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SAT Tips and Strategies!
Please note that each student thinks and works differently. The quick tips are just that and should not be used in lieu of learning the information needed to master the exam.

Overall Test Tactics
1. Learn the section directions now. Use the time saved during the test to work on questions.
2. Take care when filling in the answer grid for the student-produced response questions.
3. Avoid stray marks on the answer sheet. A machine scores your test and can’t distinguish between a correct answer and careless doodles.
4. Mark only one answer per question.
5. Understand the scoring! You get a point for a right answer. You lose a fractional point for a wrong answer. There is no deduction for omitted answers or for wrong answers in the math section’s student-produced response questions.
6. Guess…if you can eliminate at least one choice.
7. Practice, practice, practice!
8. Bring a watch to the test center. You can not be guaranteed that there will be a working clock.
9. Know the question types to expect on the SAT.

Specific Sectional Strategies Critical Reading and Sentence Completion
1. Before looking at the answers, try to complete the sentence with words that make sense to you.
2. Use the context of nearby words to figure out unknown words.
3. Do not overlook the reversing effect of negative words (like not) or prefixes (like un-).
4. If you’re really stuck for the meaning of a word, try to think of other words that have similar prefixes, roots, or suffixes.
5. Let transition words (like although and likewise) help suggest the best answer.

Critical Reading and Reading Comprehension Critical reading now includes both long and short reading passages with questions. Skim each passage to see what it’s about. Do not worry about the details. You can always look them up later if you need to. Just look for the main ideas; then tackle the questions that direct you straight to the answer by referring you to a specific line in the passage. If you have time afterward, attempt the harder questions.

Writing Section and Written Essay
You will be given an open-ended essay prompt (topic) that asks you to state a viewpoint and to support it. Essays are scored holistically, which means that the final score is based on an overall impression. It is important to develop your ideas and express them clearly, using examples to back them up. Your essay should be focused, organized, and neat.
1. Write a short (about 250-300 words), persuasive essay on an assigned topic.
2. Keep in mind the structure of an essay-5 paragraphs consisting of an: Introduction, Body (about 3 paragraphs), and Conclusion.
3. The allotted time frame is 25 minutes. Read the essay question and think about the topic (about 5 minutes). Allow most of your time (about 15 minutes) to write the essay. Spend the remaining 5 minutes reviewing and editing your work.
4. The introductory paragraph should state the position that is being taken. It should also state at least 3 points that support the position.
5. The body paragraphs should expand upon the points that you present with specific detail and examples.
6. Preparation for the writing sample should include creating a “tool box” that contains solid examples from history and literature. Your coach will help you fill this toolbox with helpful information.
7. The concluding paragraph should summarize your point of view by restating the thesis statement in a revised format.
8. Keep your writing simple.
9. Avoid wordiness.
10. Avoid slang.
11. Utilize academic examples from Literature and History, but do not make up quotes.

Math Section
Student Produced Response
These questions are not multiple-choice. You come up with an answer and fill it into a grid. The grid does not contain a minus sign, so there is no way to indicate that a value is less than zero. That means that an answer cannot be a negative number.
1. Guess if you can’t figure it out. There is no penalty for wrong answers in this section.
2. Again, negative numbers are not possible as answers in this section. If your answer comes up negative, do it again.
3. If an answer is a repeating decimal (like .222222), just enter as many decimals as will fit in the grid (.222).
4. You may enter an equivalent decimal for a fraction as your answer.
5. Do not try to enter mixed numbers. For example, if your answer is 3 ½, enter it as 3.5 or 7/2.

Math Section
Multiple Choice

You will be given formulas and facts, but for this section you will need to know how to apply them. You are allowed to use a calculator, but, again, it will not help you unless you know how to approach the problems. If you’re stuck, try substituting numbers for variables. You can also try plugging in numbers from the answer choices. Start with the middle number. That way, if it doesn’t work, you can strategically choose a higher or lower number.
1. Read the question well. Be sure to select the best answer for the variable, value or expression that is requested.
2. Learn in advance all of the critical definitions, formulas, and concepts that appear in common questions.
3. Early questions in this section are easier. Spend less time on them.
4. Do not get carried away with detailed calculations. Look for a trick or a shortcut if the question seems time consuming.
5. When a question contains a weird symbol, just substitute the accompanying definition when figuring out the best answer choice.

 

Arete’s methodology for standardized test preparation offers the combination of an individually customized training strategy with the application of our proven test taking systems. The process starts with a diagnostic test and an evaluation of areas of strength and those in need of development. Our coaches also prepare students to work within the allotted time limits and to work through environmental distractions that may occur during the actual test. Many of our students have shown increases in their scores of over 300 points on the SAT and as much as 12 points on the ACT. We have had many students receive perfect scores although we do not guarantee test results.

