Another test date for the “new SAT” is coming on Saturday! Don’t panic – you still have time to prepare.
First of all, if you’re taking advanced math classes (e.g., trigonometry or calculus), you probably haven’t studied basic arithmetic, algebra, or geometry in some time. I go into these topics in my earlier blogs about the SAT; please read them. The point is, even “basic arithmetic,” as it’s called in the Barron’s New SAT book, isn’t really that ”basic.” For example, do you know what it means when an exponent is negative or fractional? Could you successfully evaluate 2-2/3? If not, please study the section on exponents in that book, another SAT book, or look it up online. There are tons of great free math review sites – e.g., purplemath, regentsprep.org etc. – you don’t need to pay a penny to get the information.
Second, make sure you know everything that’s in the “Math Facts” section at the beginning of each math section. It’s much better just to know the special right triangles, the area of a rectangle, the area and circumference of a circle (how they relate to the radius and diameter), and so on. You should also know that if the diagonal of a square is d, then the area of the square is d^2/2 . That last formula is not in the “Math Facts” section, so it’s important to know that one by heart. You should probably also know the quadratic formula (it’s likely that some questions you’ll see can be solved only using that formula – factoring or “completing the square” won’t work), the distance formula, and the equation for a circle.
The equation for a circle with center (h,k) is:
(x - h)^2 + (y – k)^2 = r^2 , so when the center is the origin (0,0), the formula becomes simply
x^2 + y^2 = r^2.
The distance formula between (x1,y1) and (x2,y2) on Cartesian coordinates is
where the points are as shown on the coordinate graph to the left.
Finally, you should know your basic trigonometric identities – at the very least, sine, cosine, and tangent on a right triangle. Remember, for an angle in a right triangle, sine = opposite / adjacent, cosine = adjacent/hypotenuse, and tangent = opposite over adjacent). You can remember that as “SOH-CAH-TOA” or
“Sin = Oscar/Has
Cos = A/Headache
Tan = Over/Algebra.”
You should also know the basics of the unit circle (e.g., when sine and cosine are positive or negative for angles with values from 0 to 2*(Pi) (sorry, I can't get the pi character to appear on here).
I strongly suggest you take a timed SAT – all sections, sticking to the times given for them, including the essay. The SAT is an endurance test, so the more closely you follow the actual schedule for the test, the better prepared you will be. Please read my entries on the SAT essay, as well as my general blog entries about the SAT English sections. Make sure you correct the SAT and know why you missed the questions you missed, and that you know why the correct answers you chose are correct.
Remember – the SAT essay is not asking for your opinion of the writing sample you are given the read. The SAT people are looking to see if you know how the argument is constructed, what literary devices are used. Don’t panic if you can’t remember the fancy names for them – just describe them well enough that the graders know what you are writing about. That having been said, if you don’t agree with the writer of the piece you’re analyzing, or you just see a really obvious counterargument that isn’t addressed in the piece, you can and should raise that as a defect in the argument. For example, you could write “The author makes an inapposite analogy that begs for the obvious counterargument that people generally choose their spouses with more care than their dinners.”
The nice thing about this SAT administration is if you’re taking it, this almost certainly isn’t the last time you can take it before you apply to college, so you can take it again later, after more preparation, if your score isn’t good. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take this exam seriously – you definitely should work hard and do your best, but there’s absolutely no reason to panic. Good luck!
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.