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lewelma

SAT Math - pretty bad situation - UPDATE #2

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OP:  I think your older DS is in a university in the USA now? Or, will be soon?  If so, you probably have far more insight into what is involved with the SAT and/or ACT exams than the Mother of this girl, or, the girl have. They are coming into this with zero knowledge about those exams.   You are well positioned to help them, but, as you said, you do not want to spend your time helping them, without receiving compensation and that is perfectly understandable and correct. Free advice is often worth what one pays for it, but, sometimes, it is priceless.

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1 hour ago, Lanny said:

 

Thank you for everything you wrote, including the comments above!   Very interesting.

I told my DD about this thread. Here, we hear on the radio (when my wife has it on a certain local station) commercials for a local company that claims to help people get visas to live/work in other countries. Canada, Australia, possibly the USA also. When I hear them, I react, sadly, because obviously the company is making $ or would not be able to continue paying for radio commercials. But, I wonder, what percentage of their clients actually receive a visa that permits them to live and work in one of those countries. And, I wonder, if the client had applied, without using a company  like that, if they would have received the visa. The company is making money. Many of their clients are wasting their time and money. From what I understand after reading upthread, it is common, possibly even necessary, for those interested in an Athletic Scholarship, to use one of these agencies to "market" them to colleges and universities.

Whether or not the girl in question has the Academic stats and the Athletic Stats seems to be quite questionable.  

It definitely is not necessary to hire an agency in order to secure an athletic scholarship.  However, just like some families hire a college consultant to assist with the college application process, some families hire a sports agency to assist with athletic recruiting.  

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OP  I know that you must limit the amount of time you work on this without being paid. That's what you must do.

If you can give them a quick "heads up" and play "Devils Advocate", with regard to the possibility of the student getting a "full ride"  scholarship to a university in the USA, you will be doing them a favor. Hopefully they will think about $ they are paying up-front to that agency and begin to ask the agency some serious questions that were brought up in this thread.

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Here is an update on where we are at.

On her first practice test in February she scored a 950, which was actually better than I expected.  At that point, she could do NONE of the non-calculator math section, so just guessed her way to a low score. She couldn't even do the first question. So we started with basic algebra, and then I started teaching her just give it a go techniques - graph to scale, use non-algebra techniques for algebra questions, guess and check, etc. We also went after grammar once I realized that she knew NO as in NO grammar. She could not edit anything except by ear. We worked for 9 weeks.

Believe it or not, last week she scored an 1130 on her practice test!  180 point increase!  She took her first SAT last Saturday, so crossing fingers for a decent score.

So now I am at the point of consolidating her algebra and grammar learning. She needs just more practice, as in 6 months more, of just SAT style questions.  Can you guys recommend both online and physical books that would help her get from about 1100 to 1300. I've been reading through the thread, and there are a lot of recommendations.  Basically, we need *practice* not explanations, and we need it for scores in math 500-650, without any consideration of the harder stuff which she will definitely skip.  

Also, we need practice for the editing/grammar portion of verbal. just more and more practice. Once again, no explanations, just practice practice practice. 

Thanks!

Ruth in NZ

 

Edited by lewelma
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Congratulations to both of you on hard work paying off!

Hopefully others have resource recommendations, I'm just barely entering the world of SAT prep.

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Just now, maize said:

Congratulations to both of you on hard work paying off!

Hopefully others have resource recommendations, I'm just barely entering the world of SAT prep.

Thanks for that.  I've never tutored for the SAT as it is not a NZ exam. It has been very eye opening.

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4 minutes ago, lewelma said:

Thanks for that.  I've never tutored for the SAT as it is not a NZ exam. It has been very eye opening.

I'd be interested in hearing what has been eye opening about it?