"Our son had always been a B student and going to a great college really depended on strong SAT scores and a powerful application. Nikki (Geula) helped Johnathon receive a 2320 on his SAT.. He is now a sophomore at Penn and loving it. Her incredible support and wonderful coaching got Johnathon to write a beautiful personal statement and we saw our son both mature and gain confidence while under Nikki’s guidance. She also recommended a wonderful summer program that he attended in Africa which not only helped him partake in community service but also became one of the best summers of his life. Johnathon not only got into a great college but also came into his own through this process. We are eternally grateful to Nikki and recommend all of our friends and family to Arete."

While some students need minimal test prep, others need a longer time to both master the material and acclimate to the stringent time limits. We recommend that students begin their SAT and ACT test prep one year in advance. Our philosophy is that you can always cut back on tutoring but you can never get time back. In essence, it is better to be prepared earlier rather than wishing you had more time when it is too late to impact your results.

SAT I
Arete’s SAT coaching is structured to improve upon SAT test-taking skills and raise test scores. The SAT is set up to trick and stall a test taker. We teach students how to sidestep the tricks and to ace the material. At Arete, we create a curriculum for each student so that he/she receives personalized attention allowing for focused analysis of the individual's strengths and developmental needs.

Some students are better at reading comprehension than at grammar; others are better at solving algebraic questions than geometric questions. Arete's coaches quickly isolate the trouble spots and diagnose solutions. The one on one SAT preparation process is intensely efficient and accelerates a student's rate of improvement. Overall, Arete's SAT coaching is an instruction in confidence building, learning the material and mastering test-taking. Ultimately, we work to demystify what has often been built up as the most important test of one's life. We have found that our instruction often helps students raise not only their standardized test scores but helps them stay focused and gain more confidence in the classroom as well.

SECTION
# QUESTIONS
MINUTES
PER
SECTION
CONTENT
Critical Reading
67 Total, including:
• 19 Sentence completions
• 48 Passage-based reading questions
70 Total, including:
• Two 25-minute sections
• One 20-minute section
Reading comprehension and vocabulary
Math
54 Total, including:
• 44 Multiple-choice questions
70 Total, including:
• Two 25-minute sections
Arithmetic, algebra I and II, functions, planar and coordinate geometry, and probability (calculators permitted)
Writing
1 Essay topic
One 25-minute written essay
Essay composition
49 Total, including:
• 25 Multiple-choice sentence improvements
• 18 Multiple-choice sentence errors
• 6 Multiple-choice paragraph improvements
35 Total, including:
• One 25-minute section
• One 10-minute section
Grammar and usage
Experimental (unscored and unidentified)
varies
25
Critical Reading, Math, or Writing multiple-choice questions

 

SAT II
Arete coaches have developed a powerful approach to mastering SAT II subject tests. First, we insure a solid academic base for the student. A coach, who is an expert in the specified subject, works with the student to review the salient information that will be on the test. Second, our coaches break down the standardized test into manageable components. Students typically raise their score 150-200 points and we have had many students receive perfect 800’s.

It is highly recommended that SAT II prep begins in 9th grade. SAT and other standardized test prep follows the summer after 10th grade, so earlier study for the SAT II allows for focused attention and better results. Appropriate timing for SAT II prep also primes students for subsequent training in other tests. Students have the opportunity to see how the Arete model works with a proven model of assess, assign (the right tutor), ascribe (the best curriculum) and apply (core skills and test taking strategy).

We provide SAT II coaching for the following subjects:

  • American History
  • World History
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Hebrew
  • Literature
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • Math Level IC
  • Math Level IIC
  • Latin

ACT
The ACT is accepted by most college admissions as an alternative to the SAT. Generally speaking, one test is not better than the other, but the format and content of the tests vary somewhat. Arete coaches will suggest the ACT or SAT based on a careful evaluation of which test best compliments the strengths of each student.

  • What are some of the differences between the ACT and SAT? The ACT focuses on assessing the test takers knowledge of their core curriculum and their reasoning skills. Essays are optional and the scoring system encourages students to answer all questions regardless of whether or not they are 100% sure of the right answer. The ACT also has a scientific reasoning section while the SAT does not.
  • Which test is appropriate for my child? The answer is either one or both. Arete coaches will help you make this important decision. One advantage of the ACT test is that you can choose not to have the scores shared with colleges and you can take the test as many times as you want.
  • How much prep time is necessary? There is no set time for this, but Arete’s philosophy is to coach students towards independence for standardized tests and coursework. Early study is highly recommended to diagnose areas of development and prevent overlap of studyt for multiple tests at the same time.
  • How will Arete help my child achieve a great score? The Arete model applies both a custom curriculum based on a thorough evaluation of each student and the application of proven methods for success. Core subjects are mastered as a matter of course, test practice ensures confidence and areas in need of special attention are carefully emphasized.
SECTION
# QUESTIONS
MINUTES
PER
SECTION
CONTENT
English Test
75
45
Grammar, syntax, usage, rhetoric
Mathematics Test
60
60
Arithmetic, algebra I and II, planar and coordinate geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus including functions, conic sections, combinations and permutations, logarithms, matrices (calculators permitted)
Reading Test
40
35
Reading comprehension based on four separate passages
Science Reasoning Test
40
35
Interpretation of scientific data presented in texts, tables, charts, and graphs
Writing Test (optional)
1
30
Essay composition

 

GRE
The GRE is essential for students applying to graduate schools desiring to earn advanced degrees outside of law, medicine or business. The GRE emphasizes verbal skills, analytical writing and math. Arete’s approach to GRE preparation employs a combination of diagnosing areas in need of development, rote learning, training in analytic approach, enhancing the specific skill sets needed to improve scores and reducing test anxiety.

