How to Prepare for the SAT talks to you directly, in a friendly, no-nonsense way, to help you organize your study effort and strengthen your skills for the SAT.
How to Prepare for the SAT contains:
- general advice on SAT strategy – including strategy for keeping your cool,
- advice on how to approach each type of question in each of three testing areas (critical reading, writing, and math),
- a list of the most common vocabulary words found in the practice tests in The Official SAT Study Guide,
- topic reviews in writing and math, and
- solutions to practice questions in all three testing areas in The Official SAT Study Guide.
This book is written to be used in conjunction with the College Board's Official SAT Study Guide.
General SAT Advice
The Critical Reading Section
How to Approach the Questions
The Writing Section
Writing Topic Reviews
Multiple Choice Writing Questions
The Math Section
Guidelines for Success in the Math Section
More on How to Approach the Questions
Decimals and Percent
Distance and Midpoint
Integers and Remainders
Kinds of Numbers
Mean, Median, and Mode
Polygons and Their Angles
Test Day By now you must have read the advice: Get a good night's sleep, bring #2 pencils and ID, etc. It's all good. See the checklist on p. 13 of The Official SAT Study Guide. But consider also the following:
Nominative/Objective Case "Just between you and I, him and me have a date for New Year's Eve." What's wrong with this sentence? I, him, and me should read me, he, and I, respectively: "Just between you and me, he and I have a date for New Year's Eve."
- Bring some sharp pencils -- and some dull ones. Dull pencils fill in bubbles much more quickly than sharp ones do. Please don't take my word for it -- try this out at home: Just fill in a few bubbles with pencils of varying sharpness. You'll still need your sharp pencils for the essay and possibly for your scratchwork. Bring an eraser that works well for the pencils you'll be using. It's worthwhile to test a few erasers to make sure you have one or two that work well.
- What to do if your brain hurts. If a question gives you a headache, circle the question number in your booklet, make sure to skip that line on your answer sheet, and move on. You can come back once the dust has cleared. If the same thing keeps happening with question after question, it may be because of stress. Hey, it happens to all of us. What do you expect is going to be left of you, anyway, by this time, after everything you've been through? It's time for a vacation. A very, very short vacation. Close your eyes, take five breaths, and think of nothing but those breaths. If your attention wanders, remember that right now your job is to focus on your breathing. When you come back a few seconds later, you'll have a fresh perspective. The idea is to slow down those gears in your brain that are whizzing around unproductively, using all your energy.
- Each time you fill in a bubble on your answer sheet, take a quick glance to see that you've got the right line on the answer sheet, especially after you skip a question. You don't want to find yourself erasing a whole string of answers just because they're in the wrong bubbles, and then wondering if the computer will pick up the shadows of the erased answers!
- Remember that a positive attitude is your best friend. Decide that you can handle this thing, and you can. At difficult moments, comfort yourself with an image of yourself opening the envelope that contains your score and finding scores, oh, fifty points higher than what you need. Such thoughts will help move you toward success. This works. Really. I've tried it.
How do you know which pronouns to use when? The pronouns I, we, they, he, she, and who are nominative. That means that in a sentence they are the ones that carry out the action. The pronouns me, us, them, him, her, and whom are objective. That means that in a sentence they stand for people or things on which action is being carried out. The pronouns you and it can be either nominative or objective. How does that apply?
What if you just don't know? Even if your inner ear for language wouldn't let you be caught dead saying "between we," maybe "between you and I" sounds right to you. Your ear wants to help you, but it needs you to help it first. You can do that by breaking up the phrase. It is more obvious in "Me have a date for New Year's Eve" that the right word is I than it is in "Me and him have . . .." How does the presence of another pronoun change the syntax? It changes only the sound. So if you see a pair of pronouns and you don't know if they're right, it may help to bust up the pair and see how the sentence sounds with just one of them.
- If the subject of a sentence is a pronoun (or more than one pronoun), that pronoun is (or those pronouns are) nominative. "He and I have a date for New Year's Eve." "We have a date for New Year's Eve."
- The object of a preposition is objective. "Between you and me." "Her little brother came after her." "For whom the bell tolls."
- The direct or indirect object of a sentence is objective. Direct object: "I love her." Indirect object: "I did him a favor."
About the Author: Jill Hacker is an adjunct professor of mathematics at Northern Virginia Community College, a freelance writer who contributes to math textbooks, and a long-time tutor of many subjects, including SAT prep.