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They’re important admissions tests. They’re standardized, so they look “official” and “unbiased,” and the College Board and American College Testing do their best to make them so. Colleges like Harvard and UC Berkeley started using them in order to make admissions fairer and not rely solely on “legacy” admissions of sons and daughters of alumni or the reputations of certain prep schools. The idea of the SAT and ACT makes sense, since there are very few quick ways to determine if an A student from a public high school in Jackson, Mississippi is as academically capable as a C student from Phillips Andover. However, in practice, the tests weren’t as good at predicting student success as their makers thought they would be.
A good capsule of the history of the SAT (and to some extent, the ACT), can be seen in a movie you can get at this site: The Test & the Art of Thinking . It also shows the problems with those tests and the current movement to get away from using the SAT and ACT, which conflicts with massive SAT and ACT expansion in school districts because of school testing laws and policies.
Since the SAT and ACT do test academic subjects (reading, writing, data interpretation, math, and on the ACT, science), they’re not intelligence tests, and can be “learned.” Since there are ways to prepare for the tests, test prep companies such as Kaplan came into being soon after many universities started using them. The tests also don’t correlate particularly well with academic success in college or career success, probably for the same reason - SAT and ACT skills can be learned and forgotten, similarly to any other high school subject. Don’t get me wrong - the math, reading comprehension, and grammar covered by the ACT and SAT are good things to know, but these tests aren’t the greatest way to test these skills, and having to do well on these tests isn’t the best way to encourage students to learn these skills.
Since SAT and ACT scores are a huge part of college admissions, along with school grades, the general performance of students from your high school/prep school at the institution to which you are applying, extracurricular activities, and college essays, and they’re the only ones that can be improved in a short time, the SAT and ACT are very important. In other words, you can’t do anything about your previous years’ grades once you’re a high school junior or senior, you can’t go back in time and join student government, the football team, and volunteer at a nursing home so you can show you’ve been doing those things since ninth grade, but you can improve your test scores.
As mentioned above, “standardized” test scores serve as a benchmark for comparing applicants from diverse backgrounds. While they’re far from perfect, they’re used as an “objective” standard to screen out applicants who won’t meet minimum academic standards for a given institution. Score too badly on the test, and you’re not going to some schools, no matter how good your grades are.
Since what college you attend can significantly affect your future career plans, earning potential, and the like, and the tests are a huge part of college admissions, the SAT and ACT are REALLY important.
Test prep companies and tutors (including me) know this and advertise their services accordingly. “Would you like to go to Harvard? Extracurriculars and grades are decent, but not amazing? Well, unless your parents aren’t celebrities or important politicians, you’re going to have to ROCK the SAT and/or ACT! Hey- we can help!”
Test prep companies have also naturally grown into college-admissions-advising companies, that will guide students from middle school to getting into the colleges of their choice.
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Objection, Your Honor! The question assumes facts not in evidence! ;-) A perfect SAT or ACT score is impressive, since either you’re very talented, very hard-working, or likely both.
However, as Jennifer Levitt put it, low grades and a high SAT or ACT mean you’re probably pretty lazy, even if you’re smart, which isn’t going to get you very far in life, and retaking the test many times to make a trivial improvement (say, 99th percentile to a perfect score) means that either you or your parents have no idea how to use your time constructively.
As everyone’s already put it, a perfect SAT or ACT score says NOTHING about whether you’re a nice person. I’ve met many very smart people who are not nice people. Believe me, I’d rather have a stupid person try to trick, scam, or otherwise harm me than have a smart one do the same.
It also doesn’t tell me that much about your “interpersonal intelligence” - basically your ability to get along with other people, to negotiate without being scammed, and to use other important social skills. You might call these skills “wisdom.” The wisest people I’ve known weren’t always the most intelligent in an academic sense. Some were, but others were fairly mediocre students. Intelligence is not a substitute for experience, or even learning by observing the experience of others. Intelligence would make it easier to learn by observation, but that doesn’t mean intelligent people will actually do so.
As an aside, having high interpersonal intelligence also does not necessarily mean a person is nice - sociopaths are very good at “reading people,” but they’re also completely conscience-free, so they make great con artists and serial killers. They also do well in politics, law, medicine, and business.
The ACT and SAT don’t measure mental health, emotional maturity, readiness for college or university study, and the like. For example, a student who’s been pressured all his life to get perfect grades and SATs might rebel in a HUGE way once he’s away at a college where there’s no one on his back all day… “You mean I can go to a party and drink beer until I puke? BRING IT ON!” Or the kid may just be a “gunner” who burns out during college or shortly thereafter and doesn’t make it very far in life.
