Friday, September 30, 2011

Twas the Night Before the SAT...


Don't cram for the SAT!
  • Put down that box of flash cards and back away from the BLUE BOOK.

  • Follow you normal Friday Night Homework routine.

  • Pack all your SAT supplies (ex: CHARGED-UP calculator, pencils, check your transportation/ride, etc) before you go to bed.

  • Go to bed early.

  • Set you alarm to wake-up fifteen minutes early to focus your thoughts.

SAT Oct 2011 Countdown: 1


Critical Reading
  • Vocabulary: flash cards, word lists (Latin/Greek roots/prefixes/suffixes), word games--good! But the best way to acquire vocabulary is to READ.

  • Use POE (process of elimination)

  • Avoid answers that are too extreme (narrow, general, always/never, etc)


Sentence Completion--1 Blank

  • Cover the answers.

  • Read the sentence.

  • Note trigger words (ex: conjunctions, prefixes, modifiers, negation) which change the meaning of the sentence.

  • Read the sentence again, substituting your own word in the blank.

  • Match your choice with the supplied answer choices.

  • Not sure of the meaning? Look at the root--is similar the root similar to the root of a word that you know?

  • Use POE to target the correct answer.

  • Yes, the word you don't know can be the correct choice.

Sentence Completion--2 Blanks

  • Cover the answers.

  • Read the sentence.

  • Note trigger words (ex: conjunctions, prefixes, modifiers, negation) which change the meaning of the sentence.

  • Read the sentence again, substituting your own word in the blank.

  • Uncover the first column of words. Match them with your choice in the first blank (two answers should be retained, the other three should be dismissed).

  • Not sure of the meaning? Look at the root--is similar the root similar to the root of a word that you know?

  • Uncover the second column of words. Match them with your choice in the second blank (the target choices in the 1st blank are usually synonyms of each other; and the second blank is usually opposite of each other; OR the target choices in the 1st blank are antonyms of each other and the second blank is are synonyms).

  • Remember: there is only one correct answer!).

Short Parassage

  • Read the questions first.

  • The short passage questions are usually about the tone, main idea, or inference.

  • There is usually one dual short passage set per SAT test.

  • Each of the four questions compare/contrast both passages.

  • Draw a quick Venn Diagram to organize the info.

  • The dual passages may not contradict each other (i.e. +/-), but one passage may be general, and the other passage may be more specific. Remember WHAT the topic is about, and the AUDIENCE.

Long Passage

  • Read the blurb (who? what? where? when?)

  • Skim & underline for information (Proper Nouns, Unusual Punctuation, Lists)

  • Mark-up the passage as per the Questions (Beware of stealth EXCEPT and Inference Questions)

  • Read the passage critically (why? how?)

  • Answer the questions via POE

Dual Passages


Dual Passage--Intro

  • Draw a Venn Diagram

  • Read the blurb (who? what? where? when? audience? type of text?)

  • Fill out the Venn Diagram--note "dual questions" in the union.

Dual Passage--Passage 1

  • Skim & underline the First Passage for information (Proper Nouns, Unusual Punctuation, Lists)

  • Mark-up the passage as per the First Passage Questions (Beware of stealth EXCEPT and Inference Questions)

  • Read the passage critically (why? how?)

  • Answer First Passage questions ONLY via POE

  • Skip all Second Passage and Dual Passage Questions

Dual Passage--Passage 2

  • Skim & underline the Second Passage for information (Proper Nouns, Unusual Punctuation, Lists)

  • Mark-up the passage as per the Second Passage Questions (Beware of stealth EXCEPT and Inference Questions)Read the passage critically (why? how?)

  • Answer Passage 2 questions ONLY via POE

  • Skip all Dual Passage Questions

Dual Passage--Dual Passage Questions

  • Update Venn Diagram (tone +/-) (note if there is a switch in tone/argument)

  • Answer Dual Passage questions via POE

  • Finish!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

SAT Oct 2011 Countdown: 2


Essay:

  • Read the Prompt

  • Read the Quote

  • Read the Prompt again.

  • Think for 1 minute (don't write).

  • Brainstorm. Focus, focus, focus your complementary examples and connect these specific examples to BIG CONCEPTS. Organize. (2 minutes)

  • Write (20 min)

  • Intro Paragraph:

  • Thesis plus preview of your examples (Think DEVIL'S ADVOCATE--knock out objection to your thesis in your intro).

  • 3 body paragraphs. Topic sentence plus 4-7 sentences of concrete detail.

  • 2 body paragraphs is acceptable, but not advisable--write as much as you can to demonstrate the mastery of your tipic.

  • Transition between paragraphs.

  • Conclusion.

