Tricks f the Trade SAT survival Paula McGraw School Library Media Specialist New Providence High School Put it in Persepective—Criteria For Getting into the College of your Choice—SAT is only ONE factor! • • • • • GPA/Class Rank SAT/ACT Score Extracurricular Activity Community Service Reference Letters and Interviews Admissions officers continue to place weight on this test. So it's important to do well. SAT What does it REALLY Measure? • It doesn't measure intelligence • It doesn’t predict future success in college • It only REALLY tells you how good you are at taking the SAT. There are only three levels of questions • SAT questions can be divided into three levels of difficulty: easy, medium and hard. – The questions in the first third of each section are easy, – those in the second third are medium and – those in the last third are hard. (The only exception is the Reading Comprehension passages, which do not follow this order.) • Every question on the SAT is worth an equal amount. So spend your time making sure you get the easy and medium questions correct and tackle the hard questions only if you have time. Rushing through the test to get to the hardest questions will only drag your score down. Strategy for the HARD Questions • You are allowed to guess if you can eliminate AT LEAST on choice as wrong. YOU HAVE MY PERMISSION • BECAUSE Each question has five possible choices. Eliminate one or more possibilities, and your chances of guessing correctly are 25% or better. • Look for the WRONG answers on these Questions • Don’t struggle to find that one RIGHT answer • If you can eliminate TWO choices ever better because you have a chance of 33% of guessing correctly! MARK these next to your test answers More on the Hard Questions • The average student is what the SAT folks love. – – – – He gets the average score, 500, on each section. He gets all of the easy questions correct he gets some of the medium questions correct he gets all of the hard questions wrong. • Think and Work SMART! – If you're working on an easy question, the answer that seems right probably is. – If you're working on a hard question, the answer that seems right is always wrong. To Guess or Not to Guess? Why are they doing this to me? DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED Each question has five possible choices. An incorrect guess will cost you only a quarter of a point. A correct guess will add an entire point. Let's say there are 8 questions where you eliminate 1 choice and guess among the remaining 4 choices. Statistically, you will guess correctly 2 times and incorrectly 6 times. You are rewarded 2 points and penalized 1.5 points. You just earned .5 points from guessing. AND YOU HAVE IMPROVED YOUR SCORE Strategy for the test sheet • Every once in a while check your ovals to make sure you are marking the correct ones • DO NOT waste time making a perfect oval on the answer sheet, in fact, don’t even BOTHER to fill in the oval completely—a half or 1/3 filled oval gets graded the same as a beautifully, artistically filled one. YES you can write on the test booklet • They just throw them away after you finish them anyway. Other SAT MYTHS • MYTH #1: The SAT tests complex math concepts. • FACT: SAT math can seem challenging because of the way the concepts are tested, not because of the concepts themselves. The math sections include concepts you learned in the seventh or eighth grade, like arithmetic, basic geometry, basic algebra and algebra II. You won't see any calculus or trigonometry on the SAT • MYTH #2: You can't really improve your Critical Reading score. • FACT: You can improve your Critical Reading score by expanding your vocabulary. Reading comprehension and sentence completions all rely upon your understanding of the words in the questions and answer choices. So read books, newspapers and anything else you can get your hands on, I have vocabulary building FOR FREE on my website. • MYTH #3: It's better to leave a question blank than to guess. • FACT: Not necessarily. You receive one point for every correct answer, zero points for every question you leave unanswered and minus one-quarter of a point for every incorrect answer If you can eliminate even one of the answer choices, guess! From a purely statistical standpoint, this approach will gain you more points over the whole test than you'll get by playing it safe and leaving the questions blank. Essay Questions—the rule of three—three paragraphs, three supporting examples… • Don’t Worry about the essay component of the SAT. • Not only can you NOT prepare, it's probably one of the easiest areas to do well! • The company that writes the test says the essay is graded holistically, meaning your writing is judged by the overall impression it makes. • The graders won't be spending hours tearing apart your piece. They'll spend a few minutes at most. The Formula for the SAT Essay • Keep It Tidy – • • Graders read tons of essays each day. If they cannot decipher your script, they will lower your score. Do yourself a favor and write legibly. You know the saying "quality not quantity?" Well, ETS hasn't heard that one. Their graders like long essays. There are 45 lines to fill–get as close to that as possible.But ramblers beware: your essay should end when the page does. You won't get an extra sheet of paper!