In cautious defense of the SAT

There’s a lot of controversy over what the SAT actually measures — and, in fact, whether it actually measures anything at all. Although the test was originally conceived as a form of IQ test, the notion that it is actually capable of measuring innate scholastic ability has essentially been debunked, as has the notion that it can successfully predict a student’s ultimate success or failure in college (the only thing it has been shown to correlate with is freshman college grades). So the question remains...
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Getting from 650 to 750+ on Critical Reading: suggestions for high scorers

For students who are already in the 650-700 range on Critical Reading, attempts to boost their score into the exceptional (750+ range) can be an exercise in frustration. Since reading comprehension comes easily to them naturally, most have never taken the time to truly analyze their responses and instead rely on instinct, answers that “feel right,” to get them through. In my experience, however, there are a couple of factors that typically separate relatively high scorers from exceptionally high scorers, and those factors have absolutely...
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A tip for SAT takers: don’t fight the test

One of the most-common issues that many SAT-takers face, particularly in Critical Reading, is the seeming randomness of many of the answers. While I do agree that the College Board occasionally does in fact come up with a set of answers choices that are uniformly awful, this is actually a pretty rare occurrence. I say this because I have had countless conversations with students about why their (incorrect) answer was truly the right one, or why such-and-such answer could not possibly be correct. While I...
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Does SAT Writing really count?

The short answer: Sometimes it can count for a lot, and sometimes it doesn’t count at all. The long answer: While Writing does not count as much Critical Reading, it still does count at most schools, so it’s advisable to take the section seriously. If a school does not consider the score, there will be an explicit announcement on the admissions page. If you’re scoring in the 700’s on CR and in 500’s on Writing, which is unlikely but theoretically possible, you can’t assume that...
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Where do critical reading passages come from anyway?

One common belief about the reading passages that appear on the SAT/ACT is that they are written specifically for the exam — this assumption is mostly false, but it does contain an element of truth. One on hand, reading passages are always taken from pre-existing sources and are often written by well-known authors of both fiction and non-fiction. There is a heavy emphasis on contemporary prose non-fiction, and works composed prior to the 20th century are relatively rare as compared to works written in the...
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