The tests also don’t measure athletic or artistic abilities, which matter in life for purposes of balance, self-expression, and health.
From Quora: My answer to "Will students with IEPs be able to use test accommodations on a standardized test such as the ACT, SAT, and SAT subject test?"
Only if you apply for the accommodations through the ACT and SAT test providers (American College Testing and the College Board). Having an IEP for your normal schoolwork, without more, will NOT get you the accommodations you need. In fact, the SAT states, right on the webpage I link below, “Scores will be canceled if accommodations are used without College Board approval. [Emphasis in original]” You’ll have to provide documentation from your school, health professionals, etc. to the ACT and SAT people, several months in advance (seriously, I’d start a year before taking the test if I were you).
The information is at the SAT and ACT’s websites. The SAT information is at Students with Disabilities and the ACT information is at Accommodations. [Arnold Schwarzenegger voice] Do it now!
There’s a very good documentary I saw a while back, at a screening held by the producers, called “The Test and the Art of Thinking.” You can find it at thetestdoc.org. Basically, the tutors, educators, college officials, and the like, who were interviewed for the documentary didn’t like ANYTHING about the SAT or the ACT. One person interviewed basically said “No good English teacher would ever give a reading test with questions like this, and the math is completely useless for college.”
I’m not as dead-set against the math portion. You will need to know the math on the SAT if you major in anything that requires math in college (engineering, any hard science, most social sciences- including psychology- where you have to know statistics, economics, etc.) However, I’m not fond of the “trick” math questions where they know some people will know how to do the math, but will misread the question and pick the answer choice to which a misreading would lead a good student.
The “English” or “Writing” grammar/editing tests seem a bit juvenile - anyone who’s FROM the U.S. should be able to get a very high score on that by the time they’re out of 8th grade, maybe 9th at most. It seems like a waste of time when a student’s high school English grades, essay, etc. can give basically the same assessment of the student’s abilities in this area.
The reading sections on the ACT and SAT basically suck. The SAT used to ask some thoughtful questions that required analysis, etc., but the SAT copied the ACT and started to focus mostly on details, vocabulary, and evidence in the passage rather than the larger implications of the passage. Both also ask questions where two answers have such subtle distinctions in meaning, and often are both arguably correct, but one is “better” in the eyes of the SAT and ACT people, that they’re almost impossible to answer correctly, other than by guessing between the two. I definitely agree that no good English teacher would test a student’s reading knowledge with tests like that.
Also, SAT and ACT scores don’t seem to correlate very well with college grades, future earnings, or anything else that you’d hope they would. While I’m happy I can help students do better on the SAT (See my site Tutoring by John Linneball), the fact that I can do so in a few weeks or months should tell you that the tests aren’t a real measure of academic merit or achievement.
From Quora: My Answer to "Does reading the SAT preparation books made for earlier SAT exams help for the new ones (the ones starting from 2016)?"
The math is the same for pre-2016 and 2016-and-later “new” SAT books. with the exception of right-triangle trigonometry and imaginary and complex numbers. The books I used before and after 2016 didn’t bother to write very many new math problems for the chapters on subjects common to the new and old SAT (i.e., everything but right-triangle trig and imaginary/complex numbers). They did come up with many new problems for the practice tests, and those problems are a bit different from old SAT problems. But you can learn these problems by doing similar ones from the College Board’s website (don’t bother to buy THEIR books - the same tests are available for free download from their website, and their review chapters aren’t that great) or from Khan Academy.
Alec G-Man is correct, to some extent, in that old (or new) ACT books would work better for SAT prep than old SAT books, because the new SAT practically copied the ACT wholesale - the new SAT writing section is basically the ACT English (as some SAT prep tutors commented in the documentary “The Test,” the ACT people (American College Testing) should seriously consider suing the College Board for copyright infringement. And older SAT grammar/usage/vocabulary “sentence correction” problems would still be good practice for the writing/English portion of the SAT or ACT.
However, the SAT math questions are more “trick question”-like than most ACT questions, so I’d be more inclined to use old SAT math books than ACT ones to study for the new math SAT. I also really like most test prep books’ coverage of the tips and tricks for countering common SAT tricks and for guessing (which they’re not going to give you on the College Board site or Khan Academy’s videos, as far as I can tell - it’d be like the California Highway Patrol telling people where the freeway speed traps are).
