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Current time:0:00Total duration:40:22

Dave answers student questions about the SAT

Video transcript

- So there are few questions that have already been sent in that I wanted to touch upon. And one of them is, "How often should I practice?" And it kinda depends on how soon you're taking the test. It depends on what your schedule is, what your score goals are, how many times you've taken the test. But really, it makes sense, the more you do it, the better you get. And if you make that commitment to yourself, to improving the score, your scores will keep on rising. And on Official SAT Practice, you basically have what you need to be working with real practice questions created by the College Board and by Khan Academy with College Board's help. And three times a week for 30 to 60 minutes each would be a good amount to study. If you're taking the test next month, you might wanna do an hour, two, three hours a week. If you're waiting until March to take the test, waiting until May to take the test, that changes the equation. The best thing you can do is to take a full-length practice test and see where you stand and let the system tell you what level you're at. There's level two, there's level three, there's level four. If you start at level two, you do all the level two questions, you look at what you've done wrong, you learn from the solution steps, and you'll find your way to level three, and to level four, and you'll gain points, and it makes it fun. So let me see. The very important thing is to remember that the test is four hours long. That's if you take the essay and it's regular timing on the test is about four hours long. And if you just walk in there on test day and you've never done a four-hour-long test, it's gonna come as a rude awakening. And so I urge you, if you're taking the test in October let's say, to take one to two full-length practice tests on Saturday morning just like test day and see what it's like. See what it's like to write this essay after three hours of multiple-choice testing. It's intense. Another question that's come up is, "What's a good score?" And I think it's important for everybody to realize that your SAT score is just one very small part of your college application. Colleges are interested in your grades. Colleges are interested in recommendations from your teachers. Colleges are interested in the extracurriculars, the way that you spend your time, job experience, internships, any leadership positions that you might've done, any kind of what makes you tick, what are your interests, what are your passions. So your grades are more important than your SAT score. Your recommendations are important. And so just remember that that's critical. And the SAT is an important element to show your college admissions officers just how ready you are, just where you fit in the range of students who have applied to this school before. So depending on the colleges that are on your list, you will have a different range of scores that you can discover. By which, I mean there's a 25th percentile and there's a 75th percentile of scores that are of students have been accepted into any college. And you can find that information on bigfuture.org. You can look up the school. You can use college guides. It's a statistic that every college makes available. And that's 25% of the students applied with a score, were offered admission with a score below the 25th-percentile range, and 75% of the students had scores that were... So if somebody scored, if you're in the 75th percentile, that is better than 75% of the people who studied, who applied, and who get offered admission. So what you do is you create a range. You look at all the 25th-percentile scores for the colleges in your list, you look at the 75th percentile scores for the colleges in your list, and you use that as an indicator for what you think you should do, what your target should be for your SAT score. And I'd recommend that if you make a reach goal to reach for that 75th percentile, then your SAT score will sort of definitely check the boxes for that college, and you don't need to, and you can probably move on to another critical part of your admissions profile, which would be your grades. You really want to have really solid grades in junior year, sophomore year, and senior year. Or other elements like pursue your passions, get leadership positions if you can. Or participate, make a contribution to your school is an important element of your college admissions, too. Another question that's come up is, "What do I need to bring on test day?" And you can find that information on Official SAT Practice. You can also find it on the College Board website. I think College Board or Khan Academy, the team who's watching right now, hopefully will be posting where those links are. But you can just go find out that information right there. Honestly, there's so much information available on the Khan Academy Official SAT Practice product. So we have the Tips and Strategies section is not just tips and strategies. There's a lot of the changes that have been made to the SAT, what to expect on test day, what are acceptable calculators. There's information at College Board about that. What are the different question types, what are the different lengths of the sections, what's a raw score, what's a scaled score, all this information is on Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy. Let