  • LAST 2 MINUTES: Fix errors and upgrade vocabulary--(replace to be/to have with stronger verbs).


Writing Section (multiple choice)


The Fist of No Error (see above and sidebar)


  • Subject/Verb agreement (number)

  • Tense (verb tense and aspect)

  • Pronoun (number, case, antecedent)

  • Adjective/Adverb (modifiers; infinitive/gerund)

  • Diction (correct word ex: affect/effect;phrasal verb & correct prepostition)

  • Misplaced Modifiers (modifying phrases and clauses)

  • "Patterns": comparison, parallelism, list made of similar parts of speech

  • Conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating, correlative ; also relative pronoun clauses

Improving Sentences

Improving Paragraphs

Identifying Sentence Errors

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SAT Oct 2011 Countdown: 3


Before the Test
  • Check out CollegeBoard's Practice page.

  • Gather all your completed SAT Practice Tests into ONE pile.

  • Arrange the tests from oldest to the most recent test taken (so you can track your progress)

  • Review a completed test every evening before the Night Before the SAT Test (20-45 min).

  • Look-up any difficult vocabulary.

  • Note the trigger words in the Sentence completion Questions.

  • Note how you used POE (Process of Elimination) to get the right answers in the short, long, dual passage sections.

  • Analyze your wrong answers, and adjust your POE (ex. did you consistently choose the 2nd best choice on inference or EXCEPT questions).

  • Review the FIST OF NO ERROR for the Writing section and mentally check off the selections (S/V, Tense, Prononous, Adj/Adv, Diction, Misplaced Metaphors, Parallelism, Conjunctions) as you review the wrong answers.

  • Compare the errors made in the Paragraph Improvement section and your own essay: Transtions? Sentences out of sequence? Too much/too little concrete detail? Delete extraneous info? etc, etc, etc...
  • Add Image
  • Re-read NYTimes The Choice Blog: For Those Withholding SAT Scores, Advice on Completing the Common Application By Jacques Steinberg

  • Re-Read: To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test By PAM BELLUCK, NYTimes

Friday, September 16, 2011

California's National Merit semifinalists

California's National Merit semifinalists , San Jose Mercury News

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has announced 16,000 semifinalists nationwide in its 2012 scholarship program.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

SAT reading scores fall to lowest level on record

SAT reading scores fall to lowest level on record, San Jose Mercury News

Scores on the critical reading portion of the SAT college entrance exam fell three points to their lowest level on record last year, and combined reading and math scores reached their lowest point since 1995.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

UC investing millions in new cyber studies program

UC investing millions in new cyber studies program by Nanette Asimov, SFGate

The University of California will unveil its first top-tier cyber courses in January - 26 online offerings, from global climate change to game theory. At the same time, it's eyeing China and even American soldiers as potential sources of cash to pay for them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Under plan, UC tuition could rise by 16% a year

Under plan, UC tuition could rise by 16% a year by Nanette Asimov, SFGate

The University of California would raise student tuition by at least 8 percent - or as much as 16%

Monday, September 12, 2011

Santa Clara County schools tops in state scores, yet feds see failure

Santa Clara County schools tops in state scores, yet feds see failure by Sharon Noguchi, SJ Mercury

In contrasting scenes of celebration and chagrin on Wednesday, South Bay schools again topped the state in annual test scores, while more of them than ever before are being labeled failures by the federal government.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 The Day That Was



VOAVideo: 9/11 The Day That Was

A video montage of how that fateful day unfolded 10 years ago

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rick Perry's Plan: $10,000 for a B.A.

Rick Perry's Plan: $10,000 for a B.A. NYTimes Room for Debate

The spiraling cost of higher education is an issue that resonates nationally. How feasible is the idea of creating precise targets for a low-cost college education?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Twenty SAT CollegeBoard Vocabulary Puzzles with Definitions

The Sentence Completion words for each CollegeBoard 2nd ed. test appear in the puzzles below. Because there are 130-140 Sentence Sompletion words per test, the words were alphabetized then the list was spit in half.

The word search puzzles were created via Discovery Education Puzzlemaker.

The vocabulary definitions were taken from Merriam-Webster.com or M-W's LearnersDictionary.com.

I created these SAT Vocabulary Puzzles for my students at Shareworld Learning Center. These puzzles are free to reproduce (as per the Creative Commons License) and can be used for educational purposes only.

Note: I plan to do a second series of vocaulary puzzles based on the CollegeBoard Critical Reading Passages.

Students--note the definitions and incorporate the vocabulary in your SAT and school essays. HOWEVER, do not limit your SAT prep to vocabulary only. The difficulty of a sentence completion depends on the syntax (logic) of the sentence.

Good luck on the SAT!