I’d say you can use the old review books for the math and general practice, but you really should try a post-2016 review book for additional practice and better explanations than the College Board’s answer explanations. Khan Academy is great, but Barron’s SAT is really great for learning the tricks to SAT taking, as are books from Kaplan, Princeton Review, etc. Why don’t you see if you can look at a post-2016 SAT book at your public library, or post on FreeCycle, Rooster, or Craigslist to ask for one? I’m sure at least a few people near you have such a book to give away.
Best of luck,
From Quora: My Answer to "What is the best way of preparing for SAT and the best essay topic for SAT?"
Start WAY out, like a year or two, from when you’ll need the SAT results. Work hard in your classes - they will teach you basic math, reading, and grammar skills measured by the SAT. Read lots of books, news articles, editorials, and online posts. There’s a great list of books to read in the Barron’s SAT review book.
Buy an SAT review book like Barron’s SAT. They’re pretty cheap; they’re even cheaper used; and you can often get them for free from people who’ve taken the SAT. Old editions work as well as newer ones, as long as they were published after 2016, when the “new SAT” came out. If you can’t afford that, take a review book out of the public library or your school library (don’t write in it).
Consider hiring an SAT tutor like me. Tutoring by John Linneball . It’s helpful to work with someone on these problems.
The “best essay topic” is always the same; you will be asked to read a persuasive essay (usually a newspaper editorial or something similar). You will be asked to analyze how the author makes his or her argument using facts, rhetoric, and logic (ethos, pathos, logos), and NOT to present your opinion on the topic of the essay. So the topic should be “The author uses facts (ethos) in the form of [survey statistics, historical references, references to classical literature], rhetoric (pathos) in the form of [powerful word choice, emotional appeals, and humor], and logic(logos) in the form of [deductive or inductive logic] to make his or her point that [the point explicitly named in the instruction box at the end of the essay].”
Name the author, title, and genre (kind of writing it is) in the beginning, and you’ve got an opening paragraph. That would look something like:
In the High School News editorial “Why Don’t They Serve Tater Tots in the School Cafeteria More Often?,” Sam Student uses facts (ethos) in the form of a survey of local high school students regarding their favorite cafeteria lunch foods, rhetoric (pathos) in the form of powerful word choice (“Tasty tater tots…”, emotional appeals, and humor, and logic(logos) in the form of deductive logic (that students who eat more tater tots are happier and more likely to learn in class) to make his or her point that school cafeterias should always serve tater tots.
Hope this helps!
The ACT is better for you if you can pound out simpler math questions in less time (you get 60 minutes to do 60 problems); the SAT math is better if you can handle questions that are trickier (i.e., there’s a shortcut you need to find to do it quickly). If you take the SAT, you do also need to memorize the basic formulas the SAT provides, but you really should know most of them in any event. ACT math asks you to plug values into some scary-looking formulas, and the SAT asks you to manipulate some formulas. If you get past the weird decimals, variables, etc., the actual math is very easy in both types of “formula” problems.
As others have answered, the “new SAT” is very similar to the ACT. The SAT has added charts and graphs to interpret, in response to the ACT’s science section, which mostly should be called the “Data Interpretation” or “Can You Read Charts and Graphs?” section, since you need only know very basic science to do the problems. (You do need to know some basic science facts such as the charge of an electron, what photosynthesis is, etc., but way less than I’d expect anyone who’s about to graduate from high school to know.)
The reading sections on both tests are very similar - it’s a wash. You won’t see any real differences between the two. Both test vocabulary in context, details, main ideas, and inferences from things implied but not stated in the text. They’re both frustrating in that the hard questions can present very subtle shades of meaning where many students lose points for picking answers that are perfectly good answers, but not the “best” answers according to the test makers.
The English/Writing tests are identical - the College Board basically copied the ACT’s test wholesale, then added a few charts and graphs, when they came up with the “new SAT.”
The essay on the SAT is probably harder for most students. While the ACT just asks you to analyze three perspectives on an issue, then present your own (or just explain which of the three you agree with), the SAT requires you to analyze the arguments in a persuasive essay (e.g., a newspaper editorial), explaining how the argument is presented and NOT whether you agree with it. So if you aren’t familiar with the terms “ethos,” “pathos,” and “logos,” don’t like it when you can’t express your personal opinions on an issue on which you have strong feelings, etc., or just didn’t do that well in English classes where you had to analyze the texts you read for technique, rather than simply explain what you just read, you’ll find the ACT essay easier to handle. It’s closer to the essays you had to write from grade school on; the SAT is more of a 10th or 11th-grade assignment.
