Monday, November 30, 2015

Everything You Need to Know About the New SAT

Everything You Need to Know About the New SAT
Here’s what experts say about the redesigned test, based on practice questions. Tip: Go to a good school, and read a lot.

Practice up with sample questions for the revised exam, coming soon to a test prep center near you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NEW CollegeBoard Official Study Guide for the New SAT 2016


CollegeBoard: Official SAT Study Guide (2016 Edition) (Official Study Guide for the New SAT)

ISBN-13: 978-1457304309  ISBN-10: 1457304309

Students will gain valuable experience and raise their confidence by taking practice tests, learning about test structure, and gaining a deeper understanding of what is tested on the SAT. The Official Study Guide for the New SAT will help students get ready for the SAT with: 4 official SAT practice tests, written in the exact same process and by the same team of authors as the actual exam; detailed descriptions of the math and evidenced based reading and writing sections of the SAT; targeted practice questions for each SAT question type; guidance on the new optional essay, including practice essay questions with sample responses; a review of math concepts tested in the exam; test-taking approaches and suggestions that underscore important points; seamless integration with Khan Academy's free SAT practice resources. There's also a complete chapter on the PSAT/NMSQT.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The New SAT: Will It Be Better?

The New SAT: Will It Be Better?

 - - NYTimes Opinion - Print Headline: "The New SAT: Will It Be Better?"
To the Editor: Re “The Big Problem With the New SAT,” by Richard C. Atkinson and Saul Geiser (Op-Ed, May 5): We applaud the writers for recognizing that the new SAT is a “more straightforward....

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Big Problem With the New SAT


The Big Problem With the New SAT

 -  - NYTimes Opinion - 

AT first glance, the College Board’s revised SAT seems a radical departure from the test’s original focus on students’ general ability or aptitude. Set to debut a year from now, in the spring of 2016, the exam will require

Friday, May 8, 2015

Student Loan Facts They Wish They Had Known

Student Loan Facts They Wish They Had Known

Personal stories about student loans painted a picture of clueless teenagers, frazzled parents and college administrators who may not question students about their debt levels.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Hackathon Fast Track, From Campus to Silicon Valley

The Hackathon Fast Track, From Campus to Silicon Valley
By STEVEN LECKART, NYTimes
Hackathons, in which student teams attempt to build a new piece of tech, showcase some of the best upstart programmers and have become a focal point for recruiting.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What Does The SAT Really Test?



What Does The SAT Really Test? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios
https://youtu.be/D3cVy91El8c

Published on Apr 29, 2015
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Today's episode has been sponsored by Squarespace. For more information, visithttp://www.Squarespace.com/ideachannel

THE SAT. How’s that SAT prep going? Need some SAT tips? Well, here’s one: The SAT may not actually be measuring your…anything. That’s right, your SAT scores, despite what colleges and high schools across America may like for you to believe, may not reflect anything new. There is actually substantial evidence that instead of broad aptitudes, the SATs only measure a specific set of non-quantitative, cultural values and ideas. Don’t scratch those SAT dates off your calendar yet though, because it is still important, and on this week’s episode of Idea Channel, let’s look at why.

~~ASSETS~~

1:30 “What Was on the First SAT?”, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history...

5:52 “SAT reading, math scores decline”
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/44519433/ns...

6:04 “FairTest - Top Tier Schools which Deemphasize the ACT/SAT…”, http://conversationed.com/wp-content/...

6:07 “Study: College Selectivity Doesn’t Improve Graduation Rates”http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2...

6:17 “Testing Your Scantron Score” ScantronCorp
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHnVE...

6:20 “Using the Scantron”, UNR Microbiology 251 TA Channel, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suabO...

6:24 OpScan 4ES, ScantronCorp
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSuIs...

7:01 “2013 FIRST Tech Challenge at i-Gate: High School Robotics Competition"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0AqM...


~~ SOURCES ~~

All sources can be found in this Google Doc:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q...


Friday, March 13, 2015

SAT March 2015 Countdown: 1


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.



