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What to do after the first SAT

The following are some frequent scenarios we encounter with parents and students, and our prescriptions for what to do in those situations...

Student has: Scored above the best practice test AND is satisfied with how the score relates to college prospects:

You're probably done, though there's nothing wrong with taking the SAT a 2nd or 3rd time. No college averages scores. A little study and randomness / good luck could result in a few more points. If it doesn't, there is no downside in the eyes of admissions offices. Some colleges might not give you the full benefit of the score if it's your 4th test, so we'd stop if this solid score was on the third try.

Student has: Scored significantly below the best practice test OR is unsatisfied with how the score relates to college admission prospects:

Take SAT again. Make use of our resources like help line, and the electronic tutoring. Join us for any area practice tests offered in the fall. Consider tutoring if the student didn't get what he/she should from the class. The majority of our students will make significant improvements on the next test, and we've seen 150 point increases from a test that falls just 1 month later.

Student has:   Scored well on one section but not the other:

Take the test again. Do targeted tutoring toward that problem section. Do some study for both sections (you can pile on points on the GOOD section too). By "some study" we mean continue to build vocabulary, do a partial practice test every other week, and review notes in the binder. We are NOT asking for the same level of intensiveness as you had in the course, but we don't believe in showing up for another test cold.

A more specific Plan for adding more CR points:

  1. Please analyze the breakdown of Reading Comp versus "Short Verbal" (Sentence Completions). Success on short verbal is primarily vocabulary-driven. The words and root words contained in the binder give a good start, and for those students who want to devour vocabulary, we can supplement with an Excel spreadsheet containing the definitions to EVERY high and medium level word that has been tested on published versions of the SAT since 1994.

    Devouring vocabulary requires discipline. We recognize that with all the competition for a student's time, mastering vocabulary will strike most students as among the lowest of priorities. We can prod with the wisdom that good vocabulary CAN help with English grades, and with the knowledge that improved vocabulary almost surely results in better SAT scores, with better college offers, and more scholarship money as a concomitant result.

    We are not in your home to regiment this. But we can prod via a "contract." If the student wants help with structuring a summer vocabulary program, let us know and we will be happy to oblige.
  2. Use the quizzes on www.ivypower.net. If you have yet to go there your authorization code is ivy248student.
  3. Complete the crosswords and other material following Lesson 2 in the Ivy Bound binder.
  4. If you have not accessed the extra tests (4 - 6, and PT 305) - there are four that are not in the Ivy Bound Binders or Official SAT Study Guide - consider investing in them and using Help Line to Review. All tutoring students who signed on with Ivy Bound's "Option 3" have received these extra tests and have this access at no charge. Otherwise it's $250 for full access and you may use Help Line for six more months (9:15pm Eastern, Tuesday and Thursday nights).
  5. If you are unwilling or unable to absorb a lot of vocabulary, consider taking the ACT instead of another SAT. You can assess your incoming ACT ability by taking any of the three tests in The Real ACT Prep Guide on sale at Borders or Barnes & Noble.

A more specific Plan for adding more math points:

As for squeezing more points out of the math, it is hard because:

  1. With fewer questions and for many kids with extraordinarily strong math backgrounds, just making a few errors is especially punitive at the high end. Each missed question typically drops you 20 points throughout the 700 range. ("With a 660, I suspect he only missed 8 or 9 questions.")
  2. Math is a more diffuse set of skills. While we've identified 30 general skill categories, each question typically has a significant nuance that we may or may not have encountered. No one question is even more than 50% likely to be repeated on a given test.

Nevertheless, our prescription for math is:

  1. Review notes in the Ivy Bound binder.
  2. If you have not accessed the extra tests (4 - 6, and PT 305) - there are four that are not in the Ivy Bound Binders or Official SAT Study Guide - consider investing in them and using Help Line to Review. All tutoring students who signed on with Ivy Bound's "Option 3" have received these extra tests and have this access at no charge. Otherwise it's $250 for full access and you may use Help Line for six more months (9:15pm Eastern, Tuesday and Thursday nights).
  3. Look back at questions in the Official SAT Study Guide and on practice SATs that beat you. Commit to "how will I avoid that error next time". Use the Help line on Thursday nights with your saved up questions. 9:15pm Eastern - pass code is available to all clients. From Sept 5 - Nov 2 we add a separate Monday Help Line session for math. On those weeks Mondays is for the medium and lower level questions (1s, 2, and 3s) while Thursdays is for high level math (4s and 5s).
  4. If the student really wants to be voracious about it, we can mail a 9-pack of extra practice tests from in the old format (pre 2004). These cannot be scored to scale, but they contain valid questions that still exemplify current test questions. We have electronic explanations to questions from 4 of the 9 tests. The 9-pack is a $324 surcharge.
  5. If there is an Ivy Bound practice test offered in the area prior to the next SAT, sign up to attend, even if it's a telephone attendance. There's no charge, but it's on a space-available basis, so we do ask students and parents to inform us two weeks in advance if they are planning to attend, and realize that their commitment might mean someone else is denied admittance because of space limitations, so please take the commitment seriously.

A more specific Plan for adding more Writing points:

  1. Make sure you are faxing to us practice essays. Our comments can occasionally help on the grammar section, reminding students about frequently-tested "do-and-don'ts". Use the forms in the back of the burgundy binder and fax to 860-760-6255.
  2. Review the Front sections of the Burgundy Binder to lock down the oft-tested grammar strategies.
  3. Revise your "Game Plan". Fill out all four areas with Micro topics, Macro Topics, Books, and Quotations. You want to go into the next test with an arsenal of examples to support your essay thesis.

These are a few suggestions we make on a regular basis for clients. If they are appropriate for you and your students, great. If not, feel free to contact us to discuss a unique situation, or to have us craft your own student-specific advice.