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How to prep for SAT for a very academic kid who has never taken a standardized test


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Hi all,

 

DS is a dual citizen living his whole life in NZ. He is interested in applying for elite universities in America (possibly Harvard, MIT, Princeton). He has the credentials to have a shot at getting in, but NZ does not have American style standardized tests so he has never taken one. I'm trying to lay out a plan for him to shine in a format that will be quite strange for him. He is quite a mathematician, but he will definitely have to prep for the calculator section of the SAT given he has never used a calculator for math.  Also, he reads the Economist and Scientific American, but I don't think he has ever answered a reading comprehension question in his life.  We will also have to do serious prep on the writing, as he does not write fast, nor has he ever done the kind of writing that the SAT requires. So I am looking for general advice as to how to go about preparing and for a recommendation for a good prep book.  There seem to be so many plus some online providers.

 

Also, I understand he has to take some SAT subject tests, he has not settled on any specific schools yet, so I don't know how many, but sounds like 2 is generally expected.  He would be up for Math, Physics, and Chemistry. Is there a specific prep book you would recommend?  All exams in NZ are essay exams, so for Chemistry he wrote 6 one-and-a-half page essays and 10 half page essays in 3 hours (he prints small too). He has never taken a multiple choice test in his life, and I'm guessing he will over think everything.  

 

He would be applying for attendence in September 2018. There are no PSATs that I am aware of in NZ.  There are testing sites for the SAT and subject tests and it looks like they occur multiple times a year, so he could take it more than once. But we are a bit short on time, I think.

 

Open to all advice, 

 

Ruth in NZ

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One easy thing to do is to do the SAT question of the day. I think there is an app for it. My dd does fine on the reading comprehension questions despite not ever really doing those as part of school. The main things are doing practice questions and practice tests. Khan academy has a good SAT practice option. I think it tracks your progress and has you practice any weak spots. Does he have to do the SAT? Is it possible to do the ACT where you are? I think most schools accept both and some kids seem to do better on one than the other. My dd used the Khan SAT section to practice for the PSAT. She has taken the ACT ( and scored well) but has not taken the SAT yet. If she does well enough on the PSAT then she will have to take the SAT - all that to say that some of my advice is theoretical as we haven't done it ourselves yet.

Edited by tcb
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The SAT has changed since my boys have taken it, but from what I have read, many colleges are not requiring the essay so your son (and my D) may not have to worry about writing a formulaic essay and will be able to skip that section of the SAT.  The Math on the SAT will not require knowing how to use a graphing calculator. The calculator is used for basic arithmetic.

 

MIT will want the Math Subject Test (either Level 1 or 2) and a science subject test.  Fwiw, my son submitted the Math Level II, Physics, and Chemistry in his MIT application.  He didn't prep for the Math, but he used Barron's and Sparknotes (free online) to prep for Chemistry and Physics. He hates to memorize and thought the Chemistry SAT was more difficult than the Physics because he had to memorize various facts, such as flame tests, etc.  He scored an 800 on all three exams, so the Barron's and Sparknotes was definitely enough prep.  (Plus the ChemAdvantage class also prepped for the SAT II, so I am sure that helped as well.)

 

Good luck to your son!

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I have no idea if the ACT is offered in New Zealand.  I thought I read somewhere that it was more american centric than the SAT.  Not sure where I got that idea from.  DS will not have read or studyied the traditional American curriculum including the founding documents, American history, MLK, etc. 

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Can you sometimes substitute a competition math exam for the SAT subject test?  So the AIME or USAMO or equivalent? 

 

Chemistry here has a different focus than American Chemistry in high school. Organic Chem is a full one third of the content.  So he would definitely have to do some major prep if he takes chem as he may not have covered the traditional material that Americans cover.  Physics is pretty standard, so I can't see that as a problem. 

 

Congrats on all the 800s!

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I have no idea if the ACT is offered in New Zealand.  I thought I read somewhere that it was more american centric than the SAT.  Not sure where I got that idea from.  DS will not have read or studyied the traditional American curriculum including the founding documents, American history, MLK, etc. 