me see. I'm gonna go to, let's see, let's see what kinda questions I have here. "Is there prep for PSAT?" That's this coming in from Saman. And let's see, yeah. The PSAT and the SAT are the skills that both of those tests are the same. The Official SAT Practice is also applicable for the PSAT because the tests are so close in what the content is, what the skills are that it's testing you. The practice schedule feature allows you to also set us a schedule leading up to the PSAT. And we also have an official PSAT that you can download off the site as well. Another question has come in. How should we practice and tackle the essay? Great question. The essay is an amazing, it changed the essay. And the essay right now is an assignment that you would see any college-level English course or history course, and it is testing how well you can analyze evidence, too, and understand how an author is using different devices, different writerly devices to persuade the audience of his or her point that he or she is making. We have tips and strategies around helping you with this. Some are more in development. We also have full-length essays with scoring for each exam that you can download and work on. And if you go to the essay section now, you'll see that there are a couple of relatively new entries into the tips and strategies. One is called "Unpacking the SAT Essay Prompt," which is adapted from "The Official SAT Study Guide." Basically, it takes apart the prompt and says this is what you're supposed to do. You're not supposed to just say what the author is saying. You're not supposed to reiterate to say again what the point is. You're not paraphrasing the whole document or the whole passage. If we go there, you have one part, which is "Explain how the author builds an argument "to persuade the audience." And so that is something that either some dos and don'ts that I put in that I put in that article. "Consider how the author uses evidence to support claims." I make a list. There's a list in there now of different types of evidence that you might consider, you might look out for as you're reading through the passage. "Consider how the author uses reasoning to develop ideas "and connect claims and evidence." And in the article, we explain what reasoning is, and how that applies, and how you might be able to draw out these elements from the passage that you're analyzing and evaluating. "Consider how the author uses stylistic "or persuasive elements to add power "to the ideas expressed." So this article's about taking apart this really dense prompt and saying, okay, this is what this means. This is what it means to you when you're sitting there for 50 minutes and you need to write a three-page paper. And how to tackle one. Another really great essay that's, another article that's in there now is "The SAT Essay: Analyzing a Passage," in which we sorta take apart a, or examine how one might approach one of the prompts that is a real SAT essay prompt. So I would say check that out as well. Let's see. What else do we have here. "How should we practice and tackle the essay section?" The more you do it, the better you get. So we're working on adding new features that may actually enable you to get your essay graded. But the best way to do it is to actually put pencil to paper or type an essay in, and give yourself a timed scenario to see how you do. And understand that you need an introduction, you need body paragraphs, and you need a conclusion. And each of those body paragraphs is probably going to focus on an element. So maybe let's say the author is using a lot of statistics or data. You would use that body paragraph to talk about how data and evidence, how the author uses data and evidence to support his or her point. And then you take out quoted little statistics, or paraphrase little statistics from throughout the essay, from throughout the passage, and put all that evidence into that body paragraph. Then you move on to the second body paragraph and you think of another element that the author is doing. Maybe the author is making the reader feel afraid of what might happen if they don't turn off the air conditioner. And you basically point out all those little things in the passage that the author says to kinda make me a little scared about what might happen with climate change if I keep running my air conditioner. So you take those elements, threads from different paragraphs of the passage, and weave them into one body paragraph in your essay. So you kinda work through it that way. Let's see, other question. "Are we allowed to use graphing calculators "during the SAT or only scientific calculators?" This is from Shawn. Thanks, Shawn, great question. There's a full list of acceptable calculators on sat.org. And there's a calculator policy. You go there under Taking the Test on sat.org. In general, most graphing calculators are permitted. So just check that out. Ordinarily, with the calculator, you don't really need it. And if you find yourself doing really lengthy calculations in your calculator, the chances are you might've missed something. So I just wanna say be cautious about when you pick up your calculator. Obviously, there's a section of the SAT that you're not allowed to use a calculator. But even when it's the calculator section, it doesn't mean that the first thing you do is type the numbers you see in the question into the calculator. You wanna take a step back. You wanna say to yourself, oh, hold