From Quora: My Answer to "If now the poor can get into college with SAT's new 'adversity score,' and the rich can use money, what can the middle class do to get into a good college?"
No one gets into a selective, or “good,” college simply by virtue of being poor, a minority, or otherwise disadvantaged. The student has to be qualified to do the work, and likely to succeed in life. Similarly, having relatives who can literally buy your way into the school, while probably more likely to work than being disadvantaged, won’t work if you’re obviously unable to do the work and probably won’t get far in life. Why, you ask? It’s simple - students are not just the customers of these businesses called “colleges;” they are the product.
Businesses donate money to colleges that produce people they’re likely to hire. Government grants go to colleges with good faculty and (usually graduate) student assistants. People are more likely to apply, and will pay more to attend, schools that produce people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Bonnie Raitt, and the like. That is one reason why Harvard University, the alma mater of all three of those people, as well as politicians, celebrities, scientists, businesspeople, etc. that we all know, can charge much more than a decent local college.
Your question is basically a twist on the question about financing college. The extremely poor basically pay nothing other than student loans (which used to be capped, but now students can take out private loans, but SHOULDN’T!) and work-study jobs. The wealthy can simply pay the tuition and fees. The middle class family has to pay as much of its income as it can, gets SOME grants, and the rest must be paid through the student’s loans and/or work-study job.
That leaves the middle class family feeling a bit sore, since they feel like they’re being penalized for working hard and saving, whereas the poor family might be poor because they were irresponsible with their money, the wealthy family may have simply inherited the wealth, etc. The problem with that attitude is most poor people usually are poor for reasons they don’t control (e.g., factory closings, poor educational opportunities, etc), and most wealthy people were originally poor and/or middle class, and worked hard to become wealthy. But I digress.
Colleges, certainly elite colleges, recognize talent, regardless of the students’ backgrounds. I knew two students from much (economically and socially) worse backgrounds than mine, who performed better than I did at the same college. I also knew students whose families probably had net worths of millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars. Similarly, they worked very hard, and succeeded in college and in life. Most students I met were from socioeconomic backgrounds similar to mine, worked hard, and also “made it” in college and in life.
If you work really hard, you’ll get admitted to a good enough college, get enough financial aid, and you’ll make it. I promise that. I can’t promise you Harvard, or whatever your dream college is, but I can guarantee you that your background won’t hold you back if you’re academically qualified to attend an elite college, and even if you’re just average academically, hard work will get you a degree from a good college, a good career, etc.
In case you’re interested, here’s my answer to an earlier question about what I thought about the “adversity score.”
I couldn’t read the whole WSJ article, but I did find and read CBS News’ summary of it. The index is based upon socioeconomic factors that glaringly do not include race. Here’s a link to the CBS article:
SAT exam reportedly to give students "adversity score" in bid to level playing field
Here’s the relevant (to me) part of the CBS article:
Each of the three categories has five sub-indicators that are indexed in calculating each student's adversity score. Neighborhood environment will take into account crime rate, poverty rate, housing values and vacancy rate. Family environment will assess what the median income is of where the student's family is from; whether the student is from a single parent household; the educational level of the parents; and whether English is a second language. High school environment will look at factors such as curriculum rigor, free-lunch rate and AP class opportunities. Together these factors will calculate an individual's adversity score on a scale of one to 100.
According to the Journal, a score of 50 is considered "average." Anything above 50 proves "hardship" while anything below 50 is considered "privilege." The College Board did not immediately respond to a CBS News request for more information about the methodology behind its calculation of the adversity score and if other factors are considered.
The Journal reported that this new score will appear alongside a student's SAT score and will be featured in a section labeled the "Environmental Context Dashboard." The adversity score's formal name on the dashboard is "Overall Disadvantage Level," but it has been colloquially called the "adversity score" by college admissions officers, per The Journal's article.
This sounds like a reasonably well-thought-out attempt to help colleges make decisions about what students would benefit from, and also “deserve affirmative action” as some people might put it. It addresses the obvious counter-argument to race-based affirmative action or other special admission programs - “What if a minority applicant is from a super-wealthy background, with loving parents, an excellent high school, and so on? How is it fair to give that applicant preference over a white kid from Detroit whose single mother often didn’t receive child support, went to a horrid inner-city public high school where most kids learned only to ‘shoot dope and shoot each other (Jello Biafra quote)’?”