 

I really don't think those things are necessary knowledge for these standardized tests. Other than Math I don't think they test things you have learned - except maybe grammar. My impression, from my dd's experience is that doing the practice questions just helps you be prepared for the type of questions you're going to face and gives you the chance to learn some short cuts / tactics for getting them done quickly. I don't really have a high opinion of these tests as checking actual knowledge. I think they are tests that some kids find more easy than others, but that, if you do enough practice, you can figure out the patterns etc and improve your scores quite a lot. I know some find these standardized tests difficult to do well on, despite being very smart and well educated, and so I guess my impression about practice being useful might not be true in all cases.

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I wonder if the Australian STAT would carry any weight. It's written by ACER.

 

I know that a high STAT score is taken very seriously for university admission here in Oz, and it requires very little prep, so wouldn't cost your DS on test prep time for US tests.

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There are prep materials from SAT and ACT you can do at home. Probably the best thing you can do is to schedule regular prep time and take several practice tests at home in the simulated timed situation, see how he does, and learn from what was done right/wrong. Good luck! :)

 

SAT Subject Tests

College Board prep materials

College Board Official SAT Subject Tests in Chemistry -- prep book

 

SAT Reasoning Test

College Board Official SAT Study Guide

Khan Academy video tutorials (free)

daily practice app or 

practice tests

 

ACT Test

Official ACT Prep Guide

online prep

pdf booklet (free): Preparing for the ACT Test

practice tests

 

 

If, after some practice tests, he's not scoring as high as you think he should, you might look in to an online prep course. Examples: Prep Expert, Prep Scholar New SAT.

 

Edited by Lori D.
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There are prep materials from SAT and ACT you can do at home. Probably the best thing you can do is to take several practice tests at home in the simulated timed situation and see how he does. Good luck! :)

 

 

:iagree:

 

I agree with Lori, Ruth.  Before you start worrying about it, have him take a practice test.  Once you get an idea of where his scores will be (I suspect that he will do fabulously well), then you can start targeting any specific areas in which he needs work.  Here's a link to the College Board practice SAT page.

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I have no idea if the ACT is offered in New Zealand. I thought I read somewhere that it was more american centric than the SAT. Not sure where I got that idea from. DS will not have read or studyied the traditional American curriculum including the founding documents, American history, MLK, etc.

ACT and the general SAT does not require knowledge of US history or my kids would have complained the minute they got into the car. My older did well, my younger ran out of time as expected, both were doing for us (parents) to get their baseline numbers and in case they want to go to summer camps.

 

A scientific calculator is good enough and if your son use a calculator for physics or chemistry, his calculator skills would already be okay. Some calculator questions could be done faster without using the calculator for SAT and ACT.

 

My kids haven't take the SAT subject tests. The calculator is only allowed for SAT math subject tests.

 

Colouring the Scanton bubbles was a little time consuming. No mechanical pencils allowed. If your son have done AMC10 or AMC12 once, he would already know the drill. My kids used their passports as IDs on the test day.

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The SAT has changed since my boys have taken it, but from what I have read, many colleges are not requiring the essay so your son (and my D) may not have to worry about writing a formulaic essay and will be able to skip that section of the SAT.  The Math on the SAT will not require knowing how to use a graphing calculator. The calculator is used for basic arithmetic.

 

MIT will want the Math Subject Test (either Level 1 or 2) and a science subject test.  Fwiw, my son submitted the Math Level II, Physics, and Chemistry in his MIT application.  He didn't prep for the Math, but he used Barron's and Sparknotes (free online) to prep for Chemistry and Physics. He hates to memorize and thought the Chemistry SAT was more difficult than the Physics because he had to memorize various facts, such as flame tests, etc.  He scored an 800 on all three exams, so the Barron's and Sparknotes was definitely enough prep.  (Plus the ChemAdvantage class also prepped for the SAT II, so I am sure that helped as well.)

 

Good luck to your son!

 

All very good advice!