on, what does the question want? What is the question telling me? What's my game plan here? And then you decide whether you need the calculator or not to do that. Let's see. Another question. "How can I reset my skill level "so I can practice the lower skill levels in math?" The answer is, well, you can't. The product doesn't allow you, the Official SAT practice doesn't allow you to reset your skill level because it's a reflection of where you are. If you want to review things from a lower skill level, then you can go to the Review tab at the top of Official SAT Practice and look at the questions again that you missed. Let's see. Another question. "I'm a junior but I am not taking pre-calc and AP calc. "But can I still really do well on the SAT "through Khan Academy SAT Practice?" And the answer is absolutely, man, or whoever you are. (laughs) Absolutely. The best way that you can prep for the SAT right now is to go on Khan Academy and do a diagnostic. See how you do. If you get the question wrong, that is okay. The system will send you to practice those skills that you're not strong enough in yet to get those questions right. The key to doing well is to start early and just keep on getting familiar with the skills you need on the test. You also can watch videos on any concept you haven't learned yet. So that isn't just in Official SAT Practice. If you don't find what you need there, then head on out to Khan Academy, go to the subjects, and get some. Get some amazing videos, and articles, and exercises to help you strengthen your skills in the areas that you need. Let's see, another one. "What about book recommendations "and strategies for the reading part." This is from Heya. There's always one passage from the US founding documents and the great conversations that they've inspired through the years, women's suffrage. There are all sorts of debate about slavery, debate about the way that the Constitution was drafted. This is bumping around. Other passages included are classic and contemporary literature, a passage about social science, and two science passages. If you wanna practice for the reading section of the test, look at the strategies that are in Tips and Strategies on Official SAT Practice. If you're trying to really just build up your reading fluency, then read advanced, read "The New York Times," read "The Washington Post," read "Chicago Tribune," read "The L.A. Times," read "Newsweek." Read content, read stories that are at the level that the SAT is at. But you don't need to do that now. You should jump into Official SAT Practice and look at those passages. There are lots of sample passages there to try out. And if you get questions wrong, it's no big deal. Nobody's gonna look at your results. Nobody's gonna look at your practice. You don't need to let anybody in except you. And so go for it. Let's see. "I have exhausted all the exercises. "What should I do now?" We continually are adding new exercises. We're adding more writing and language exercises this week and next. We're adding more reading passages this week and next. But congratulations if you've done all this stuff. You've done tons of work, and I hope that you've seen results. The thing that I wanna sort of emphasize here is that if you've done the passages, and you've gotten questions wrong, what you should do is go and pretend you've never seen them before. You shouldn't sort of look at the answer and say, oh, that's the answer. I guess I'll try another question, right? Every question is this opportunity to learn about that type of question and say, what do I have to do differently next time when this sort of question comes my way. And when you're using the Review tab the right way, every one of those questions you missed from the moment you started using the Official SAT Practice, this will be able to, you'll be able to say to yourself, okay, this went wrong. This is why that answer is right. This is why the answer I chose was wrong. I think I get it now. And then you try another passage. Let's see. I have another question from Erfan. "What can I do if I feel like I'm stuck "and not making progress?" Great question, can be super frustrating. I would say that you really want a, I would love to know from you whether it's the reading section you're having trouble with, the writing and language section you're having trouble with, or whether it's math. Math, I'd say watch all the videos. Go back into the main Khan Academy site and study those math types if you've used all the exercises and done all the problems in Official SAT Practice. In the reading, it may be because of time management, which we haven't quite talked about yet. So time management in the reading section, if you're somebody who's finding yourself kind of out of time on the reading section, then there are things you can do to help build up your score. And in part, that's realizing that there are different difficulty levels within, every question is different. And there are some easier questions at the end. At the end of the reading section, the passage at the end is not necessarily the hardest passage. The passage at the end of the writing and language test is not necessarily the hardest passage. So if you're running out of time and having to guess on a passage or two at the end of those parts of the SAT, then you should make a real adjustment to the way that you manage your time. And there's details about that in Tips and Strategies. We have a couple new