I attended Williams College with at least two students (one of whom may have influenced this policy) who were from disadvantaged backgrounds. One was African-American; the other was white and looked like he was from a privileged background. The rumor about the white one was “his parents are ambassadors!” No, his dad worked for an axle factory in Detroit and ran a restaurant for a while. His mother was similarly situated.
He went on to be a Rhodes scholar and met the current president of the College Board while at Oxford on his Rhodes scholarship. It would not surprise me if this decision was influenced by that man’s conversations with my college classmate.
My experience of knowing this man was that his story serves as a Rorschach inkblot test. A conservative could point to his story as evidence of “See? This kid got ZERO affirmative action points and made it! I don’t want to hear it about ‘disadvantaged backgrounds!’” A liberal would then counter with “That’s interesting that you’ve completely glossed over the fact that minority students are much more likely to be from disadvantaged backgrounds like the background of this kid you’re holding up as your golden boy!” And they could argue back and forth until they finally get angry and storm off.
The man himself wrote an article for a college newspaper that basically stated people who didn’t have to overcome adversity should be quiet, since they’re obviously trying to talk about something they haven’t experienced, and that affirmative action opponents from disadvantaged backgrounds should have empathy for others, since they know how hard it was for them to make it. But I digress.
Regardless of who influenced the decision, this is just a more formalized, and dare I say, “standardized,” version of what selective colleges have done in admissions decisions for the past 50 years, if not longer. The Bakke case, mentioned by another answerer of this question, established that crude racial quotas cannot be used in admissions. So colleges look for other factors that indicate an applicant may have had more adversity to overcome, which should work in that applicant’s favor. A child who grew up poor with a single mother and not much access to educational materials wealthier children took for granted, with little guidance on how to get into college, let alone a selective college, shows more initiative, drive, organization, and persistence than an applicant who has had access to better opportunities.
While this may “be another Bakke case waiting to happen,” as that poster put it, I think a lawsuit wouldn’t find this index to be discriminatory. It’s literally based on statistics from government agencies and whoever else tracks such things - property values and vacancies, crime rates, free-lunch-recipient rates, etc, none of which is open to serious dispute. Even if crime rate reporting is racially biased (e.g., police in minority areas are more likely to arrest people for minor violations than those in majority white areas), that would HELP people from “bad” neighborhoods, who are disproportionately minorities. I don’t see any court, even the craziest conservative judges, stating that people who almost literally “pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps” (that’s actually physically impossible), don’t deserve special consideration, since conservatives argue for the “bootstraps” approach all day, every day, except when they need special favors [*cough* 2008 bank bailout *cough*].
Did my two college classmates deserve more consideration than I received in admissions because I came from a nicer background than they did? Yes, since they did better than I did when we were in college together. People from “bad” backgrounds often do better in impersonal college environments than people from warm, nurturing backgrounds where they received personal attention and assistance frequently. The kid from the bad neighborhood learns “You’d better hustle and take care of yourself because those who care about you can’t help you, and those who can help you don’t care about you - they care about what you can do for them!”
Will this index be perfect? Of course not. The SATs aren’t perfect tests; they’re computer-scored standardized tests that can be affected by factors such as test prep and tutoring (which kids from wealthy families are more likely to receive), how the kid was feeling the day he or she took the test, etc. So, of course, it’s limited, as is any statistic or standardized test.
This index can’t measure for the “poor little rich kid” effect - the trope from thousands of novels, TV shows, and movies where a kid from a privileged background grows up with emotionally distant, neglectful, or outright abusive parents (e.g., the movie Mommie Dearest), but that’s what application essays are for, I suppose.
A kid who’s got Jerry Springer or Oprah points should emphasize what adversity he or she had to overcome in his or her essays. Even kids from nice, supportive backgrounds are asked to, and should, write about academic challenges they’ve overcome. I’ve helped high school students apply to college write such essays by helping edit them, making suggestions about what colleges would like to see, etc. Schools that want deep insight into applicants’ characters will continue to ask for such essays. Those that don’t, or those that would like some assistance, will rely on the index provided by the College Board. And some will reject that index outright in favor of their own essays and application/interview process. This is really nothing worth getting upset over - it should help much more than it hurts.
From Quora: My Answer to "How come the content on the SAT is easy (9th–10th grade stuff), yet it’s so hard to score high?"
