Articles on this Page
- 08/26/14--09:09: _Meet The Guy Who Ma...
- 10/02/14--09:32: _The 'Undue Importan...
- 10/02/14--11:52: _Why Colleges Place ...
- 10/07/14--07:18: _The Average SAT Sco...
- 10/08/14--08:15: _Wealthy Kids Have A...
- 10/20/14--04:32: _SAT Tutor Who Charg...
- 10/24/14--15:57: _Here's The Average ...
- 02/22/15--12:30: _The 24 smartest boa...
- 02/25/15--09:17: _This all-boys schoo...
- 03/04/15--12:43: _America's top SAT t...
- 03/24/15--08:34: _Taylor Swift slams ...
- 03/25/15--06:29: _The Princeton Revie...
- 04/06/15--10:07: _Here are the 11 sma...
- 05/05/15--11:06: _Here are the 11 sma...
- 05/28/15--09:59: _15 Chinese national...
- 06/05/15--13:04: _Guy who got a perfe...
- 06/11/15--07:54: _A perfect SAT could...
- 06/15/15--14:59: _There's going to be...
- 06/26/15--11:16: _4 ways to outsmart ...
- 06/29/15--11:04: _There's a surprisin...
- 10/02/14--11:52: Why Colleges Place So Much Importance On The SAT
- 10/07/14--07:18: The Average SAT Score Last Year Was Just Under 1500
- Reading — 497
- Math — 513
- Writing — 487
- 10/08/14--08:15: Wealthy Kids Have A Huge Advantage On The SAT
- 10/24/14--15:57: Here's The Average SAT Score For Every College Major
- 02/22/15--12:30: The 24 smartest boarding schools in America
- 04/06/15--10:07: Here are the 11 smartest boarding schools in America
- 05/05/15--11:06: Here are the 11 smartest high schools in America
- 06/15/15--14:59: There's going to be a new SAT, and it will be easier than ever
- 06/26/15--11:16: 4 ways to outsmart any multiple-choice test
Every morning Anthony Green wakes up in his Manhattan apartment and walks around the block to get a cup of coffee, and maybe an omelet from the diner that he tells me makes the "best in the East Village, maybe even New York."
Then from 7:30 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m., he's sitting at his kitchen table in front of a computer helping high-school kids master the verbal and mathematical skills they'll need if they want a shot at being admitted to the country's best colleges.
Green is one of the premier SAT and ACT tutors in New York. His company, Test Prep Authority, serves some of the richest kids in America. Using a student's PSAT, the practice exam, as a benchmark, Green promises he can help raise scores an average of 430 points on the SAT (and 7.8 points on the ACT) — "higher than any other tutor, class, or program in the country," according to his website.
That promise seems to be enough for his well-heeled clientele. And for this very small but wealthy minority, money is truly no object. Green charges $1,500 for 90 minutes of one-on-one tutoring, and he insists on a minimum of 14 90-minute sessions, with very rare exceptions.
What's more, the sessions happen exclusively over Skype. Green's pupils have never stepped foot inside of his eclectically decorated townhouse.
Green, who as a teenager got his own tutor after bombing the PSATs, ultimately scoring in the 99th percentile, got his start in the test-prep industry while a sophomore at Columbia.
A year later, he started his own business, hiring 50 independent tutors to work for him.
"I had no idea what I was doing," Green acknowledges. "I thought, 'Hire people who are smart.'"
But he soon realized not every genius he hired could effectively impart his or her knowledge to a restless teenager. Green scaled back his business goals and began focusing on perfecting his own technique.
"I'm not a manager," he acknowledges.
Fast forward to 2014. Green tutors, quite literally, the spawn of the 1%. His students are the offspring of financiers, hedge funders, CEOs, and mostly entrepreneurs. Each student must commit to two weekly sessions and begin three months before the exam. Demand has been so high, he says, that he often has to turn away new clients, leading some to book his services up to four years in advance.
Green's secret, he told me, is using his intuition to quickly identify a client's weaknesses.