articles there about time management. And there are also a couple great articles there now about active reading strategies that will help you really engage with the passage in a more active way, in a more focused way, and also help you not fall into, not choose choices that look good just because they look good, right? The answer choices are created to look good, right? So the best way that you can move forward with so many of the questions in the reading test is have some idea of what you're looking for before you start looking, right? So what does that mean? That means that if you have a question that's like, the primary purpose of paragraph three can best be described as, what you should do is not just read the choices right then. If you're reading the choices right then, then you might just choose one that looks good, right? What you should do instead is take a moment, and say, okay, what is this question asking? What is paragraph three doing? What is the purpose of paragraph three? You go back to paragraph three, you look at it, you say it in your own words. You say, oh, paragraph three is supplying evidence to support the author's point about Arctic tern migration or something. And then you say, okay, well, that's what it's doing. And then you go back to the choices then, and you say, okay, I'm looking for supporting point about Arctic tern migration. And at that point, you know what you're looking for. You're in control of the question. You're in control of what you're looking for. And at that point, the wrong answers kind of disqualify themselves because they don't really tell you what you thought you were looking for. And this is a lot about trusting yourself, and there's more about that in the article in Tips and Strategies. So that's what I'd say about that. And let's see. Another question. "If you have good grades, but don't have a great SAT score, "does that affect your chances "in getting into a good school?" I answered that a little bit earlier in a way. I addressed that a little bit earlier. And remember, the SAT is just one part of your college application. I would encourage you to check out bigfuture.org to explore the colleges that might be a good fit for you based on your GPA, and your test scores, and your interests. But grades are really important. Grades demonstrate that you work hard in school. If you have great grades and your SAT isn't so good, you certainly aren't the first person in the world to have this problem that have test-taking anxiety, you freeze up when there in a time to test. If you had a choice between being somebody who had awesome grades and a kinda mediocre score on the SAT and somebody who had mediocre grades and an awesome score in the SAT, I would much rather be the first student. Because if you have mediocre grades but an awesome SAT score, as admissions officer, I might say, this student is an underachiever, this student isn't working hard. What's going on here? There's a weird story here. But if you get great grades and you have great recommendations, then yes, you don't necessarily need to have an amazing SAT score. If you look at those score ranges, 25th to 75th percentile, if you have a score down in the 25th percentile, 25% of the people who were offered admission to that school had scores lower than that. So hope that makes sense. You have questions, you can ask 'em, and we'll try to answer them relating to that if that doesn't make sense. Question, okay, let's see. "I have registered for the October 1st exam. "What would be the best practice plan "from now till October." Great question. Maybe there are bunch of you in this boat. I'd say that you should take a diagnostic test as soon as possible. Or link your exam, your most recent SAT exam, or your PSAT to Official SAT Practice and then create a practice plan from there. The system will also create one for you that you can customize. So it'll suggest, oh, you wanna do eight hours a week. How 'bout Monday, Tuesday, Thursday from five to seven? And you can tweak that and move it around and decide what it is that you wanna do, what you can commit to. Now that's a great start. It depends on how much time you have. The more you do it, the better you get. And I would say that taking one practice test soon and plan to take another full-length practice test in a week or two before the test. And then take the time after you take that practice test to really dissect it, to take apart every question you missed, and say, okay, what happened here? Is this is a percentages question? Is this a quadratics question? And the thing is that that work is done for you by Official SAT Practice. So if you get that information into the system, the system will tell you what you should do. And it will take as much time as you can give it. But I'd say a minimum four-week schedule if you wanna move your score a hundred points, which is fairly ambitious but totally possible, then you wanna put in... I've seen students hit the books super hard and raise their score 200 points, 300 points. That's an exception. But you go in, and you log the time. And if you have comments or questions as you're using the product, put 'em in the comments, put in the questions, put it in the tips section of every one of the articles in Tips and Strategies. And we'll try to address your questions and concerns in due course. Let's see. Let's see. "When is the last SAT test that I can take "before the usual deadline of college applications?" Great