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Accidents Happen- Stay Cool

Well, the March SAT is now history and the calls, texts, and emails from DVD users here and abroad are coming in. Sounds like you all did well!
Thanks so much for keeping me informed. I love your feedback and your stories- both successes and disappointments. Today, I want to share two events because they could happen to anyone.

Know where your test center is- drive there sometime before the test if possible.
Kyle left home the morning of his test early, punched the address into his GPS, and arrived 20 minutes early, only to find 6 other cars lined up in front of a house, not a school! Turns out, there are 2 places with the same address. Kyle called his dad, who told him to “just come home”. No way! Kyle was ready. He called the school’s number, which he found on his admission ticket (smart!), and was told that they would wait! All seven cars headed over and were only 30 minutes late. The students were rushed in and helped to quickly fill out the personal information on the scantron and began the test along with everyone else. Kyle was not nervous or flustered by the confusion- just happy he could take the test. He had put in so much time and effort that he did not want to wait until May.

Make a mistake on the answer sheet?
Get help from the proctor.

Trey, a get IT DVD user, told me that on his January SAT he discovered he was marking the answers for section 6 in the section 7 grid. Rather than try to erase everything and lose test time, he resumed in section 6 and then told the proctor immediately after time was called. The proctor helped him fix the error, and also filled out a report that accompanied his score sheet to explain the error. Trey’s scores were released a week later than most scores, but he did his best and did not become flummoxed; his Critical Reading increased 120 points and his Writing 110. His results were too important to him to let a small mistake affect his performance.

Mistakes are made, accidents happen, but they don’t need to affect more than the moment in which they occur. Both boys were smart- each studied hard and focused on the outcome rather than giving up quickly in frustration. It is best to prepare for the test, and determine to stay calm and focused. Do your best; if all else fails, there is always another test date.
All the best!

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Getting ready for the SAT or ACT is really just about being educated- after all, that is why a college looks at a board score- to determine if your education level is a correct fit. Starting early is easier than starting late:

* You have more time to study, and thus time to skip a day (or week, or month) when you are really busy.

* Learning takes time for the information to sink in!
Allow time for repetition.

* Prepare while you are learning the same material in class.
Let’s say you are in Geometry, and you are learning about triangles; knowing you will see this again on the PSAT or ACT makes it relevant and encourages mastery for the long term rather than just for the next unit test in class and then a quick review before the final. The same with vocabulary; why cram fast the night before just to get the A? Rather, you will need to know these words: review every day before the test, then cram if you need to, but then review them again everyday for the week after the test. Really know the words and use them so you learn them.

*Sign up on for the question of the day.
You can do this even if you are in fifth or sixth grade. Each day the question has answers and explanations. So, you may learn a little, but more likely, you will recognize topics more readily in class because you have been primed- you have seen it before. This “memory” helps so much when learning. The questions are emailed to you daily, so it is an easy way to get used to how questions are asked on the test. And it is free.

*Begin studying by the middle of Algebra I
By end of freshman year (or earlier if you take Algebra 1 early) purchase good review materials and do a little each week or month. Remember, it is easier to reinforce what you have learned recently than to learn something all over again- and it will help with your school grades. For in depth explanations, look at my DVDs on
Finally, if you feel overwhelmed, remember that you want to go to a college that will work for you. Your scores reflect what you’ve learned more than your ability- if you haven’t learned it all yet, you can find a college that will fill in what you need to know, and will present material in a way that is best for you.

All the best!

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Today I had a very concerned mother, Barbara, ask me if she had made a mistake signing her daughter up for the March SAT. Seems another mother, Marcy, told her March was “harder” because “lots of smart kids take it in March.” Marcy also warned Barbara against October. She recommended May.
Here are some facts:
The tests scores are based on the test, not on the other test takers.
There is an equating section on every test that does not count towards the overall score. It counts towards making future tests, thus ensuring that a test score reflects the material tested and thus each individual student’s score. How could it be otherwise and still be a fair test?

If you study and feel ready then it is a good time to take the test.
Barbara’s daughter had been studying for 2 months- why wait?

March is a down time from many activities.
Many sports events and clubs are winding down in the beginning of March , so take the test at a time that fits your schedule.

Especially in NJ, March is ideal
State tests (such as HSPA) are administered the week before the SAT. Students are in “test mode” and they have a week free of homework to study! Perfect timing.

Relax! The SAT and ACT are hot topics, especially in Junior and Senior year. But, if you listen to every rumor, you will never find the test date that is perfect for you.

All the best!

Any questions? email me at
and check out my websites: and

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Great SAT preparation begins early

The best time to begin preparation for the SAT is January of the sophomore year. There are so many variables to consider: time frame, academics, maturity, and motivation.
Time frame
Sophomore year is a busy for many students, but not quite as busy as junior year is likely to be. In the junior year, many students are on varsity sports or in special ensembles in band and chorus, may take a paying job, may be visiting colleges, and are generally more active socially. In addition, students, especially those interested in more selective schools or special college programs, may be required to take subject tests (SAT II), which are administered on the same days as the SAT (SAT I – reasoning test-the one everyone takes). Some subject tests, such as language listening tests, may be available only on certain test dates. This means that the number of test dates available in junior year is significantly less than you may have first thought, meaning the number of spring test dates will be fewer, so you may have to test earlier than you thought- not possible if you don’t realize until late in the year.
Combine that with other obligations: Prom frequently falls suspiciously near the May date at many schools; a great sports team may have a schedule that extends far beyond the usual season; band and chorus competitions are numerous. The list goes on and on- juniors are very busy people.
Know the dates so you can plan ahead.
Above are just some conflicts that may affect test dates. Imagine trying to study intensely with all that going on! So, begin studying sophomore year. Math grades will improve, as will retention. And learn vocabulary now and skip the thesaurus when writing English papers- use your increased vocabulary- then you won’t lose it!

All the best!

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