Here’s a quick list of things you should study if you’re planning on taking the October SAT, or the September ACT.
Make sure you know the following ideas and rules for writing:
1. Parallelism, which is basically the idea that similar clauses in a sentence should look like each other.
2. When to use the gerund (the noun or “ing” form of a verb) or the infinitive (the “to” form of a verb – e.g., “to be,” “to run.”). This is related to parallelism in that if you use the gerund form of a verb in one clause, you should use the gerund form in all the similar clauses in that sentence. If you use the infinitive form in one clause, you should in all.
3. Misplaced modifiers (a.k.a. “dangling participles”) – make sure you understand what they are and how to avoid them. For example, the sentence “Having taught for 25 years, the fifth graders were unable to think of an April Fool’s prank their teacher could not predict and foil” has a misplaced modifier. Had the fifth-graders really taught for 25 years? That seems unlikely. “Having taught for 25 years, the teacher was able to predict and foil the fifth-graders’ April Fool’s pranks” is a much better sentence, with the modifier properly placed. This leads me to my next suggestion.
4. Think like a meathead. Read sentences very literally, as a person who either has been trained to interpret all statements and questions literally, or a person who is very naïve or stupid, would. For example, comparison errors are things we non-meatheads tend to “auto-correct” in our heads. “There are few comeback stories as inspiring as actor Robert Downey, Jr.” is not correct, since it compares stories to a person. To correct the error, we would have to add “the story of” or “that of” “Robert Downey, Jr.” to make the sentence correct, since it would then compare the stories to the story of Robert Downey, Jr., rather than Mr. Downey himself.
Practice essay topics – use the essay topic builders (pp. 326-327 in the 27th edition) in the Barron’s SAT book, or whatever book you’re using. Pick examples that can be used for several topics – your favorite historical figure, your favorite book, TV show, movie, etc. Think about the important events in your life that support your position on the essay topics. Do several essays – at least 4 a week, under times conditions (25 minutes from when you first see the prompt to when you’re done). In fact, do at least one whole test under timed conditions.
Finally, read my earlier blog entries for more tips.
1. Vocabulary – Practice your vocabulary skills with anything you read. When you come across a word you don’t know, look it up in the dictionary – don’t just use context clues. The SAT loves to use secondary meanings of words, which are easier to find when you look in a dictionary. In fact, look up some common words, just to see what you can learn. If you have the Barron’s SAT book, use the vocabulary lists and the yellow tear-out flash cards in the back for practice.
2. Do as many passage reading problems as you can from SAT practice books, the College Board’s website, and any other source of SAT/simulated SAT problems as you can.
3. Again, read my earlier blog entries for more tips.
Do the general math review in your SAT practice book. If you have the Barron’s SAT book, review all the subchapters of Chapter 9. Yes, A through R, including the basic arithmetic. The SAT folks can make some very tricky questions based on very simple math.
Do the questions at the end of each subchapter in the Barron’s book, and review the sections on the problems you get wrong. Make sure you read and understand the answer explanations.
Know the Pythagorean Theorem, the special right triangles, the formula for the sum of the interior angles of an n-gon, which is (n-2) * 180, and that a straight line is 180 degrees. Know there are 360 degrees in a circle, how to measure arc length on a circle, including how a central angle relates to the arc length it defines, and also know the difference of squares.
Also, see my earlier blog entries.
September ACT Takers:
You’re coming close on time. Follow all the advice above, but using your ACT prep book (I recommend the Barron’s ACT or the official ACT Real ACT book, or McGraw-Hill’s ACT books). The ACT involves generally simpler and more straightforward questions, but you have to do more.
For the math, make sure you understand everything I’ve listed in my blog, and everything that’s in the SAT’s “Reference Facts” listed at the beginning of each SAT math section. While the ACT will provide you the formula for more esoteric problems (e.g., the volume of a cone), it will NOT provide you “Reference Facts” stating basic math formulas, as the SAT does. That means you have to know them. Fortunately, it’s not that hard (and if you need to use them on the SAT, you’re probably not going to do that well).
For the reading, practice as much passage reading as you can – SAT reading questions will work as well as ACT questions for practice. For the “English Test,” practice as much as you can, and make sure you know your rules of punctuation and grammar.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
All the best,
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.