During a tutoring session today, I was reminded of something that directed my actions as a sales leader. Every day I’m surprised by how much overlap there is in leading sales teams and helping young people understand and get better at math. Just to provide a little background on this encounter, my last job before I started tutoring full time was to lead a couple of sales teams at a local tech company. If you’ve ever been in sales or spent significant time around sales people, you know that we can be quite emotional. By nature, the job is one of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, highs and lows. What other job has you pushing to reach a goal, only to finally reach the target, then to have you start back over at zero when a new month starts up? Needless to say, one of the major items I had to help with is keeping the team’s mindset strong and helping them to overcome a limiting belief. That mindset of limiting belief is absolutely amazing and the old quote by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right!” rings so true. I’ve seen people pull in half of their month quota in 1 days, and on the other side I’ve seen incredibly talented sales people not be able to give away their product for free. What is the commonality between those two groups? I believe that it is mindset. The ability to master one’s mindset and use it as a benefit rather than a detractor is an incredibly difficult feat. The good news is there are minor steps that you can take to see a significant change.
I’m sure some of you are thinking, “That’s all well and good, but how does this relate to tutoring math?”. I’m glad you asked :) If you think about the way the education system works today, we are constantly testing and using those tests to place students in the appropriate math level. Makes sense right? But what effect is this having on the students long term? The student I worked with this morning is an amazing young man and has potential that I’m not sure he even realizes. Unfortunately in 5th grade he didn’t really mesh with his teacher and there are some important foundational items that he missed out on that year. As he moved forward into 6th grade these gaps started to widen and thus he struggled with some core concepts from 6th grade. He had this narrative in his head that since he didn’t have a great 5th grade teacher that he wasn’t able to do the math moving forward. Is he wrong? In all honesty, not really. The concepts taught in 5th grade are paramount for moving forward. If I don’t understand fractions, decimals and negative numbers, how in the world am I supposed to be able to work through proportion and more advanced problems? So what steps should we take to help him?
As I assessed the situation I was able to identify a couple of issues. I think this is one area where I am different from a lot of tutors. My first step with him was to help him to understand that we HAVE to get that “I can’t ______” sentence out of his vocabulary. He may not of understood how to fractions work, but does that mean that he will NEVER understand them? Are there gaps from years before we started working together that will prevent him from understanding future concepts? Yes, there are issues, but none of the mountains are unsurmountable! My first step with him wasn’t drilling flash cards (yes we did that too), but it was more changing his mindset to help him believe that he CAN do it! Will it take work and possibly a little more time for him to understand things that his classmates already understand? Yup! But I NEEDED him to not only understand, but to buy in on the fact that he can do it and that I’ll be there to support him in any way that he needs. What is amazing to me is how simple this can be. Try to take a different look at a tough project. Instead of thinking and saying to yourself, “I HAVE to do xyz” try “I GET to do xyz”! Very simple change there, but none the less powerful change in perception.
In my opinion, this has been the biggest change for this young man. He has gone from thinking there was no way in the world he was ever going to be good at math to understanding that with the appropriate effort, help and strategy that he can be good at math. He understands and admits that he has gaps, but instead of using those as a crutch as to why he can’t do well in math, he acknowledges them and moves forward and continues to learn. Yes he now can tell you that ⅔ is .66666 as a fraction, but the biggest change is him believing that he can do fractions. When we get into problems that are tough, he is no longer throwing his arms up in the air and saying “I can’t do this because I had a tough time in 5th grade”. His mindset has changed. He now looks at the problem and says, “Ok, how do we do this?”. Yes, it may take us a little longer, but he no longer believes that he can’t do it, he is focused on how do we do it!
For those that don’t know, before I started tutoring full time I had a 15 year career in sales and leading sales teams. While I was a top 10 producer at every company that I sold for, I personally think I was a better leader than producer. The reason I bring this up is there was one thing I did differently than most leaders, that I can directly account to the success my teams had. The key was figuring out what motivated each member of my team and directly relating the work to whatever the motivating factor was for that individual team member. Some were motivated by money, that’s easy… Produce more and you’ll make more money! What do you do when someone isn’t motivated by money or what is “normal”?