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Well, I didn't help my older with the math section of the SAT, as he is pretty mathy (ok, VERY mathy). So I've never actually looked at the math SAT, and now that I've studied it a bit, I've found it very tricky.  I could teach her all sorts of standard algebra, but basically it didn't help.  It was more about what we call "kiwi ingenuity." At first she kept trying to use these new algebra skills I had taught her, and just failing at it, because she is just not that strong yet.  But once I realized that she didn't understand that *any* method was acceptable, I started showing her all sorts of under-the-table methods to just get an answer, algebra or no.  Once I did this, her score shot up.  Basically, it seems to be a test of problem solving rather than algebra skill, and you can use lots of non-algebra methods to solve algebra problems.  This may not be super efficient, but if she is only planning on doing 75% of the test, she has some time to muck around with non-efficient methods.  It was just like the lights went on when I told her to abandon algebra for the harder problems, and just *get* the answer in any way that she could.  

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I will also say that the grammar portion of the verbal test is content that is not accepted in NZ as correct or even acceptable in some cases.  We have just referred to it as "American grammar." 

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Great improvement and an interesting experience so far, thanks for the update.  I have never heard real scores from kids educated in the English GCSE type government system so have no idea how they would really do in the SAT language section.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the results weren’t similar.  The couple that I have heard the study results from have had private educations.......lots of foreign language which might help the grammar.  Out of curiosity what is your students foreign language background?  

We never actually took the SAT because we needed the test dates for the subject exams and the ACT went well first time out.  I believe Kahn will have the largest online question bank but no real experience.  FWIW, We managed to accumulate a pretty large stack of old test prep books off the used market in England.....many were under £5 with postage.  No idea how many are floating around your part of the world but it’s an easy way to get the practice exams.

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Other materials (besides the 8-10 College Board practice tests currently available) include practice tests published by US test prep companies (Princeton Review, Barron's, Kaplan, Summit). These tests are SIMILAR to the College Board tests, but not precisely so; in my experience, they are more helpful for kids moving from 500 - 650 or so than they are for kids moving from 700-800. These are fat books with several tests in each. 

Online practice from Khan Academy is free and officially linked to the College Board, but is in digital formal vs. the paper books. 

Congrats to both of you on the improvement! 

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7 hours ago, lewelma said:

Well, I didn't help my older with the math section of the SAT, as he is pretty mathy (ok, VERY mathy). So I've never actually looked at the math SAT, and now that I've studied it a bit, I've found it very tricky.  I could teach her all sorts of standard algebra, but basically it didn't help.  It was more about what we call "kiwi ingenuity." At first she kept trying to use these new algebra skills I had taught her, and just failing at it, because she is just not that strong yet.  But once I realized that she didn't understand that *any* method was acceptable, I started showing her all sorts of under-the-table methods to just get an answer, algebra or no.  Once I did this, her score shot up.  Basically, it seems to be a test of problem solving rather than algebra skill, and you can use lots of non-algebra methods to solve algebra problems.  This may not be super efficient, but if she is only planning on doing 75% of the test, she has some time to muck around with non-efficient methods.  It was just like the lights went on when I told her to abandon algebra for the harder problems, and just *get* the answer in any way that she could.  

 

Consider how many questions there are, and how fast they must each be solved to finish.  If the student goes to setting up a several step calculation, its a time consuming 'plug and chug' answer...since its a time suck, that is the clue that there is an easier way.  For me, I had the dc practice  reading questions and deciding what concept was being tested, and what method was going to give the answer quickly, what method would be the time suck. 

Yes, they should know time saving strategies.  Use the odd/even knowledge. Have the mental math down. Know the formulas, don't waste time flipping back and forth to ref sheet. Know the interior angles, know the triangle relationships.  Know how to use the calculator and when to use the calculator. Use the paper, mark&sketch when needed.  

Edited by HeighHo
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I probably said this somewhere upthread, but we used PrepScholar with my sister and it worked really well. You do have to pay to get access to it, though, but they may be willing to? Anyway, it adapted the questions to the student and was very helpful for us.

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3 hours ago, lewelma said:

I will also say that the grammar portion of the verbal test is content that is not accepted in NZ as correct or even acceptable in some cases.  We have just referred to it as "American grammar." 

Any examples?

