Posts Tagged ‘SAT’

Vocab Videos Advice: SAT Subject Tests (AKA SAT IIs)

We at Vocab Videos encourage you to begin thinking  about SAT subject tests (AKA SAT IIs).  SAT II subjects include Literature, Math (Levels 1 & 2), US and World History, the Sciences, and an assortment of Foreign Languages. Many colleges will require or recommend that students take at least one or two SAT IIs, and some might even ask that you take a particular subject, so be certain to check out the admissions requirements for EACH college to which you’re applying.

Test dates are typically the same as those for the SAT, and at one-hour per test (no matter what subject), students can take up to three SAT IIs on any given date. Subject tests are being offered alongside the SAT on May 1st and June 5th, so if you haven’t already be sure to:

  1. Begin your research on which of your colleges require SAT subject tests.
  2. Start thinking about what subject tests you feel comfortable taking on.
  3. Devise your SAT II battle-plan!

For some guidance on your colleges’ SAT II reqs, use the College Board’s “Find a College” feature. Search colleges by name, click on the “Admissions” tab, and check out what is said about SAT IIs under “Admission Policies and Factors.”

And because vocabulary will ALWAYS help you, don’t forget to get started with Vocab Videos–SAT and SAT II vocabulary the fun & effective way!


SAT Preparation: Helpful Reminders for the Upcoming SAT & ACT

The March SAT (3/13/10) and April ACT (4/10/10) are fast-approaching, and the Vocab Videos team wanted to offer you a few reminders for the home stretch:

  • Remember to Register! If you haven’t already, be sure to register for your upcoming test! Sign up for the SAT by following the instructions at If you’ve missed the February 10th registration deadline, there’s still time; late registration for the March SAT is available through 2/18/10 (mail) and 2/24/10 (phone/online). Sign up here for the ACT. The registration deadline is 3/5/10 and while we don’t recommend you wait, the late registration deadline is 3/19/10.
  • Stay on top of your game: Just because the end is near (for some of you) doesn’t mean it’s time to slow down or give up–stay on top of your test-prep game! These last few weeks are important and there’s still room for improvement. Continue to put in your best effort with your tutors, brush up on your vocabulary*, and stay committed to doing your best.
  • Keep taking practice tests: Taking SAT practice tests could very well be your best form of review for the real SAT. The more familiar you are with the SAT, the more comfortable you’ll be come the actual test date. Knowing what to expect in terms of content, question type, and your time management ability, will greatly improve your test-time mentality. Check out this free SAT practice test available through the College Board.

Taking the upcoming SAT or ACT? There's still time! Continue to stay committed to your SAT prep.


*Don’t forget: learning SAT vocabulary words is one sure way to improve your SAT reading score up to 150 points! With vocabulary, you either know it or you don’t, and on the SAT vocabulary knowledge is a must. Learn it the fun & effective way with Vocab Videos, and be sure to check out the new Vocab Videos trailer!


SAT Preparation: 6 Myths About the SAT

Whether we like it or not, the SAT plays an extremely significant role in getting students accepted into college. Because of its magnitude, people are going to talk about the SAT, but not everything people say is going to be true. Below are a few myths commonly associated with the big test:

  1. Different SAT test dates vary in difficulty: This one gets thrown out there all the time. Many students are convinced that one testing date may offer a more difficult SAT than the next testing date. Some students, for instance, believe that all the geniuses come out to take the SAT in January and March, and steer clear because of a potentially skewed curve. There is no truth to this notion; there is no link between SAT testing date and test difficulty.
  2. The SAT is a good indication of how I will do in college: False, or shall we say, not necessarily. The SAT is not an indicator of how well you will do in college. There can be excellent students who are just not the best standardized test-takers. What the SATs reflect is how good you are at taking the test, and how long you’ve spent preparing. But there continues to be a great amount of weight placed on the SAT in the world of college admissions, so get preparing!
  3. You can’t really improve your critical reading score: You can improve your SAT critical reading score–significantly. The surest way to do so is by expanding your vocabulary. In fact, improving your SAT vocabulary can increase your SAT critical reading score up to 150 points, as a large part of the reading section is vocabulary-dependent. Sentence completions and reading comprehension depend upon your understanding of words in questions, answers, and passages.
  4. The math on the SAT is very complex: By the time you’re taking the SAT, you will have already learned most of what’s being tested on the math portion of the test. The math section of the SAT is largely based on 9th grade math–ratios and percents, some geometry, and algebra concepts like factoring, functions, and quadratic equations. So, start reviewing to get these concepts fresh in your mind again. There’s also a few tricks to beat the clock. Because you’re given answer choices, on appropriate questions instead of setting up an algebraic equation and solving for variables, you can plug-in answer choices to test them against what the question‘s asking.
  5. Colleges don’t look at the writing section: So it’s the newest addition to the SAT test, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter!  This myth started when students began hearing that colleges weren’t counting the writing section as much as math and reading. We say be on the safe side and get yourself as strong in the writing section as possible. Still not convinced? At least check in about this with each one of the schools you’re applying to.
  6. Taking the test more than once looks bad on your college application: Wrong again. Most students re-test, and there‘s nothing wrong with it. If you’re not happy with your scores, taking the SAT again is a great option. You should know, however, that the scores won’t magically increase. In fact, because the SAT aims to test intelligence, and students don’t typically become more “intelligent” from one test to another, re-testing typically allows for a very mediocre score improvement . So from one test to the next, we’d recommend an increase in SAT preparation. Studying vocabulary is a good idea because it’s one thing you can definitely improve. With words, you either know them or you don’t, and on the SAT knowing them pays off.

Preparing for the SAT? Don't believe everything you hear.


SAT Preparation: 5 Commandments for the Final Stretch

You have spent your entire high school careers studying, taking tests and writing essays all in the hope of getting into that dream school.   And yet there are still SATs to take and scores to improve.  Before you throw up your hands in frustration, break down and cry into your pillow, or decide that being a 6th year senior is actually a cool idea, here are 5 essential things you can do to increase your chances of nailing a top score this fall. 


  1. Keep Studying – Hope alone will not raise your SAT score any more than it will win you the lottery.*  Students who take practice tests, study vocabulary, and refine techniques are much more likely to see higher scores than those who are simply hoping to sit next to the smart kid and cheat.
  2. Don’t Stress – Adding pressure to an SAT only hurts your problem solving abilities.  Taking a test in the fall is no more stressful than one in the spring, and to be honest, you are now a little older and little wiser (hopefully).  Many of my students have hit their top scores in October, November and December precisely because they went in stress-free.  If they got more points great.  If not, well, they had already submitted their scores and no one would ever know about this last attempt.**
  3. dont_stop_believing_stop_sign1– Many students think they have little chance of scoring higher on a 2nd or 3rd SAT attempt.  True some students don’t improve, but even just the confidence that comes with experience can have an impact.  You are taking the test again for a reason, so if you don’t believe in yourself what’s the point?
  4. Don’t Cheat – As the pressure builds, students sometimes feel the urge to find any advantage they can – even if it’s dishonest.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CHEAT ON THE SAT.  It’s just not worth it.  You have spent years building an academic profile and thinking that a few stolen answers will be the difference between acceptance and rejection is ridiculous.  Colleges see your scores in a range anyway and if you get caught you aren’t getting in anywhere.  You don’t want to live in your parents’ basement for the next few years. 
  5. Get a Grip on Reality – Taking the SAT may seem overwhelming at times, but it’s just a bunch of English and math questions with some bubbling thrown in.  True, bubbling can be hard and the reading passages may not be your idea of a good time, but it’s just a test.  Colleges look at the whole picture, and you should too. 

* If you have already won the lottery you are definitely luckier than the rest of us so I hope your test bursts into flames to balance out the universe. 

