A holistic approach to learning MATH

Math Tutoring

Dr. Dan’s Corner”,

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Tips for a Perfect Score on SAT Math (1)

The vast majority of SAT-prep books are structured as “one-size-fits-all” products. As a result, (a) less-than-average and average students find themselves emerged into a system that does not provide them with an easy strategy to improve (i.e., identify and work on their specific weaknesses) and (b) advanced students would find a significant percentage of the covered topics to be too easy and thus of insignificant – if any – value to them. The moral of this story: make sure you’re choosing the SAT book that’s right for you!

It’s never a good idea to rely too much on memorization and trial and error. If you do so, the gain is always short-term. You may profit long-term from your SAT prep by improving your critical thinking/analytic skills using an approach to studying that emphasizes the importance of logical thinking/reasoning as paramount to problem solving.

For strategy, keep in mind the three key elements of success: factual knowledge (you’ve got to know the theory), critical thinking/analytic skills (what’s missing when you knew the theory but still couldn’t figure out how to solve or even approach the problem), and concentration skills (when is the last time you were able to focus/work on …anything for about 3 hours and 40 minutes, i.e., the approximate duration of an SAT?)

A “test-after-test” approach (i.e., going over math sections of sample SAT’s) is a good idea as long as you need to (1) familiarize yourself with the test’s format and grading strategy (e.g., each section starts with “easy”, followed by “medium” and ending with only a few “hard” problems; you lose points for incorrect answers to multiple-choice problems, etc.) and (2) work on your timing (e.g., you have a little over one minute per problem – on the average.) This approach should be complemented with an “identification of weaknesses/gaps” one during which the students would concentrate on areas where they feel they need to improve.

Most (if not all) SAT I problems are not designed to require the use of a calculator. One can improve timing by (1) working on a common approach to problem solving (remember that in SAT I problems, all info given in the text of the problem needs to be used in finding a solution and understand the importance of translating English to a math language – most commonly algebra – in solving word problems) and (2) minimize calculations by carrying them over to the last logic step of the solution.

Challenge yourself constantly; make it “harder” during the preparation stages so that the real test will appear “easier” than anticipated; be creative in trying to do so by spending more time solving “hard” problems (e.g., open-ended problems tend to be in that category and so are word problems.)

Last but not least: Read books! There’s a blurry line between one’s ability to solve word problems and the reading comprehension skills required in the verbal section of the SAT.