Honestly, the reading and writing part was the easiest for me. It’s also one of the hardest parts to prepare for (or for which to prepare if you’re really into grammar).
My First and Best Tip:
Read, Read, Read!
You should practice reading high level articles, books, and such to prepare yourself. I’d recommend reading from the following publications
The New Yorker
The New York Times (specially the Saturday Essays)
The Council on Foreign Relations
The Washington Post
The Wall Street Journal
You should also challenge yourself by reading some fiction. Here are some books my English teacher recommended:
Wuthering Heights – Bronte
Invisible Man – Ellison
Infinite Jest – DF Wallace (This one is a beast at over a thousand pages!)
The House of Mirth – Wharton
Another Country – Baldwin
The Recognitions – Gaddis
Americanah – Adichie
A Gesture Life – Lee
The Good Earth – Buck
You may also want to review the SAT vocabulary words especially if you feel that you don’t have a very robust vocabulary.
Here’s a link to a list you should definitely check out by PrepScholar.com, one of my favorite websites for all things test prep.
You may also want to review grammar rules. Here’s the link to the book my school recommended.
To improve your grammar, try talking like you write. Often, we talk in a modern vernacular, but when we write, we do so in a different academic writing style. By attempting to talk as if you’re writing an academic paper, you force yourself to pay close attention to your grammar. I tend do this to make sure I avoid run-on sentences when speaking.
Good luck and remember the College Board IS the devil.
Here is the second installment in my series on test taking and prep strategies for the SAT. My parents paid an arm and a leg for SAT prep, so your parents won’t have to! 😉
General Test Taking Tips
Test questions are ordered from easiest to hardest.
The test is ordered from least missed questions to most often missed questions. For the grid-in problems the difficulty resets. So as you go on from the first grid-in problem to the last grid-in problem, the questions will get progressively more challenging.
You can either focus on doing as many easy problems as possible with reasonable assurance that you got them correct.
OR, you could focus on the hardest problems first then do the easy problems because the easy problems should take less time therefore you can put them off until later when you have less time, assuming that because they are easier, they should take you less time to solve.
When in doubt, skip it! Come back to it later.
Skip problems that take you more than 2 minutes to solve.
If you see a problem you know how to solve (but will take you a long time) or have a vague idea how to solve, skip it.
If you see a problem and you don’t immediately know how to solve it, skip it.
How to Save Time
The test answers choices are generally listed from least to greatest or vice versa. If you need to fill in a value, start with one of the middle values. Then you can go up or down if that answer choice doesn’t work.
Don’t show all of your work if you don’t need to. You won’t get partial credit for showing your work. If you can do it in your head quickly and accurately then do it and bubble in the answer immediately.
Know when it’s going to be faster to plug in the various options versus solving for the correct variable.
Getting Better and Avoiding Making the Same Mistakes
Identity areas where you are the weakest and categorize your weakness into the following categories
Silly mistake (ex. simple addition error or mixing up values)
Knowledge based: you didn’t know how to solve that problem
Ran out of time
Avoiding Making Silly Mistakes
If you’re making a lot of silly mistakes, SLOW DOWN.
This may seem counterintuitive, but you have to give you brain the time it needs to function properly. I’d recommend taking practice tests so you can get used to the stress of working under time constraints.
Also, double check your work if you have time.
Generally, I double check my answers before I go back to answer the really hard questions.
If you missed the question because you didn’t understand it and/or know how to solve it, use Khan Academy to learn how to solve questions like that.
The Most Important Tip I Can Give You
All the questions on the test are weighted the exact same. One will not count for more or less than any other, so focus on the ones where you’re absolutely sure you can obtain the correct answer.
Equations to Master
You should be familiar with all the you learn in algebra 1 and 2. Some ones that you should definitely know are
Parallel, perpendicular, and intersecting lines
Point slope form
Equation of a circle
Skills To Master
Splitting the middle
Combing like terms
Good luck with the SAT! Always remember that the College Board is THE devil.
This book convinced me to stop buying sh*t. That in and of itself is an accomplishment. Really. If you don’t believe me, you should see my amazon account … Yikes.
Anyways, I really enjoyed this book. One, I *love* memoirs that are narrated by the author. It just feel that authors know exactly where to put the emphasis and it just works. Ya know? I’m a big fan.