I had a team member who went through a really tough time with their family. Charleston is very prone to flooding and unfortunately this team member’s house saw some major damage after a storm. I knew how much this weighed on him, and putting “everything” into his wife’s hands (in addition to her taking care of two kids under the age of 5!) wasn’t an option. So, we worked together to get some extra time off, found him some housing while repairs were being done so that his family didn’t have to live out of a hotel, and assured him that taking care of his family was more important than any job. While things started to calm down and he was able to get back into the office on a more regular basis, he was still having to leave early due to family constraints. It was causing some talk around the office and some resentment from other team members, and while I was incredibly empathetic to his situation, we were getting close to a breakpoint. So, what was I supposed to do? Should I have drawn a hard line in the sand and said “I’m sorry for everything you’ve gone through, but if you can’t be in the office then it might be time for us to go our separate ways”? Should I have gone to my bosses and pleaded for more time and leniency due to special circumstances? When I weighed those two options, it felt like a lose lose situation. I decided to go a different route. Knowing that providing for his family was what really motivated this young man, I took the route of showing him how if he was able to get back into the swing of things, his production would actually help his family more than the time off he was taking. It was one of the most difficult conversations I ever had as a leader. At the end of our conversation he looked me dead in the eyes and said “Thank you, I really needed this!” and came out and set company records over the next 6 months.
The reason I tell this story is that there is a direct correlation to working with students to improve their grades or their SAT scores. It is important to realize that each student has different motivations and it is crucial to relate the work that you are doing to the student reaching that goal. It is also important to realize that every student SHOULD have different goals. Not everyone can score 100 on every test or a perfect 1600 on the SAT. Pushing some to that standard will result in amazing output. Others will completely shut down and doubt their ability. My goal with every student and family that I work with is to help them reach their goals. I’m reminded of an amazing TED talk by Simon Sinek, “Start with Why” (if you’ve never watched this, stop reading right now and watch it!). Understanding someone’s internal WHY will always yield better results than assuming that their why is the same as yours! Here is a small sample of some of the “WHY’s” I’ve been able to uncover for some of my clients...
-Wanting to go to nursing school
-Applying to a private school that has high standards for admittance
-Becoming a pilot but only being able to do that if the student has at least a B average
-Student Athletes that need a certain GPA or SAT score to maintain eligibility
-Putting in the hard work but not seeing the results that the work should yield
-Filling in gaps from prior classes to build a foundation for future school work
-Increasing SAT scores to increase chances of acceptance to their “Dream” school
Again, this is just a small sample of students I’ve worked with over the past 6 months. But take a good look at this list. If I tried to go the route of getting into college for a student that wants to be a pilot, what would the results be? Not great! What about the athlete that isn’t really thinking about what comes after playing ball? Should I push them to drop their dream/passion and be the bearer of bad news that they are not going to play professionally? No, my job is to find out what THEIR big dreams are and show them how succeeding in math or the SAT will help them to reach THEIR goal. Not mine. Not their parents. I’ve found this more of a challenge for the parents than for their children. Parents many times have this dream or route that they feel like their kids should take. Is it wrong to want the best for your kids? Absolutely not, but I believe that now more than ever, it is imperative to ask questions and have the conversations to understand that we are in a different world than when the majority of us were our children’s ages. When I was the same age as these students, there wasn’t much choice. Graduate from high school, go to college, get a job. While there are many that are still on this path, it is critical to understand that not EVERY kid should or will follow this path. Our job is to uncover that inner passion. The thing that makes these young people jump out of bed each morning excited about THEIR goal! Uncovering this as a tutor and parent allows us to drive performance and help them achieve, compared to placing our wants/desires on them will only give us momentary/small increases in performance that isn’t sustainable for most.