Thursday, March 12, 2015

SAT March 2015 Countdown: 2


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 (updated 1/25/2013)

  • 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.
  •  Remember WHAT the topic is about, and the AUDIENCE.
  • Four Types of Dual Passages
    • Pro / Con (opposite positions)
    • General / Specific
    • 2 different academic disciplines (ex: literary criticism / autobiography)
    • Tone (objective / ironic)
  • Dual passages can be combination of the Four Types

Long Passage (updated 1/25/2013)

  • Read the blurb (who? what? where? when?)
  • Skim & underline for information (Proper Nouns, Numeric infoUnusual Punctuation, Lists)
    • Proper Nouns
      • Capitalized words tell us more about Who? What? Where?
      • possessive 's tell us more about the Proper Nouns
      • compound-words are tailored-made for the passage
    • Numeric Info
      • Numbers (especially years) tell us more about When?  How much?  How many?
      • centuries: seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth...
      • sequence words: first, second, third, next, prior, former...
    • Definitions (unusual punctuation) signals narrative transitions/development
      •  :colons. --dashes-- , (parentheses) give us more info about the word/phrase to the left of the punctuation
      • "air-quotes" one to four words between quotations--not reported speech, but used to  "signal" non-literal meaning, ironic tome, or that the author disagrees with the term.
      • italics, underline, or exclamation point! indicates emphasis.
    • Lists 
      • List deliver concrete details about the topic
      • look for multiple commas ,,,  semicolons ;;;   question marks ??? or repeated words in a close proximity
  • 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
    • POE: Process of Elimination
      • note similar vocabulary between the text and answer choices
      • watch out for negation in either the question, text, or answer choices
      • use symbols \ = no (not possible), ` = maybe (possible), + = yes (probable)
      • Check out The Critical Reader: Inference Questions

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!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

SAT March 2015 Countdown: 3 How to Write an SAT Essay


“Begin!”

SAT Essay Prompt: Can knowledge be a burden rather than a benefit?

Read the quote—don’t ponder the meaning of the quote, it is simply there to prime ideas.  Read the prompt, again.  THINK, for one solid minute, THINK. 

Pencils up, but don’t write your essay just yet.

THINK

It is important to know how much you can write in twenty minutes.  Yes, I know you thought you had twenty-five minutes, but it is very, very important to take one minute to THINK, two minutes to ORGANIZE, twenty minutes to WRITE, and two minutes to FIX your essay.  The time that you invest in thinking about the prompt--taking a position and narrowing your topic—will help you formulate your thesis around which you can build an effective essay.  The students who start writing immediately will usually run out of ideas half-way through their essay.  Fore-thought and organization facilitates fluency and coherence.

ORGANIZE: Sequence

After you have spent one minute thinking about the prompt, select appropriate and complementary examples which support your thesis.  Choosing a side can also affect the sequence of the examples.  Take, for example, three novels from a secondary English curriculum: Fahrenheit 451, 1984, and Scarlet Letter.  If you wrote your essay solely according to chronological order, Scarlet Letter would come first; but if you focused on the protagonists’ responses to “knowledge,” Dimsdale represents the midway point between Winston Smith’s failure and Montag’s victory.

Knowledge = Power (benefit):
1) 1984: Winston Smith is liberated by knowledge, but is betrays his love;
2) Scarlet Letter: Dimsdale is liberated by knowledge and dies free;
3) Fahrenheit 451: Montag is liberated by knowledge and lives free in a new communityà ultimate victory for GOOD!

On the other hand, if your thesis proposes that knowledge is a burden, you world present evidence from the novels in a different order, building up to antagonist’s victory over the protagonist.

Knowledge = Power (burden):
1) Fahrenheit 451: Beatty holds secret over Montag, but Montag kills him;
2) Scarlet Letter: Chillingsworth holds secret over Dimsdale; however, Dimsdale neutralizes Chillingsworth power by declaring his love for Hester.
3) 1984: O’Brien manipulates both Winston Smith and Julia to betray each otherà ultimate victory for EVIL!

ORGANIZE: Two or Three Body Paragraphs?

