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1. US News as on 25th Nov 2013.
Planning SAT preparation can be a test all by itself. Listening to advice from fellow test-takers, teachers and the vast world of online resources might overwhelm you as you devise a study plan that best suits you.
Start by narrowing your search with these five SAT prep resources that you'll be thankful for throughout your journey.

1. Free practice exams:
At the start of your SAT prep, it is important to assess your strengths and challenges on the exam. Taking a practice test is one of the best ways to decide how to tailor your study plan to your specific skills. Begin by trying the College Board's Official SAT Practice Test.
Continue assessing your exam-taking skills throughout your prep schedule with free test questions and exams available online. Once you take a practice exam, try the College Board's skills assessment tool for tips on developing specific skills.
Scoring your timed practice sections is the only way to understand yourself as an SAT test-taker and to determine your most personalized approach to the exam.

2. Writing resources:
The SAT essay section moves quickly and serves up a challenge in the same way that any timed writing exam does. As with all aspects of SAT prep, the best way to become comfortable with the essay is to practice at least four to five timed essays before test day, and score them.
Scoring the essays is a good way to include people who want to support you in your preparation. Ask them to read and score your essays, as well as note grammatical concerns or awkward parts of your piece.
Look for any patterns in their feedback, such as passive voice, subject-verb agreement problems or punctuation issues. Your family members might not use those terms, but you should evaluate the constructive criticism and try to name the problems so you can fix them for the actual exam.
Many online writing centers offer handouts and even videos that explain common writing problems. Once you identify, name and learn to revise your errors, you can walk into the exam prepared to proofread for those specific concerns before time is up.

3. Online vocabulary builders:
The SAT verbal section is notorious for its challenging vocabulary. Many classic SAT words come from scholarly sources, which assume audiences with high levels of education and a specialized vocabulary.
It is natural for these words to be unfamiliar to high school students. There are many free vocabulary-building sites. Flashcard Flash is a search engine that finds flashcards from several websites. Flashcards come in mobile app form, too, and many are free.

4. Online math explanations:
Very few students express gratitude for math questions, but during SAT prep, students frequently become appreciative of anything that helps make sense of their SAT challenges.
One website, Free SAT Math, offers a very straight forward SAT math problem-explanation set-up. Students can access math problems and answer choices, and can get help or see reference material.
The simplicity of the site is what makes it attractive. There is nothing to navigate. You can focus on the issue at hand – math practice.

5. Online games:
Test prep can be fun! For instance, some people find the math section challenging simply because they don't like working with numbers.
Online Sudoku puzzles can help build confidence in number relationships and keep the mind nimble while breaking from the exam format. Students with more time to prepare can consider a free basic membership to Lumosity, a brain game program that claims to sharpen critical thinking, among many other skills, through an individualized program.
Online games are a strong resource for students who have thought ahead and want to increase the speed and agility of their critical thinking.
No matter how many skills a student needs to develop before exam day, these five resources are flexible enough to meet a variety of test prep challenges.


2. Avoid Running Out of Time on the SAT, ACT
By Brian Witte
November 18, 2013

When taking the SAT or ACT, manage the clock and remember that the goal is to get your best possible score, not a perfect score.
With enough practice and time, students can work through every question on the SAT or ACT. In fact, time management is often the major difference between a good test score and an excellent test score.
Studying for the exams is often as much about understanding how to efficiently use your time as it is about memorization or problem-solving skills. There are three rules of thumb to help you maximize your chances of success on the SAT or ACT.

1. Create an outline to maximize writing time:
The key to the essay component of each test is the effective organization and succinct communication of ideas. The allotted time is simply not enough to communicate anything but the simplest and most direct ideas.
Start your studying by finding a list of essay prompts and allowing yourself five minutes each to outline a response. Every outline should contain a strong thesis statement that clearly declares your position as well as two to three pieces of supporting evidence.
Completing the essay is then simply a matter of connecting the pieces. Practicing this approach makes the process flow smoothly, and the five minutes spent organizing your thoughts will allow you to write proficiently.

