Why Khan Academy Will Not Provide the Best SAT Prep

Portrait_New14_013-1The Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board to offer free SAT prep to students. While this is great, it’s actually nothing new. The College Board has always offered prep materials for the SAT – both a book and an online course – with “strategies” for the exam. But ask any high-scoring SAT student you know if they used the strategies from the College Board to score well on the test and they will emphatically tell you no. The strategies the College Board provides you with are the traditional way to solve problems – not how to game the test.

Although I praise the College Board for providing the highest quality SAT questions for students to practice with, I also believe that they put out some of the lowest quality SAT strategies for students to prep with. Whenever the test creator offers to prep students, you should be wary of the quality of the prep. The College Board has an agenda to defend that the SAT is an appropriate measure of what students learn in high school. Therefore, the prep that the College Board provides is going to align with that mission. Essentially, the College Board “SAT prep” strategies are going to teach you how to approach problems using methods you already use in high school. While this may sound like a good idea, these highs school approaches are often not the most effective way to solve SAT problems.

There are many tips and tricks you can use to game the SAT to solve problems more accurately and efficiently.

However, the College Board would never teach you a strategy to “game” the SAT.

For example, do you think the College Board would teach you how to use a standard SAT essay template that is the essentially the same every time so that you will ace any topic they throw at you? Or would the College Board teach you how to solve an algebra problem without using algebra? Or would the College Board teach you how to avoid reading entire SAT reading passages at once? Probably not. The College Board is all about teaching students the actual content of the SAT, but not big on teaching strategies to take advantage of the test. What company would want to give away strategies that help you beat its own test?

Therefore, my advice is to prep for the SAT using practice questions produced by the College Board, but do not prep for the SAT using strategies produced by the College Board (or Khan Academy). You have to use strategies that help you game the test through tips and tricks that the test creator is not going to show you. I am 100% confident that if I had used the strategies that the College Board had offered to prepare for the SAT, I would not have been able to improve 640 points to get a perfect SAT score. In summation, use College Board questions, not strategies.

4 Ways Parents Can Help Students Prep For the SAT

Preparing for the SAT is a daunting task. Most high school students are intimidated by the challenge. Here are 4 ways parents can help their son or daughter conquer this exam.

    1. Proctor Tests

      Taking full-length, timed practice SAT examinations is one of the most important parts of SAT preparation. Students who are not enrolled in a course that offers proctored examinations are often expected to take these practice tests at home on their own. However, that rarely happens. There are many distractions that often prevent students from sitting down for 4 hours and taking a full-length SAT examination. This inhibits a student from becoming accustomed to the length, timing, and endurance needed to sit through a full SAT examination. Inadequate SAT practice can result in poor performance on test day. Parents can help their children with this aspect of the SAT by simply acting like the test proctor. The instructions on how to time and proctor the SAT are at the front of every practice exam. Have your son or daughter dedicate 4 hours one Saturday or Sunday morning to take a full-length SAT examination. You should act as the proctor who calls time after each section and gives them timed breaks during the practice exam. The more students practice taking full-length SAT exams under test-day conditions, the better they will do on the official SAT.

    2. Review Essays

      While students are perfectly capable of grading the multiple-choice portion of their own practice SAT examinations, parents should be involved in reviewing their son or daughter’s SAT essays. You can find the College Board’s essay scoring criteria online and ballpark a score off of that. Giving your child feedback on their essay is especially helpful because students often don’t know what they are doing well or not so well in their essays. In addition, by reviewing your child’s essays regularly, you will get a sense of whether his or her writing ability is improving.

    3. Turn Off the Tech

      One of the most difficult part of studying for the SAT these days is avoiding distractions. Students typically have an enormous number of distractions: e-mail, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. There really is no reason for all of this technology when it comes to SAT preparation. Therefore, I recommend parents actually take away or turn off the technology for an hour or two so that students can focus specifically on SAT prep. This means your student may need to hand over their iPhone, iPad, and Macbook. Although they won’t be a huge fan of you when you swap these out for SAT books, they will appreciate it later when their score jumps!

    4. Get College Board Questions

      Parents should make sure their students are practicing with College Board questions. The College Board is the company that creates the SAT. They produce the most similar questions to what your child will encounter on test day. The College Board spends millions of dollar developing accurate, standardized SAT test questions. No other company has the resources to create questions that are as good. Therefore, make sure your student uses as many College Board questions as possible.

Should You Take The New SAT Essay?