question. The usual deadline is a lot of colleges, the colleges have different deadlines. So some of them have January 1st. Some of them, January 15th. Early-decision deadlines are sometimes the beginning of November, beginning to middle November. And early decision, early action, the recommendation, we recommend that you take the test, October 1st is really the last one to meet the early deadlines. The November and December tests are fine for your later deadlines. So if it's a January 15th to January 1st, November, December tests are gonna work out fine, and you'll be able to send those scores to those schools. Let's see. "Is the SAT going to be harder than last year's SAT?" Okay, "What carries more weight, ACT or SAT?" Two amazing questions. Okay, "Is the SAT harder than it was last year?" Totally different tests. In some ways, yes. In some ways, no. It's kind of a moot point, meaning that it doesn't matter whether it's harder, (laughs) whether it's harder or easier, because you can't take the old SAT anymore. The new SAT is the SAT now. And some students find SAT more challenging. Some students find ACT more challenging. You can't know which one you're gonna do better on until you take a full-length practice test. "What carries more weight, ACT or SAT?" As far as I know, there is not a single college that prefers one test over the other at this moment in time. So that might've been true five, 10, 15 years ago. The word on the street, the rumors have had it that Midwestern colleges prefer ACT and colleges on the coast prefer SAT. It's not true anymore. Both are accepted by all colleges. And so there's no reason to try to game it or second-guess which college, which one would prefer. And you can verify this by calling any college admissions office. Try them both out. Let's see. Would I recommend practicing more rather than studying? Interesting. Practicing versus studying, I think it's important not to just keep on taking practice tests. You don't just take practice test after practice test after practice test without taking time between each practice test to say, okay, what did I learn? Go back, look at any question that you missed, and say, okay, why did I miss that? Was it a careless error? Could I have gotten this? What could I have done differently? And so I would just wanna say don't just take practice test after practice test. After you take a practice test, find out what you need to study. Find out what you need to work on. And you can use Official SAT Practice as a resource. Our goal here is to get the world's best test prep. And that's a tall order, but I think we're doin' it. And it's super exciting to be part of this team and part of this movement, really, to make all of this information, all these tips, all these strategies, all this real practice questions, and personalize practice available to anybody for free. Let's see. Other questions, let's see. I maybe take couple more, running a little over. This is fun. (laughs) "In what grade should I start preparing?" Really tough question. I would say there's no, I mean, you're preparing for college your whole life. And so you should be doing your best in your school. You should be challenging yourself. You should be challenging yourself to read books, to read articles, to do your best in class. And if you're doing that and you're challenging yourself in school, you are preparing for the SAT. Now if it comes to when do I, okay, okay, I get that, Dave. When do I start using Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy? Six months is plenty. But it depends, for most people, it depends on what is the gap you're trying to close with your scores. If you're trying, you have a PSAT from sophomore year, 'cause some high schools administer the PSAT sophomore year. If you've done that, and you're like, oh, I need to raise my score 300 points, 400 points, I still wouldn't hit Official SAT Practice very hard until six months out. But you can take practice tests. You can be using Khan Academy, and do those questions, and try to fill in whatever holes or gaps in your comprehension there are in math. You should take the PSAT sophomore or junior year. And then in your junior year, you start spending more time doing it. Maybe the summer before junior year if you're gonna be super slammed junior year with sports, or work, or extracurriculars, or just you have a really tough course load. It may make sense to do a little practice, take another practice test the summer before junior year. "When is the best time to take the SAT?" Let's see. Well, most students take the SAT in the spring of junior year, and then again in the fall of their senior year. And that's a good schedule. The only exception I might ever add to that is that if you take a practice test, and you're like, oh, my gosh, my score is amazing, this is totally fine, I wanna get it out of the way, then congrats. (laughs) And you could maybe do it earlier and take it January or March of junior year. But most people, you peak, you're still learning more and more throughout junior year. You're still learning through the first couple months of senior year. Your score is gonna sort of naturally go up. So aim to do your best spring of junior year. Okay, another question. "Do we need to memorize SAT words like before?" And the answer is no you don't. The new SAT is designed to test what you need to know and will be more applicable to college and life. One of the big changes of the SAT from the