Students do not have to know how to solve quadratic equations to do well on the math portion of the SAT I. Some algebra and basic geometry is helpful, but I have found that the key to high performance on the math portion is the same as it is on the verbal portion: critical thinking and critical reading skills. Thus, best scores come from individuals who think well and read well-even if their math skills are average. The 2005 SAT I math section will not only cover concepts from geometry and elementary algebra, it will contain concepts from Algebra II. The math computation on the SAT I is usually not difficult. What makes the math portion of the SAT I so difficult is that it is presented in a word problem format. Thus strong critical thinking and advanced critical reading skills will increase SAT I math as well as SAT I verbal scores. The addition of Algebra II computations should not alarm good students. Good students, especially good home schooled students, usually have had or are taking Algebra II before or during the junior year when the SAT I should be taken.

The best time to take the SAT I is May or June of one’s junior year. This allows students to retake the SAT I October of their senior year if necessary. Preparation is very helpful if the student implements a long- term program–as advocated in The SAT and College Preparation Course. Without long-term coaching, there is no correlation between the frequency of taking aptitude tests (e.g., SAT I and IQ tests) and increased scores. Therefore, the author recommends that students take as many unofficial, old, real (i. e., from the College Board) SAT I tests as they can. Students should avoid the high cost of taking stressful official tests at their local high schools and universities. They are much better off if they take practice tests. Practice SAT I tests can be obtained by contacting me (www.forsuchatimeasthis.com) or they can be borrowed from some libraries. Remember, there is evidence that a small percentage of colleges average SAT I scores (rather than accept the highest score). Therefore, students should anonymously obtain as many unofficial scores as they can and then take the test one or two times officially.

The PSAT is the major determinate of the National Merit scholarship. As you know, for years I have advocated ignoring the PSAT unless students are legitimate National Merit Scholar possibilities. I observe that since 1% of Americans actually are National Merit possibilities, since there is no correlation between PSAT and SAT I scores, and since some students are discouraged by low PSAT scores, it is unhelpful or even harmful to take the PSAT. I argue that the best preparation for the SAT I is the practice SAT I and years of advance preparation. Students should use practice SAT I tests as practice for the SAT I. They should not use the PSAT.

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