Could Green really be as good as he says? SAT tutoring can be had for a fraction of his rates. Not to mention online institutions like Khan Academy, which offers step-by-step instructions free.
Seeking proof of his talents, I ask Green to teach me how to solve a math problem from an SAT practice book. Full disclosure: I am terrible at math. I am impressively awful at math.
I point to a problem at random. "Find v in terms of w," it says. I immediately find myself just as bewildered, if not more so, than I was during my last high-school math class more than 10 years ago. But Green, who at 26 has been an SAT tutor in various capacities for nearly eight years, doesn't flinch.
"This is where people tend to freak themselves out," he says, showing me various ways students tend to work themselves into a panic.
He tells me to pick a number to substitute for v and test it out on all of the answers. In five minutes I have a solution and the correct answer. I try a similar problem on my own, get the correct answer in three minutes, and I feel confident I can do it again and again. A big part of my success, he says, is that I actually wanted to learn.
For comparison's sake, I then visit Khan Academy online and search for a problem with a similar level of difficulty: simplifying rational expressions. I click around and land on the following problem, with options on the right side for anyone needing hints.
Flummoxed, I ask for all five hints, which just confuse me more.
Khan Academy offers a video, which I watch in earnest. But then my phone rings and I answer it. I check my email. I talk to a coworker. When I come back to the problem, with no confidence that I am retaining the information being presented to me, it feels as if I'm essentially teaching myself how to do math. The validation from someone who understands is an important component of the learning process, which tends to be lacking when using a service like Khan Academy.
Clearly, having a one-on-one tutor like Green works better for me. Not that I could afford him.
Indeed, neither can most students or parents. By cashing in on the anxieties — and disposable income — of an elite clientele, Green is capitalizing on a system that is clearly skewed in favor of those students who already have a tremendous advantage. Far from helping to foster a meritocracy, as many of us would like to believe, colleges that base their admissions on standardized testing just as easily reinforce the inequality of American society.
Not that there's much Green can do about the system as a whole, something he readily acknowledges.
The SAT "is a blatant class indicator," Green tells me. "The entire system of standardized tests and higher education is completely ridiculous and ludicrous. But colleges haven't found any other way to objectively evaluate the merits of a student. You have thousands of students applying to your school — there has to be a way to compare them to one another in terms of math and language and writing skill."
Any objective system like this can and will be gamed, he says, and yes, doing so can be expensive.
"It's a free market economy," he says. "These people find me on their own and they want to work with me, and I am happy to work with them. But the system itself is completely broken."
For those who can't afford Green's hourly rates, he has created software that students can use on their own. Additionally, he works with Young Eisner Scholars, an organization that helps gifted kids in financially disadvantaged communities, by gifting free copies of his software to every child who goes through the YES program.
I'm still curious about his use of Skype. Isn't it hard to tutor a kid from behind a screen?
Not at all, he insists. Even through Skype, Green says, he has developed a clear sense of whether his students' full attention is on him or wandering to another open window on their computer, or to their cellphone, or maybe their cat.
If attention is a persistent problem, Green will drop the client.
"I guarantee I can work with you to improve your scores," he says, "but if you don't want to be there in the first place and you're shut down to the idea of really attacking the test, then I can't help you."
Green says his favorite students are the ones who have a goal in mind. Unfortunately, that goal is often getting into a specific school. Parents, too, often have their sights set on the Ivy League, preferably Harvard.
"I can't promise that," he said. "I can promise that with improved scores your college options will absolutely open up."
Green's job will become even harder in 2016, when the SAT returns to a 1600-point test, discarding the essay section that has been part of the College Board's exam since 2006.
"I've spent thousands of hours mastering [the 2400 point] test," he says with a sigh. "But I have time to rework my strategies."
One strategy that is certain to remain is Green's pricing policy. After all, students with wealthy parents tend to have had top-notch educations and therefore be the most likely to succeed. As with so many status items, it is impossible to tell whether Green's services are worth the premium. Does he charge more than his rivals because he's the best? Or is he simply perceived to be the best because he's so expensive?