To wrap this up, I wanted to share a video that I recently watched that really hit home to me. It talks about the pressure that families feel in relation to testing and achievement. I believe we are on the precipice of a paradigm shift where we stop looking at the “prestige” of a certain college or profession and realize that as the world changes, so must we in regards to the future we are trying to provide to young people. One of the most inspiring quotes that I’ve heard recently is from Gary Vaynerchuk and he says that “Happiness is the new Rich” and I feel it embodies the shift we are seeing. So, my challenge to those of you that are still reading this is to take a deep look inside yourself. Are you trying to motivate using what motivates you, or by striving to provide true happiness and assistance to help the young people in your lives to reach THEIR goals?
I know I’m a bit late posting about this, but I really wanted to take some time to digest and think about as many different angles as possible before I wrote something straight from the gut. If anyone has been living under a rock, last week a major scandal came out regarding students applying and getting accepted to Universities throughout the United States. It has come out that wealthy families were working with a company that helped families cheat to receive increased SAT and ACT scores along with providing false participation in sports as well as extracurricular activities that boosted their standings with many collegiate admissions boards. My initial outrage and shock has tempered over the week and quite frankly I’m surprised at my new feelings of “I get it!”. Let me be very clear, I get why the parents took the path that they did, although I’m sure all of them regret it now. I DO NOT, and let me repeat, DO NOT understand or agree with the company, colleges and coaches who have cheated these young people.
If we are being honest with ourselves, this isn’t the first times that parents have leveraged their wealth to provide a better opportunity for their children. Isn’t that the American dream after all? To provide a better life to our children than we had? I remember a young woman I went to high school with getting into a University that quite frankly she had no business applying to due to her grades and SAT scores. However, she was accepted and there is a building on campus that now support her family name. This has been happening for decades and, as much as it sickens me to write this, will continue to go on in the future, regardless of how much buzz this story has in the media. My statement of “I get it” is not complicit to the actions, just that I understand the way parents feel due to the fact that the collegiate landscape has changed so much. When my parents went to college they were the both the first people in their family to get an education past high school. Simply by getting the degrees they were elevated over the general public. When they went on to get post-graduate degrees they placed even more distance between themselves and others they were competing against. When you compare that to my generation, the question wasn’t IF you were going to college, but WHERE you were going to college. Having a degree has changed from elevating you over the competition to now being a minimum requirement. Really it is simple supply and demand in work. When there is a skill set desired that very few people have, the ones that have it are more desirable. If the pool is filled with people who ALL have a degree, how do you get noticed in a competitive job market? It is no longer enough to just have a degree, but it now matters WHERE you get your degree from. What distinguishes you from everyone else? With that thought in mind, families are starting earlier and earlier to prepare their children to get in the best school possible.
Living in South Carolina, I can think of no better example than Clemson University. Growing up I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in the TIP program in 7th grade and ended up scoring just below 1000 on that SAT. At that time my score would have put me right around the 50th percentile of students being accepted to Clemson(please forgive me if my memory is off, I’m getting old). When you compare that to the data found on Prep Scholar for Clemson now, you’ll notice that their BOTTOM 25th percentile is over 1200 and the picture should become more clear. Not only are more students going to college, but the scores needed to be competitive are increasing at an incredible rate. Heck, my score of 1430 in 99-00 compared to the top 75th percentile at UNC now just barely gets me there! At its core, this is truly why I believe more and more families are looking for help and are willing to push the limits to help their children gain an advantage in the admissions process.