Look at secondary and tertiary themes or topics that the novels have in common such as the characters response to technology, the environment, the government, etc.  With preparation, a quick and confident writer can easily knock out three body paragraphs of similar length and level of detail.  A slower writer, however, may forgo the second body paragraph about the “Scarlet Letter” in favor of delivering two fully-fleshed paragraphs about dystopian novels.  Perhaps, the writer would swap out “Scarlet Letter” for “Animal Farm,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Lord of the Flies,” “The Uglies Trilogy, or even the “Hunger Games.”  A good thesis, supported by the strong examples and concrete details, are critical for the Point of View rubric.

ORGANIZE: Examples

Besides from books, where do examples come from?  Some students write about stories they recently shared from Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube.  Other students look up and write about whatever is around them.  While they scribble away about the History classroom poster-boys (Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Gandhi), consider their contemporaries (Malcolm X, Delores Huerta, Harvey Milk) or recent covers of TIME magazine (Barack Obama, the “Tank Man” of Tiananmen, or Malala Yousafza of Pakistan). 

For those students who default to Hitler, I’m not going to say: DON’T; I’m going to ask: WHY?  The answer, “Because it’s EASY,” will result in the low score which your lack of effort deserves. Stalin, Pol Pot, and Nicolae Ceausescu are alternatives, but it more interesting to write about people who make ethical decisions in morally ambiguous situations: pair the protagonists in “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque with “Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien.

If you don’t like novels or history, don’t use examples from your English or History class.  If you are a nerd, write about math; if you are a jock, write about sports; if you are a musician, write about music. 

  • Same rules apply: ANSWER THE PROMPT IN DETAIL. 
  • Same process applies: THINK, ORGANIZE, WRITE, FIX. 
  • Same rubric applies: POINT OF VIEW, ORGANIZATION, VOCABULARY, GRAMMAR, SENTENCE STRUCTURE.

Writer’s Block

Finally, what to do when there is nothing but BLANK in your brain and on your paper.  Quick: jot down your class schedule—what has been the most interesting project or story from each class?  Are you involved with any extra-curricular activities, jobs, or internships?  Write about something that you actually have personal knowledge about and focus on how you changed during the experience.  Although teachers applaud academic success, they feel affirmed when their students apply book knowledge beyond the classroom walls.  What would you rather read: a rehash of the Industrial Revolution or the misadventures of a robotics team?  Narrow your answer and complement it with an appropriate anecdote, book, historical event, or “passion” which you can write about in under twenty minutes. 

WRITE:

Introduction: Hooks are nice, but don’t get stuck.  Write a bare bones introductory paragraph:
  1. Sentence One: THESIS = OPINION (about the essay prompt) + NARROWED TOPIC.  
  2. Sentence Two: EXAMPLE 1 + EXAMPLE 2 ( + EXAMPLE 3) will prove THESIS.
    1. Also known as the ABC Thesis

Vocabulary—while you write, vary your Vocabulary: use the word that most clearly conveys your most.
1.      Mix common words with academic and technical vocabularies to display mastery
2.      Limit colloquialisms.
3.      Rarely use slang or jargon.
4.      Never use vulgarity.

Sentence Syntax— while you write, vary your Sentence syntax: use the syntax that most effectively conveys your position.
  1. Mix simple, compound, complex, compound-complex sentences.
  2. Use lists or statistics to deliver quick, concrete detail (don’t name drop--be prepared to develop facts).
  3. Use parallelism, analogies, metaphors, dialogue, and quotes carefully.
  4. Use sparingly exclamatory and interrogative sentences or rhetorical questions.

Body Paragraph 1:
  1. Write topic sentence about EXAMPLE 1.
  2. Write one or two sentences anecdote or description about EXAMPLE 1.
  3. Write two or three more sentences with concrete detail about how EXAMPLE 1 illustrates THESIS. 

Body Paragraph 2:
  1. Write a transition from Body Paragraph 1 to Body Paragraph 2
    1. OR Skip 2 lines and add Transition 1 later.
  2. Write topic sentence about EXAMPLE 2
  3. Write one or two sentences anecdote or description about EXAMPLE 2
  4. Write two or three more sentences with concrete detail about how EXAMPLE 2 illustrates THESIS. 
  5. Key: EXAMPLE 2 must develop, expand, or contrast with EXAMPLE 2.