(Indented) Paragraphs Are Your FriendRemember the basic essay structure you learned in school: introductory paragraph, body paragraphs and a conclusion? The graders love it! Make sure your – – – introduction includes a thesis that clearly states the main argument of your essay. Next, include two to three paragraphs that support your thesis. Finally, write a conclusion that briefly summarizes your points. Indent • • • your body paragraphs to back up your thesis statement by citing specific examples. You can draw on your literature and history classes for inspiration. You can even use examples from your own life. Don't waste time worrying whether you've found the perfect examples. Just make sure they support your thesis. – Use Big Words (Yes, We're Serious)A few well–placed big words can have a strong impact on the graders of your SAT essay. We suggest a light peppering in the introduction or conclusion; they might be lost in the body. Don't go overboard, and don't misuse a word! The Big Bugaboo— Critical Reading • focus on the questions and answer choices, not the reading passages themselves! REMEMBER You don’t get points on the SAT for reading the passages; you only get points for each question you answer correctly. So why waste time and reading passages read them once and be done • You should spend, at most, only two minutes reading each passage, then one full minute on each question. What is skimming anyway? • the point of skimming is to read many things quickly in order to identify the few things you need to read slowly. So. When it comes to reading passages on the SAT, there are two basic forms of skimming, each with its own focus. 1) Skimming during the initial read-through When you do your initial skim-through of a passage, your major goal is to figure out the main point, the tone, and the (very) basic structure of the argument. "This Is Important!" -The last sentence of the first and last paragraphs -The first sentence of each body paragraph -Anywhere you see words like important, essential, central, necessary or explain -Anywhere you see phrases like "The point is...," or "My goal/aim is..." -Any major shifts between topics or ideas Everything else you can just glance over. More on Skimming • Skimming for specific information when you answer a question With line numbers, you need to read both the lines you've been given and the couple of sentences that come both before and after them. Look for transitions (and, but, however, moreover, etc.), • unusual punctuation such as colons (which indicate explanations), quotes, and italics. • When you find one of these items, stop and read the entire sentence in which it appears, thoroughly, from beginning to end, and without skipping over anything. • That should give you your answer Just Plain Wrong! Things to avoid. The following are indicators of bad choices that should be avoided: Extreme or absolute words - You should never eat right before going to bed. - All children should play as much as possible as exercise is good for their bodies. Some other words and phrases that often indicate extreme answers that are rarely correct: -All, always, the only, oldest, the first, same. -superlatives (such as best, biggest, greatest) -and “less” words (such as pointless, useless, endless) The words above often suggest sweeping generalizations that are often too extreme. Correct answers for the Critical Reading Passages are usually presented in more moderate terms such as: -Not all, not always, seemed the only, oldest known, among the first, about the same Other moderate terms such as may, might, can, or could. “not the only” Politically Incorrect Choices When the passage is about a woman or a member of any minority group, the answer will almost always be positive. This is because society deems well-educated intellectuals should think in such terms. Choices that defy common sense if you see an answer that is ridiculous—it is wrong. Choices that require you to infer beyond the limits of the passage Do Not assume something beyond the limits of the passage. DO NOT read into things. Good answers • Good answer choices are often paraphrased • For example, is a passage describes a character who is “sensitive to other peoples needs,” a correct answer choice may describe him as a “considerate” individual • Good answer choices are often ones that are echoed in other questions • Such answers further support the main idea. • Finally, Good Answer choices point out universal qualities of society and human nature. • Often times these answer choices will literally use the word universal – or a variation of it. Different passage lengths With short passages, it's all about absorbing the small paragraphs as efficiently as you can before going on to answer the questions. Do not obssess Long passages you MUST read the short blurb before the passage. Quickly jump to the questions skim every question for line number references Very rarely will you see a passage with question without any line references (perhaps only rarely on a six question passage). (In lines 23-25 of the passage, the author is saying that...) If you see a general question referring to the passage as a whole circle the number of the question with a large circle. This means it's a general question and must be answered AFTER all the specific questions. Read the unmarked sections