Step one: Escaping the low 1400s
If you are currently in the low 1400s, the following probably describes you:
You are very familiar with SAT content and format.
- Students at this level have taken the test enough to understand how the test is constructed. They have started to recognize certain tendencies in the tests and common “traps” that test makers are leaving for test takers.
You have a strategy, but it’s not perfect.
- Students usually have a strategy to address each question type; however, they do not use that strategy consistently. Sometimes they go back to tackling questions “their way” or picking answers that “seem right” with inconsistent results.
- Some of these students correct answers are due to luck rather than accurate strategy.
- Students at this level tend to overthink certain Reading section questions and sometimes talk themselves out of selecting the correct answer.
- Students have a strong comprehension level of the Reading passages but have a more difficult time determining the larger picture (i.e. main idea, author’s purpose, tone, etc.)
- They struggle with development and organization questions on the Writing section. They also struggle with more complex grammar questions that require an higher level application of the skills they already know.
How to Escape:
Focus on Context, Repetition, & Key words: This is the key to understanding the larger point of texts – their purpose and central idea.
Passage Type: Target passage types that you consistently struggle with. Historical documents? Older narratives? Texts with a lot of technical jargon? Practice these passages specifically in your studying.
Development Questions: Remember, the SAT is testing college readiness. Test makers want to know if you can effectively develop an academic essay such as those you will write in college. Make sure you perfect the different strategies for dealing with a variety of development questions. For instance, how should your approach differ for a question that asks you to set up an example in a sentence vs. a question that asks you to provide a logical introduction to a paragraph?
Grammar: Continue to work on grammar questions in a variety of contexts: skills exercises, mini-tests, practice tests, reviewing passages. That way nothing can throw you off! Remember, some grammar questions are testing multiple rules or asking you to apply a rule in a complex way.
Entering a new score is not just about building skills and content knowledge. It is also about correcting any faulty reasoning or ways of thinking that are hindering your performance. In order to escape the low 1400s, you have to change the way in which you think about your performance:
- Wrong Answers: Don’t just determine if you got a question right or wrong, but why you got it right or wrong. Did you get it right because of luck or strategy? Did you get it wrong because of a mistake, lack of knowledge, or incorrect strategy?
- Analyze your test results (or for MEK students, analyze your score report): Hone in on weaknesses – both trends (question types you consistently miss) and outliers (questions you usually get right). Why did you get it wrong?
- Careless Mistakes: Eliminate all careless errors from the Writing section – no punctuation, pronouns, verbs, or other grammar mistakes.
The 50 Point Project:
By following these guidelines, you can move up to the 1450+ score range within 7 MEK sessions. Once you are in the 1450-1490 range, you only have a little further to go to reach the elite status of the 1500-1600 score range.