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I'd recommend this book for developing a strategy for the math portion:

https://www.amazon.com/New-Math-SAT-Game-Plan/dp/1530012287/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=the+new+math+sat+game+plan&qid=1557231540&s=gateway&sr=8-3

This isn't practice exactly, it's a very detailed way to attack the test if you're looking to move from a 500 to a 550 or 550 to 600. You may have already figured out a lot of the tips with kiwi ingenuity, but there may be some extra strategy here that's helpful for you. It did the trick for Trinqueta when she took the SAT in 7th grade for the Duke TIP talent search.

For the grammar portion, there's a book that explains the SAT logic:

https://www.amazon.com/4th-Ultimate-Guide-SAT-Grammar/dp/0997517867/ref=sr_1_3?crid=236MWRSX7PTWO&keywords=erica+meltzer+sat+grammar&qid=1557231854&s=gateway&sprefix=erica+mel%2Caps%2C179&sr=8-3

I'm not sure it's worth it to you, but it's probably at least worth looking inside to see if it's helpful or not.

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On 1/12/2019 at 11:57 PM, lewelma said:

Basically, we need *practice* not explanations, and we need it for scores in math 500-650, without any consideration of the harder stuff which she will definitely skip.  

Also, we need practice for the editing/grammar portion of verbal. just more and more practice. Once again, no explanations, just practice practice practice. 

 

 

Online practice, practice, practice? Khan Academy. And it's free, free, free. (Edit: They also have test-taking strategies.)

Seriously, Ruth. I'd use that for drilling and then, as the test date approaches, switch over to the eight FREE practice tests available at the College Board site. For a smart kid, there is really not that much actual learning required. She should be able to quickly figure out how it works, and then pattern recognition will take over.

Edited by JoJosMom
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My daughter studied for the ACT, not the SAT, but the same books should work.  Both the ACT and SAT have their own weird grammar.  The ACT has something called comma sandwiches, my daughter missed very few grammar questions but most of those she missed on the ACT practice tests were what the ACT black book calls "comma  sandwiches." So, just reading that portion and then doing a few questions got her a 2 or 3 point improvement, just practicing would not have, a big improvement with just an hour or two of work.   (The Black book identifies common areas of study/problem for each missed question.)  A 2 to 3 point improvement on the ACT is in the hundreds for the SAT.

You need the SAT black book:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0692916164/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

And the tests that go along with it, although they may be online:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1457309289/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

For math practice, the Panda books are organized by topic, so a very good way to get in practice problems in the areas that you think need more work.  I got the ACT one but the SAT book should be as helpful:

https://www.amazon.com/College-Pandas-SAT-Math-Advanced/dp/0989496422/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=sat+panda+math&qid=1557263299&s=gateway&sr=8-3

 

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Thanks guys.  I'll go have a look. I think that shipping the study guides here will cost a fortune.  So I'm thinking of starting with Khan and then bringing some physical books back in my suitcase in July.

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On 5/8/2019 at 12:12 AM, square_25 said:

Any examples?

Well, using the pronoun 'they' as singular is both common and accepted here as a way to avoid referring to gender.

That vs which vs who is kind of a nonevent here.

Essential and nonessential clauses and comma requirements would be laughed at.

Definitely the idiomatic phrasal verbs. If it sounds right here, it is right.  She has no interest in memorizing how to match prepositions to verbs from an American English point of view. 

Stuff like that. It is definitely an American English test, and she knows New Zealand English.

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4 hours ago, lewelma said:

 

Stuff like that. It is definitely an American English test, and she knows New Zealand English.

 

Apparently Kiwis are also tolerant of homonyms.

http://www.anorak.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/news-zealand-tourist-posters-2.jpg

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She came today with a 620 in math!!!  This from a kid who in February could not have done 2x+5=7.  

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12 hours ago, lewelma said:

She came today with a 620 in math!!!  This from a kid who in February could not have done 2x+5=7.  

I am beyond impressed with your tutoring skills.

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1 hour ago, hellen said:

I am beyond impressed with your tutoring skills.

