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SAT Exam Writing Tips from our Harvard educated Tutors

Habit 1:  Set and Stick to a Schedule
Have an aim and develop a plan of Action
for success

Habit #2:  Track Your Progress
Keep track of the right and wrong answers while
studying for the SAT.  This way, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses

by Yun C.  

MD-PhD Candidate, Harvard Medical 
School
SAT_files/5%20habits%20of%20highly%20successful%20SAT%20takers.pdf
5 Habits of a Highly Successful 
SAT Taker - Advice from a Harvard studentSAT_files/Providence%20-%205%20Habits%20of%20Highly%20Successful%20MCAT%20Takers%20copy.pdf

Put yourself in this mindset: “Seven days from now, I will be taking my SAT...”.  

After spending months and months of studying for the SAT, the thought of the big test day just one week away can send you into an emotional roller coaster.  At this point in your preparation, stress and pressure may be extremely high...

by Yun C.

MD-PhD Candidate, Harvard Medical 
SchoolSAT_files/Tips%20for%20the%20week%20before%20the%20SAT.pdf
Tips for the Week Before the SAT exam
SAT_files/Tips%20for%20the%20week%20before%20the%20SAT_1.pdf

Meet the Queen Elizabeth SAT Team

Onyeka N.

Graduate, Neurobiology

Harvard University

SAT Score:  2310 / 2400 , 99th percentile


hi everyone, I am Onyeka, a recent graduate with a B.S. in Neurobiology from Harvard University.  Currently I work as a web developer in the Florian Engert Lab and the Harvard Innovation Lab.  In my spare time I enjoy listening to music, reading news articles and watching sports.


Doing well on the SAT can be a huge challenge for anybody.  At the same time, it can be a huge success for anybody who works hard and works the right way.  It takes skill, effort, and most often, great advice. 


Hi, I'm Stephanie! I'm from central Massachusetts, and I'm currently a sophomore at Harvard University. I'm majoring in Sociology, and I'm also on the pre-medical track. Outside of class, I sing in an a cappella group, do traditional Chinese folk dance, and co-direct a mentoring program at a local juvenile detention center.


Many students find it difficult to improve their score on the SAT Critical Reading section. With the changes in the new SAT, which no longer includes sentence completion questions and has new data analysis questions, students should focus less on memorizing vocabulary and more on reading speed and comprehension. However, don't worry about the changes too much; the new SAT is designed to be clearer and more accessible, so with hard work and practice, students are sure to do well!

Stephanie W.
Specialization in Sociology
Harvard University
SAT Score: 2400 (perfect score), 99th percentileSAT_files/Providence%20-%205%20Habits%20of%20Highly%20Successful%20MCAT%20Takers%20copy_1.pdf


Hi, I’m Jessica, a sophomore at Harvard University studying Applied Math and Economics with a minor degree in Psychology. Why this combination? I think that applying quantitative analyses and an understanding of human behavior to the broader trends of the economy is endlessly fascinating. When I’m not in class, I love playing tennis, hiking and trying new recipes!


I think the SAT Critical Reading section is a challenge to students, since it requires such a cohesive understanding of the passages to be able to score in a high percentile. In addition, there is no strategy to success that works for every student. The key is to practice, practice, and practice—not only hard, but also smart, finding and using the strategies that can maximize your personal score!

Jessica Z.
Specialization in Applied Math and Economics
Harvard University
SAT Score: 2360, 99th percentileSAT_files/Providence%20-%205%20Habits%20of%20Highly%20Successful%20MCAT%20Takers%20copy_2.pdf

The SAT Math section rewards students who study effectively and conscientiously.  To begin, you must be comfortable with algebra, logic and problem solving.  Even the best Math students can have difficulty on the day of an exam, so it is essential to become very familiar with concepts and problems you might encounter.  But more than learning individual concepts...

Onyeka N.

Graduate, Neurobiology.  Harvard University

SAT_files/Studying%20for%20SAT%20math.pdf
How to Study SAT MathSAT_files/Studying%20for%20SAT%20math_1.pdf

1 Minute glance at the SAT

  1. (c)Copyright.  2016  Queen Elizabeth Academy.  All Rights Reserved

SAT (R) is a registered trademark of the College Board, which does not sponsor or endorse this product or service


Queen Elizabeth Academy has no affiliation with Harvard University.  And Harvard University does not sponsor or endorse this product or service

 

SAT at a glance:

Duration:  3 hours and 50 minutes  (including the optional essay)

Sections:  Reading Test, Writing and Language Test, Math and Essay (optional)

Max Score:  1600

Sections

Questions

Time

Note

Reading

52

65 minutes

Evidence based passage reading

Writing and Language

44

35 minutes

Revise and edit text on a range of topics.  Text is based on argument passage, narrative non-fiction and informative / explanatory

Math

57

80 minutes

Problem solving based questions on a wide range of Math topics: Algebra, geometry, etc.