Anyone who can answer that one probably deserves a shot at Harvard.
Female college applicants' scores on the SAT could be keeping them out of some of the most elite colleges in the country, according to a new study.
The study — from the University of Michigan's Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education— seems to subvert the commonly held belief that women have an advantage in higher education admissions. As noted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, where we first saw this study, in 2004 "women made up more than half of undergraduates attending all types of four-year colleges except for the most-selective ones" where they were only 47% of the population.
The UMich study confirms that this distinction is still present today and helps explain why this gender disparity in elite colleges likely exists — standardized testing.
According to the study, "the evidence best supports a conclusion that women's lower average standardized test scores, combined with the importance attributed to those scores in admissions decisions, creates de facto preferences for men that drive women's under-enrollment in these institutions."
While women may outperform men in a number of academic criteria, "the criteria on which women have had an advantage—high school GPA, most importantly—seemed to have a weaker influence on the odds of selective college enrollment than did test scores, on which men have had an advantage since the 1960s." A recent study found that high school GPA was the best predictor of a student's success after college.
The best way to cure the gender divide at elite colleges, the study argues, may be through holistic admissions standards — evaluating the a student's SAT scores in the broader context of their full application, rather than granting it "undue importance" as an easily quantifiable test.
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There have been a lot of problems attributed to the SAT, arguably the most important college entrance exam in the country.
The test has been criticized for favoring wealthy, male students. It has also been shown to be a poor indicator of a student's success in and after college.
So why do schools keep using them?
"Overreliance" on SAT scores, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan's Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, "can be traced both to elite institutions' efforts to maintain high average test scores to preserve their rankings, as well as to admissions file readers' subconscious judgement process."
As the study notes, an institution's status and prestige is often tied to their selectivity, which is easy to track by creating a competitive admissions process that favors higher test scores. Additionally, outside rankings — many of which, like the U.S. News and World Report's college list, heavily weigh SAT scores — also serve to boost a college's prestige.
"Magazine rankings serve as the major catalyst driving the focus on increasing standardized testing scores," according to the study.
This emphasis on status can often have a negative impact on the equality of admissions standards, according to the study — "The pursuit of prestige indirectly limits access for women and other underrepresented groups by emphasizing an admissions criterion that 'further privilege[s] the already advantaged.'"
The study reports that "SAT scores' undue importance is also a micro-level problem," citing the trend towards highly qualified students applying to a increasingly large number of schools in order to "maximize their enrollment choices." As colleges see more and more applicants, admissions officers need clear and efficient ways to determine which students they should accept.
"Test scores, unlike the rest of the [applicant's] file, may seem quantified, decontextualized, and unambiguous, and thus have a disproportionate influence on the final admissions decision," according to the study.
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Average SAT scores for the Class of 2014 stayed about the same as previous years, hitting just below 1500 for all three portions of the college admissions exam, according to data released by College Board.
Here's how the latest round of high school seniors scored, from U.S. News & World Report. Each portion of the test is out of a possible 800 points:
Combined, the average score was 1497 out of 2400. Looking at just the possible points on the reading and math portions — which the test will revert to in 2016, after including the writing portion for about a decade — students on average scored 1010 out of 1600.
According to Inside Higher Ed, these scores are in keeping with trends for recent tests— "The average score in critical reading increased one point, while average scores in math and writing fell by one point. Scores have been either flat or slowly declining for the past several years, dropping 11 points in reading and seven points in math in the past decade."
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The wealthier a student's family, the better that student is likely to do on the SAT college admissions test, according to new data from students who took the exam in the past year.
We saw these calculations and charts — compiled by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, using data from College Board — in The Wall Street Journal, which reports that "the SAT is just another area in American life where economic inequality results in much more than just disparate incomes."
Students whose parents made more than $200,ooo — the highest income bracket — on average scored 1722 out of 2400, almost 400 points higher than students from the lowest income bracket, who scored 1324 on average.
