ACT science section is notoriously intimidating to students, and it is a reason that many students opt not to take the ACT at all! While the section is definitely not for everyone, in my experience tutoring students, many students exceed their expectations and end up conquering the science section in the end.
I’m bad at science – should I skip the ACT?
Not necessarily! I’ve had many students who consider themselves “bad” at science who end up excelling on the ACT science section. It is more of a reading section than a science section, in my opinion.
What makes it so difficult?
The science section is unlike any other science test you’ve encountered in school. It doesn’t test (much) factual knowledge learned in school, but rather tests your ability to synthesize information from tables, charts, graphs, and short passages. The unfamiliarity makes many students underestimate their ability. Further,...
There are few things more nerve wracking than taking an important test at the last moment! This puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on the test taker. I recommend planning on taking the test three times, but also leaving space for even more retakes to leave the option open.
The SAT and ACT test such a wide array of topics and rules that cramming is essentially impossible. Try to relax as much as possible the night before your test. Don’t stay up late, don’t watch stressful content, don’t cram information, and don’t do any other activity that will cause your mind to race the night before your exam.
Go to sleep as early as possible. It might take you some time to fall asleep, and the last thing you need is to stress out about not being able to fall asleep. Having a well rested and focused mind is key to getting your best...
We are at the height of the test prep season, and many people are wondering what to do in the upcoming months to maximize the remaining testing dates.
Hopefully all Juniors have already started test preparation or will be very soon – the spring dates are popular for a good reason! If you’ve already taken one test, then I suggest planning on 1-2 more. I’ve found that most students hit their best possible score within the first 3 tries. Taking the ACT in April and June or the SAT in May or June might land you with your desired score before the school year ends. That leaves the fall dates as fallbacks in case you want to go for a higher score.
Sophomores should start planning out their first steps – if you are currently in Algebra 2 (or beyond), you can start testing as soon as you’d like! The summer is a great time to invest in test preparation; in fact it is my favorite time! It’s a nice long...
I am frequently asked which test dates are easier or harder. Many people think the fall tests will have “easier” curves because you are competing against seniors retaking the test (who I guess we assume are going to get lower scores...) and that the spring tests are “harder” because you are competing against more motivated students.
It IS true that some tests are easier than others.
Tests do vary in difficulty from administration to administration – or more specifically, individual sections of the test vary in difficulty.
The tests aren’t curved in the traditional sense.
Test takers aren’t curved against the students taking the test the same month as them – it’s a complicated process, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you are testing at the same time as more motivated or less skilled test takers
It doesn’t matter.
Do not choose a test date based on...
After decades of paper and pencil exams, the SAT has made the leap to digital testing. While there are many benefits to the digital exam, there are definitely some drawbacks when you compare it to the paper version.
Built in calculator
Timer on the screen
Scores come out sooner
Reading passages are shorter
Math appears to be very similar to the old version
It’s difficult to mark up reading passages
Lack of practice material
Reading passages are shorter but appear to be much harder
The College Board is not transparent about scoring
Who will take the digital SAT?
This version of the test will be available to US based students starting in the spring of 2024, so current sophomores and younger will see this version of the SAT
Can it be taken at home?
No – the digital SAT must be taken at an official test center.
Should I or my student take the digital SAT or stick with the ACT?
I recommend taking a practice digital SAT and...