quickly yet efficiently, absorbing it briefly but not truly pausing to analyze. NEVER read the whole passage through without pausing to answer questions. when you answer a question, just circle in the answer in the test booklet. DO NOT BUBBLE IN THE ANSWERS UNTIL YOU FINISH THE ENTIRE PAGE, or EVEN THE ENTIRE PASSAGE. With practice give yourself twenty minutes instead of twenty-five in the standard CR sections, and stick to the method By the way, practice allowed me to move very fast on the GMAT since I had already MEMORIZED the directions and didn’t have to read them on the test. Cheat Sheet • spend, at most, only two minutes reading each passage • one full minute on each question. words and phrases that often indicate extreme answers that are rarely correct: -All, always, the only, oldest, the first, same. -superlatives (such as best, biggest, greatest) -and “less” words (such as pointless, useless, endless) • Politically Incorrect Choices are always wrong • Choices that defy common sense • Choices that are not answered in the passage • Things that are right – – – • • choices paraphrased directly from the reading echoed in other questions universal qualities of society and human nature-- will literally use the word universal If you are running out of time just skim long readings and concentrate on answering the questions. All the answers come from the passage read NOT your own ideas or what you might have learned in school. The System • • • Do the easy passage first. Concentrate on paragraph opening and closing. Answer general questions before detail questions. Here is how—underline all italicized text and the FIRST SENTENCE of EVERY PARAGRAPH this will enable you to answer the GENERAL QUESTIONS FIRST With Long passages you MUST read the short blurb before the passage. • NEVER read the whole passage through without pausing to answer questions • Eliminate choices. • DO NOT BUBBLE IN THE ANSWERS UNTIL YOU FINISH THE ENTIRE PAGE • Pace yourself. Jump around within a set of questions to find the ones you can answer quickly, but don't jump from passage to passage. Don't leave a passage until you are sure you have answered all the questions you can. If you return to the passage later, you'll probably have to reread it. FREE old SATs to Practice with • Additional practice exams are available at: • http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/satpreparation/1277787-links-additionalofficial-sat-practice-testscollegeboard.html • When you take these exams SHORTEN the period for each section by 5 minutes! Practice tests available How to pace yourself—Princeton Review Ivy Test Scores Getting free money The FASFSA determines Pell Grants, loans and work study at www.fafsa.ed.gov www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov gives a sense of what is involved in the form. How to choose a Major • Tough Choice—employability Websites: FastWeb.com CollegeAnswer.com Not all college majors are created equal Lowest paid majors • • • • • • • English Film/Photography Sociology Fine Arts Drama Anthropology Liberal Arts Studio Arts Graphic Design Philosophy/Religious Studies New York Times States • ONE OF THE GREATEST CHANGES IS THAT A COLLEGE DEGREE IS NO LONGER THE GUARANTOR OF A MIDDLECLASS EXISTENCE. UNTIL THE EARLY 1970S, LESS THAN 11 PERCENT OF THE ADULT POPULATION GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE, AND MOST OF THEM COULD GET A DECENT JOB. TODAY NEARLY A THIRD HAVE COLLEGE DEGREES, AND A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF THEM GRADUATED FROM NONELITE SCHOOLS. A BACHELOR’S DEGREE ON ITS OWN NO LONGER CONVEYS INTELLIGENCE AND CAPABILITY. TO GET A GOOD JOB, YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOME SPECIAL SKILL — CHARM, BY THE WAY, COUNTS — THAT EMPLOYERS VALUE. BUT THERE’S ALSO A PRETTY GOOD CHANCE THAT BY SOME POINT IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS, YOUR BOSS WILL FIND THAT SOME NEW TECHNOLOGY OR SOME WORKER OVERSEAS CAN REPLACE YOU. Is college worth it? Is college worth it? • • • • • Registered nurse. The U.S. Department of Labor projects 103,900 new openings this year. Although you can earn a bachelor's degree in nursing, community colleges offer two-year RN programs. Registered nurses make an average of $47,700 to $69,800 a year. Top earners, however, take home an average of more than $83,400 a year, according to the Nursing Schools website. Licensed practical nurse and licensed vocational nurse. This group will see 39,130 more positions this year. Training takes about a year. The median pay is about $39,000 a year, with the top 10% of wage earners taking in more than $53,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Computer support specialist. The feds estimate this high-paying field will grow 23,460 jobs in 2010. Computer specialists usually need an associate degree from a community college. Their reward is a fat paycheck. The median annual salary for a network or computer systems administrator is $66,130, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10% break into six figures or about $104,000 a year. Hair dresser, hair stylist and cosmetologist. You can't outsource haircuts overseas, so hair dressers can expect more jobs to open up as the U.S. population grows. The job requires vocational training. Most make $30,000 to $50,000 a year, but top