2. Spend one minute per math question:
When you take practice tests, be vigilant about following the time limits for each section, particularly math. Better yet, try practicing completing the section with five minutes fewer on the clock. If you can adapt to a shortened test time frame, you are more likely to finish when dealing with the stress of test day.
Another strategy is to keep moving through questions, no matter what. Allow a little over one minute per question, and move on if you are unable to find an answer in that time. For the ACT, take your best guess and move on since there is no penalty for wrong answers. For the SAT, you should only guess if you have been able to eliminate at least one possible answer – otherwise, your score will go down.
It hurts to leave questions blank, but spending five minutes to answer one question means you will be leaving five other questions blank when you run out of time. Do the math – it's not a good trade. Circle the questions you skip or guess on, and come back to them if you finish with time left over.
Completing practice tests can also help you with a key test-taking strategy: getting to know your nemesis. The SAT math sections are arranged in roughly ascending levels of difficulty, with the final three to four questions of each section being the most difficult.
If you consistently miss those last few questions on practice tests, simply plan to count them as extra credit on the actual exam. If time remains when you have answered everything else, see if you can find a solution to the harder questions. If you can answer at least one, consider it a bonus. Remember that your goal is not to get a perfect score, but to get your best possible score.

3. Skim questions first and reread as needed:
Reading comprehension is the most difficult section of each test from a time management perspective. Most students run into difficulty with the reading sections because they read each passage closely on first approach before they ever look at the questions.
The problem with this technique is that many test-takers end up reading each passage three to four times once they get to the questions. Most students can't recall the passages in sufficient detail to answer the questions directly, and must go back to scan the passages for evidence to support their answers.
A more efficient use of time, especially for slower readers, is to skim the passages to get a basic sense of the topic and voice. Then, scan the questions and look for ones that refer to particular lines of text. Do those questions first and save the questions regarding the general sense of the passage for last.
By the time you have answered the questions that reference specific lines of text, you will have a good sense of the passage as a whole. Be sure to answer all the questions regarding a particular passage before going on to the next. This strategy applies to the long sections of text in the science portion of the ACT as well.
Overall, remember to simulate test conditions during practice tests. There is no substitute for learning to apply your hard-earned problem-solving techniques under pressure

3. What Students, Parents Should Know About Falling SAT Scores
By Caroline Duda
November 4, 2013

A low SAT score does not necessarily mean a high school student is unprepared for higher education.
The College Board, the organization that develops and administers the SAT, recently released a series of statistics with worrying implications for students in pursuit of higher education.
Of those individuals who sat for the SAT in 2013, only 43 percent reached or exceeded the College Board's bar for college preparedness, the report states. Students who achieved this score were deemed more likely to graduate from a higher education program within four years.
But what about the other 57 percent – the majority of American high school students who took the test – who failed to meet this designation? Is it possible for students to improve their SAT scores in the coming years and therefore better prepare themselves for higher education? Yes.

First, understand that the exam has flaws. It's not hard to find a headline that condemns educators and students for the 2013 SAT results. Low marks are cause for attention, but students and parents must take comfort in the fact that the circumstances and situation are not entirely as they appear.
The average SAT score in 2013 was a 1498. However, high school students' performance on this test has remained relatively consistent over the last half-decade. The 2013 scores are poor, but their decline is not precipitous.
Some point to an increase in test-takers from all walks of academic life and a disconnect between what SAT creators view as central to school success and what higher education institutions actually require of students as they prepare for college as reasons for the decline.
Exam vocabulary, for instance, may not always reflect the language used in high school and university classrooms. Students need to appreciate the difference between what the SAT recognizes as intelligence and what real-life scenarios require for success.