Optional Body Paragraph 3:  Teachers and readers prefer the standard five-paragraph essay because it allows a writer to fully expand ideas and fully explore topics.  However, students can deliver a solid four-paragraph if they compare and contrast their examples in depth.  Don’t forget to skip two lines to add transition later or to expand Body Paragraph 2. 
  1. Write a topic sentence about EXAMPLE 3
    1. OR Skip 2 lines and add Transition 2 later.
  2. Write one or two sentences anecdote or description about EXAMPLE 3.
  3. Write two or three more sentences with concrete detail about how EXAMPLE 3 illustrates THESIS. 
  4. Key: EXAMPLE 3 must develop, expand, or contrast with EXAMPLE 1 and 2.

BEWARE: One possible danger of writing a five-paragraph essay is that as the students writes against the clock, details and vocabulary drop by the way-side, leaving the essay lopsided by Body Paragraph 3.  Do not binge on verbiage—write a “normal” amount: four to five sentences—the essay still needs “room” for the conclusion.  Longer is better; complete and well-balances is the best.

Conclusion:
  1. Gather your examples and link them back to your thesis
  2. State how your thesis addresses the SAT prompt.
  3. Link your thesis through the SAT prompt to a universal theme/truth.
  4. State why your argument “matters.”

FIX

Remember: Leave two minutes to FIX your essay:
  1. Check paragraph order—are the examples developed in a logical sequence? If not, label each paragraph with the correct paragraph number. 
  2. Correct grammar mistakes, especially verb tenses and dangling participles. 
  3. Look for “to be” participles and change them to active verbs. 
  4. Scan for repetition and substitute appropriate synonyms.  Add technical vocabulary to demonstrate mastery. 
  5. Smooth transitions between paragraphs.

“Pencils down!”  Take a deep breath--there’s a whole lot more test (and life) to come. 


--How to Write an SAT Essay by Teacher Jennifer (gagliajn@gmail.com) (updated 05/21/13)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

SAT March 2015 Countdown: 4


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).
  • Check out The Critical Reader: Essay Tips


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 preposition)
  • Misplaced Modifiers (modifying phrases and clauses)
  • "Patterns": comparison, parallelism, list made of similar parts of speech
  • Conjunctions: coordinating, subordinating, correlative ; also relative pronoun clauses
Also checkout:

The Critical Reader: Complete SAT Grammar Rules or General Grammar Tips (updated 1/25/2013)

Improving Sentences
Improving Paragraphs
Identifying Sentence Errors

Monday, March 9, 2015

SAT March 2015 Countdown: 5


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...
Need more help?  Check out....

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Inside a Chinese Test-Prep Factory

Inside a Chinese Test-Prep Factory
Thousands of students travel to Maotanchang to spend 16 hours a day, seven days a week, studying for the biggest test of their lives.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sizing Up the College Rating System

Sizing Up the College Rating System

The Department of Education’s main elements of institutional quality are affordability, access and outcomes. How it defines those elements is crucial.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

From Struggling High Schooler to College Freshman

From Struggling High Schooler to College Freshman

Terrell Dixon, 18, had a poor freshman year of high school in the Bronx, but after discovering motivational videos on YouTube, he is now in his first year of college.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Spying on College Life, via Yik Yak

Spying on College Life, via Yik Yak

Friday, January 9, 2015

Dr. Clive Roberts on English Language Test Security



VOA Learning English: Dr. Clive Roberts on English Language Test Security


Video New English Tests Are Better, but Harder

Editor’s note: This article is the third in our series on English language testing. In this article, we look at trends in language testing, accuracy of the tests and how the tests are changing. We also talk with Dr. Clive Roberts of ELS Educational Services on changes to English language tests

Audio Free Online Test Targets English Learners

The new exam is called the EFSET, which is short for Education First Standardized English Test. The company, Education First, is known by the letters EF. It operates schools and offices in more than 50 countries.

Audio Getting Started with TOEFL

If you are interested in studying at an American university, you have probably heard about the Test of English as a Foreign Language. The test is widely known as the TOEFL. It is the most widely used language assessment exam for American universities.