earners can easily crack six figures. It helps to have people skills, as many hairdressers rely on tips -- which can be $300 or more a week. Auto service agent, technician and mechanic. This trade can be learned in high school or on the job. The average pay is about $40,000 a year, but many earn more. High paying choices • • • • • • • • • • 1. Actuary What they do: Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use math, statistics and financial theory to assess the risk that an event will occur and to help businesses and clients develop policies to minimize the cost of that risk. Median annual pay: $87,650 2. Compensation and benefits manager What they do: Compensation managers plan, direct and coordinate how and how much an organization pays its employees. Benefits managers do the same for retirement plans, health insurance and other company-provided benefits. Median annual pay: $89,270 3. Economist What they do: Economists study the production and distribution of resources, goods and services and apply economic analysis to issues in a variety of fields, such as education, health, development and the environment. Some economists study the cost of products, health care or energy. Others examine employment levels, business cycles or exchange rates. Still others analyze the effect of taxes, inflation or interest rates. Median annual pay: $89,450 4. Electrical and electronics engineer What they do: Electrical engineers design, develop, test and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems. Median annual pay: $87,180 5. Elementary, middle or high-school principal What they do: Elementary, middle and high-school principals lead teachers and other members of school staff. They manage the day-to-day operations of their school. They set goals and objectives and evaluate their school's progress toward meeting them. Median annual pay: $86,970 6. Industrial production manager What they do: Industrial production managers oversee the daily operations of manufacturing and related plants. They coordinate, plan and direct the manufacture of a wide range of goods, such as cars, computer equipment or paper products. Median annual pay: $87,160 7. Medical and health services manager What they do: Medical and health services managers, also known as health-care executives or health-care administrators, plan, direct and coordinate medical and health services. They might manage an entire facility, specialize in managing a specific clinical area or department, or manage a medical practice for a group of physicians. Median annual pay: $84,270 8. Physician assistant What they do: Physician assistants practice medicine under the direction and supervision of physicians and surgeons. They are formally trained to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses and provide treatment. Median annual pay: $86,410 9. Sales engineer What they do: Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They must have extensive knowledge of the products' parts and functions and must understand the scientific processes that make these products work. Median annual pay: $87,390 10. Training and development manager What they do: Training and development managers plan, direct and coordinate programs to enhance the knowledge and skills of an organization's employees. They also oversee a staff of training and development specialists. Median annual pay: $89,170 CLEP EXAMS • I graduated from the University of Wisconsin. The Milwaukee campus accepted CLEP exams for credit and I took tests for 32 credits towards my B.A. which enabled me to graduate early from college and saved me costly tuition. • A True story from Mrs. McGraw • CLEP Exams • The College Board's 33 CLEP exams allow you to test out of your general education requirements. Credit is accepted at 2/3 of colleges and universities in the U.S. More about CLEP • CLEP Exam Details • 33 exams covering general college subjects • Credit accepted at over 2/3 of U.S. colleges and universities • $80 per exam (plus a small test center fee that varies) • Each exam worth 3-12 college credits • 90-minute long exams • Over 1,700 U.S. testing centers Why pay a corrupt tutor to help with your essay? The College ESSAY—the Four Most Important Paragraphs you will ever write! What Admission Officers Look For Admission officers are very human. They can laugh, get existed over a well-written account of a close game or can shed a tear if you pull them through a tragedy. But, they can also become bored and irritated with essays that are dull and bland. So, each piece should bring a special focus to the personality and mind of the writer. That’s what they want to see. The essay gives you an opportunity to express your individuality. They want to know the real you and what makes you tick. The Perfect essay may not come in your head immediately and you may have to write quite a few drafts. So, write on a subject that really means something to you. BE SMART Visit my website http://www.npsd.k12.nj.us//Domain/417 The Media Center Website under college bound http://www.npsd.k12.nj.us/Page/5104 OR ME to help you with your essay! After all, your parents PAY MY SALARY! Happy Holidays • You can write your College essay by the fire! • On the test, SLOW DOWN, spend time on Questions you can Answer—don’t rush Through to finish. If You rush you make mistakes.