4 secrets collegeboard doesn't want you to know

4 Secrets CollegeBoard Doesn’t Want You To Know

Getting ready for the SAT can be a stressful and overwhelming time. While you may be nervous about taking the exam, you should be confident that your SAT prep will yield positive results. An effective SAT prep course should cover the most efficient

ways to take the exam. Here are the secrets that no one wants you to know.

SAT Prep Advice to Yield Successful Results

1. DO NOT USE Process of Elimination!

This may seem like strange advice, but in order to understand this advice, one must understand the purpose of this exam. You cannot pick answer choices that “sound good” because the makers of the SAT are testing the student’s ability to comprehend new information logically. As strange as it sounds, The SAT is NOT testing the student on what the student is taught in school, instead the SAT is designed to test student’s ability to take information that he/she has never seen before and apply it to various applicable concepts in “real world industries”. Because the CollegeBoard wants the students to logically reason through difficult and new concepts, the SAT will essentially trap the student by providing answers that “sound good” and are relatable to the student’s knowledge. Thus, we recommend that the student obtains his/her own answer, prior to looking at the answer choices as the answer choices will often times confuse the student, forcing him/her to pick an answer that is unrelated to the passage because it is so relevant to what the student has learned in school. Once the student has obtained his/her own answer, without looking at the answer choices, he/she could simply match the “made up” answer with a similar answer choice, increasing the likelihood of it being correct.

2. Don’t worry about time!

There is a terrible misunderstanding when thinking about the SAT and time management. While we understand the time constraint, the fear surrounding the timing aspect is something that is too often overblown. This may seem strange but think of the time when you learned to ride a bike (I apologize in advance for anyone who does not know how to ride a bike, but I believe that my example will emphasize my point even if you cannot relate). I will illustrate 2 scenarios:

Scenario 1: Imagine that your first time sitting on a bike was at the very top of the Andes Mountains and you were told to complete the journey to the bottom of the mountain within 1 hour or your entire future would be in jeopardy. While some would enjoy the thrill, it is safe to say that nearly everyone’s visceral reaction would accompany tears, hysteria, and a mental breakdown.

Scenario 2: Imagine that your first time sitting on a bike was now in an empty parking lot, and the bike has training wheels attached. It is safe to say that nearly everyone with the ability to walk would be able to ride the bike successfully.

So, the question becomes,

“Which scenario is more conducive to a better learning environment?”

Most people would say scenario 2 is necessary. If we consider the SAT as a giant mountain to ride down, you cannot ride down the mountain without being able to “ride a bike”. You must understand the various twists, turns, and harsh terrain that accompany the mountain, and you also must possess a very keen understanding of how to ride a bike in the first place. These skills are necessary in order to avoid a perilous death!

While perhaps this example is a bit exaggerated, the idea here is that in order to ride down the mountain within an hour, there needs to be a very thorough understanding of the exam and its requirements, as well as strong reading comprehension, grammar, and mathematical skills.

The student should start by going through the problems and passages slowly, developing a thorough understanding of the requirements and gaining the skills to truly excel. Once the skills are ingrained, and a thorough understanding of the exam has been met, then, most students will realize that time is no longer even an issue. It’s like an expert mountain biker who has developed his skills through decades of training and experience. If you put that expert b

iker on a new mountain, even though he won’t know every obstacle in his path, he will be able to adapt and fly through with ease.




This one is probably the one that sounds the most ridiculous but will become clear in a moment. Let’s continue with our example of riding bikes.

If one was to think about every aspect of riding a bike, from placing each foot onto each pedal and shifting your weight to counteract each stride while balancing y

our torso and looking straight… Well, you get the drift! When we overthink things, we tend to fail. Only

when a process becomes automatic do we begin to maintain that level of standard and result to achieve our goal, which is especially vital when in high pressure situations. Thus, the SAT problems must become second nature.

