SAT Strategy and my Aunt Sadie

Guest Post By Jeff Beers

Usually, when we talk about SAT prep, we’re helping you to understand academic material and picking apart example questions.  And that work is essential to your success.  But what if we told you that there was one SAT strategy that is not about your algebra skills or vocabulary level?  What if we told you that really, all you need to do is to think about the test like it was…a person?

We all have a friend or relative who is a little bit…difficult.  Often, these are people you don’t see a lot, and when you do, you might try to avoid them.   For the sake of example, let’s call this person “Aunt Sadie.”

We all have an Aunt Sadie.  You know what we’re talking about.  Let me tell you about mine.  My Aunt Sadie asks me a million questions, and they get more complex as she goes along.  It’s almost like she’s trying to confuse me.  My Aunt Sadie’s moods can shift in a second - one minute she’s easy to deal with, the next, she seems like she’s talking nonsense.  And she hates absolutes; nothing is black-and-white with her.  Aunt Sadie, she LOVES tricks.  She’ll ask me questions that seem so complicated, but have easy answers.  I ask myself, what the heck is wrong with her?  

But despite how much Aunt Sadie is my LEAST favorite Aunt, I smile at her.  I’m nice to her.  I answer her questions, I deal with her moods, I try to listen close to hear what she’s really asking me, and I survive.  She’s satisfied, and as soon as I’m allowed I get far away from her.  Yeah - you know the type.  We all survive those tough relatives and friends, and the question

We smile at our Aunt Sadie’s because we know what’s coming.  She always acts the same and she’s not going to change, so we’ve learned to deal with her.  Maybe we’ve even learned to laugh a little at her quirks, and we’ve gotten pretty skilled at answering her questions.  We’ve figured Aunt Sadie out; we’ve learned how to deal with her challenging qualities whenever they appear.  GO US!

OK - so what if I told you that my Aunt Sadie wasn’t a person, but, you guessed it, the test.  The SAT, no less.  And what if we told you that the things that make you so uncomfortable about the SAT, Auntie or not, are really… predictable?  What if you could “figure out” the test just as if it was a problematic Aunt?

You can.  And it WILL help you.  

The SAT wants to confuse you.  Remember that and think of this SAT strategy.  And make sure you KNOW what a question is asking you - and what it WANTS you to think it’s asking you.  Remember that the test rarely operates in absolutes, and often in relatives (like picking the “best” answer, not just the “right” answer).  And remember that the harder questions will come later - so if it’s Question #2 and you’re confused, it’s probably easier than you think.

Above all, remember this:  you CAN understand this crazy test, just like you can understand crazy people.  And when you understand the personality of the test, when you can expect many of its quirks, you will have a MUCH better time when you sit down together for a three hour visit.

By using this SAT strategy your score will improve.  We’re absolutely sure of it.

Jeff Beers is a writer for Tutor Delphia and a recent graduate of Tufts University. He enjoys blogging about SAT prep and tutoring in Philadelphia.