The SAT is important for kids who don’t go to school. Your SAT score tells admissions officers whether you can handle the workload of a college environment.

Actually, I don’t really believe that last sentence. For example, kids with Aspergers specialize in getting perfect SAT scores and then being unable to keep track of their college course schedule. And they lose their books. And they forget deadlines, and all the other executive function problems the SAT does not test for.

But regardless, colleges like the SAT. So I think it’s important for kids who don’t take tests in school to at least take this one, and to do well.

It would be a pity to spend a huge amount of time on this test since it measures pretty much nothing except how good you are at preparing for the SAT.

But since it does measure that, I am always on the lookout for someone who is good at the SAT. And here is a advice from Geeta, who is a fifteen-year-old student at an alternative school and she scored in the top 2% of the PSAT this year.

Geeta says:

I’ve been raised to believe not only that everything is a system, but that every system is hackable (nod to my INTJ dad). I don’t think the SAT measures intelligence. The only reasons for taking the test are to get into college and to get scholarships, and if your kid scores high both of those two things will be easier.

First: Learn how to hack a system by understanding it.
College Board just released a new SAT, and most tutors are still teaching to the old system. Although the essay is now optional, there are far more words and passages to be read on the test.

Kids need to be able to read quickly and comprehend what they are reading or they will never have enough time to get through the test. When the test has large paragraphs, it’s better to skim them for general understanding, then read the questions, and then read in depth the two sentences that the question is actually asking about.

Second: Learn what answers they’re looking for.
All it takes is a question a day. Get College Board’s app Daily Practice for the New SAT, because who better to learn from than the creators of the system itself? The app has a daily question that you can answer every day.

Someone who spends 2 minutes a day for 2 years is much better off than someone who studies for 2 hours a day starting 2 weeks before the test. Why? Because slowly learning their system and consistently reading and answering the questions over time will build an understanding of how College Board wants people to answer the questions.

Third: Ignore people who say it’s too early.
It’s never too early, and spending two minutes a day is not wasting childhood. I started doing a question a day in January of last year, even though everyone thought I was stupid because “obviously that’s not going to help”. And then I scored 100 points higher than the kid who thought he beat everyone by a large margin.

Once again, the only thing the SAT is actually useful for is getting into college and getting scholarships. Also, it wouldn’t hurt each kid to take a practice test to learn the test taking strategy that works best for their particular strengths.

 

15 replies
  1. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word “hacked” stretched quite so far. I suppose we can consider it devoid of meaning now.

    I don’t see anything the slightest bit unusual in suggesting kids study for the SAT.

    Reply
    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Here is how to hack the SAT. Homeschool your kids so they can spend time mastering it, having more time to prepare, working with tutors, and acing those practice tests while school kids spend the majority of their days in school with less time to prepare leading to more anxiety and cramming.

      Reply
      • Bostonian
        Bostonian says:

        I agree that this seems like a good method to maximize scores… but in what way is this a hack? Read a lot over the course of years? Familiarize yourself with the test? Hire a tutor? These are commonplace methods, not hacks.

        The only mildly unusual suggestion you make is leaving school to focus on the test even more than schoolkids, but that does sound a lot like replicating private school at home. Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with that, but calling this hacking is like saying that you can hack weight loss by eating less and exercising more over the course of several years.

        I wonder whether Geeta is an offshore listicle gnome rather than an actual teenage American. Try this one weird trick to beat the SAT…

        Reply
        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          Exactly, it isn’t a hack. It’s a strategy. I was being tongue-in-cheek.

          I keep reading how more colleges are dropping the SAT requirements, who knows how many more will in the next 5-10 years. I’m sure the college board won’t be happy.

          Probably still wise to study up if one plans to go to college after homeschooling.

          Reply
        • Anna
          Anna says:

          To me it seemed like the hack was to just aim and fire at the test and not let the test aim and fire at you. The hack was how to frame the test, in other words. Specifically, it would be the tip of studying only two minutes per day rather than cramming near the time of the test in order to gain a systematic understanding that is almost second nature by the end of it. Also skimming, reading the questions, and then word-finding for the specific sentences to read more closely for the answers, rather than actually reading the whole thing for understanding in general. Decoding the test a bit.

          The funny thing is that the writing reminded me of PT’s so much that I had to reread it halfway through as not her. So I thought maybe it wasn’t a real teenager also. :)

          Reply
    • Anna
      Anna says:

      The word ‘hack’ seems to fit, as she is saying how to access the hidden or underlying logic of the SAT, like ‘hacking into a system’. Decoding it.

      Reply
  2. Mike
    Mike says:

    Greeta at HelpMeBeGreat has no content (blog posts, Facebook updates, etc). Was there another link about her hacking the SAT?

    Reply
  3. Anna
    Anna says:

    “…handle the workload of a college environment.

    Actually, I don’t really believe that last sentence.”

    Until I read the second sentence (which had been a few minutes because I did something else in between reading the sentences), I thought, “What am I drinking, crazy juice?!!!” I *think* that is the line in Zoolander…

    Now to read the rest of the post, in curious anticipation. Hmmm…

    Reply
  4. Anna
    Anna says:

    When I took the PSAT (in probably 1993), I did something classically (for me) naive, stupid, and overly honest. The test says to mark if you attend high school part-time or full-time, etc. Because I was taking two study halls or something like that, I marked part-time. This disqualified me from scholarships based on PSAT scores. But I didn’t know this until some years later. At the time, I had thought maybe I just wasn’t the sort to get included in these mysterious scholarships. Now I know that I had awkwardly mis-answered a peripheral, yet key question. I’d say I fell through the cracks.

    On the SAT, I read the entire composition pieces for total, full, immaculate comprehension, which meant, of course, that I didn’t finish the verbal side so got a not-bad but not super great score but I don’t remember what it was. I scored in the middle-700’s on the math side though. This was before people did much preparation, much less full-on coaching, for these tests.

    I suppose the whole thing exposed me as a right-brainer, which meant I was going to be on my own anyway. It would have happened in one way or another.

    Reply
  5. Geeta
    Geeta says:

    Thanks for posting my ideas Penelope! I’m still just getting started at http://www.helpmebegreat.com , but I’ve put some new content up over the past few days. Thanks for inspiring me to be great!

    If anyone has any further questions about the SAT, I’ll do my best to answer whatever you post in the comments.

    Reply
  6. INTJ Professor
    INTJ Professor says:

    In the late 1960s, when I took the SATs, the claim was “you cannot study for it.” The assumption behind this claim was that your entire education was your preparation, and the SAT would somehow measure this. Geeta’s approach–to hack the test–takes a much more realistic view of what this test is and does.

    Reply
  7. Meghan
    Meghan says:

    Greeta’s tips are spot on. I used the same approach to pass the SAT to get into undergraduate school and the GRE for graduate school.

    Reply
  8. Robertson
    Robertson says:

    SAT graders are told to read an essay just once and spend two to three minutes per essay, and Dr. Perelman is now adept at rapid-fire SAT grading. This reporter held up a sample essay far enough away so it could not be read, and he was still able to guess the correct grade by its bulk and shape.

    Reply

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