It becomes about understanding each problem fundamentally and recognizing the patterns of the exam. If the student understands the patterns, then the exam becomes routine:


We at JM Learning, refer to this as the three R’s. We will proceed to explain each

Recognize: This one is quite simple, but if the student is prepared properly, then he/she has already seen almost every problem the College board can throw at him/her. Thus, it just becomes a matter of recognizing the problem as something that he/she is already familiar with. Let’s take for example something particularly vague like when the studen

t sees a Circle on the math section. There are 7 different possible scenarios of circle problems on the SAT. They are proportions, area and perimeter, arc length and sector area, angle identity, The Unit Circle, and Standard Equations. There are approximately 2-3 different combinations of each problem, making this problem a maximum of 21 various combinations. The student must know all 21 combinations without hesitation so he/she can simply recognize which exact type of problem it is.

Reiterate: Each problem can be worded or drawn differently, but the heart of the problem will stay the same. It’s up to the student after he/she has recognized what type of problem it is to know how to “Reiterate” the problem into a form that he/she is most fa

miliar with. Let’s look at two examples that are worded differently but are solved identically.

Example 1:


In the circle above, if arc length OAB is π/3 find the central angle measure of OAB in radians.


RECOGNIZE – This is a typical SOR problem that involves the application of a formula not given on the SAT.

REITERATE – Once the student recognizes the problem as an application of SOR, the student needs to write out what he/she knows about the problem and begin to piece together what’s missing – this is why we refer to this step as reiterate.


RESOLVE – The last step is self-explanatory. This step requires the student to solve the problem. We call this “Resolve” because this process is not just limited to mathematical equations as is given above.



Let’s look at another example:

Example 2: Farmer Joe wants to create a circular garden for his wife. He wants to plant roses along the edge of exactly one fourth of the garden. He also measures the distance from the center of the garden to the edge and finds it to be exactly 10 feet. What is the length (in feet) of space that he has in order to plant the roses?

RECOGNIZE – Notice a few key words in this problem “circle”, “distance from the center to the edge”, “one fourth of the garden”. If one were to draw the problem, you would immediately notice


REITERATE – Now that the student notices that this is nothing more than another formulation of SOR, it is time to “Reiterate” the problem in order to solve it in the same manner.

“one fourth of the circle” constitutes a 90 degree angle and since one of the required aspects of the SOR formula is to convert to radians, we would multiply by π/180 in order to obtain the central angle measure.



RESOLVE – Not much to say here other than solve the remainder of the problem.


The key in both situations is not to overthink the problem. Know what to do and trust in those carefully honed instincts. Therefore, it is extremely important to receive the proper SAT preparation. Without key strategies and the best SAT tutors and the SAT classes

, these concepts become difficult to execute, resulting in lower results. A great SAT instructor will not only establish these types of instincts but develop a confidence in the student to know what to do in every scenario, not just sit on the exam in fear.

4. Quality over Quantity! 

We will be doing some math in this section. So, bear with us.

On the Reading portion of the SAT, there are 5 passages total each with 10-11 questions – 52 questions total. Now that we have an understanding of the structure of the exam, let’s take a look at two possible scenarios.

Scenario 1: If the student was to rush through the passages without a strong understanding of any strategy, he/she would get approximately 4 questions wrong on each passage. This would be 20 questions wrong.

Scenario 2: If the student was to take his/her time and break down the passages and questions slowly, he/she could hypothetically lower the amount wrong to 1 per passage. This would inevitably lead to him/her not answering the last passage, but if he/she were to put a consistent random answer for every answer in that passage (“C” for instance), statistically he/she would get at least 3 correct on the unread passage. 7 wrong on the unread passage + 4 wrong on the other passages = 11 wrong total!

Obviously in this case, scenario 2 wins.


The student should not worry about answering the vast majority of the questions. Instead, he/she should focus on getting as many questions as possible correct. From there, he/she could improve significantly just by shifting this simple mentality.


If you’re looking for an SAT prep program, contact JM Learning in Brooklyn, NY, to enroll in their flexible options. Their talented team offers individualized tutoring services, college application tips, and even advice on selecting the right college. Call (718) 975-2665 or visit the website for information on their impressive test score improvement rate and to learn about understanding financial aid and cost-benefit analysis.