Since lockdown, I’ve been doing a lot more chores. Normally, during the school year, I barely have time to sleep, so my parents are pretty lax about my not doing chores. In lockdown, my parents have tasked me with doing the dishes most nights after dinner considering my school basically gave up on remote learning. I used to HATE doing the dishes, but oddly enough, now, I kinda like it when I’m listening to a good audiobook. Sometimes I also listen to more narrative based podcasts like Lore or This American Life. So far, I’ve listened to Make Trouble by Cecile Richards, The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, and now Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Anyways, this book actually made me kinda look forward to doing the dishes. Crazy! I know, but let that show as a testament to how good this book is.
Anyway, moving on from my tangent, I just found this book to have some, dare I say, profound insights. One of my favorite ideas Flanders talks about is asking yourself “Am I buying this for the person I am or the person I want to be?” After listening to this, I didn’t think much of it, but now I realize – this is such an important idea. I can’t tell you how many shirts, pens, and books I’ve bought thinking to myself “this is what ideal me would wear/use/read”. Like do I really want to read Pride and Prejudice? No, not really.
Here’s a tidbit of information from The Year of Less I want to share with you all: a shopping ban is more like a browsing ban. Think about all the notifications you receive from your favorite stores. I get an email at least twice a week from LL Bean. I almost always scroll through it, imagining myself as a savvy outdoors-woman. It made me all the more inclined to purchase whatever they were advertising. The solution: stop browsing, stop window shopping (IRL and online), unsubscribe, and unfollow.
Cait totally convinced me to try a shopping ban. I’ll be writing more about that here. She also encouraged me to start decluttering. I will be headed off to college in the fall of 2021, so I want to gradually start decluttering to avoid the massive pain of rapid decluttering.
Lastly, Cait really made me think critically about myself and my finances. Like I said earlier, I’m about to go to college. That means for the most part, I’m going to be responsible for my own finances. My parents have agreed to give me a small monthly stipend for expenses when I’m away, but I still have to be a fiscally responsible *gasp* adult. Because of this honestly scary revelation, I have started tracking all of my purchases whether I spend my own money on it or not. I’m planning to do another post about this. Ultimately, my goal is to be more conscious and mindful about what I’m spending and why.
“The ban uncovered the truth, which was that when you decide to want less, you can buy less and, ultimately, need less money.”
– Cait Flanders, The Year of Less
Honestly, everyone needs to read this book. I think “seeing” someone else do it helps you feel like you can do it – you can want less, buy less, and save more.
I’m beginning a 3 month long shopping ban. I’m hoping to extend it to 12 months, but I’m starting small!
A couple of days ago, I was just minding my own business, looking for an explanation for a question I had been assigned in my SAT prep class. Then I stumbled upon this website called Soft Schools.
Initially, I was like “WTF did I just click on?!?”. I lowkey thought it was going to give me a virus. Luckily, it didn’t. But. Y’all. It’s amazing. It has articles explaining pretty much everything you would cover in grades 1-12.
I was really excited by its offerings for AP Chemistry. I just took AP Chem this year and I never had enough resources to practice or apply the new concepts I was learning. For anyone who has taken chem, you know that practice problems are the key to success. Soft Schools has practice questions for AP Chem with answers! on it’s website!
This website is amazing! I’m so in love. I just wish I had know it when I was actually taking AP Chem. I am so excited by this because you can access practice questions which is something even the AP Chemistry course on Khan Academy doesn’t have! I mean, this is pretty huge. Also, you could definitely use a review book like Barron’s to get practice questions, but still – this is free!
They have notes, articles, and quizzes for a bunch APs such as AP Geography, AP US History, AP Environmental Science which I’m planning on looking through to get ahead for school in the fall, and so many others.
Unfortunately, they don’t have all the APs, but something is better than nothing! Here’s a link to all the high school materials on the site.
They say (read: lie) that they have materials for calculus, but it’s basically all pre-calc stuff like logs and trig functions. So if you’re looking for calc help, I wouldn’t use this site. However, my friend who TA’d Calc I and took Calc BC last year said Khan Academy’s Calc curriculum and videos were really good and helpful. I’m planning to use Khan Academy for when I take calc in the fall.
Another really cool feature on their website are the history timelines. I always find timelines to be super helpful to get a broad idea about what was happening in a certain time period. On this website, they have ones pre-made for you. Generally, it’s better to make your own timeline. But if you just need a quick reference guide, this is a really good option. Honestly, the timelines in this website are organized in no particular manner or at least, I can’t tell what manner it’s organized in. For example, after the Rosa Parks timeline is on on the Civil War, so I don’t even know what’s happening there.
