• Test Day Tips

    Last Minute Studying

    Don’t be afraid to study on Friday night – with the emphasis on reviewing what you’re good at. Stop by 10 pm and try to be asleep by 11, but if the latter doesn’t happen until 2am, don’t wake up at 7am and say “Poor me, I’m sleep-deprived”. You got 2 hours more than many students who will nevertheless peak on the SAT.

    If a student has put in an hour a night review from Sunday through Thursday, there’s no need for more than an hour on Friday night. In no case should SAT study exceed four hours Friday night. There’s just not that much more you can do, and it could be detrimental. Go to a school event, or an early movie instead.

    Friday Night Tips

    • Do not take a stimulant that you are unused to for test day.
    • Don’t worry about waking up with minor sniffles, or a tummy ache. People suffering from allergies or mild colds can and do nail peak scores on test day. Don’t create an excuse to fall short.
    • No matter how much you realize you don’t know well, focus on what you DO know well. If anything, think about the kids who are coming into this cold.


    Though parents think about this more than our students, we’d like to share our thinking on lack of sleep prior to the test: Don’t be afraid of it. Lack of sleep doesn’t affect the brain.  It affects the body.  And when it does affect the body it does so late in the day. Even if you only get 3 hours’ sleep the night before the SAT, body and brain are still fine in the AM. The sleepiness / weariness that may ensue does so in the late afternoon, long after the SAT is over. Nobody feels sleepy in the middle of a test.

    Testing Micro-Tips

    • Don’t read the directions! The directions are the same as those on the SATs you took before or practiced with. There will be no surprises. So it’s a waste of time to meticulously pore over the directions. Get right to the questions.
    • Minimize the times you look at the clock. Doing so distracts. So long as you are working on problems at the best pace you can, you are doing the right thing. For SAT Verbal, our suggestion is to look at your watch only twice per section: after you’ve completed four of the five Reading Comp passages and after you’ve completed three of the four Grammar passages.  Assess how much time you have for the final section.  The second time is after you’ve finished all sections to see how much time, if any, remains to go back to troublesome past questions.   For ACT, our prescription is similar for the English, Reading, and Science Reasoning sections: don’t view the clock until you are turning to the final passage.  For math (ACT and SAT, we like a clock view when turning to the sixth-to-last question.
    •  If given a choice of seats, sit in the back of the room. Proctors sit in the front and some of them make noise.
    • When a proctor is standing near you, don’t feel any differently.  They are not scrutinizing you or your work; they have to stand somewhere.
    • If a math question looks like it involves lengthy calculations, a shortcut almost certainly exists – try to find it.
    • If a Reading Comprehension question involves a line reference, be prepared to reread a sentence prior to that line.
  • Taking Some Control: Four "Just In Case" Scenarios for Test Day

    Here are four precautions to help students avoid grief on Test Day.

    1. “This doesn’t look like you!” The SAT or ACT admission rules could very well yield this remark from a check-in person comparing the photo you uploaded months ago against your appearance on Test Day. You do NOT want to be denied admission; you do not want to have the hassle of being detained. So, if the week before Test Day the photo on your admission ticket is far off from the new hair style or new hair color you currently have, try to re-submit a new photo to act.org or collegeboard.com. Failing that, bring to the test center OTHER photos taken from the earlier “era”. “Old hairstyle” photos in your possession are good evidence that you are really you. Just to be sure…bring multiple IDs. Be prepared to overwhelm the gatekeeper to show that you are really you.
    2. “No earplugs; no cotton is allowed”. This caught a student who was testing nearby me by surprise. She was trying to be well-prepared against distractions and have cotton in her ears to reduce the sound. This is against the rules. (The College Board does not want to deal with cheaters who PRETEND not to hear a proctor’s “END of SECTION” call and work deeper into the test). So you can’t avoid this. Prepare to be in a room that is NOT pristinely quiet. Students mutter; hallway noises exist; proctors converse when they exchange places. You can’t expect total silence, and you need to make extraneous conversations peripheral.
    3. The proctor gives students too little time. I hear this from SOME student following almost every SAT. Most times this is reconciled quickly: a student points out the error and the proctor realizes the mistake and grants the extra time. But in some instances an obtuse and stubborn proctor has refused. If a mis-timing error has hurt you, you MUST speak up vociferously right away OR go to the Test Center administrator at the next break. The place where a proctor’s mis-timing often occurs: s/he writes the end time wrong at the outset! So…one minute into each section, glance at the board to assure there is a proper stop time written out. For example, SAT Section 3 is 25 minutes. If one minute into the section you see on the board “Start at 10:56…End at 11:16” that’s five minutes too short. The end time should be 11:21. While working on your section, raise your hand, and call out if the proctor does not come your way quickly.
    4. Finally, you do NOT want a proctor to give your room significant extra If the room is accidentally granted an extra five minutes, when the proctor realizes the error s/he will be obligated to report this and the College Board will cancel out everyone’s scores. (They’ll allow a free re-test 2 – 3 weeks later, but nobody wants that). So…if you are certain that more than one extra minute has been granted, BE A NARC. You can “innocently” do this by exclaiming “should we be on Section 3?” or “Do I still have more time?” If some kid confronts you later about foiling the extra time for all, let her/him know that everyone should be thankful it didn’t go longer — no student wants to have a score cancelled out by the ACT or The College Board. Ivy Bound students typically don’t need the extra time.