Thanks!  This is my first go at helping with the SAT, so she and I had to figure it out together.  So here is her unofficial starting point and her unofficial best scores (all timed):

Total 950 to 1300 superscored (31st to 86th percentile)

Math 460 to 620 (29th to 79th percentile)

Reading 490 to 680 (36th to 91st percentile)

Now, I know she won't get a 1300 tomorrow, and actually if she does we will be challenged for cheating because her first official score was a 1050.  But 1300 gives her enough wiggle room for nerves and pressure to still pull off a 1200.  Crossing fingers!

 

Edited by lewelma
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2 hours ago, hellen said:

I am beyond impressed with your tutoring skills.

 

I was going to say the same. I wish I knew how to pull off half this result. 

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40 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

I was going to say the same. I wish I knew how to pull off half this result. 

I was hired for 1 hour a week for 36 weeks. As this was the first time I have tutored the SAT, she and I have worked collaboratively to figure out what she needs to do. A large chunk of the points was her learning algebra and all the grammar/punctuation rules. The other chunk of points was learning to think like a lawyer. This has taken the full 10 months.

The writing section has been quite funny, because there was NO WAY she could understand grammar given that she has never even been taught verb vs noun.  So I worked with her to train her ear to hear things as complete, or able to be taken out, etc.  Very weird and tricky thing to do, but it worked. 

For the math, she spent hours each week learning basic algebra and geometry. But I have encouraged her here at the end to use 'kiwi ingenuity' because she didn't have enough time to actually learn 3 years of content. So I've taught her to try this, try that, draw accurate diagrams, work backwards. Basically, do anything she can to answer questions that she doesn't have the actual math skills to do. 

For the reading test, the biggest point increase came from doing 2 things we have read about in different prep books 1) Don't read the passage.  yup, you don't read it.  This saves you time and makes sure your mind can't make inferences that are not actually exactly written in the text.  Then you just do all the questions with line references first. This gives you a feel for the passage, and then you go back and try to find the info in the passage for the questions without line references.  2) You must act like a lawyer.  You must find the objectively correct answer.  There is only one answer, and ever single piece of each part of the questions/answer must match in some way every single piece in the passage.  This is not reading, this is a game to hunt down very specific details.

So that is what we have done. Hoping she doesn't panic tomorrow!  High stakes tests stink.

Edited by lewelma
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8 hours ago, lewelma said:

Thanks!  This is my first go at helping with the SAT, so she and I had to figure it out together.  So here is her unofficial starting point and her unofficial best scores (all timed):

Total 950 to 1300 superscored (31st to 86th percentile)

Math 460 to 620 (29th to 79th percentile)

Reading 490 to 680 (36th to 91st percentile)

Now, I know she won't get a 1300 tomorrow, and actually if she does we will be challenged for cheating because her first official score was a 1050.  But 1300 gives her enough wiggle room for nerves and pressure to still pull off a 1200.  Crossing fingers!

 


This is truly amazing.  You have blessed her greatly.
(On a sidenote - would you like to move to Iowa?)

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14 minutes ago, BlsdMama said:


This is truly amazing.  You have blessed her greatly.
(On a sidenote - would you like to move to Iowa?)

Thanks for this.  Being in NZ, her mom doesn't have a clue what 300+ points means, so it is nice to post here and have you guys be as excited as I am! She doesn't panic, so I'm hopeful she will do well. 

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On 1/12/2019 at 11:57 PM, lewelma said:

UPDATE #2

Starting in February: no algebra and no grammar at all. First non-official score in February 950. First official score in May was 1050. We have been working systematically on algebra 1 and geometry and sporatically on grammar since February. In the last 2 weeks we have made a full force effort. Non-official scores: 1180, 1220, and yesterday 1250. Tomorrow is her last practice test.  Hoping it will go up again as we have been picking off very specific issues this last 2 weeks. (ETA: 620 on the math! Making a super score of 1300!). Exam on Saturday.  I might just pull this off! 

 

 

Honestly, Ruth, I've never doubted you. You said she is a smart kid, it is now a fairly teachable test, and you are a fabulous teacher. My continued well-wishes for you both. 🙂

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