** Score Choice for the SAT functions differently for particular colleges so always check on for details.  In some cases there is an ethical way to avoid sending a final score even to schools who want all scores.


SAT Registration: Follow These Simple Instructions…

Sometimes navigating websites even to do what seem like the simplest tasks can be overly complicated. But when you’re preparing for the SAT, you’re under enough stress! Follow the clear-cut instructions below to register for the SAT through without a hitch.

  1. Go to
  2. If you already have a College Board account—sign in. Otherwise, under “My Organizer” click “Sign Up,” enter your information, and create a user name and password.
  3. When signed in, go to and click “Register Now.”
  4. Fill out your basic information to get to the “Select Test and Center tab.”
  5. The rest is self-explanatory!

If you’re still in the stages of SAT preparation don’t forget to learn your SAT vocabulary which could help you raise your score up to 150 points!

Good luck on your SAT!


SAT Preparation: Have a Plan!


Preparing for a standardized test like the SAT or ACT? Have a plan!

If you’re just beginning to embark on the test preparation journey, it’s safe to say that you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. The test prep process is one that can be stressful. After all, standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, whether we like it or not, are extremely important—they help determine where one is accepted into college. And, it’s no secret that where one goes to college can certainly influence his or her future. Below are a few tips for staying on top of your SAT test preparation.  It is students, themselves, who are largely in control of creating a plan for test-prep success…and sticking to it.

  • Make a Schedule:  Set goals for yourself. Assign a certain amount of time each day to working on test prep, whether you’re taking the SAT or ACT (or any standardized test, for that matter).  Make a plan with your tutor outlining what you hope to accomplish, or resolve to study from your review book for thirty minutes a night. A commitment and a little review per day can go a long way.
  • Study Vocabulary: If you’ve got plenty of time before you take the SAT and/or ACT, and are wondering what you can do to start preparing for your college entrance exams, the answer is STUDY YOUR SAT VOCABULARY!  Vocabulary is an essential part of test prep success, and a manageable way to get a head a head start in your SAT preparation. Essentially, you can start learning it at any age. Study a little vocab a day; knowing you SAT vocabulary will mean higher scores on your verbal sections.
  • Take Practice Tests: This is often, far and away, the best form of review. Take as many SAT and ACT practice exams as you can! Come to know what to expect when it comes to the format, question types, and your time management skills. The more comfortable you are with the test, the more comfortable you will be on the big day.
  • Read: There are lots of wonderful reasons for reading, but if you didn’t know, it can be extremely useful when you’re preparing for your college entrance exams. Pick up the newspaper or go take out a book from the library. Have a dictionary on hand to look up any words you come across that you don’t know (we can’t emphasize enough how crucial SAT vocabulary is!). You’ll be reading about subjects you’re not necessarily familiar with on the SAT and ACT, so get some practice. Make sure that you’re able to grasp the reading passages’ key content.
  • Prepare Essay Examples: It’s a good idea to use past SAT essay prompts to practice writing the essay.  But there is a step you should take before sitting down to practice writing your SAT essay: Prepare your examples! Come up with a handful of essay examples and stories that you can work into nearly any SAT essay topic. Having some well-rehearsed examples to apply to your SAT essay will save you precious time on the test and likely help earn you a higher score.

What good is a SAT study plan if you’re not going to stick to it?  Make sure you stick to your test-prep study schedule! Study some vocabulary every day; do a practice SAT or ACT section a few times a week; be sure to show some commitment. This is important; it will undoubtedly pay off when you’re mailbox is filled with college acceptance letters!


SAT Preparation: A New Style SAT Program with SAT Teacher Training

High school students preparing for the SAT, or for that matter going through the whole college admissions process, may need a lesson in time management. Between SAT preparation, school assignments and studying, and all the extracurricular activities in which they find themselves involved, students today have a lot on their plates. Yet each obligation, in its own way, plays an important role in college admittance:

  • High GPA
  • High SAT scores
  • Involvement in Extracurriculars, Athletics, Community Service to fill up an college activity resume
A Lot on My Plate

Applying to college? You've got a lot on your plate...