"Given the widespread use of the SAT in college admissions, the implications are obvious: Not only are the wealthiest families best equipped to pay for college, their kids on average are more likely to post the sort of scores that make admissions easy," according to The Journal.
This chart shows the average scores on each section of the test — plus the combined score of the three sections — by parental income:
As you can see, the average SAT score rises in each income bracket.
And here is the score difference above and below the national average for families of various incomes:
The average SAT score for the Class of 2014 was 1497 out of 2400.
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This summer, we profiled Anthony Green, a 27-year-old New York-based tutor who works with the richest kids in the country as they prepare for the SAT and ACT exams.
And he does it all over Skype.
Ninety-minute sessions with Green cost $1,500, but he promises he can deliver. He's hailed as the best SAT tutor in the country.
"When it comes to my tutoring business, I have two specialties: the SAT and the ACT," he told Business Insider. "Both exams present a unique set of materials, challenges, strategies, and tactics; however, the study methods required to beat these tests can be applied to almost any exam and any subject. Educational principles, neuroscience, motivation techniques, and psychology don't cater to any particular test — they're useful no matter what you're trying to learn."
1. Document all your mistakes. They're worth their weight in gold.
We all like to be right. We all hate to be wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to studying, this element of human nature really gets in the way. If you want to get better at something, you need to relish your failures. You need to understand exactly where you're screwing up, highlight those weaknesses, document them, and then pummel them into the ground.
2. Forget to-do lists! Use a calendar.
When's the last time you made a to-do list for the day and actually finished everything on that list? To-do lists are horrible devices because they allow us to be optimistic and unrealistic about our time constraints. Finish the book, work out, study for two tests, start the new project, plan the website, write your grad school essays, plan for the GMAT, and clean your apartment this afternoon? Sure!
Instead of using to-do lists, use Google Calendar (free) and block out time for your studies and your tasks. This way, you can't possibly be unrealistic. When to-do items are just lines on a notepad, they're not real. When you "slot" them into a timeframe, you have to actually imagine the time that they'll require. Read seven chapters of your book in 10 minutes? I don't think so. Using your calendar to plot your studies will also allow you to stick with your commitments. Instead of the, "Oh, I'll get it done sometime" mentality, you'll be able to commit to studying for your test from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Now it's real. Now, when someone asks you if you're free for some random task or distraction, you can look at your calendar and actually say "I'm busy until 5:30."
3. Get seven hours of sleep ... every single night.
You can't form long-term memories without sleep. You can't perform without sleep. Your attention span suffers when you don't get enough sleep. You feel horrible when you don't get enough sleep, and your motivation plummets. In brief: when you don't get seven hours a night, you start turning into a moron. Human beings need seven hours of sleep a night, at a minimum, to function properly. If you're reading this, and you're a human being, that means you.
I've had students' scores improve by over 200 points on the SAT just because they went to bed at a reasonable hour. I've also had exhausted students (pulled an all-nighter the Thursday before their test, etc.) drop ~500 points from their peak performance levels. If you don't get enough sleep, and you're trying to study, it's like trying to chop down a tree with a pizza. It doesn't matter how hard you work — you aren't going to get anywhere. And you'll feel like an idiot.
4. Review > New
The biggest mistake made by most students: they spend more time focusing on new, exciting material than they do on the material they've already worked through. This is a huge mistake.
I'd much rather have my students work through the same SAT 10 times in a row than have them work through 10 new SATs without any review. As I already said, documenting your weaknesses is essential. But it's not enough to find and document them — you need to keep reviewing them over, and over, and over again.
5. Schedule study breaks in advance.
The human brain can't really focus on anything for more than roughly 75 to 90 minutes at a time. If you try to study, or work on any project, for longer than 90 minutes, you're going to be running on fumes. You need to take breaks. So schedule them in advance, make sure they're at least 15 minutes long, and make sure that you never work on something for more than 90 minutes without taking a break.