old format to the new format is that the vocabulary section, the sentence completions where you need to plug in the right word, and these are words that you maybe never seen before and never expect to see again, those words aren't on the test anymore. So you have vocab and context questions that are words that are much more common that might have multiple meanings like the word discriminate, which isn't always a bad thing. Discriminating can also mean, it's a verb to mean noting subtle differences in something. The word currency is another one that jumps to mind. Things that are current, that idea is holding currency. That means that that idea is current. It's something that people are talking about now. It's not the same as money. So recognizing those different contextual clues to identify those words is something that is on the current SAT. Let's see, I am... Let's see, I'm gonna take two more questions, then I'm gonna sign off. Let's see, "Do you have food or water during the test?" Great question. You need your desk to be clear when you take the test. You're not allowed to have water there on the table next to you. You're not allowed to have food next to you. But you can have water in your bag underneath your chair. You can have a sandwich stowed away for your 10-minute break, or your five-minute break, or your two-minute break. These breaks are super short. And just remember, that if you don't take that opportunity, get up, and stretch, and drink water, and have a snack, your blood sugar level's gonna go down and you may not be able to focus as well as you'd like going into that third, that fourth hour of the test. So bring those snacks. Figure out what those snacks are. Have a good dinner the night before. Have a good breakfast the morning of. And bring stuff with you to eat really fast during the breaks so you can keep your energy level up, 'cause it's a marathon, and you need fuel as you're going through that marathon. So let's see. There's more advice like that in Tips and Strategies section of the Official SAT Practice. Let's see. "How important is SAT for international students interested "in studying in the US?" Another amazing question. It depends on the school. It depends on where you're applying. The best thing to do once you get that list of schools is to actually call the admissions office of those schools and ask them. Say hey, I'm applying internationally. Here are my grades. Here's a little bit about myself. What do you think, you want me take the SAT? And the answer is probably yes, we do. That's the way that we measure college readiness. And it's an indicator that you take the ACT or the SAT, this is a part of your package. But some may say, you know what, it's not critical. So you really just need to call the school. And that school's gonna start sort of creating a folder for you. So that's another important part of your college applications. You wanna let the school know that you really wanna go there. Because most colleges want to offer places to students who will accept those places and go there gladly. And they wanna fill their freshman class with students, their first-year class with students who are super psyched to be there. So if you demonstrate your interest in that way, then that will help. That can do nothing but help. So make those calls, write those emails, don't be shy because it may raise the chances that they'll remember you when they start considering people's applications. I'll take one more. Let's see, one little quick one, okay. "Although the math section gives you formulas," which it does, "is there anything you think we should have "memorized by heart when we go into the test?" There are a handful of things. The two that jump to mind is that you probably wanna know your distance formula. You probably wanna know your midpoint formula. You want to know difference of squares like x squared minus y squared factors into x plus y times x minus y. And you should be making flashcards for yourself. If there's a little fact that comes up with a question you missed on Official SAT Practice, change it. Sorry, write that down and make a little flashcard. You also wanna be super fluent with the formulas that are on the test. You don't wanna be looking back and saying, is circumference pi r squared? By the way, no, it's not. Circumference is pi d, and the area of a circle is pi r squared. Those are things that it's really useful to just have on the tip of your tongue. If you have to be flipping back and forth, it's slowing you down. It's wasting critical energy that you need in order to do your best. Okay, we're gonna wrap it up. And I'll be back. Oh, another one little thing I'm gonna say is there are new articles in the Tips and Strategies section that give you an opportunity to share your favorite tips that you might've gotten from wherever for tackling the various parts of the SAT. So there's a math share space. There's a writing and language share space, a reading share space, general strategies share space, and essay share space. Go there and share. And that includes any educators that are watching. If you work with students, and you have things that you know work, and you wanna share those things with everybody, then do it, please do it. We want everybody to use Khan Academy, use Official SAT Practice. And on that note, I guess I'll bid you all goodnight and hope to see you again right here next time. Take care. Thanks for watching, really appreciate it. Bye.