 

My kids were accepted to MIT and Princeton without tippy top writing scores (essay scores of 8 and 10 on the old SAT). I'm not convinced that it's worth prepping lots for the essay; top schools seem to give kids a little leeway on that portion.

 

I'm currently tutoring for the math section of the revised SAT using the 6 full practice SAT exams on Khan. I'd just start there & have your son try them out. You might be surprised at how well he does & find that he doesn't need a whole lot of prep. Or he might need to work on his timing, but 6 exams might be enough to resolve those kinds of issues.

 

Like snowbeltmom said above, the calculator is needed for messy arithmetic. I use a simple scientific calculator in my tutoring for that section, though my students sometimes feel more comfortable with a fancier graphing model. I haven't seen any problems yet where they're necessary, though. Most of the math questions are straightforward with this latest revision, and I don't see your son having trouble with them after he gets used to the format.

 

My two kids also submitted SAT 2s in math II, chem, and physics, (and Latin; doubt MIT cared about that one) with similar scores to snowbeltmom's kids. Their comments were just like those her kids mentioned. Chem took some memorizing (yuck), physics was more natural (but they reviewed anyway), & math was easiest and didn't really require prep beyond a sample test to make sure they were familiar with the format.

 

We also liked Barron's review book for physics and chemistry. In addition, we purchased the book of released SAT 2 exams (which contains one exam for each subject) published by the College Board. I used those as dry runs after the reviewing was done, just before the test date. Their real scores lined up fairly well with those released tests.

 

Can you sometimes substitute a competition math exam for the SAT subject test?  So the AIME or USAMO or equivalent?

 

Sorry, no. If the colleges want SAT II's, you'd be well advised to submit them! MIT does have a section for AIME or AMC scores on its application, though. They are definitely interested in good competition results, but that's on top of the required SAT/ACT testing.

Edited by Kathy in Richmond
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First, take a full practice test under timed conditions and see if you actually need much prep.

 

The books sold by thecriticalreader.com and by thecollegepanda.com are good, but only prep for the sections where you are weak. Don't waste time on stuff you already know. Do not assume that you don't need the essay since you are applying to highly competitive schools. Those are the ones most likely to want it.

 

Most schools require 0 subject tests, but many competitive schools ask for 2, and a few still ask for 3. A typical strategy might be: STEM majors take Math Level II plus a science. Liberal Arts types take Math Level I plus a liberal arts subject like history.

 

Read the guide to standardized testing by Compass Prep to see if subject tests make sense for your college list:

 

http://www.compassprep.com/compass-guide/

 

... and then double-check the college websites. Some schools have subject tests as "optional" or "recommended" for most applicants, but they are "strongly recommended" or "required" for homeschoolers.

 

Unlike the SATs, there is only one official released practice test per subject test. So, I had my daughter take practice tests out of a prep book, prepare, then take the official practice test. Then she reviewed the mistakes on that the week before taking the subject test.

 

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Does admission as an international student require the same tests as a US student? I know US students applying to schools outside the USA are able to use SAT and AP exams to substitute for GCSE's, so maybe the same would occur the other way? I'd look at that first.

 

And, honestly, have your DS go on Khan and take a timed practice test. I am guessing that he will do exceptionally well with little or no prep needed.

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Wow!  Thanks everyone. I'm on it! My sister is coming to visit in January, so I wanted to buy any prep books to stuff in her suitcase. Sounds like there is a lot of good stuff on line, and that I can just buy a book for each test and be done with it.  I would actually like him to work on the essay writing section as I think that it is a good skill to have.  I am not convinced it will take super long to prep as he has been writing science essays this past year.  But I will say that NO he has never even seen a scan tron. No bubble filling over here!!!  Most New Zealanders are actually shocked by the idea of a multiple choice test as here every thing is essay based. 

 

Too bad that competition maths won't sub in for SAT maths. We certainly have a lot of competition scores over here. Also, most of these competition maths exams are 4.5 hours long so he has some practice with that.  :-)

 

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
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Can you sometimes substitute a competition math exam for the SAT subject test?  So the AIME or USAMO or equivalent? 