SAT preparation and “regular school” are often separate endeavors. SAT prep tends to be a different type of “homework.” Students may get home from school right before their SAT tutor comes over, or perhaps they’re spending a portion of their weekend at an SAT class or studying from their own test prep manual. Whatever the case, SAT preparation isn’t usually integrated into the typical school day, but doing so could very well serve to benefit students and teachers.

New York based educational services company, A-List Education (, is trying to bring schools and SAT prep together with a new kind of SAT program. The sat teacher training program involves providing the schools with the resources necessary to manage their own, in-house SAT preparation courses that can be offered at no cost to their students.  Expert SAT tutors equip school English and math teachers with the content and strategies needed to master the SAT. Teachers receive A-List’s extensive suite of SAT materials including the online vocabulary system, Vocab Videos (, and companion teacher aids that not only provide explanations of answers but also the reasoning behind common mistakes students make and how to correct them. A-List consults school administrators to develop a customized curriculum and course structure, and stays involved throughout the program providing detailed score reports to assess each student’s progress, indicate to teachers where a student is struggling, and suggest techniques to help improve scores.

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Here are a few reasons why an SAT course is important and why running it in a school could be the way to go:

  • A bad SAT score can tarnish an otherwise impressive academic record.
  • When it comes to the SAT, it’s less about what you know (the content learned in school) than how you apply it (through various SAT strategies).
  • The program allows teachers, who have first-hand knowledge of students’ proficiencies, to build on their relationships with students and provide them with an SAT program that is fundamentally tailored to their needs.
  • By the time most students take the SAT, their math classes are teaching concepts far beyond what they will need on the test. English classes in school tend to focus on literature, specific books and literary history, while the SAT tests general reading comprehension without any specific literary knowledge.
  • Establishing separate classes specifically geared toward SAT preparation can ensure that students gain and refine the skills they need without sacrificing time from other classes.
  • Subsidizing the cost will shift the burden of cost away from the students, who may not be able to afford the best courses.
  • Holding courses during the school day will make it easier for students to attend without sacrificing time for schoolwork, sports, or the arts.
  • The school’s imprimatur upon the classes will make students take the work more seriously than they would independent classes, which are often viewed as extracurricular and therefore optional.
  • Training faculty in new subject matter will create a new level of valuable expertise in staff that can grow stronger and more refined over the years

An in-school SAT program of this kind gives high schools the capability to develop sustainable, high-quality programming that they can continually offer to students.


SAT Preparation: Staying Focused during the Holidays

It’s easy to get distracted during the holiday season, but doing what you can to stay focused will make your return to the realities of school and SAT preparation that much easier. Enjoy your time off, but make the most of it. Here are a few suggestions for staying on top of your SAT prep game during the upcoming winter break:

  • Get Your Rest: This may not have been what you thought our first recommendation would be, but catching up on some probably much-needed rest is essential to a healthy body and brain! Get some of the sleep that you missed out on when you were up late studying for that last test or writing that final paper your teachers tried to squeeze in before break.  Once well-rested, you’ll be re-focused, revitalized, and ready to set your mind to the task at hand.
  • Do Manageable Tasks: We know Christmas break likely isn’t the time you’ll want to spend hours reviewing your SAT manual or writing college essays, but there are ways to use your time wisely without overdoing it. Read the newspaper to learn new words and grasp the general idea behind stories. Watch Vocab Videos to learn crucial SAT vocabulary. Take 25 minutes to do a practice SAT math section. They’re simple, painless tasks you can do to stay on top of your SAT game.   
  • Finishing Touches on College Applications: With most college application deadlines right around the corner, you’re probably looking forward to getting applications off to colleges and out of your hands. But make sure that you’re sending off your best quality work. Don’t skip out on the finishing touches. Make any necessary adjustments to polish up your college essay, go over your activities resume to make sure you’ve mentioned all of your community involvement, and review applications one last time to make sure you’ve included everything.