Everyone and their mom needs to know about this website. It’s super helpful (though not super easy to use). Trust me, command+F will be your best friend when navigating this disorganized website. You’ll definitely have to plan around with the site a bit to get where you’re trying to go, but I think you’ll probably find exactly what you’re looking for when you (eventually) get there!
Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide by Rachel Wilkerson Miller
Recently, I got into bullet journaling. In quarantine and remote learning, I quickly learned that my beloved Lilly Pultizer Agenda just wasn’t what I needed. I need a place where I could keep all of my tasks and random thoughts. Basically, a place to brain dump.
I had dabbled bullet journalling earlier. In October 2018, I bought a superrr dot grid journal from Walmart on a whim. I *hated* how my spreads looked. I was so frustrated that they didn’t look like the picture prefect spreads I saw on tumblr and pinterest. Long story short, I quit.
I’ve been using my bullet journal (bujo) off and on since then, mostly as a collection of to-do lists. Little did I know that that’s exactly how you’re “supposed” to use a bullet journal. Anyway, since quarantine, I re-entered the world of bullet journaling, and in true Marie fashion, I turned to books to help guide me.
The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll
Ryder Carroll is the creator of the bullet journal method. He started this whole trend. He is to bullet journaling what Kim Kardashian is to naked bathroom selfies. Essentially, he need a framework to organize his life that was simple, effective, and ultimately analog. Working in tech, he needed a break from screens (as many of us do) and choose to pick the mode of pen and paper.
That’s all great, but you know what’s not great? This book. Urgh! This book was great, until I was on like page 250 with what felt like no end in sight. Allow me to number my thoughts so this some incomprehensible rant.
This book is so dang self congratulatory. He spends a solid fifth of this book raving about how amazing the bullet journal system is. He also goes on these pseudo-intellectuctual tangents about matters about philosophy for example. That particular tangent felt completely out of pocket because isn’t this a book about bullet journaling?
For a book about bullet journaling, this books talks surprising little about bullet journalling. The second fifth of the book is consumed by Ryder’s absolutely random life stories. If I wanted a memoir, I would’ve bought one. The third fifth of the book is stories of people who had wonderful, life-changing experiences with their bullet journal. Like, great, bullet journals are amazing – we have established that. Now, will you finally tell me how to make and use one???
This isn’t necessarily a complaint, but the advice in this book is just fine. It’s really not anything special. It’s perfectly satisfactory. If I was rating this book solely on the advice given in book, I’d give it a solid 3 stars.
Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide by Rachel Wilkerson Miller
I liked this book! I really enjoyed it. Compared to Carroll’s book, this book is fun, interesting, and concise: three adjectives you could not use to describe Carroll’s book. I enjoyed this book for three main reasons:
Rachel Wilkerson Miller is seriously funny. There were moments while was reading this book where I had real laughs out loud. In this except, Rachel talks about a list she started called “Wins” in which she writes things that went well.
“As you may recall, 2016 was a garbage year (although calling it that honestly feels a bit unfair to garbage), so I did except to find [many wins]. But I ended up filling four pages with all the good things that happened to me in 2016″ (Wilkerson Miller 152).
This was a quick read that taught me everything I needed to know. I feel that productivity books, in particular, ought to be as concise as possible. Why delay the positive gains from reading said productivity book because it takes you a month to get through it?
Practical Examples. For every major idea introduced in the book, there are also accompanying pictures to show you how to do it. I wouldn’t consider myself a visual learner, but seeing examples was incredibly helpful in deciding how I wanted to organize my bujo. Additionally, Rachel also shows multiple ways of accomplishing the same spread (ex. 5 different ways to do a habit tracker).
Obviously Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide by Rachel Wilkerson Miller wins! I just really enjoyed this book. It’s 172 pages compared to Carroll’s 320 pages. This is pretty trivial considering the whole point of a bullet journal, but Wilkerson Miller’s graphics are just so much more visually appealing.
The Bullet Journal Method
Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide
Originally, I was skeptical of Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide. I thought “If I’m gonna try bullet journaling, I should go straight to the horse’s mouth”. I was wrong. Ryder Carrol’s book is truly a waste of money. That should be your big takeaway from this post. If you want to learn bullet journaling for Ryder, himself, check out his youtube channel. I do think his youtube videos are helpful. He comes across far more approachable and humble on his youtube videos than he does in the book.