 

Chemistry here has a different focus than American Chemistry in high school. Organic Chem is a full one third of the content.  So he would definitely have to do some major prep if he takes chem as he may not have covered the traditional material that Americans cover.  Physics is pretty standard, so I can't see that as a problem. 

 

Congrats on all the 800s!

 

 

Any participation in USAMO is "walking on water" in my book, and I'd like to think that the adcoms would overlook a missing SAT math subject test.  But I wouldn't take that chance.  He should do fine on it, without much prep.  

 

If you want to get him a calculator, buy an HP RPN scientific calculator.  He'll enjoy it more than a regular one.  

 

Buy a Barron's and Princeton Review prep book for the subject tests, and have him review the topics on the test that he isn't familiar with, by reading about them in a standard high school chemistry textbook.  It shouldn't be too hard for him.  

 

A USAMO qualifier can pretty much write his/her own ticket, barring serious deficiencies elsewhere.  

Edited by daijobu
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But I will say that NO he has never even seen a scan tron.

...

Also, most of these competition maths exams are 4.5 hours long so he has some practice with that.

Lori's links upthread has PDFs with the scantron bubble sheets.

 

The ACT and SAT (general and subjects) tests are more like the speed round of a math competition. So have to maximize as many correct answers as possible within the time limit for that section.

The SAT subject tests have penalty for wrong answers so it is maximizing right answers and minimizing wrong ones within 1hr.

The IMO in comparison are long questions rather than speed round style right?

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A USAMO qualifier can pretty much write his/her own ticket, barring serious deficiencies elsewhere.  Like being a neo-Nazi.  

 

Well, I haven't exactly kept it a secret, but I did restrict my posts to the accelerated board -- DS went to the *IMO* last year at age 15, which trumps the USAMO. Now he is from a small country, only 4 million; but he did meet the USA team of 6, and got a problem that one kid didn't, so he was not exactly feeling like the sorry second cousin even though he did not get near a gold like they did.  However, last year he scored top 10 in the UK and top 10 in Australia for his age group.  So I'm serious when I say that I would rather they consider the competition math scores, rather than having him take a regular exam.  Kids like my kid have a habit of overthinking things that seem too easy, and the SAT will by way below his level and will likely confound him. 

 

Arcadia, you are right 4.5 hours with only 3 problems is a very different exam.  This is a very good point. He will need to practice doing lots of baby, easy questions in 4 hours to get a feel for the SAT.  

Edited by lewelma
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Does admission as an international student require the same tests as a US student? 

 

I've spoken with an advisor on Elite university admissions (quark gave me a name), and she said it would be better statistically if ds used his USA citizenship and applied as a USA citizen living abroad rather than an international student. So, yes, same tests. He has to do the SAT. 

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Any participation in USAMO is "walking on water" in my book, and I'd like to think that the adcoms would overlook a missing SAT math subject test.  But I wouldn't take that chance.  He should do fine on it, without much prep.  

 

If you want to get him a calculator, buy an HP RPN scientific calculator.  He'll enjoy it more than a regular one.  

 

Buy a Barron's and Princeton Review prep book for the subject tests, and have him review the topics on the test that he isn't familiar with, by reading about them in a standard high school chemistry textbook.  It shouldn't be too hard for him.  

 

A USAMO qualifier can pretty much write his/her own ticket, barring serious deficiencies elsewhere.  Like being a neo-Nazi.  

 

A note of caution on the calculator:  Make sure that it is on the approved list; only certain models are allowed during the test.  (And that may well be one; I'm just on my first cup of coffee and am too slow to look it up!  Sorry, daijobu, if you covered that!)

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A note of caution on the calculator:  Make sure that it is on the approved list; only certain models are allowed during the test.  (And that may well be one; I'm just on my first cup of coffee and am too slow to look it up!  Sorry, daijobu, if you covered that!)

 

Excellent point, and I agree!  

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Well, I haven't exactly kept it a secret, but I did restrict my posts to the accelerated board -- DS went to the *IMO* last year at age 15, which trumps the USAMO. 

