Reading Test

65 Minutes, 52 Questions

While several components of the reading section have been excised, rather than three shorter sections the test now contains one massive reading question. The version I looked at spanned 15 pages. This is going to be a serious test of stamina.

Allow me to sound like an old man for a minute. When I heard about this change from my wife, my response was “Good. That’s what college is. You have to sit down and focus intently for an hour, and then you have to do it again.” Back in my day we had attention spans longer than 140 characters. We communicated in full sentences, not text messages. (Okay, I’ve probably pushed the old man bit too far now. For the sake of accuracy, we did have text messaging when I was in college, but it cost $0.10 per text so we didn’t use it that much.)

But seriously, I really do think this reading section is going to be a massive test of attention spans. In an era where two paragraph-long posts need a TL;DR summary at the bottom (Too Long; Didn’t Read) we aren’t used to having our focus tested like the SAT is doing.

There is, however, a solution. Sit down and read. Make it a habit to set a timer for 65 minutes (or more), turn off and put out of reach your phone, TV, radio or anything else that might distract and just read. The silence can be jarring at times in our world of multi-tasking (or more accurately multi-distracting) but if you make this a habit you’re not only going to improve your focus and chances on the SAT, you’re probably going to find that it’s your most productive time of the day. Make good habits and build your reading stamina because the new SAT is coming.

TL;DR- You better make the time to read because the SAT reading section is a long longer than this blog post

]]>One nice resource that the College Board has provided is that there are explanations for the answers in these tests. Beyond learning what you needed to know in order to get the question correct, these explanations can often offer insight into how the test maker would like you to think about the problems, and what skills the test wants to make sure you have. I would budget just as much time to review the test as you do to take it. It can be extremely helpful to read the explanations both for the problems you got wrong AND for the problems you got correct. When you review a problem that you got correct you often come across a more efficient way to attack similar problems in the future. Alternately, a proposed solution may simply offer a different way to look at things that you hadn’t thought about before that you can add to your toolkit. Finally, reviewing the answer for a problem you got correct may serve to validate that you approached the problem exactly the right way. That it certainly worth the time it takes to review as it solidifies good habits!

When you go into these practice tests I’d encourage you to keep an open mind. I’m sure you’ve heard quite a few things about what this new SAT will be. Some are probably true, some are certainly exaggerated, and some are just wrong. Just like you’re better off forming your opinions on a new person based on facts and personal experience, you’re better off getting familiar with this new SAT before you judge her.

Feel free to give your feedback. Now that you’ve seen what it will look like, what do you think of the new SAT?

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A parabola is defined mathematically by this formula: y= ax^2 + bx + c. We see parabolas in nature most often when we look at projectiles, like a cannonball shot out of a cannon or a jump shot out of the hand of Steph Curry. Parabolas are generally u-shaped and are symmetrical about the vertex, which is either the highest or lowest point of the parabola, depending on the orientation.

Whether our parabola is cupped upward or downward is determined by the sign of the “a” term in the formula we saw above. When a is positive, the parabola will have a vertex at the bottom and open upward. When a is negative, the parabola will have a vertex at the top and open downward.

However, there is more than one way to define a parabola mathematically. We can also solve a parabola if we have the vertex and another point on the parabola. We do that by using the similar formula y = a(x-h)^2 + k. The coordinates of the vertex are (h,k).

So using that information, find the equation of a parabola with vertex (-2,1) containing the point (1, 19). The first thing we need to do is solve for a by inserting our points into the formula. We get:

19 = a(1-(-2)^2 + 1

19= a(3^2) + 1

19= 9a + 1

Now, we put our a into the formula with our vertex (h,k), but instead of using the x and y from a specific

point we’re going to solve for the generic x and y.

y= 2(x-(-2)^2 + 1

y= 2(x+2)^2 +1

Now expand:

y=2(x+2)(x+2) +1

y=2x^2 + 8x + 9

Now we’ve solved for the equation of this parabola and we could mathematically figure out all of the

points on this curve.

I hope that’s been a good refresher on parabolas!

]]>Ask any of those graduates what the biggest obstacle on the way to her degree was, and she won’t tell you it was the SAT or the GRE or the GMAT. That was just a first step. A stepping stone obstacle on the way to bigger and tougher challenges. Those who will be successful with those later obstacles, exhibit five key attitudes that help them achieve.

1. Be Positive- Sure skepticism is “cool” but a positive attitude breeds success. People that believe they can achieve something special are most often the ones who do.

2. Set Goals- It’s a long way between here and graduation. If you don’t set markers along the way to gauge your progress, it’s tough to succeed.

3. Build a Support System- When the going gets tough– whether now or later– you need people who care about you to be there. Whether that’s someone who will lend a sympathetic ear, help you work through a tough problem, or just take you out for ice cream and a break, successful people don’t do it alone.

4. Take the Long View- Minor disappointments are going to pop up along the way. Will you dwell on them, or will you shift your focus toward making the best of what’s ahead?

5. Keep Going- No matter what keep going. Don’t stop, and you will achieve your goals.

Now get to it and get back to studying!

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