When you take your breaks, make them fun. Don't feel guilty about not working. Relish them and make the most of them. Go on a walk and call a friend, run out for a quick snack, take care of an errand — do something totally different from what you were doing. Allow your brain and body to take a break and switch into another mode. When you get back to your work, you'll feel much more refreshed, productive, focused, and happy.
6. Ditch the distractions
If you're studying, ditch the cell phone. Turn off your computer. Turn off the TV. Clean your desk. Hide everything but the textbooks and notepads that are relevant to the task at hand. When you finish, or when it's break time, you can pull your phone back out and see if there are any amazing new pictures of Sally's dinner on Instagram — but leave it for your break.
Students who plan on majoring in multi/interdisciplinary studies tend to do better on the SAT than those who major in engineering or math, according to the College Board's 2014 SAT Report on College and Career Readiness.
Multi/interdisciplinary courses typically combine two or more academic disciplines, such as economics and history, in the study of a particular subject.
College Board took students' SAT scores and compiled them into a table showing how different prospective majors did on critical reading, writing, math, and overall.
The results are not too different from the College Board's 2013 report. Here we've ranked majors in order of highest combined, critical reading, math, and writing scores, respectively.
While the SAT is not a perfect test, some notable trends emerge. Students planning to major in multi/interdisciplinary studies have the highest combined reading and writing scores, which makes sense as this major encompasses a wide array of talents.
Students with an interest in the physical sciences (chemistry, physics, etc.) had the second highest combined scores, which also makes sense as the physical sciences tends to be a highly demanding field that draws in some of the most disciplined students.
Here is a ranking by combined scores:
Now, a ranking of majors by critical reading score. Notably, physical sciences scored higher than humanities.
Next, a ranking of majors by math scores. Unsurprisingly, prospective math majors won this one.
Finally, a ranking of majors by writing score. Multi/interdisciplinary majors ranked the highest on this, too.
The all-boys St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., topped our list of the smartest boarding schools in America.
That's because students at St. Albans get an average SAT score of over 2100, according to Niche— the highest SAT score of any boarding school in the country.
Of course, the SAT isn't the only marker of intelligence. In the last five years, 80 St. Albans grads matriculated into Ivies; in the last eight years, 45 students have been National Merit Semifinalists, and 22 Presidential Scholars have attended the school. Some of St. Albans' most notable alumni include a number of politicians, like Al Gore and Senator Evan Bayh, actor Jeffrey Wright, and astronaut Michael Collins.
"Classes are difficult, and although the environment can be competitive at times, students learn a lot of skills and information that they can take with them to college and beyond," Cameron Thariani, St. Albans' most recent Presidential Scholar and current Harvard sophomore, told Business Insider in an email.
"I don’t think St. Albans has any particular SAT classes, review sessions, etc.," he wrote. "What St. Albans does offer is incredible writing courses, which help on the writing section, a great math department, which helps on the math section, and an amazing English department, which helps on the critical reading section — and in every class, St. Albans students learn how to think critically, which helps with preparation for the entire SAT and beyond."
The boys benefit from small classes, one-on-one guidance from faculty, and rigorous specialized classes like Coding for Cybersecurity (a class in computer programming and cyber defense strategy), The Stream-of-Consciousness Novel (a look at works by Woolfe, Faulkner, and Joyce), or Number Theory (a course in the relationship between numbers with a cryptology component).
The intensity of the classes is coupled with staff and faculty who push students to strive to be great, and not just good.
"Much at the heart of the school is that one teacher is willing to do whatever it takes to help another boy learn and do the best he can," said former English teacher Paul Barrett.
Periods are broken up by lunch, worship, and open office hours with teachers. Students take at least four courses a semester, and each Upper School boy does about an hour of homework a night, in addition to writing term papers, studying for exams, and possibly completing independent studies.
"They arrive here before 8:00, and they don't get home until 7:30, and it's such a rich, rich experience, but it's such a demanding one. I sometimes wonder how these boys do all that they do," said dean of faculty and Spanish teacher Sherry Rusher. "And I think that by the time they get to college they're so well-trained, and anything after this seems doable."