 

Oh, yes, I must have misread your OP.  All these elite competitions are so far beyond anything we've ever been involved with, I'm not as familiar.  

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Good point about the calculator, I'll check his. More than anything, I'm just trying to get my head around the transcript entrance system rather than exam based entrance over here.  DS already has university entrance in NZ.  All I have to do is send in his exam marks and it is done.  American admissions is way more difficult and kind of a serious pain in the neck!

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Good point about the calculator, I'll check his. More than anything, I'm just trying to get my head around the transcript entrance system rather than exam based entrance over here.  DS already has university entrance in NZ.  All I have to do is send in his exam marks and it is done.  American admissions is way more difficult and kind of a serious pain in the neck!

 

Now is a good time to go into application portals and create pretend ones (use an email address you won't normally use). That way you can see how they ask for transcripts to be uploaded, how to report courses and test scores and extra curricular activities etc as well as get a good feel of essay questions and how everything looks once filled out (download the application previews). Just don't submit anything for real. :laugh:

 

MIT's - the student application is at My MIT and use Apply With Us for recommendations.

Common Application - For Ivies, Caltech etc. See this and other threads (Sebastian has written very good how to's)

If you think he might want to try for Berkeley and UCLA - the UC Application

 

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. More than anything, I'm just trying to get my head around the transcript entrance system rather than exam based entrance over here.  DS already has university entrance in NZ.  All I have to do is send in his exam marks and it is done.  American admissions is way more difficult and kind of a serious pain in the neck!

 

Well, actually it is only admission to highly selective American top universities that is difficult.

It is not difficult for a student to get admitted into most other universities. Most American families do not have to deal with the circus that is involved in application to top tier schools.

 

Good luck - let us know if we can help!

Edited by regentrude
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Great point Quark.  Will do that now while we are on summer holidays and I have time. 

 

Regentrude, I'm stewing a bit about the recommendations.  It is the height of rude in NZ to brag so I am expecting any recommendations that my ds gets would be quite understated from the point of view of an American admissions person.  Any suggestions?

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Ok, so for my sister's suitcase so far:

Barrons Chemistry

Barrons Physics

Book of released SAT2 tests

 

I'm still muddling around with what would help for SAT. Looks like 6 practice tests are online for free, so DS would only need something for the essay and possibly something for Critical Reading extra practise. Is barrons critical reading a good choice?  What about for the essay?

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Regentrude, I'm stewing a bit about the recommendations.  It is the height of rude in NZ to brag so I am expecting any recommendations that my ds gets would be quite understated from the point of view of an American admissions person.  Any suggestions?

 

I would approach the recommenders directly, explain the purpose of the recommendation and ask whether they would feel willing and comfortable to write an enthusiastic recommendation letter. 

Even with the local culture of understatement, I would expect professors in academia to be aware of the customs and able to tone up their letters a notch. Surely, this can't be the first time his math prof (or whoever you were thinking of asking) has written a recommendation for a student going to the US - maybe for grad school.

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I'm still muddling around with what would help for SAT. Looks like 6 practice tests are online for free, so DS would only need something for the essay and possibly something for Critical Reading extra practise. Is barrons critical reading a good choice?  What about for the essay?

 

I would not sweat the essay. Most schools do not look at the essay score, and MIT for example states that they don't require the optional essay at all.

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Ruth, if you're concerned that your son's letter of recommendation writers won't know what's expected of them, then I'd direct them to the advice offered by MIT at the following link:

 

MIT LOR writer advice

 

They spell out what they're looking for in a good LOR and give both excellent & poor example letters. As you can see, they're not necessarily looking for a brag fest, but solid recommendations backed up with context and specific examples. I believe that's great advice for any college, not just for MIT. My students both shared this link with all of their recommendation writers.

 

And a heads up for you in case you're not aware: MIT requires one math or science letter and one humanities (or social science or foreign language) letter. The latter caught us a bit unaware the first time around.

 

 

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Groan... Good luck with that... Sigh...