Q: How long is the test?
A: About three to four hours.

Q: How many months in advance should I start preparing?
A: This varies depending on students’ natural preparedness, but we usually recommend that you start 8 months in advance. Our philosophy is that one can always cut back on tutoring but you can never get time back, In essence, it is better to be prepared earlier rather than wishing you had more time when it is too late to impact your results.

Q: When is the test offered?
A: The GRE is a computer administered exam and can be taken on any business day.

SECTION
# QUESTIONS
MINUTES
PER
SECTION
CONTENT
Verbal
30
30
Sentence completions, reading comprehension, analogies, and antonyms
Quantitative
28
45
Arithmetic, algebra, and geometry
Analytical Writing,
Essay 1
1
45
Student-produced perspective on an issue
Analytical Writing,
Essay 2
1
30
Student-produced analysis of an argument
Experimental (unscored and unidentified)
varies
varies
Verbal or Quantitative

GMAT
The GMAT, along with undergraduate GPA’s, is evaluated for those students interested in attending business school. The GMAT emphasizes analytical writing, quantitative problem solving (math) and reading comprehension. Arete’s process starts with diagnosing the student’s skills and preparedness, and then tailoring an approach and training schedule that ensures thorough and complete competencies in each topic area of this challenging exam.

Q: How many months in advance should I start preparing?
A: Most students allow a minimum of three to four months study time depending on work commitments and other obligations.

Q: When is the test offered?
A: The GMAT is a computer administered exam and is offered frequently on a first-come, first served basis at most testing facilities.

SECTION
# QUESTIONS
MINUTES
PER
SECTION
CONTENT
Analytical Writing
2
60
Student-produced essays on two topics:
• “Analysis of an Issue”
• “Analysis of an Argument”
Quantitative
37
75
Problem-solving and data sufficiency
questions that test:
• Arithmetic
• Algebra
• Geometry
Verbal
41
75
• Passage-based reading comprehension
• Sentence correction questions testing grammar, usage, and syntax
• Critical reasoning in the evaluation of arguments

LSAT
The LSAT score is as important as undergraduate GPA’s for those students wishing to attend law school. As expected for a law school admissions exam, sections are heavily weighted towards logical and analytical reasoning, reading comprehension and an essay. After a diagnostic exam, Arete coaches review student’s writing samples and practice test results to create a personalized education curriculum designed to strengthen students’ weaknesses. We match this curriculum with our proven models for increasing scores.

Q: How many months in advance should I start preparing?
A: Typically students should allow for six to eight months of prep time for this exam.

Q: When is the test offered?
A: The LSAT is usually offered four times a year: February, June, October, and December.

SECTION
# QUESTIONS
MINUTES
PER
SECTION
CONTENT
Logical Reasoning
49-51
Two 35 minute sections
Multiple-choice questions that ask the test-taker to identify and assess reasoning in given arguments
Analytic Reasoning
22-24
35
Multiple-choice questions that ask the test-taker to make inferences based on a series of specified constraints and conditions
Reading Comprehension
26-28
35
Multiple-choice critical reading questions based on given passages
Essay
1
35
Two essay prompts that ask the test-taker to:
• Make and support a "decision" for one of two proposed options, or
• Assess an “argument”
Experimental (unscored and unidentified)
varies
35
Logical Reasoning, Analytic Reasoning, or Reading Comprehension multiple-choice questions

MCAT
The MCAT is heavily weighed, along with undergraduate GPA, for admission to medical school. The MCAT emphasizes the sciences (chemistry, physics, biology and organic chemistry) along with verbal comprehension and writing. Arete coaches will review and analyze the results of an initial diagnostic test and subsequent test exams to develop a customized teaching curriculum that covers all the bases. Because the MCAT is so unwieldy, covering so much information, it is essential that we pinpoint weaknesses in material as well work on test prep strategies.

Q: How long is the test?
A: About five and a half hours with breaks.

Q: How many months in advance should I start preparing?
A: About ten months in advance.

Q: When is the test offered?
A: Over 20 times a year. The testing calendar is weighted towards Spring and Summer.

SECTION
# QUESTIONS
MINUTES
PER
SECTION
CONTENT
Physical Sciences
52
70
General chemistry and physics
Verbal Reasoning
40
60
Passage-based reading comprehension
Writing Samples
2
60
Two student-generated essays on given topics
Biological Sciences
52
70
Biology and organic chemistry

 

 

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