The SAT and ACT are just as much of a test of details as they are of math, reading, and writing skills. Details matter! In fact, I spend more of my time teaching kids to pay attention to the details than I do to teaching grammar rules or math formulas. In other words, the difference between good scores and great scores isn’t usually content knowledge, but execution – those pesky little details that trip up kids like not writing things down, guessing incorrectly, and not re-reading the question.
The details issue came up again this week with O. I asked her to print out a test and take the math section for her homework. She thought she’d save paper and just look at it on the screen and write down her work and answers on another sheet of paper. I’ve also had students try this in the reading sections, where they have to scroll back and forth between the questions and the passage.
.All that comes at a cost – both in time and cognitive load. When O. took her next she increased her score by 70 points – just by working on a PRINTED COPY OF THE TEST.
The SAT and ACT are still paper and pencil tests
Until they becomes online tests, you want to practice like it’s the real thing, so it’s imperative that you print out the test and take it by hand.
How to use the Khan Academy
And all 8 Official SAT Practice Tests are available online at the Khan Academy. But just because Khan lets you take the SAT tests online, should you? No, no, and no.
The Khan Academy is great for scoring your tests (enter your answers AFTER taking the test on the paper copy) and providing extra practice for different math or reading and writing skills. But don’t take the tests online!
Print out the tests from Khan or from the College Board website (the College Board site also has full answer explanations for every problem) (though my math explanations are better!) You want to be able to mark up those reading passages, underline key points in the questions, and solve out the math problems on the paper test itself!