What exactly is the key to a high mark on the SAT? Many individuals claim hard work, memorization, and practice are the central components to scoring well. While these claims contain some truth, there are also less known and more effective ways to improve your score results. Continue reading this article to learn how even watching television or simply utilizing logic can aid you in bettering your performance on the SAT.
1. Less is more
Ironically, the longer students devote to perusing the passages on the Critical Reading section, the more they often struggle with the accompanying questions. Test-takers typically have only enough time to briefly skim the passages. The key to mastering the Critical Reading portion of the SAT is unlearning many of the typical tactics learned. For instance, techniques that urge students to underline, take notes, and read slowly should all be disregarded on the SAT. Due to the limited amount of time allotted during the exam, students must break these habits that have been instilled in them in order to succeed on the SAT. To do this, you should get accustomed to reading with a timer. Your goal should be to push through the reading, rather than work hard to understand it on a deep level.
2. Learn from unexpected sources
For many students, vocabulary is one of the most daunting aspects of this assessment. To expand vocabulary, high schoolers can gain a great deal from watching certain television programs. Shows with legitimate historical, legal, and medical themes can be particularly educational, for example. During a single episode of a courtroom drama, the SAT words “erroneous,” “exonerate,” and “vindicate” could all easily pop up. When watching shows that fall into these categories, keep a paper and pen nearby in order to jot down any words that are unfamiliar to you. Compared to memorizing lengthy lists of terms, this method is a contextual, more natural way of learning vocabulary. Undoubtedly, difficult words are easier to understand when displayed in relevant scenarios.
3. Use foreign languages
An additional strategy to excel in SAT vocabulary is to pay close attention in your foreign language class. Spanish, French, Italian, and the other romance languages are all derived from Latin. Knowledge of any of these languages behooves test-takers, as many of the more sophisticated words in English have Latin roots. For example, the SAT word “lucid” is defined as “clear, easily understood, or bright.” This word originates from the Latin term for light, lucidus (luz in Spanish and luce in Italian). Additionally, consider the link between loqui in Latin (“to speak”) and the English words “eloquent” and “loquacious,” which are popular SAT words. The prevalence of similarities between SAT terms and their foreign counterparts is truly astounding. If such a class is available, taking Latin in high school could be even more beneficial. A strong understanding of Latin can help just as much with vocabulary as it can with the sentence corrections portion of the SAT.
4. Employ your natural logic
Considering the sentence correction questions with a critical and rational mind is essential to doing well. For instance, analyze the sentence, “My terrier likes playing fetch more than most dogs.” At first glance, it may seem that nothing is grammatically wrong. However, you should ask yourself if the sentence is logical. The sentence really means to say, “My terrier likes playing fetch more than most dogs do,” or, “My terrier likes playing fetch more than most dogs like playing fetch.” The original phrasing is synonymous with stating, “My terrier likes playing fetch more than he/she likes most dogs,” and we know that is not the message that the author is intending to convey. While familiarizing oneself with English grammar principles is likely to increase one’s score on the SAT, you must not forget that utilizing logic and reason can result in a great difference, too.
Tiffany Sorensen is a professional SAT tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language & Literature from Stony Brook University.