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"Tricks" for the SAT

Instead of trying to teach high school students "tricks" and "gimmicks" to "Beat the Test," it is far better for teachers to teach students that the PSAT and SAT are difficult exams that must be prepared for and taken using strategies that are completely different from the ways students prepare and take tests in school.

Any test prep company/franchise that tries to convince students that they [both test company and students] can "out-think" the test makers, that students can easily bump their scores into the high 600s and 700s (SAT scale) that they don't truly deserve, is a disservice not only to impressionable teenagers but also to their parents who are led to believe that by paying exorbitant tuitions to test prep services will somehow make their "Johnny" or "Mary" a scholar. The adage, "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" is true; however, with some hard work (a great deal of practice with authentic SAT questions), some level-headed guidance and encouragement, moderate score increases can be attained in some cases, exceptional increases in a few cases, and other score changes that fall within the SAT's standard error of measurement of about 15 points below and 15 points above the scores previous achieved on exams copyrighted by the College Board. Pre or post-test scores achieved on "SAT-like" knock-offs or other "pseudo SATs" mean nothing since the questions contained on these look-alike questions are only approximations of what appears on the real SAT.

Comments

I agree with your opening paragraph. Actually, the SAT reading (for instance) does test many skills that are useful in college & later in life: carefully distinguishing between what is said in the passage and what it makes you think of from other experiences, judging how certain the author is (or isn't), reading the tone of an author, and most of all being meticulous and thorough in checking and re-checking answers against the text. However, my experience is that with adequate work, anyone can raise his or her score 100 points in Reading or Writing, whether that's from 450 to 550 or 650 to 750. Yet maybe we do agree, because the emphasis is on "with adequate work," which does include practice after practice, as well as study of vocabulary or grammar rules.

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