For those of you taking the SAT on Saturday, here are some last-minute tips. Read Chapter 8 of the Barron’s SAT Book and do the exercises. That will show you the common math tips and tricks you need to know. For those of you who don’t have the Barron’s SAT Book- review the math tips and tricks detailed in your review book. You should know these tricks: 1. Trust diagrams that are NOT labeled “Not Drawn to Scale.” Use the edge of a piece of paper as a “ruler” where appropriate. 2. Redraw diagrams that are labeled “NOT drawn to scale.” 3. Draw diagrams for any problems that describe a geometric figure but do not provide a diagram. 4. Add lines to diagrams where appropriate. 5. The properties of transversals of parallel lines. 6. The sum of the angles in a triangle is 180 degrees, the sum of the angles in any quadrilateral is 360 degrees, and the sum of the angles in any n-lateral or n-gon is (n-2)*180. 7. The formula for the areas of a circle, a rectangle, and a triangle. 8. The properties of special right triangles. 9. The formulas for the volumes of a cube, a rectangular prism, a right cylinder, and any other solid that can be broken down into a 2-dimensional shape and a length (e.g., a triangular prism). 10. Add or subtract equations to eliminate or solve for variables in problems with multiple variables. Know that you need one equation for each variable in any system of equations, for the problem to be solved. 11. Substitute numbers for variables when asked to find a formula containing variables (e.g., “Bill travels m miles in h hours. What is the formula for Bill’s speed? Put in, say, 60 for m and 1 for h. Then find the answer choice that gives you 60 mph when you plug in those values – in this case, m /h).12. In percentage problems where you are not given a starting value, use 100 as the value. For example, if “a computer store discounts a laptop by 30%,” set the price of the laptop at $100.00. It makes calculations much easier – the price of a $100.00 laptop is obviously $70 when it is reduced by 30%. 13. All you have to do with functions is just plug the numbers they give you into the formulas. Don’t worry if a function using a strange symbol (say, ☻) is used – the SAT people HAVE to define the function for you, and they will. So if x ☻y is defined as x*y – (x+y), then 3 ☻2 is (3*2) – (3+2) = 6-5 =1. 14. Eliminate obviously wrong, stupid answers: for example, the area of a figure cannot be negative; the area of part of a figure cannot be larger than the whole figure, etc. 15. Factor numbers in fractions and cancel out numbers as appropriate. 16. Know that an odd plus and even number is odd; odd plus odd is even; even plus even is even. Odd times Odd is odd; Odd times even is even; even times even is even. 17. Understand remainders and how to use remainders to calculate problems such as “If today is Saturday, what day will it be 603 days from now?” 18. Understand prime numbers; prime factorization; and the lowest common multiple and greatest common factor of two numbers. Verbal SAT: Practice writing an essay in 25 minutes, doing prewriting on scrap paper before writing it on the answer sheet. Refresh your memory of your favorite historical figures; your most memorable life events; and the recent news events that have influenced you the most. Read some quotations and think about them. Chances are, the essay prompt will be general and vague enough that your examples or thoughts about quotations you’ve read will suffice to support whatever position you choose to take in your essay. Remember, no one expects you to write the Gettysburg Address in 25 minutes. Just do your best and write simply and clearly. Don’t try to impress the grader with big words you don’t understand or that really aren’t important, and I suggest you avoid the use of the pronoun “one.” Use “a person” or even “you,” instead. Sounding like a pretentious twit will not score you extra points. Review the flash cards from the Barron’s SAT book, as well as the section on word parts. Practice sentence completion and sentence correction problems. Make sure you understand the answer explanations. Finally: Get enough sleep the night before. Plan on getting to the test site an hour early. That way, a traffic jam, etc. won’t make you late. Don’t bother trying to study late into the night or on the morning of the exam. If you haven’t learned it by about 9 or 10 p.m. the night before, you’re really not likely to learn it at the breakfast table or in the car on the way to the SAT. Realize that your SAT score is only part of the whole college application package, and it is in no way a measure of your worth as a human being or even your likelihood of success in life, however you define it. Even if it were, you’d still have plenty of chances to retake it before college application deadlines in late December and/or early January. Don’t panic. You’ll do better if you are relaxed. Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
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