    We hate to ask you to be extra-assertive and keep your wits about you on areas that should be smooth. We truly want your only brainwork to be on the test problems. But the extra assertiveness and extra-awareness might be needed to assure a great score.


  • Sample Vocabulary Quiz #1


    • Part A – Briefly define the following
      o   anachronism
      o   auspicious
      o   condescending
      o   eclectic
      o   enervate
      o   exculpate
      o   facile
      o   hackneyed
      o   haughty
      o   ineffable
      o   intrepid
      o   ornate
      o   pragmatic
      o   temerity
      o   venerate
    • Part B – Find pairs of words with similar meanings
      o   obdurate
      o   penitent
      o   adamant
      o   spurious
      o   clandestine
      o   contrite
      o   surreptitious
      o   disingenuous
    • Part C – Write the word that fits the definition and the clue
      o ___________ visually appealing (begins with “ae”)
      o ___________ common, ordinary (begins with “mu”)
      o ___________ friendship (begins with “cam”)
      o ___________ a nonconformist (begins with “ma”)
      o ___________ to praise (begins with “ex”)
      o ___________ to soothe (begins with “mol”)
      o ___________ to entertain (begins with “re”)
      o ___________ not threatening (begins with “be”)
      o ___________ productive (begins with “pro”)
      o ___________ gruesome (begins with “lur”)
  • Sample Vocabulary Quiz #2

    • Part A – Briefly define the following
      o   Alacrity
      o   Apathetic
      o   Audacious
      o   Cajole
      o   Censure
      o   Debunk
      o   Enmity
      o   Ephemeral
      o   Glacial
      o   Juxtaposition
      o   Miffed
      o   Opulent
      o   Sagacious
      o   Sanctimonious
      o   Wary
    • Part B – Find pairs of words with similar meanings
      o   Fickle
      o   Transient
      o   Penurious
      o   Cordial
      o   Frugal
      o   Amiable
      o   Deleterious
      o   Harmful
    • Part C – Write the word that fits the definition and the clue
      o   ___________ enraged (begins with “li”)
      o   ___________ to calm, a break in activity (begins with “lu”)
      o   ___________ slow, without emotion (begins with “phleg”)
      o   ___________ an outcast (begins with “pa”)
      o   ___________ with enthusiasm (begins with “em”)
      o   ___________ to worsen (begins with “exac”)
      o   ___________ very perceptive (begins with “clair”)
      o   ___________ done without preparation (begins with “pe”)
      o   ___________ a mourning poem (begins with “el”)
      o   ___________ a guide or signal (begins with “be”)
  • Sample Vocabulary Quiz #3