Am I saying that cheating is necessary to get in to a good school? Of course not, it just means that the game has changed and that we need to be aware of it as soon as possible in order to put ourselves in a position to succeed. Families need to start thinking outside of the box and start preparing earlier than ever to get their student recognized. I worked with a young woman last year who is now a senior in high school. She started a non profit when she was in 9th grade to raise money to help feed the hungry. She is a competitive swimmer, volunteers, is a member of many clubs at school and had a rock solid GPA. We worked together and she was able to raise her SAT score by 130 points. Is it a surprise that she has been accepted to 6 universities and now has the opportunity to choose which school is the best fit for her? Of course not. The difference is looking at her entire body of work. I’ll be real, I’m not 100% positive that her increase in SAT scores put her over the edge. Did it help? Of course. However, it was her entire body of work that really got her to the point she is at now. While I know that SAT scores are a large component to getting accepted, families have to step back and take a look at the big picture. Where are the gaps? What areas can be worked on OUTSIDE of school? If your GPA and SAT scores are solid, you may be better off focusing on other facets to show the Universities how amazing you are. If your extracurriculars are exceptional, then maybe you should focus a bit more time on increasing your SAT scores to stand out amongst the crowd. A dear friend of mine who I went to high school and college with is an embodiment of this. He ended up as a Morehead scholar at UNC. Did he score a 1600 on his SAT? Nope. Did he have a 5.0 in school? Nope. While his GPA and SAT were very strong, it wasn’t that on it’s own that got him admitted. He was class president, involved in many clubs, his mother helped him get involved with organizations outside of the school to show how well rounded he was, he played guitar and sang in a band, and he rode the bench for our state champion soccer team. (I still give him the business for being a benchwarmer lol) When you step back and look at his achievements, it is no wonder he was able to accomplish his goals and receive the honors that he did. He didn’t rely on one metric, but showed through his actions that he was able to accel in many different venues. So when it came time to apply not only for college, but also for scholarships he elevated himself over those in the same pool. At its core, I believe this is the reason we are seeing this scandal. Families do not start early enough preparing for college admission. They put themselves in a position where their back was against the wall and I’m sure they felt that their only option was to “pay their way” in to school. Again, I’m not saying that agree with their actions, just that I understand. If you gave any of these families an opportunity to go back in time and change, do you really think they would make the same choices? What if instead they could go back to 9th grade and have a strong plan put together to reach their goals? That is my biggest take away from this whole mess, a lot of the needless pain that they are going through now could have been alleviated by simply working with a professional whose goal was to help them improve through hard work instead of looking for the easy way out.
In conclusion, I want to urge families and students not to give up or be too upset by this news. Is it terrible and do the criminals who perpetrated these acts deserve to be punished? Absolutely. Will this be the end of wealth helping families get preferential treatment? Nope. There is a quote that sits above my desk in our office that I think is pertinent to this conversation and I urge all families to digest...
Instead of worrying about what others are doing, look inside, be honest with yourselves and make changes. Some will benefit from extra help in class or getting a better SAT score. If that is you, go with someone you can trust, someone who has a plan, and gives realistic expectations for score increases. While I would love to promise everyone I work with that their school scores will go up 30 points and their SAT scores will increase by 500 points just by working with me, that is the exception rather than the rule. It is all about getting better every day and taking incremental steps to not only improve your grades and SAT score, but focusing on other aspects that can be strengthened to increase your chances at admission.
What are your thoughts and feelings on this whole situation?
Sorry for the delay in getting the 10th tactic out to you, but without further ado, here it is!
If you’ve read our last post “Let the answers guide you” we talked about looking at the answers to give you a clue on what steps to take to solve the problem. In this post we want to take it a step further. Again, we are focusing on the multiple choice problems with our tactics as they give us the greatest chance at getting the correct answers and getting to the ultimate goal of scoring over a 600 on the math section of the SAT. Let’s get into it…
There are situations and questions that will be asked on the SAT that for one reason or another we will not be sure how to answer. The difference between getting a 500 and a 600 can be as simple as getting the answer to a small fraction of those questions. So, what is the strategy to get those questions correct? One thing I focus on when working with students is to identify what you DO know and apply that to the question. A student may not know how to “properly” work through an absolute value problem like this.