This requires re-evaluating the skills and knowledge necessary for success in higher education and the workforce. While terms like "lachrymose" and "obdurate" are rife on the SAT, it may not be as important for a university student to commit them to memory as it is to be able to concisely articulate a specific perspective. And trigonometry is not a central component of readiness for many careers.
For the class of 2014, the college admissions process is decidedly not going to change. Students can significantly improve their marks by understanding one important reality: The SAT is a test. It does not measure innate intelligence.

It does not even assess an individual's high school growth. It evaluates a student's ability to recognize a problem type and employ an appropriate solution or strategy.
The SAT can be taught, and it should not be correlated to inherent academic aptitude. Instead, recognize the test's relationship to critical thinking and problem-solving, and study accordingly.
The College Board intends to revise both its SAT content and delivery in the near future, a major change that high school underclassmen should begin familiarizing themselves with now. This is an important first step in developing an authentic form of assessment that would directly relate to students' lives and be able to more accurately measure their intelligence and skill sets.
Until then, students should recognize the test's relationship to critical thinking and problem-solving. When students believe they can excel at a given task, their likelihood of doing so dramatically increases. Explicit instruction in this regard, whether via text or tutor, is the best and most immediate response to low SAT scores.

4. Break Through an ACT or SAT Test Score Plateau
By Meghan Moll , November 11, 2013

There are few things more frustrating in the college application process than making a serious effort to improve your performance on the ACT or SAT only to see your scores hit a slump. It can be especially maddening if your scores are falling just short of your goal.
You may think you're alone, but a stagnant score is more common among prospective college students than you might think.
According to the ACT, 21 percent of students who took the exam more than once had no change in their composite score, while 22 percent actually saw their score decrease.
If you are taking practice test after practice test without much change and feel as stuck as your scores, here are four tips to help you overcome the scoring plateau and reach your target test score the next time you sit for the exam.

1. Know yourself as a learner:

Students often study Latin when prepping for the SAT and ACT, but the ancient Greek aphorism "know thyself" can also prove helpful. The better you know yourself as a learner, the better you will be able to tailor a personalized study plan for your improvement.
Spend some time recognizing how you learn best, whether that is visually, aurally, physically or a combination of the three. Decoding how you learn will help you refine your approach to mastering SAT and ACT questions.
Take the time to identify your skill sets so you can put them to work for you. For example, if you are a math whiz but a slow reader, figure out a way to implement your logical, step-by-step problem-solving skills throughout the whole test. Knowing all the aspects of your learning style is crucial to success.

2. Isolate your weaknesses:

Many SAT and ACT practice test books will give a fairly comprehensive breakdown of the questions and your answers. When reviewing how you did on each practice test section, see if you can recognize a pattern and then fix your mistakes.
Spend the most time on your weakest areas. If you notice you are consistently answering all of the geometry questions incorrectly, dedicate more time to brushing up on those skills.
Identifying a pattern in your weaknesses, whether it is a struggle with certain types of questions or an entire section altogether, will help you understand how to more constructively use your study time.

3. Change your routine:

If your scores are in a rut, your brain and body may be, too. Try switching things up, whether that means finding a new time of day or location to study, approaching your prep plan with a fresh outlook or changing the prep book you're using. Books with new strategies and nuggets of information can make all the difference.
Also, physically getting out of your rut by making a change in your exercise routine could also be just what your brain needs to move past your plateau point.

4. Overcome the anxiety:

It is completely normal to be nervous about prepping for and taking a college admissions exam. In fact, recognize that being a little nervous can show you genuinely care.
Calm your nerves by setting attainable goals throughout the course of studying. Answer five more math problems than you did during your last timed session, or strive to answer all noun-verb agreement questions correctly.
Achieving small victories will help lessen anxiety and build confidence in your abilities. Use study breaks to analyze where you are, acknowledging both gains and areas for improvement.
Use this reflection to create a more effective plan moving forward. Keep your stress level in check by incorporating yoga, walking or another form of exercise into your routine.
As discouraging as it may be to feel stuck in a test score rut, it's important to keep your head held high and continue to try. A plateau doesn't have to be permanent, so use these tips and take control.

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