 

The best standardized test taking advice I ever got was from my father, who said to pretend I was stupid. That should help with the over thinking, at least a little.

 

Make sure he knows how the test is structured - everything from the penalty for wrong answers to how many minutes per question to what codes he needs for the form and the ids he needs to get into the test.

 

The SAT originally was more of a test of intelligence and the ACT of knowledge. Some of that remains. I would do SAT rather than ACT.

 

Anyone who thinks there is no cultural bias to the SATs is crazy. Multiple choice takes a bit of getting used to. It is a bit backwards. (In more ways than one haha.)

 

Look at the first question. If you can't answer it fast, mark it in the test booklet and move on.

When you get to one you can answer fast, underline any negatives. (Which of the following is NOT a prime number?)

Eliminate any obviously wrong answers and cross them out.

From what you have left, pick the BEST answer. More than one may be correct, especially to a creative thinker. Pick the one that is right under the MOST circumstances. If the wording is confusing, play stupid and go for the simplest way of looking at it. Remember that you are more intelligent and creative than the test writers and can envision things they can,t. Half the time, you won,t actually need to solve the problem in order to pick the answer. (That is important. Make sure he knows this. There may not be time to get every problem if he actually solves them. He is supposed to use process of elimination and estimation.)

Mark it in the test booklet.

Check the problem number on the bubble answer sheet before filling in the letter that corresponds to your answer. If you get out of sync, you will get whole swaths wrong.

Make sure the bubble is filled in enough to register in the computer.

Look at the next question.

When you get to the end of the problems, go back and answer the ones you skipped, once again skipping any that are going to take too much time.

Do that until the time is up.

Only back check if you have solved them all.

 

My boys said Kaplan did a good job of explaining testing strategy and problem types as well as covering the material itself.

 

Hth

Nan

Edited by Nan in Mass
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Ruth, if you're concerned that your son's letter of recommendation writers won't know what's expected of them, then I'd direct them to the advice offered by MIT at the following link:

 

MIT LOR writer advice

 

They spell out what they're looking for in a good LOR and give both excellent & poor example letters. As you can see, they're not necessarily looking for a brag fest, but solid recommendations backed up with context and specific examples. I believe that's great advice for any college, not just for MIT. My students both shared this link with all of their recommendation writers.

 

And a heads up for you in case you're not aware: MIT requires one math or science letter and one humanities (or social science or foreign language) letter. The latter caught us a bit unaware the first time around.

Thank you for that link! I write a number of LOR each year for schools ranging from non competitive to Ivy League to highly competitive scholarships. That reinforces what I have heard.

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Great advice so far. One side note - no penalty anymore for guessing wrong, so fill 'm all out.

 

Also, there is a SAT Critical Thinking book highly recommended on the boards. I can't link it right now, but you should be able to find the link in a SAT thread on here or someone can link it for you so you can add it to your sister's pile.

 

As always, I am rooting for you and your family. (My eldest was worried about you guys after the earthquake because of the Tsunami warnings.)

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One side note - no penalty anymore for guessing wrong, so fill 'm all out.

 

Also, there is a SAT Critical Thinking book highly recommended on the boards.

 

SAT Subject tests still have the penalty for wrong answers

"Make an educated guess or skip the question. If you have eliminated the choices that you know are wrong, guessing is your best strategy. However, if you cannot eliminate any of the answer choices, it is best to skip the question. You will lose points for incorrect answers." https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat-subject-tests/taking-the-test/test-taking-tips

 

Erica Meltzer's books http://thecriticalreader.com/

 

OT: My friend and his family are currently on vacation in Wellington :) They were at the cable car museum and happily posting photos of their NZ trip. They were at Burney Island.

Edited by Arcadia
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OT: My friend and his family are currently on vacation in Wellington :) They were at the cable car museum and happily posting photos of their NZ trip. They were at Burney Island.

 

Well, they would have seen my house from the cable car. We stand out on the hill because of our unusual color.   :001_smile:

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And a heads up for you in case you're not aware: MIT requires one math or science letter and one humanities (or social science or foreign language) letter. The latter caught us a bit unaware the first time around.