As you may know, the New 1600 SAT Essay is optional. So many students may be under the impression that they do not have to take the New SAT Essay. However, if you are a 2400 Expert student, you must take the New SAT Essay. The only exception would be if you are a high school senior who knows that none of the colleges you are applying to require the essay portion of the New SAT. Then and only then, can you skip taking the SAT Essay. For the rest of you, you must take the New SAT Essay.

A perfect case study that demonstrates why you need to take the New SAT with Essay is actually the ACT. The ACT has been essay-optional for many years now. However, most competitive colleges require that students who take the ACT submit their ACT score WITH essay. Essentially, competitive colleges are not going to let you skip the essay portion of these standardized exams. And because most 2400 Expert students are applying to competitive colleges, I would suggest that all 2400 Expert students go ahead and complete the essay portion of the SAT. If you are a freshman, sophomore, or junior in high school who doesn’t know exactly what colleges you will apply to your senior year, you should be on the safe side and take the SAT Essay. The last thing you would want to happen is to take the SAT without essay now, then come senior year, you find out a college you are applying to requires the SAT with essay.

In addition, the New SAT Essay is easy to prep for. The College Board made many changes to the New SAT Essay in order to make it less easy to game. Many test prep companies (especially 2400 Expert) had figured out how to game the old 2400 version of the SAT Essay. Therefore, the College Board went back to the drawing board and redesigned the SAT Essay hoping that it would not be as “preppable” as before. However, I would argue that the new SAT Essay is actually easier to prep for than ever. So there’s really no reason to not take it.

Finally, the New SAT Essay is also helpful to prep for. When you prepare for the SAT Essay, you will see benefits far beyond just the SAT Essay. You will learn how to use larger vocabulary words effectively. You will learn how to develop an analysis more effectively. You will learn how to write faster. You will learn how to organize a coherent composition. All of this will help you on many other essays. You will suddenly score higher on your high school English class essays. You will be better able to compose essays for other high school standardized exams (SAT Subject Exams, AP Exams, ACT, etc.). You will even be able to write better essays for future standardized exams. For example, I got a perfect score on my GMAT essay simply because I used 2400 Expert Essay Strategies! You will craft better college admissions essays. You will write better scholarship essays. And your essays in college will become easier to write. With all of these benefits, there really is no excuse for skipping SAT Essay prep.

There’s Going To Be a New SAT And It Will Be Easier Than Ever

If you graduated from high school in 2005 or earlier, then you probably associate the number “1600” with the college acceptance jackpot.

But the College Board, the company that owns and publishes the SAT, changed the test format and content 10 years ago. With the change, the SAT was scored out of 2400.

Next year, the College Board is reverting back to the old scoring out of 1600. And better yet for high school students, the changes will also impact the content of the test and make it the easiest version of the SAT ever, according to Shaan Patel, founder of SAT-prep company 2400 Expert. Here’s why:

1. No Obscure Vocabulary

The new version of the SAT will be easier because there will no longer be obscure vocabulary to trip up test takers, Patel told Business Insider. High school students will no longer have to study massive vocabulary lists with obscure words.

Instead, the College Board made the measured decision to focus on vocabulary words that students will encounter on a regular basis in college and in future jobs. On the College Board’s website they reference their decision saying, “No longer will students use flashcards to memorize obscure words, only to forget them the minute they put their test pencils down.”

2. Fewer Answer Choices

The new format will have four answer choices, rather than five, as the exam does today. This update will benefit test takers in two highly important ways, according to Patel.

First, test takers will save time, as they will have one less answer choice to read through on each question. Second, test takers have better probability of getting the question right as they have a 25%, rather than 20%, chance of choosing the right answer.

3. More Time

Patel says one of the biggest complaints students have with the current version of the SAT is that there is not enough time to take the exam. That will change with the new version of the test.

There will be more time per section on the new version, and students will even have double the amount of time to write their essay. Additionally, the new 1600 version of the test will have 16 fewer questions that the old version.

4. No Penalty for Guessing

On the previous version of the SAT, students were penalized for guessing the wrong answer. For that reason, Patel’s test prep company used to provide students with strategies to know when they should guess and answer or leave a question blank. But the new system doesn’t penalize students for choosing the wrong answer. If you’re taking the new SAT, Patel advises you to make sure to answer every single question.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-sat-is-changing-its-format-in-2016-and-will-be-easier-2015-6#ixzz3eBZeNIlK