Friday, October 08, 1999

Familiarity with SAT helps test-takers

Asbury Park Press

        Tristate juniors and seniors who are taking the SAT test Saturday should know that while the test may not define them, a low score can hinder their college choices.

        And so, testing experts say, it's important to know all you can about the SAT before you take it.

        The test is divided into seven sections — three math, three verbal and one experimental (it's not scored and is used only for research).

        The test takes three hours. You're allowed to use a calculator and there are sections where you are required to write in the answer.

Verbal questions
        There are three types of verbal questions:

        • Analogies (19 questions). Analogy questions measure knowledge of the meaning of words.

        • Sentence completions (19 questions). Sentence-completion questions measure the ability to understand how different parts of sentences fit together logically.

        • Critical reading (40 questions). Critical thinking questions measure the ability to read and think about what you just read.

Math questions
        There are also three types of math questions:

        • Five-choice multiple-choice (35 questions).

        • Four-choice quantitative comparison (15 questions that emphasize the concept of equalities, inequalities and estimation).

        • Student-produced response (10 questions that have no answer choices provided).

        According to the College Board (a national non-profit organization association of schools, colleges and educational organizations), there are certain math concepts to know:

        • Arithmetic (simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percent, prime numbers and odd and even numbers).

        • Algebra (negative numbers, substitution, simplifying algebraic expressions, simple factoring, roots of numbers).

        • Geometry (area and perimeter of polygon, area and circumference of a circle, volume, Pythagorean Theorem and simple coordinate geometry).

        Don't despair though.

        Although test takers may not score a perfect 1600 on the test (800 each for the verbal and math sections), they won't bomb either (it's worth 200 points just for putting your name on the test) if they do a little advance planning.

        The best thing to do is learn as much about the test in advance as possible. That means buying an SAT prep book, going online to SAT-related Web sites and going to a guid ance counselor to get a free copy of “Taking the SAT I: Reasoning Test.”

        From there it's just a matter of practice, practice, practice. For the verbal portion of the test, study up on vocabulary. For the math section it's doing the drills the way the books and CDs suggest.

        Take practice tests, too. The College Board's book “10 Real SATs” features 10 full-length SATs, timed just the way the test is timed. It provides practical advice as well as sample questions with thorough explanations to understand exactly what the test wants.

        And then, with T-minus one day until the big test, stop studying.

        “There's no sense driving yourself crazy,” says Jeff Rubenstein, senior director of research and development for the Princeton Review, “Go out with friends, catch an early movie. Then go home, go to bed and wake up refreshed the next morning. Go into the test feeling confident.”

        And if things don't work out, remember two things:

        • Places such as the Princeton Review offer SAT preparation courses (which boost scores on average 137 points).

        • Life isn't over if you don't score high.

        “There's more to life than an SAT score,” says Mr. Rubenstein. “Be prepared and do your best. That's all anyone can ask.”

Test season opens for college-bound
Tips on taking the SAT

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