Please ENJOY YOUR BREAK, but stay motivated with relatively simple (but important!) tasks to keep on top of the college admissions process.


SAT Study Guides: Article Reveals Numerous Errors in Popular SAT Books

If you can’t trust your SAT book when preparing for your college entrance exams what can you trust? Every year, students on the college admissions journey, face the increasingly difficult task of getting into college—preferably a good one and/or the one they wish to attend.  A large part of the typically stressful process, and what ultimately plays a significant role in getting students into their choice colleges, are SAT/ACT scores. No matter what test prep avenue students and parents choose, most include acquiring an SAT book of some kind for guidance and at-home practice and preparation. And so it is both astonishing and unacceptable to discover that many commonly used SAT guides, like Wiley’s “Mastering the SAT Math” and Barron’s “SAT Math Workbook,” contain mistakes—and not just few, but up to 36 errors! (For more details on these shocking figures check out Fox NY’s revealing article here

These revelations are unfair to all students using these SAT guide books. “As if preparing for the SAT’s wasn’t difficult already, now students have to navigate through the big mistakes made by major publishers,” the article states. Those students who are actually taking the initiative to try to improve their SAT scores on their own are being exposed to inaccurate information; in some cases, the right answer isn’t even listed as an option!

While we’re not trying to scare you, in a way this article reinforces an important point—when it comes to SAT preparation, ultimately, responsibility lies in a students’ hands. That’s not to say it in any way should be your responsibility to fact-check SAT books, but the time, effort, and dedication you put into your SAT preparation is up to you.  So while you unfortunately may not be able to trust every SAT book out there, you can trust that putting the time into taking practice tests and learning the strategies needed to master the SAT will help you earn your best SAT score.

For dependable tips for getting SAT-ready, check out our blog “5 Tips from Harvard Pros on Getting Ready for the SAT” (


SAT Test Preparation: How to Make Educated Guesses on College Entrance Exams

So, on multiple choice tests, the right answer is always there. The obvious problem is you may not always know what that correct answer is.  But in some cases, it’s worth taking an educated guess, especially when you can limit your answer choices. Below are a few things you should know that will help you make educated guesses on the SAT and ACT.


  • On the SAT, there are penalties for wrong answers, so avoid random guessing (that is, guessing when you’re completely clueless as to what the correct answer is).
  • Educated guessing, however, is a good option. You only lose ¼ of a point of raw score for wrong answers, but you earn one full point for each right answer. So on the SAT, it’s statistically advantageous to make an educated guess if you can eliminate 1 or 2 (preferably) answers.
  • If you’re investing time on a question, it’s worth taking a risk and making an educated guess. Don’t waste time working on a problem and then not make your best guess.


  • On the ACT, there are no penalties for guessing/wrong answers, so never leave answers blank!
  • Each answer choice (A, B, C, D etc.) shows up about 20-25% of the time as the correct answer; it’s best to be consistent and designate one letter as your guessing answer.
  • As a strategy for picking your optimal guessing answer (because each answer choice does show up roughly 20-25% of the time), look at your scantron’s bubbled-in answers and choose the letter that appears the least.

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Of course, you never want guessing to be your first option. It’s always best to go into a test like the SAT and ACT as prepared as possible, equipped with strategies to help you solve problems and answer as many questions correctly as possible. But there are always those instances where we encounter tough questions that we just can’t figure out, and wasting time trying to work through them usually isn’t worth it. So in some cases, it’s certainly worth taking your best educated guess.

*For a laugh and how NOT to guess, check out this link:

If you enjoyed these suggestions, and for help being prepared with all the vocabulary you’ll need-so you don’t have to guess-CHECK OUT VOCAB VIDEOS!