The SAT math content is 10th to maybe-first-month-of-11th grade material. Maybe 9th or 10th grade for honors/advanced students (Like me). The math is hard because they use tricks to make easy or moderately hard questions look really hard, so some students don’t even try to solve some. Some questions are just genuinely difficult and intended to separate the truly excellent from the merely very good.
Perhaps the main reason it’s hard to score high on the SAT math is that the test is timed. As many people have noted, practically any high school student could get the right answer to more than 90% of the questions, given sufficient time. The ACT is even worse in that regard - you get less time per math question, even though they’re generally easier questions.
The reading sections of the SAT and ACT are very detail-oriented. The SAT has more analytical questions than the SAT, although this difference isn’t as great as it was in the past (the SAT has basically done everything it can to copy the ACT format without being sued when aking the “new SAT”). The ACT gives you less time per question than the SAT does in its comparable reading sections. On both tests, you are to choose the “best” answer, which is usually one backed by straightforward evidence on the ACT, but which can require you to make some inferences on an SAT question. Since the harder reading questions on either test usually have two throwaway answer choices and two that actually look correct, you have to figure out which answer is better. Usually, you have to ask “Is this answer appropriate to the question?” For example, if it’s a “main idea” question, but one answer seems to focus too much on details, the other “good” answer is probably the right one.
The SAT “writing” section is basically identical to the ACT “English” test. They involve editing passages presented to you with multiple choices as to what should be in underlined portions of the passage. The only reason anyone finds this hard is that he or she doesn’t know the rules of grammar and punctuation as used in “SAT-Land” or “ACT-Land,” or he or she doesn’t bother to read some of the “editor’s choice” questions that read something like “Which choice would be best if the author was trying to emphasize the health benefits of ice skating?” and simply picks a sentence ending that looks nice and is grammatically correct, but doesn’t express the correct idea.
The SAT has tried to compete with the ACT “science” test by adding some graphs and charts to interpret. Basically, the only reason someone might get SAT graph questions wrong on the English or math sections is the same reason someone might get a wrong answer on an ACT science question - probably trying to answer the questions too quickly, or misinterpreting a chart of graph (either not understanding it, making a math miscalculation, or making an unsupported inference from a chart or graph, even if the inference is probably true).
From Quora: My Answer To "How can I bring up my ACT science score from 27 to 36 within little more than a month?"
I wouldn’t count on getting a 36 (it’s really hard to get a PERFECT score, because the curve is steep at the high end), but you can improve your score by practicing science tests under timed conditions, learning to skim the passages to find the easiest and the hardest, and going to the questions BEFORE reading the passages in depth.
You want to do the easiest passages first, since an easy question is worth as much as a hard one on the ACT (or the SAT, for that matter). Since the ACT science test purposely doesn’t give students enough time to be particularly careful, you should make the hardest section your “sacrificial” section, where you simply bubble in the same answer (say, the second bubble) for all the questions you don’t have time to do.
Almost all the answers to the questions are in the graphs and charts in the science section, so make sure you know how to read the charts and graphs (check the axes, legends, etc., so you know what is being measured, in what units, anything unusual about the data such as limitations, etc). If you can’t find an answer in the graphs and charts, THEN read the passage. One student I helped study for the ACT exclaimed at me “You NEVER read the passage!” I replied, “I know, and you shouldn’t either!”
You’ll also do better if you know the basics of chemistry, physics, biology, etc. - just really simple things like the charge of electrons, protons, and neutrons, dominant and recessive genes, Newtonian mechanics such as F= ma, kinetic energy, specific heat, what causes a plane to fly, etc. If you know these things, you’ll know when a possible answer is wrong - the right answer will match real science. The only exception is when they have “Student 1, 2, and 3” or “Scientist 1, 2, and 3” - a student or scientist who doesn’t understand how the phenomenon being studied works will have the wrong idea, but a question may ask “According to Student 1, would a hammer fall faster than a small marble on the airless surface of the moon?” If Student 1 believes that the acceleration of gravity increases proportionately to the mass of the object being dropped (you know, the ancient Greek theory disproven by Galileo), then the answer is “Yes, because a hammer has more mass than a small marble,” even if you know a hammer and a marble would fall at the same speed, especially when there is no air resistance.
Other than that, keep practicing (say, an hour or two per day) and you should be able to score in the 30s.
Author: John Linneball Who did you think? ;-)
I'm the proprietor and only tutor for this business; that's why I named it after me.