"The workload, of course, is preparing us for college," said Nicholas Folger, St. Albans class of 2010, "but they're also trying to prepare us for life. St. Albans is trying to bring out everything that there is about you. That's really the St. Albans way."
St. Albans also came in at No. 15 on our list of the most elite boarding schools in America.
DON'T MISS: The 25 smartest boarding schools in America
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Over the summer, we profiled Anthony Green, the SAT and ACT tutor to the 1%. Green tutors the offspring of some of the country's wealthiest folk, and all of his sessions are conducted over Skype for a whopping $1,000 an hour.
In 2016, the SAT returns to a 1600-point test, combining the current 800-point Reading and Writing sections back into the single 800-point “verbal” section that characterized the old exam.
In a recent interview, Green told Business Insider no one should take the new SAT in 2016, which he's also argued on his site.
"I'm recommending that none of my students take the first three rounds of the new SAT (March, May, and June of 2016)," Green said. "Why let students be guinea pigs for the College Board's marketing machine?"
We asked him to explain. Here's what he wrote in an email:
The College Board is hyping the new version of the test as "the people's exam" - they're trying to claim that it's a more democratic, more user-friendly version of the test that'll more accurately reflect the demands of the American high school curriculum. There's just one problem: this is exactly what they said about the last version that they launched, which has turned out to be a total catastrophe.
More students now take the ACT than the SAT, and with good reason: the ACT is and has been a reliable, predictable exam that is far more focused on actual academic merit than it is on random logical reasons tricks and esoteric vocabulary words. Now that people don't know what the new SAT grading system means (the switch to 2400 from 1600 has thrown everyone off), and because the SAT essay is largely seen as a total joke, the new exam has been regarded with suspicion, and more and more people are opting for the ACT instead.
The College Board is losing their market share, and they're making a last-ditch effort to revamp the test for the second time in ten years.
The "new SAT" is basically a poorly disguised marketing gimmick that's trying to:
A) Make the SAT much more like the ACT. If you look at the changes being made, you'll find that all of them are an attempt to make the test's format and material more similar to the ACT.
B) Get rid of the essay (it's now optional) and bring the grading scale back to the old, familiar 1600 that everyone knows and loves (or hates). In essence, they're admitting that the current version of the test was a mistake.
C) Attempt to make people forget that this test is an inherently unfair mechanism designed to gauge student income levels.
C is particularly frustrating. The rhetoric coming from the College Board is constantly focused on how "fair" this new test will be. Now, they claim, the test will finally be in line with student interests. But let us not forget that this test is based on SCALE. If everyone got a 1600, there would be no point to this test at all. This test is designed to show colleges who is better and who is worse - not who is good. It is a comparison mechanism. There are winners and losers in this game - which is the entire point of the test to begin with. The "democratic" rhetoric coming from the test makers borders on ludicrous. They're putting out a test intentionally designed to segregate students from each other based on arbitrary ability level, and now they have the nerve to pretend that they somehow have students' best interests in mind.
Why wait to take the new test (if you want to take it at all, instead of just switching to the ACT)?
1. The College Board has been relatively close to the vest about the specifics of the new exam. While I'm sure they'll release more details as the test date approaches, students should never take a test without knowing precisely what to expect. After the first three rounds of testing, we'll all have a much better idea of what awaits students, the variance of question difficulty levels, distribution of certain types of material, vocabulary spectrum, etc.
Every test is beatable. There are always strategies and tactics that allow students to gain an edge. By understanding the correct material to study, and the correct approaches to use on each problem type, and student with enough time and diligence can get a high score. No student should walk into the new version of the test blind. First, students should gain a thorough understanding of what they need to learn beforehand to master the test.
2. Once the first three rounds of the test have been released, a number of high quality practice materials will be released by the big publishers (Barron's, McGraw Hill, etc.) in addition to the College Board. The more materials students have on hand to study and prepare for the exam, the more effectively they'll be able to study.