Essay

1

50 minutes

A passage is given on a current issue.  The student’s task is to analyze how the author builds an argument

Scoring

You will receive two separate scores.  The first score is out of 1600.  Within the 1600 points, Reading, Writing and Language together accounts for 800 points, whereas Math accounts for another 800.  Essay (optional) is a separate score, with a maximum of 8 points assigned to each of the 3 sections:  Reading, Analysis and Writing.

A closer look at each section

What is it?

Why do students find this part difficult?

SAT Critical Reading


The SAT Reading involves reading a number of passages and then answering several multiple-choice questions on each of them.  This section will test your ability to read both quickly and thoroughly, to think critically about its general theme and structure, and to draw evidence to answer questions on the meaning of a section or the motives of a character.  Students will have to answer many complex inference-based questions. 

It’s not uncommon to hear people talk about the reading section as the hardest part of the exam.  Many students have trouble reading passages chock full of unfamiliar terms and phrases, and it can be very tough to read these quickly while at the same absorbing a maximum amount of information. 


Students often waste too much time looking for the right evidence to answer inference-based questions.

To do well you really need to know how to find the underlying meaning of a passage, and to demonstrate s a high degree of critical thinking skills.  These are skills that can be improved significantly with great advice.

SAT Math


The SAT Math section challenges a student’s ability to solve complex algebraic problems as well as logic problems.  Students must answer a mix of multiple-choice and grid-in questions.


There are two portions in the Math section: one in which you are allowed to use your calculator, and another where you need to answer questions without using your calculator.  You will need to be comfortable across a variety of topics, including algebra, logic, geometry, and trigonometry.


SAT Math demands really good problem solving skills.

Students often find it hard using variables and formulae to model real-world situations.   Many inexperienced students have had trouble making inferences from graphs, or extrapolating from incomplete data. 


Often times you will need to know how to combine various mathematical techniques to solve complex problems. 


For grid-in questions there is the additional difficulty of having to come up with your own answers.  You may get stuck trying to answer a question when it would be best to move on, and try again later.  However, with practice and training it becomes much easier to know how to budget enough time for each question during the exam. 

SAT Writing & Language


The SAT Writing and Language section tests students’ English language skills using passage-based questions.  Over the course of 35 minutes, you will need to answer 44 multiple-choice questions that will challenge your mastery of grammar, vocabulary, and passage editing.  You will need to learn and understand the intricacies of the English language to do well in this section.

Doing well in this notoriously tricky section can be a serious challenge.  By design, a huge number of writing questions will look simple, but hide completely non-obvious answers.


Students have had trouble with the writing exam who are not skilled at spotting subtle differences in things like punctuation and subject-verb agreement, or who are unfamiliar with conventions of the English language.


However, a student can give him or herself a much better chance at succeeding by being exposed to the kinds of questions that are usually asked, and knowing what to look out for in each case.

SAT Essay


The SAT has an optional essay component. Should you elect to do the essay, you will have 50 minutes to write an essay on a particular passage.  The passage is different in every exam, but the question is always as follows: you need to explain how the author of a passage builds an argument in defense of a specific claim. 

One of the harder parts of the essay exam is reading the passage and identifying the author’s arguments.  Some students have trouble pointing out what makes a passage effective, or what arguments the author uses to bolster his claim.


For most students, the major challenge is putting all the evidence together to write their own thoughtful, well-argued essay.  Not everyone knows what elements belong in a properly structured essay.

How to Write a Compelling US College Admission Essay

Part 1:  Getting StartedSAT_files/How%20to%20Write%20a%20Compelling%20US%20College%20Admission%20Essay.pdf

Initial Brainstorming

Think about your experiences beyond the classroom, maybe about articles you have read, or people you have encountered in daily life...


Ideas you shouldn’t pursue

Try to stay clear of “easy” topics.  In all likelihood, most applicants will write about that topics and thus you are competing with a lot more applicants...


by Aisha G. 


Graduate of University of Pennsylvania

by Onyeka N

Graduate, Harvard University.  99th percentile SAT score

http://www.providencemcat.com/MCAT/Course_Menu.html

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+1 (905) 276-5556

Onyeka N.

Stephanie W

Jessica Z.

 
Queen Elizabeth
Academy
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