However, if we can apply the knowledge that an absolute value is always going to be positive, then we can rule out answers B,C, and D as adding 1 to any positive number will never equal 0. What about a problem where it cannot be solved by rationally thinking through the information? Let’s take a look
What do we do if we have a brain cramp in the middle of the test and cannot for the life of us remember how to do a system of equations? Please note that this question is one of the ones that we “should” be able to get correct and not in the “hard” section that we should only be allocating time to after we get the easy and medium level questions correct.
For our 10th tactic we take the answers and then plug those back in to the problem to find the answer. Normally we would isolate the x in the first part of the equation and then use that value (6y) to substitute into the second equation. However, we can simply take the answers given and plug those into the problem. So for answer A (2) we can plug that into the second equation. 4(2+1)=x, so x=12. Then we go to the first equation and use that value to see if the answer works. 12/2=6!!! So without knowing how to do systems of equations we now know that the answer is A and we have another question correct. Here is another example…
This is a tough question and is actually the last multiple choice question in section 3 of a past SAT. That being said, I want to walk you through how to plug in the answers to get the correct choice. If we notice that the (⅓) is only applied to the x^2 portion of the equation we know that the x^2-2 should actually be x^2-6. (Multiplying by 3 gets rid of the ⅓ and 2x3=6) We plug in the given answers and are trying to find out which one gives us the expression x^2-6.
Let’s start with A… (x-2)(x+2)= x^2-4 so we know that is NOT the right answer. That being said, we can use that as a hint at what the correct answer must be. So, if we then skip down to D and apply that answer you get the following
(x-√6)(x+√6)= x^2-6= ⅓ x^2-2!!!
While this tactic will not work for ALL questions, it is a great way to be able to get that extra question or two or three right that we might have missed out on. As always, I hope these help you reach your goal, but if there are issues that you are running into that we can help with, please shoot us an email!
If you’ve made it to this point in our 10 tips to score over a 600 on the math section of the SAT, I hope that you feel like you have a good game plan (if you haven’t, start HERE). In our previous posts we not only talk about the strategy for preparing for the test but also what you should be focusing on during the test. Well, what happens when our best laid plans are thrown a curve ball by the test makers?
Our 9th tactic goes over a test taking strategy that not only can be used on the SAT, but for the rest of you classes (and not just math!). So, when we read through a question and our “normal” train of thought doesn’t make sense or work for the given problem, where do we go? I’m glad you asked, we go to the answers! When multiple choice questions are given, there tend to be trends in the answers. Once you’ve identified the trend you can then go back to the problem with more information on how to solve it. This is not only crucial for figuring out how to solve the problem, but also to save time. I probably don’t have to tell you this, but time management on the exam can be just as difficult as the actual problems.
Let’s look at a couple of examples…
For most students I work with, when they have a problem like this, they immediately go into trying to figure out how to FOIL this problem out. It makes sense and the majority of these types of questions are asking us to do exactly that. So, a student then can start to try to figure out HOW to get this problem to work out. The issue? They are actually looking for you to use the quadratic equation to find the answer. When you look at the answers, I hope you’ll see what I am talking about.
Knowing that the quadratic equation above, we can see how similar the form is to the answers given. This immediately tells me that my “normal” process isn’t going to be the correct way to get the answer. I can then quickly shift and save myself time, get the right answer and move forward.
Here is another example...
This question is tough enough as most students have not done a lot of work with imaginary numbers like “i ”. When you come across a problem that isn’t familiar or throws a variable at us that we haven’t worked with much, looking to the answers can be crucial in determining what steps to take.
Seeing these answers immediately tells me that I need to try to eliminate the i in the denominator because there is no i in the denominators of any of the answers. I know that if I multiply the given fraction by (8-2i) / (8-2i) that the i will fall out. From there it is just about executing the math and making sure that I don’t make any careless mistakes!
As you work through practice problems make sure to look at the answers when you don’t immediately know how to get solve them. This should help train your eyes and brain for the exam. If you don’t immediately know how to solve the problem, this should help get a strong foundation under you and give you the steps to start getting the right answer.
