Today’s post, inspired by the SAT Question of the Day for 3/11/12 offers us another opportunity to remind you of one of the few remaining truly magical test-taking techniques: Plugging In!
Not long ago the question above was the Question Of The Day on the College Board website and it inspired another blog post (found here), well this question is the question that keeps on giving (or teaching). Here we go again, taking this question apart so that you can learn from it and be ready for your SAT. Like many questions on the SAT you can look at them from multiple perspectives. We previously looked at this one for the content of the questions and what rules/terms you needed to learn, now we’ll explore what this question has to teach us about SAT strategy.
One of the first things you need to do when prepping for a test is learn the lingo. SAT Math is prone to using vocabulary that you’ve probably not seen in a while – words like integer, factor, and multiple probably haven’t come up since you were in 7th grade. And even when you saw them in 7th grade, it probably wasn’t in the same context as how they are used on the SAT. So one of the best starting points for the SAT is to learn vocab, both the words common to Sentence Completion questions but also the words common to Math questions. The College Board QOTD on President’s day stumped 60% of the people who tried it and the only things tested are the understanding of a few math terms. Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll head over to the College Board site and be one of the 40%.
On February 10, the College Board posted a Sentence Completion question that bamboozled 219,021 of the 331,851 people that attempted to answer the question. This question once again got us thinking about SAT vocabulary, the way the SAT tests vocabulary, and why so many people got this question wrong. And as usual whenever SAT questions get “stuck in our craw,” we have to blog about it to help you conquer this test.
Over the course of a few weeks in December and January I received a number of practice test results from students preparing to take the GMAT. As the fourth or fifth result came my way I noticed that all of these students happened to be struggling to break the 35-point barrier on the verbal section. The realization gave me pause (I mean, I’m a test prep geek, why wouldn’t it?). Over the years I’d come to realize that many students at one point or another struggle to maximize their verbal score, and more importantly, these struggles were usually tied to reading comprehension.
I wanted to see if I could quantify this a bit for folks, so I started by going back through those student’s results to see if there were any trends. Sure enough, an initial investigation revealed what looked to be a pretty strong correlation between RC and Verbal subscore.
My interest piqued, I started to dig a little deeper. Bear with me, there’s gonna be a few numbers with this. Numbers? you ask. In a blogpost about verbal? Yup. Think of it like an integrated reasoning blog post.
So, with the help of one of our interns (big shout out to Cannie L!) we tabulated the results of about 220 GMATPrep, and broke out their respective accuracy %s on CR, RC, and SC. After grappling MMA-style with those percentages (grappling I’m not going to bore you with – let’s just say it was ugly…almost as ugly as this knockout), were able to see some pretty clear – and surprising – trendlines. Let’s take a look at our sample:
Total GMATPrep Results: 216
# with Verbal 35 or greater: 92
# with Verbal 34 or less: 124
Essentially, I aggregated and compared these results to see if, in fact, there was some strong correlation between RC accuracy and Verbal score. Turns out, there kind of is. Of the 92 results that scored 35 or above on the verbal, only 3 of those had managed that score with an RC-accuracy below 71%. It’s important to note that we just studied results where test-takers answered all of the Verbal questions. Reading comprehension totals 14 questions of the verbal, and 71% is 10 out of 14 questions correct. So basically, only three of the 92 results had fewer than 10/14 of the RC questions correct. That’s approximately 3.2% of the sample. 96.8% of the results that were 35 or higher had 10 or more RC correct! The breakdown is illustrated here:
In our continuing series of SAT Tips, today we’ll show you another way the SAT Writing test applies pronoun rules to questions. (You might want to first check out this older post about pronouns before reading further.) Also remember that the goal of doing the QOTD is to learn at least one thing about the SAT. If you’re not learning from each problem then you’re not getting the most out of your practice. Today’s post teaches us about a couple of the more rare pronouns.
As we’ve stated before, the SAT is standardized, and what that often means is that the types of questions they ask and the type of information they expect you to know reappears over and over from test to test. Today’s question of the day, which a surprisingly small percentage of people got correct, is a great example of how the SAT loves to present Right Triangles. So before we send you off to the College Board’s site to give this question “the old college try,” let’s explore what you need to know about right triangles on the SAT.
One of the best ways to prep for the SAT is to do the SAT question of the day from the College Board. If you’re a high school student you should answer the question and challenge your parents to answer it too (most parents will do better than you in Reading and Writing but you’ll kill them in Math). Each time you do the QOTD, you should be looking to learn at least one thing about the SAT. Something they like to test, some rule that you need to know, some word that you didn’t know, or some great new shortcut for doing a problem more efficiently. If you’re not learning from each problem than you’re not getting the most out of your practice.
While many people talk about SAT tips and tricks, you also have to know a fair number of math rules, terms, formulas, and logic in order to get a top score. When you’re preparing for the SAT, you should focus on learning the rules and terms in conjunction with (or before) worrying about any tricks. You’ll get more points knowing the information tested than you will trying to rely on “tricks.”
Today’s review is Rules of Zero. Before we get to the rules let’s check out a sample problem:
I recently took the GMAT test and noticed a few trends in the Quant section:
1. Arithmetic was crucial (the basic operations, fractions, decimals, PEMDAS, etc.). The GMAT tests critical thinking but the basic components, the 1’s and 0’s, the nuts and bolts, are composed of arithmetic.
2. There were very few “formula questions”. Formula questions are those that require very little critical thinking and rely largely on knowing a specific mathematical concept, rule, equation, or formula.
3. There was very little geometry and no coordinate geometry. Geometry questions are often heavily rooted in formulaic information like rules and properties, but can be made more difficult by combining concepts (whether multiple geometry-related concepts or geometry and other concepts, like algebra).
What does this mean?