Most students, especially the hard working ones, complete most if not all of the SAT tests in the Official Guide. But most students also neglect a very common sense approach to self-prep. Here it is...

Don't ever do a new test, or even a new section, unless you have learned something from an older, already completed test. It's what we call the 7/11 Routine.

Go back to one of your older SAT practice tests. Look for your wrongs or omits. Now do those questions over, asking yourself: WHAT DID I NOT DO? HAD I DONE WHAT I DID NOT DO, WOULD THAT HAVE GIVEN ME A DIFFERENT RESULT? If you do this process carefully and deliberately, you will complete a maximum of 3 questions in from 7 to 11 minutes. If you complete more than 3 questions, you are probably not being intense enough in your review. You need to ID the specific reasons why you had such a tough time with the question in the first go-round. You need to become your own tutor. "If I say it, it's wrong. If you say it, it's right." If you tell yourself exactly what you did not do, how powerful is that process as a learning tool?

The example below is based on a real SAT passage from The Official Guide (Test 9, Q 15) about a doctor who injures his right hand, only to discover that he is adapting to his injury by becoming quite adept at using his left hand. He starts to wonder about the whole question of adaptation. He says that “there must be changes going on with some of the programs and circuits in my brain”. One of the harder questions in this passage simply asks about this wondering. Here's the question: “ The author’s remark can best be described as?” Basically, what's going on in the Doc's mind? The possible answers: Conjecture, Irony, Inquiry, Observation, Evidence.

Let's say that you got this question wrong. But you had the right 50-50: Conjecture and Observation. Your 3 cross-outs were right on-you just picked the wrong 50-50. You picked Observation. Happens a lot, NO? Let's paint a little scenario. One of your 50-50s was an unknown word, "conjecture". At least you didn't cross out what you don't know. But were you a little afraid to pick what you don't know? Here's where the SAT folks get real cute. Your other 50-50 was an seemingly TRUE STATEMENT which appeared right in the first paragraph! So, with the unknown "conjecture" staring at you, and scaring you, you picked the seemingly TRUE STATEMENT as your answer. Guess what happened to you? YOU LOST CONTROL OF WHAT THE QUESTION WAS ASKING: “ And you were afraid of the unknown. The question: The author’s remark can best be described as?”The TRUE STATEMENT trap is based on your losing control of the question, or never having control of the question from the git-go. You picked an answer that was seemingly TRUE, but that answer had nothing to do with the question. You need to ask yourself: why did I do that?

Here are the possibilities, and here's what you can teach yourself...

I was afraid of the unknown word.
I lost control of the question, or never had control of the question.
I did not repeat the question to myself, or at least ask myself: "Hey, answer-are you the real answer to the question?" Or are you simply TRUE?

Do this process, and here's what you will have learned...

A. Don't be afraid of the unknown. The unknown word, more often than not, is My Friend.
Think about this...On a really tough question, are the SAT people going to make the answer "Apple", or "Conjecture"? Had you known that conjecture means the expression of an opinion or theory without sufficient evidence for proof, a speculation, a guess, would you have picked observation? Don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting that you always pick the unknown word as the answer. But if you are staring at a solid 50-50 with one of the 50-50s an unknown word, then pick the known word only if you are 1000% certain that the known word is correct. Is that Guessing, or is it Solid Logic?

B. Control the question, and don't lose the question.
At the last moment before picking an answer, always ask: Hey, answer, are you the real answer to the question, or are you simply TRUE?

The moral of this little story. Don't ever do a new test unless you have learned something from an old test. The 7/11 Routine. If you teach yourself, you will never forget what you learn.

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    I'm Bob Gilvey, Director of SelectPrep in Caldwell, NJ., a boutique SAT and ACT preparation company providing test preparation services, college admissions consulting, and free SAT practice tests and sample SAT questions. Private 1-on-1 Test Prep in person or on the WEB with SAT live tutoring conferences. We also offer mobile SAT Test Prep on the iPAD and all Android Tablets, including the Kindle Fire. We are strong advocates of e-LEARNING and m-LEARNING.


    June 2012
    May 2012



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