 

Thanks so much for that bit of knowledge.  Actually, ds has more people who can speak to his humanities (English and Music) than Math and Science.  DS just gets down to business with math and science and doesn't need any help, so doesn't really interact much with those teachers.  The 2nd year university course he just took, he got the highest grade in a class of 100.  The mean and median were a 42 and ds got a 61.  The professor knows ds asks good questions in class, but ds doesn't go and talk to him outside of class because he knows how to learn and study math without needing help.  So what would the professor even say?  Whereas his English and Music teacher work with him every week and see how willing he is to try, and to overcome failure, and to receive constructive criticism, and all those other great personality traits.  These humanities teachers can write good letters.  So a bit of a tricky situation. 

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Thanks so much for that bit of knowledge.  Actually, ds has more people who can speak to his humanities (English and Music) than Math and Science.  DS just gets down to business with math and science and doesn't need any help, so doesn't really interact much with those teachers.  The 2nd year university course he just took, he got the highest grade in a class of 100.  The mean and median were a 42 and ds got a 61.  The professor knows ds asks good questions in class, but ds doesn't go and talk to him outside of class because he knows how to learn and study math without needing help.  So what would the professor even say?  Whereas his English and Music teacher work with him every week and see how willing he is to try, and to overcome failure, and to receive constructive criticism, and all those other great personality traits.  These humanities teachers can write good letters.  So a bit of a tricky situation. 

 

The recommenders don't have to be regular classroom teachers. I'd consider using a coach/mentor from the New Zealand Olympiad team who can speak to your son's higher level math abilities. That kind of rec letter would be much more meaningful at the colleges he's considering.

 

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Oh, and make sure he knows he can lie if he does the essay. He can make up things he did and situations and even quotes. They are looking for writing ability, not trying to get to know you. Somewhere, there is a list of things to include in your essay, like a quotation. If he has to do the essay, it would probably be worth finding that list. Can he write in cursive? My children had to copy a paragraph in cursive before taking the test. Something about getting a sample of their handwriting to prevent cheating? Anyway, it upset the students who only knew how to print. Not anything to worry about, but you might warn him that they might require that if he only prints.

 

Nan

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Oh, and make sure he knows he can lie if he does the essay. He can make up things he did and situations and even quotes. They are looking for writing ability, not trying to get to know you.

Nan

This advice is for the old format of the essay. The new SAT rubric marks you down for expressing any sort of personal expression. It is supposed to be rhetorical analysis only.

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I would not sweat the essay. Most schools do not look at the essay score, and MIT for example states that they don't require the optional essay at all.

Essay policies are covered in the Compass Guide I linked to in my first reply. See page 57.

 

If that chart shows a school from your list wants an essay, try The College Panda book. It's not very long and covers what you need to know.

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Really? Even though they never really "meet" the kid?

We are pondering the possibility of private school for high school and they ask for recommendations. It never occurred to me to ask aops teachers.

We have in person profs writing LoRs too. The AoPS projects help substantiate love of math.

 

ETA: DS works on CrowdMath. This was the only research math on his portfolio so asking them was a no brainer. If you use aops exclusively for math or if you have a good report card from them why not ask them? DS could have asked math profs but the passion project at that time was CrowdMath so he asked AoPS.

Edited by quark
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Really? Even though they never really "meet" the kid?

We are pondering the possibility of private school for high school and they ask for recommendations. It never occurred to me to ask aops teachers.

while they haven't "met" the students they have "seen" what the student is able to do through the classes and can write about that. If a student attends classes, participates, does their homework and ask questions etc, they can write about that.
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while they haven't "met" the students they have "seen" what the student is able to do through the classes and can write about that. If a student attends classes, participates, does their homework and ask questions etc, they can write about that.

True, but so far every class we have taken (and we have a bunch now), we have had a different teacher, so I didn't think they would approach it more as a school giving a recommendation as opposed to an individual. I am glad to hear this is possible.

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