“The SAT is a scam. It has been around for 50 years. It has never measured anything. And it continues to measure nothing. And the whole game is that everybody who does well on it, is so delighted by their good fortune that they don't want to attack it. And they are the people in charge. Because of course, the way you get to be in charge is by having high test scores. So it's this terrific kind of rolling scam that every so often, somebody sort of looks and says--well, you know, does it measure intelligence? No. Does it predict college grades? No. Does it tell you how much you learned in high school? No. Does it predict life happiness or life success in any measure? No. It's measuring nothing.”—
John Katzman, founder of The Princeton Review
Yo, Grammar: What's up with comma splices?
You’re right: You should definitely look out for comma splices on the SAT.
A comma splice is a grammar error that is created by joining two independent clauses (complete sentences) with a comma.
Since we have two complete sentences, we would form a comma splice if we combined them by using just a comma:
We see comma splices everywhere, and it’s unfortunate that people don’t know how to correct them.
Here is an easy way to correct a comma splice:
Here are some other ways to fix comma splices:
- Use the appropriate coordinating conjunction (aka “FANBOYS”) that fix comma splices.
- As we did above, use a semicolon.
- End the first sentence with a period, and begin the next sentence by capitalizing the first word.
- Read PWN the SAT’s excellent post on run-on sentences and fragments (and follow his instructions).
Good luck on the SAT!
“The SAT is a scam. It has been around for 50 years. It has never measured anything. And it continues to measure nothing. And the whole game is that everybody who does well on it, is so delighted by their good fortune that they don’t want to attack it. And they are the people in charge. Because of course, the way you get to be in charge is by having high test scores. So it’s this terrific kind of rolling scam that every so often, somebody sort of looks and says—well, you know, does it measure intelligence? No. Does it predict college grades? No. Does it tell you how much you learned in high school? No. Does it predict life happiness or life success in any measure? No. It’s measuring nothing.”—John Katzman, founder of The Princeton Review
50 Words you should learn for the SAT (and use on the SAT essay)
You can never learn too many words for the SAT. But at the same time, there is no “magic number” of words you need to know. This is why some SAT prep companies recommend that you learn 500 words, while others require you to learn 2,000.
But when it comes to the SAT, you really only need to know 50 words. And don’t worry: You’re not going to use all 50 words. That would be overkill. And it would also obfuscate your writing with esoteric prolixity and convoluted circumlocution. (What the hey-hey? Me confused.) Exactly. Jamming too many SAT words into your essay makes your writing 1) hard to understand; 2) sound unnatural; and 3) seem as if you’re just using advanced words to hide your deficiencies as a persuasive writer.
Five words, if used in the proper context, are all you need to make a positive impression on the grader. Again, using too many advanced words can work against you.
- Click HERE for the list of 50 words.
- Those 50 words are also important to learn for the sentence-completion questions on the Critical Reading section.
- But most importantly, those 50 words are useful to know for the rest of your life.
If you plan to take the SAT exam in October or later, be sure to visit PWN the SAT’s site regularly. He has tons of helpful tips. And if you are specifically struggling with the SAT essay, he has an awesome guide.
Sarah takes the SAT
- Me: Better take 17 pencils, just in case one breaks.
- Me: Sorry for having a water bottle with me and threatening the nation's security. I'll definitely not supply myself with the basic necessities for life next time.
- Me: Whoah, I totally did not know how to fill in a bubble properly. How long does it take to master this technique? Will I have to take a class on this in college?
- Me: Why do I have to write this in cursive? Is this what my third teacher meant by "you'll use cursive in college"?
- Me: Let me get this straight. The slightest stray mark on any other bubble and the machine will count it as wrong, but if I don't kill in 100% of the bubble the pitch-black color of Satan's soul, the machine can't see it?
- Me: Heh, there's something oddly satisfying about filling in these bubbles.
- Me: *at the start of the essay* Shit, I hope they can read my handwriting.
- Me: *at the end of the essay* Shit, I hope they can't read my handwriting and will give me the benefit of the doubt.
- Me: Hmm...if I make up a statistic, what are the odds that they'll check it?
- Me: Goddamnit, did you people scour the world to find the most pointless articles for me to read?
- Me: I swear to the sweet baby Jesus if you kick my chair one more time I will end you.
- Me: How long have I been sitting here? Oh, only another three hours to go? Huzzah.
- Me: No food offered on the break? Where I come from, if it costs you seventy dollars to sit in a room for four hours, it better come with some fucking delicious refreshments.
- Me: Twenty five minutes to do thirty problems? Better spend half that time calculating how long I can spend on each question.
- Me: Okay, so I got 67 for the answer. What are the choices? .5, .25, .75 and 1? Fantastic.
- Me: **turns into a drill sergeant** THREE MINUTES LEFT AND ANOTHER FIVE PROBLEMS GO GO GO
- Me: Damn, I don't know how to do this. I'm never going to be accepted into college. I'm going to drop out and become a stripper. How will I look my future children in the eye?
- Me: Hell yes, I'm finished! When do I get my scores?
- Me: Oh, in a few months?
- Me: I paid how much for this test and it takes you three months to grade a multiple choice test?
SAT Critical Reading Tips
I received an 800 on the SAT Critical Reading section with all of the passage-based reading questions correct. I also received a 770 on the Writing section. I will make a brief guide to the writing section tomorrow (for now, look at Silverturle’s SAT Guide and its grammar rules; you can google it). Here are some helpful tips that let me get through the test more quickly and easily:
1) Recognize what is and isn’t important in the passage, and read accordingly.
You need to economize; make sure you understand the main ideas and read through the details and “fluff” just to get a basic understanding of the content.
2) Mark the lines which appear in the questions before you read the passage, and answer the questions when you get to these lines.
These are the lines you MUST read carefully and pay due attention to. If you are running out of time, focus on these lines. Read the passage and answer the questions as you go according to your markings. There is one notable exception to this rule: If the question asks “In the context of the passage …” or something similar to that, DO NOT answer the question until you have read the entire passage. The makers of the SAT (ETS) love to trick people this way.
3) Eliminate the wrong answers, then look for the right answer.
You should always be playing the devil’s advocate in a certain sense. Try to search for reasons why the answer is wrong by using the text. Your answer must always be supported by textual evidence. There is always a misinterpretation in the incorrect answer choices, and it is your job to find them. Even if you don’t narrow your choices down to one, your chances of guessing correctly go up dramatically.
4) There is always a right answer, and that answer is always found in the text.
Sometimes the test can be very intimidating. Just take a deep breath, and think for a second. Look back to the text, and try to find the answer. This can be a very reassuring thought. The answers are already there, you just have to sort them out from the incorrect ones.
5) Common Characteristics of wrong answers:
a) Using a wording/phrasing directly from the passage
b) Using a big or scary word to describe something
c) Referring to a different part of the passage
d) Referring to a specific part of the passage, rather than a holistic interpretation of the passage
6) Common Characteristics of correct answers:
a) Uses a wording that is not too opinionated or loaded
b) Is politically correct and not offensive
c) Is a more general statement, not too specific
d) Encompasses a holistic interpretation of the passage
e) Restates the idea in the passage, but with a different wording
For 5 and 6, these rules are not hard and fast; if you logically deduced that an answer is correct but it’s too specific or uses “scary” words, you’re probably still correct.