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Cross-post -- looking into the New PSAT / SAT


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I posted this on the Chat Board, and it was suggested I post it here, too. 


 


Has anyone else looked into the new PSAT / SAT yet? 


 


This is a major revision, in both philosophy and scope. I have taught SAT / PSAT / ACT Prep classes for several years, focusing mainly on math concepts and strategies. I am teaching a PSAT Prep class in a couple of weeks, just before our Co-op starts back up. I have A LOT of prep work to do to be ready to teach this. 


 


Khan Academy is partnering with the College Board to provide free online test prep, which is nice. I haven't done too much with that yet, though, to see how that is going to work. I did pick up the Official SAT Study Guide, published by the College Board, which includes "4 Real SATs", and Barron's Strategies and Practice for the New PSAT / NMSQT. I usually prefer the Princeton Review test prep publications, but Barnes and Noble didn't yet have a PSAT prep book by them that includes strategy suggestions; the one they had just had a couple of practice tests with explanations of the answers. 


 


A few notes, based on my preliminary preparation:


 


  • A significant portion of the math must be done without a calculator. Many of my tutoring students don't know how to graph without their TI-83 or TI-84.
  • While Geometry used to be significant on the PSAT and SAT, now there will only be a couple of problems.
  • Both the PSAT and SAT seem to assume the student has had more training in statistics than I think most students have had at the beginning of their junior year. For instance, the prep books mention things like margin of error, standard deviation, and confidence intervals.
  • Within the math section, there are some questions which have non-numerical (or variable) answers. For example, they will ask the student to select the sentence which would "be the most helpful piece of information to have about the data collected for the table in order to ensure comprehensive and accurate results?" 
  • At least basic trigonometry knowledge is assumed, including working with angles measured in radians, on the PSAT.
  • The Reading and Writing sections include questions which require the student to make inferences from data presented in graphs, charts or tables within the passage to be read. 
  • I'm glad I don't have a student who will be a junior this year and is potentially a National Merit Scholar. There is no telling what these scores are going to look like this year. 
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My oldest has tried the practice tests from here

https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/practice/full-length-practice-tests

 

He didn't need to use the calculator for even the calculator allowed section and he could finish with time to spare. We don't expect the real SAT to be that easy though.

 

He also did the new PSAT practice test downloaded from collegeboard and was okay for the math sections. He used a scientific calculator for that. Finished ahead of time too.

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My oldest has tried the practice tests from here

https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/practice/full-length-practice-tests

 

He didn't need to use the calculator for even the calculator allowed section and he could finish with time to spare. We don't expect the real SAT to be that easy though.

 

I routinely do current-version SAT practice tests without a calculator. It takes me longer to use a calculator than to just do it.

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I routinely do current-version SAT practice tests without a calculator. It takes me longer to use a calculator than to just do it.

A graphing calculator would be an overkill and a distraction for the SAT or PSAT or ACT for the test takers. Easier to just bring a simple dual powered (solar and batteries) scientific calculator. Just my opinion.

 

ETA:

Section 1 is my boy's weakest section but he did finish all the sections within the time limits given.

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A graphing calculator would be an overkill and a distraction for the SAT or PSAT or ACT for the test takers. Easier to just bring a simple dual powered (solar and batteries) scientific calculator. Just my opinion.

 

 

That's what I think, too. When I do my prep classes, I work through tons of practice tests with my students, and I never touch my calculator. I show them how fractions reduce easily, how most right triangles are a 3-4-5 or 5-12-13 or occasionally a 7-24-25, or a multiple of one of those.

 

I also point out that the answer choices are usually in terms or pi or in radical or fraction form, and that they need to look ahead so that if they do use a calculator, they don't go too far and then have to back up. I show them how my $15 Casio displays an answer with the pi or radical symbol right there, or in fraction form, as opposed to their $130 graphing calculator that gives the decimal approximation. 

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