    • Part A – Briefly define the following
      o   acrimony
      o   arcane
      o   bereft
      o   conundrum
      o   convoluted
      o   corroborate
      o   destitute
      o   disseminate
      o   effusive
      o   frenetic
      o   melancholy
      o   nonchalance
      o   perfidious
      o   tenacious
      o   unpalatable
    • Part B – Find pairs of words with similar meanings
      o   assiduous
      o   truculent
      o   diligent
      o   trite
      o   rancorous
      o   hackneyed
      o   exculpate
      o   absolve
    • Part C – Write the word that fits the definition and the clue
      o   ___________ shining brilliantly (begins with “re”)
      o   ___________ gladness (begins with “mi”)
      o   ___________ pretentious (begins with “po”)
      o   ___________ sarcastic, corrosive (begins with “cau”)
      o   ___________ associated with teaching, morality (begins with “di”)
      o   ___________ very clear (begins with “pel”)
      o   ___________ a trick (begins with “ru”)
      o   ___________ modest (begins with “de”)
      o   ___________ unnecessary (begins with “fr”)
      o   ___________ a disaster (begins with “ca”)
  • Sample Vocabulary Quiz #4

    • Part A – Briefly define the following
      o   demurral
      o   diffidence
      o   disheveled
      o   extrapolate
      o   impregnable
      o   indelible
      o   lexicon
      o   obstreperous
      o   pervasive
      o   quandary
      o   retroactive
      o   repudiate
      o   satire
      o   tepid
      o   vapid
    • Part B – Find pairs of words with similar meanings
      o   avid
      o   belligerent
      o   zealous
      o   ossified
      o   vernacular
      o   rigid
      o   cantankerous
      o   colloquial
    • Part C – Write the word that fits the definition and the clue
      o   ___________ having multiple meanings (begins with “eq”)
      o   ___________ examination of one’s feelings (begins with “in”)
      o   ___________ continuing in the same direction (begins with “ine”)
      o   ___________ pretentious language (begins with “bom”)
      o   ___________ to bring up a controversial issue (begins with “br”)
      o   ___________ blameworthy (begins with “re”)
      o   ___________ very important (begins with “pro”)
      o   ___________ showy (begins with “fl”)
      o   ___________ pointless speech (begins with “dr”)
      o   ___________ detailed (begins with “in”)
  • Sample Vocabulary Quiz #5

    • Part A – Briefly define the following
      o   analogous
      o   baleful
      o   bucolic
      o   construe
      o   despondent
      o   esoteric
      o   forthright
      o   ire
      o   irrevocable
      o   monolithic
      o   nefarious
      o   omniscience
      o   palpable
      o   protean
      o   quell
    • Part B – Find pairs of words with similar meanings
      o   punctilious
      o   extol
      o   persnickety
      o   ebullient
      o   parochial
      o   vivacious
      o   laud
      o   provincial
    • Part C – Write the word that fits the definition and the clue
      o   ___________ strong dislike (begins with “an”)
      o   ___________ trickery (begins with “ch”)
      o   ___________ boastful (begins with “va”)
      o   ___________ useless (begins with “fu”)
      o   ___________ severe, gloomy (begins with “do”)
      o   ___________ a wrong doer (begins with “mi”)
      o   ___________ an expert (begins with “co”)
      o   ___________ a body of beliefs (begins with “id”)
      o   ___________ someone who hates all mankind (begins with “mi”)
      o   ___________ keen (begins with “as”)
  • Sample Vocabulary Quiz Answers

    Quiz #1
    Part B:
    obdurate = adamant
    penitent = contrite
    spurious = disingenuous
    clandestine = surreptitious
    Part C:
    Answers: aesthetic, mundane, camaraderie, maverick, extol, mollify, regale, benign, prolific, lurid

    Quiz #2
    Part B:
    fickle = transient
    penurious = frugal
    cordial – amiable
    deleterious = harmful
    Part C:
    Answers: livid, lull, phlegmatic, pariah, emphatic, exacerbate, clairvoyant, peremptory, elegy, beacon

    Quiz #3
    Part B:
    assiduous = diligent
    truculent = rancorous
    trite = hackneyed
    exculpate = absolve
    Part C:
    Answers: resplendent, mirth, pompous, caustic, didactic, pellucid, ruse, demure, frivolous, catastrophe

    Quiz #4
    Part B:
    avid – zealous
    belligerent – cantankerous
    vernacular = colloquial
    ossified = rigid
    Part C:
    Answers: equivocal, introspection, inertia, bombast, broach, reprehensible, profound, flamboyant, drivel, intricate

    Quiz #5
    Part B:
    punctilious = persnickety
    extol = laud
    ebullient – vivacious
    parochial = provincial
    Part C:
    Answers: anathema, chicanery, vainglorious, futile, doleful or dour, miscreant, connoisseur, ideology, misanthrope, astute