Hi, my name is Matthew Beattie and I’m a control freak. It’s taken me years to finally come to grips with this and while it is still something I have to work on every day, I’ve learned how much of a double edged sword this can be. The great things about being a control freak is that I plan (probably over pan if you ask my wife) for as many possibilities as possible. So if/when I get into a difficult situation I don’t have to spend the extra time to problem solve because I have already done that in my head. The biggest issue is that I waste a ton of time and emotion planning for things that most likely will not happen.
The reason I bring this up is I have heard the question asked, “What do I need to study to improve my SAT score?” more times that I can count. I actually hit on this in a previous post “Where do you want to go?”, on the high level topics that a student can spend their time on to improve their scores. When I hear this question, what I really hear is people reaching out for help and struggling with the uncertainty that is the SAT. So for the first time I am going to go ahead and make you a guarantee….
Ready…. There will be AT LEAST one chart, graph or table problem on the math SAT section and the probability is that they will be in the 4th section of the test. After going through hundreds of actual SAT problems, it is the only section that I can 100% say for sure that you are going to see. The other great thing is that there are only a handful of concepts that they can test with this type of question. Again, this is why it is so important to be able to tackle these types of problems, because you KNOW that it is going to be there! If you are following the mentality of trying to get 38-39 questions correct, these are ones that you can count on.
What topics can these questions cover? I’m glad you asked…
Charts and Tables- I’m grouping these together as they display information very similarly. Here are a couple of examples from our pre-test
You can see that they present data relative to a specific group or on a distinguishing characteristic. I don’t really care what they are talking about, all I care about is using the data to get the correct answer. Herein lies the importance of preparing for these questions. They can only ask you to interpret the data in so many ways.
Graphs (and data plots)- There is a bit more variety on the types of questions that they can and will ask you regarding graphs and data plots. The reason why is they can include a lot more information and then ask you to utilize that data in multiple ways.
Here are some of the top questions that are asked off of graphs and data plots
While graphs and data plots obviously give a bit more leeway with the actual questions, it is really about the ability to interpret the data given. So in your preparation spend some extra time reading through and really understanding what these types of problems are presenting and asking you to do. The more you know about WHAT will be asked on the test, the better you can prepare yourself before you actually sit down to take the test.
Welcome back!!! In this week's post I've brought in an expert in the wonderful world of Admissions. After spending 35 years in academia spanning from Director of Curriculum for Charlotte Mecklenburg, Director of Teaching, Learning, and Technology at The College of Charleston, to Director of Admissions at Providence Day School, Dr. Susan Beattie is able to provide a unique insight into the admissions process.
How Does the College Admissions Process Work?
It depends on which school you ask!!!
If you are the parents of a student in high school, there have likely been several discussions about “college admissions”! You’ve wondered - What is the process? How does it work? What does my child need to do to get accepted? And so your family is on the journey to have their son or daughter get accepted by the “college of their choice’”.
A question that families may not think to ask is about the process that happens inside the college admissions office. HOW do they select the applicants that they do? WHY do they choose the applicants they do? Do all admissions committees operate the same way?
As a former Director of Admissions of a K-12 school in Charlotte NC, I can give you some insight into our admissions process.
Educational institutions are different from one other. The differences may be minor or substantial. Some colleges are recognized for their excellence in math and engineering, innovative technology, medical research, a great journalism reputation, or a great athletics program, etc. The admissions process is integral in building and maintaining the school’s mission statement and what makes them “different” from other schools.
Now let’s sit at the table with the Admissions Committee:
Colleges receive a significantly larger number of applications than they can accept, due to limited instructional space and personnel. As a result, the admissions committee reviews thousands of applications, searching for applicants who are most likely to excel academically and flourish in their “different” college environment.
The following table shows the number of applications received, acceptances offered and the final enrollment numbers for 6 random colleges in the southeast.
