I generally start by examining the kinds of questions a student missed on the PSAT, and we make a plan based on the SAT or PSAT score report.
I usually need to teach lessons on the most common grammatical concepts covered by the test: subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, misplaced and dangling modifiers, parallel structure, and pronoun case. These five skills probably account for half of the most-missed writing questions.
We practice and drill - the only way to get better at something is to keep doing it! For the critical reading questions, I like to have older students do passages from the Advanced Placement exams; they are similar in format to the SAT passages and have slightly more challenging questions. Questions on the SAT are categorized as easy, medium, or difficult, and students generally don't have trouble with the easy ones! Practicing with difficult questions makes them feel more confident on test day.
We’ll also examine...
Schedule for SAT Crash Course:
Lesson 1: Test Basics, Sentence Completions (singles and doubles), Short Paragraphs
Lesson 2: Long Passages (Narrative, Expository, Persuasive)
Lesson 3: Double Passages, Difficult Passages, Essay
Lesson 4: Grammar Basics (Voice, Parallelism, Continuity, Conciseness)
Lesson 5: Verb and Pronoun Errors
Lesson 6: Modifier, Comparative, Idiom, Confused Word Errors
SAT English Basics
Reading Section: (70 minutes)
Sentence Completions 19 Questions Worth 30%
Reading Passages 48 Questions Worth 70%
Writing Section: (60 minutes)
Grammar: Worth 70%
Identifying Sentence Errors 18 Questions
Improving Sentences 25 Questions
Improving Paragraphs 6 Questions
Essay (25 minutes) Graded from 2-12 Worth 30%
1 point given for each question answered correctly. -¼ point for each question answered incorrectly. No points for unanswered questions.
When I work with students on the SAT essay, many have difficulty coming up with concrete, adequate examples. Many can't get out of the quicksand of vague and directionless ideas.
Instead of ideas, let individuals from history, literature, science, and the modern era be your guides. Create a list of influential and inspiring people for each category like I've done. Focus on two or three categories you're most comfortable with and research what made these people so special and influential. Individuals such as John Proctor from "The Crucible," Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Galileo, and Nelson Mandela are just some of the examples to use when you write your essay.
SAT essay questions are broad enough that you can take something that one of these individuals has done to "advance freedom" or "challenge authority."
Remember, you only have 25 minutes. Keep calm...
With the wealth of SAT prep materials out there, it can be tough to find the best resources for SAT study. I've been tutoring for the SAT for over a decade, and these are the materials I've found to be the most helpful.
SAT General Study
For all-around SAT preparation, nothing beats The Official SAT Study Guide, published by the College Board. With ten full practice tests, this book contains plenty of study material for all sections of the test. Because the questions are written by the College Board and, in many cases, have appeared on actual administered SATs, they accurately reflect what students will see on test day. (I've never found a test written by a third-party company that comes close to matching actual SAT questions, and I do not recommend third-party practice tests for study.) Working through the questions in this book is the best, most effective way for any student to prepare for the test.