The New SAT!
Probably the biggest question we’ve received in past days is how to prepare for this new SAT. For us, the answer is to focus on core skills in reading, math, and science.
1. Read! : Because the SAT will become more of a reading-based test, just doing crash courses on vocabulary won’t help. As I’ve said for a long time, the best preparation for the SAT and ACT is reading incrementally more difficult material over time. This will become even more true on the new SAT. So start reading! It’s not too late! Students should start by choosing material that interests them, but they should proceed from contemporary novels to the classics, from Washington Post newspaper articles to longer, more complex non-fiction such as that in The New Yorker.
In the summer of 2014, we’re offering a Summer Reading and Writing program by English teacher Shaun Stiemsma. Shaun is a Renaissance scholar, who has been a high school and college English teacher for 15 years and tutored students from fourth grade on up. He knows more about teaching reading and writing than most people I know.
2. Math : Remember that the fact that the SAT will assess fewer topics does not mean that it will become an easier test. It will just give more emphasis to word problems, to multiple-step math problems, and to solving math on paper without a calculator. There will be more graphs and charts offering evidence. If you are not good at longer word problems involving multiple operations, or not strong on basic math operations, consider working on those. If you didn’t do well in Algebra 1 or 2, you could take a remedial Math course over the summer or approach us for summer tutoring.
3. Science : From what we’re seeing, the new SAT will incorporate reading and grammar questions based upon material published in science journals. Well, read Science. Don’t fear it. Scientific American and Popular Science are fun, but you’ll get more detailed and analytical articles in the Science section of the New York Times. If you find science overwhelming, come see us for study skills classes.
4. Use Khan Academy, but with discretion . We admire Khan Academy and think that it’s a great resource for instruction in Math fundamentals, as well as help in many academic areas. We understand and applaud Sal Khan’s commitment to offering educational opportunity for students who lack resources. Each Marks Education tutor donates time to our non-profit Collegiate Directions, Inc. (CDI), and works pro bono with first-generation, low-income students. However, current Khan Academy videos on SAT Math, Reading, and Writing do not always present what we think of as the most simple or strategic way to solve all SAT questions. Also, there are currently no videos on the reading comprehension part of the Reading section, which is difficult to teach. We at Marks Education are different from most test preparation companies in that we prioritize teaching reading skills, as opposed to teaching students to try to subvert the test in some way.
Tutors at Marks Education are full-time test preparation instructors who take the actual SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, and LSAT every year, and spend our working lives figuring out the best way to teach standardized tests. We excel in working with students who have a variety of learning styles and challenges. In the next few weeks, we will be sharing our collective wisdom on our own set of free video resources for various sections of the SAT and ACT. We’ll post updates on this blog.
Next, you can read our first look at the new SAT.