The Verdict: If you’re going to buy a book on bullet journaling, byDot Journaling: A Practical Guide by Rachel Wilkerson Miller. But you really don’t need a book – Ryder’s youtube videos will be more than enough for a beginner. However, Rachel’s book is a delightful read and has new and interesting ideas and spreads.
This is a hard time. It’s hard to be productive and feel good all the time, most of the time, or even some of the time.
I struggle to focus every day. I have a hard time even starting my work, much less actually doing it. And that’s okay. We have to be kind to ourselves. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to get through this time.
Here are so ways I’m practicing being kind to myself
Not beating myself up when I have an unproductive, depressed day.
Eating healthy foods – so I can avoid the groggy and gross feeling I have when I eat too much junk food. Some of my current favorites are celery with peanut butter, carrots with raspberries, and orange slices.
Journaling – I already have a whole post on this linked here, but this saves me every day. Having a place to air your feelings unfiltered is essential.
Going on walks – Sometimes I have to force myself out of the house, but when I get outside, I feel so much better.
Reading – Right now I’m reading The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. So far, I like it a lot.
Crocheting – the simple repetition of crocheting helps me to quiet my mind. I also like to listen to an audiobook while crocheting. Right now I’m listening to James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney (former Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife).
Writing letters – I have started pen-palling to my reverend and friend. I absolutely love it!
Meditation – I can’t say enough good things about the Headspace app! It’s a gamechanger!
Maintaining personal hygiene – No one wants to admit that their hygiene has fallen off a bit since social distancing began. I definitely don’t! However, taking 15 minutes to wash your face, brush your teeth, do your hair, and slap on some mascara and lip balm will make you feel soooo much better!
Acceptance – accept the uncertainty and just focus on what you can do to make yourself feel better.
These are hard times. I won’t lie to you and say I’m doing well. I’m not. I’m nearly three weeks behind in my history and chemistry classes. My motivation is nonexistent, and frankly, I’m depressed. I just have to accept what is and work on making tomorrow better.
PRACTICING SELF-CARE IS THE FIRST STEP TO GETTING BETTER.
Today, I will be sharing a time-lapse of me answering some questions to study for my upcoming biology quiz and some of my favorite tips for studying biology. Link to my study with me.
Right now, I’m taking Honors biology as a junior. Honors Junior biology at my school goes into the same depth as AP Biology, but covers fewer topics and doesn’t really have the label emphasis that AP Bio has.
Bio has been my hardest class this year, so I’ve really had to sharpen my study skills. Here are my tips!
Read the textbook before class.
This is huge. I cannot emphasize this enough. Biology isn’t really that hard conceptually, but there are so. many. freaking. details. To keep ahead of the curve, preview the material (if you can, take notes) the night before, so you’re not totally blindsided in class the next day.
Study early and often
Units such as biochemistry, cellular respiration, and digestion have a lot of moving parts. As soon as you complete learning a concept, begin to study it even if the unit (or the test) isn’t near. This is when you should start making your flashcards. I didn’t listen to my biology teacher when she told me to study the Lewis diagrams of the functional groups every day, I got a D+ on that test. Don’t make the same mistake I did. If your teacher gives you a practice test, do it! Make sure you study before taking the review test though, so it will be a truer description of what you actually know. Do it a day or two before the test, and review your mistakes and correct them.
Go to office hours
This goes without saying, but don’t wait to the last minute to clarify a concept you don’t understand. If your teacher says something you don’t understand in class, jot it down, and go to office hours at the earliest possible time and ask about it. Teachers often explain concepts so that the largest portion of the class can understand, but they know some students won’t get it and will likely be able to explain it another way. But you’ll never know unless you try.
I don’t think I can say enough good things about Bozeman Science! Honestly, some of the best content for AP Science classes. 10/10 would recommend. I have a system when it comes to watching online videos in biology. I watch the Amoeba Sisters first because their videos provide easy-to-follow but basic explanations of concepts. Then I watch the Khan Academy videos to get a bit more detail. Lastly, once I kind of understand what’s happening, then I watch the Bozeman Science videos to cement the knowledge in finer details.
Make comprehensive study guides
Biology is a memorization intensive class. You can’t get around studying, so you might as well get good at it. I recommend using the provided study materials such as a list of topics that will be on the test and working from there. Make study guides by using your lecture and textbook notes together to explain the topics and concepts on the test.
Good luck with biology. It’s my least favorite science, but I hope with these tips it won’t be as miserable for you as it is for me. Haha.