The Admissions Committee reviews the following:
In my experience, while test scores are very important, they are not always the sole determinant of an acceptance. When students have ‘similar’ test scores, the student’s additional accomplishments (in school, the community, or church) can have a critical impact for one student over another. So don’t be shy in telling the admissions committee who you are and the things you’ve done that make you different and desirable!
There is no right or wrong answer to the following question…. but if you had only one spot open, which student would get your vote? The “difference” between schools might cause the admissions committee to vote one way versus the other.
So while the discussions around your dinner table have been about the colleges that are the best match for your child, there will be similar discussions around the admissions conference table this fall about which applicants are the best match for their school.
My hope is that every student finds a college that wants you as much as you want them!!!
Of all the previous tactics (read them before this one), I’m most excited to discuss our 7th tactic. I hope the other tactics have given y’all a good game plan and items to focus on both in preparation for the test and taking the actual exam. Let’s get into it!
Welcome back to our 6th tactic to score over a 600 on your math section of the SAT. If you have not seen our first 5, please take a look at them before diving into this new tactic. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
If you’ve been following us for a while, I hope you notice that we focus more on the underlying concepts and core abilities than how to correctly answer 1 specific question. The reason is that these skills and abilities help student be able to answer whatever questions are asked on the SAT. I hate to beat a dead horse, but there is no definitive list of questions that are going to be asked on the test! One of the most important concepts to master is what I like to call Equation Manipulation.
What is Equation Manipulation? Basically it is the ability to “shift” and “adjust” an equation to put it into a form that allows you to answer the question. It sounds so simple and is something that we have been doing in math classes for years, but as usual, the SAT has a way of complicating it. Let’s take a look at a simple example…
This can be “manipulated” in different directions such as…
There are obviously more forms of this equation, but I hope you understand where I am coming from. All of these are the same equation, but the student would be using different forms depending on what the question is asking us to do. The reason this is such an important skill is two fold.
1) There are questions on the SAT that ask us to specifically do this! (I use 3 examples taken from one section of the SAT in the blog “All questions are not created equal”)
2) There are many questions where you need this skill as a step to solve the problem. These problems are not the typical “Which one of the following are in an equivalent form?” Here are two examples from the 4th practice exam
The likelihood is that you are going to see at least one system of equations problem (as you can see above). If you don’t feel comfortable manipulating and changing the equation around, these problems are sure to give you issues. You’ll also see in the first example where they are asking for “possible” values. This is a HUGE hint that you should be looking to adjust the equation to fit for what they are asking.
One last thing to finish this up. I believe the most difficult part of the SAT is the time limit. Let’s call it what it is, answering 20 questions in 25 minutes in section 3 is tough. Answering 38 questions in section four in 55 minutes is difficult considering that there will likely be a “reading comprehension” type problem (at least 1). This is one of the biggest reasons that being able to manipulate an equation quickly and correctly is massively important. So, in your preparation to take the test, don’t forget to spend some extra time brushing up on your ability to shift an equation into the correct form!
I love this quote from Alice in Wonderland and I think it draws a lot of parallels to students who are starting to prepare for the SAT. One of the questions I hear a lot from students and families is, “What should I focus on and what should I be studying?” Unfortunately there is no one “right” answer to this question and is really dependent on the student's goals. It becomes even more difficult when you look at what is covered on the math section of the SAT. College Board states that the exam covers three areas of math, 1) Heart of Algebra 2) Problem solving and data analysis and 3) Passport to advanced math. Where do we even start?
In contrast to such broad topics that can cover pretty much anything that you have learned in math classes, we instead break the test down into specific subjects and skills that the student should focus on in order to increase their scores. We did this by going through and looking at hundreds of actual SAT math questions. What we found was pretty astounding…
While there is obviously more covered, I hope this gives you a good starting point on what to actually review when it comes to the SAT. When we first start working with a student on SAT prep, we have them take our Pre-Test. This short test is focused on these specific concepts and allows tutoring sessions to be laser focused on the areas where the student needs the most improvement. Not sure where to start? Take the test and get started improving your score now!!!