3. Who knows what sort of mishaps and grading nightmares might occur as the new test is rolled out? Let the College Board work out its kinks, and don't voluntarily be part of this new experiment.
No one needs to take the March, May, or June versions of any exam. If you're a junior, take the ACT instead. If you're younger, just wait. In either case, avoid the first few rounds of this test like the plague. You'll avoid any mishaps, and you'll allow the proper materials and strategies to be developed.
Do not insult Taylor Swift's grammar.
The Princeton Review recently tried to use the singer's lyrics as an example of bad grammar — except it misquoted the lyric in question.
In a section titled "Grammar In Real Life," the practice test says, "Pop lyrics are a great source of bad grammar. See if you can find the error in each of the following."
After mentioning lyrics from Katy Perry, Whitney Houston, and Lady Gaga, the materials attempt to call out a line from Swift's song "Fifteen."
The practice test reads:
"Somebody tells you they love you, you got to believe 'em."
But the actual lyric goes:
"Somebody tells you they love you, you're gonna believe them."
A Swift fan caught the error and posted a picture of the page in question from the Princeton Review materials, captioning it, "I was just having an amazing time studying for the SAT and now I feel attacked."
Swift responded via her Tumblr, writing: "Not the right lyrics at all pssshhhh. You had one job, test people. One job."
She tagged her post, "#ACCUSE ME OF ANYTHING BUT DO NOT ATTACK MY GRAMMAR."
SEE ALSO: Taylor Swift is buying porn site domains
The practice test read:
"Somebody tells you they love you, you got to believe 'em."
But the actual lyric goes:
"Somebody tells you they love you, you're gonna believe them."
After a fan brought the lyric in question to the pop star's attention, Swift joked on her Tumblr: "Not the right lyrics at all pssshhhh. You had one job, test people. One job." She tagged her post, "#ACCUSE ME OF ANYTHING BUT DO NOT ATTACK MY GRAMMAR."
The Princeton Review was quick to respond and apologize, tweeting to its followers:
We ranked the top boarding schools in America by taking a look at the top average SAT scores. Here are the top 11.
Click here to see the top 24.
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Produced by Devan Joseph. Special thanks to Melissa Stanger.
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Fifteen Chinese nationals living in the US have been charged with creating an elaborate scheme to hire imposters to take US college entrance exams on behalf of prospective students.
According to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed on Thursday, the alleged fraudsters charged up to $6,000 to have imposters pose as students in tests like the SAT and the Graduate Records Exam.
The Justice Department alleges that between 2011 and 2015, the defendants shipped fake Chinese passports to the US and gave them to imposters who took the tests for other students.
“These students were not only cheating their way into the university, they were also cheating their way through our nation’s immigration system,” Homeland Security agent John Kelleghan said.
“The perpetrators of this conspiracy were using fraudulent passports for the purpose of impersonating test takers of Educational Testing Services’ standardized tests including the SAT, GRE and [Test of English as a Foreign Language], and thereby securing fraudulently obtained admissions to American institutions of higher education,” US Attorney David J. Hickton said.
The Justice Department claims most of the tests were taken in western Pennsylvania.
The 15 people were charged with conspiracy, counterfeiting foreign passports, mail fraud, and wire fraud.
The large number of Chinese applicants to US colleges and relaxed regulations on college recruitment have led some experts to worry that predatory recruiters may be profiting off of fraudulent schemes to get Chinese students into schools. As CNN notes, as many as one in 10 applications by Chinese students to US schools may include some fraudulent material.
The SAT exam is a rite of passage for most high-school students. It's also likely a bygone memory for those of us who took the four-hour test one time years ago and have since forgotten the questions.
So we asked Shaan Patel, the founder of SAT-prep company 2400 Expert, to identify some of the hardest SAT questions he has ever come across, and the tips and tricks he advises to solve them. (He got a perfect score on the SAT.)
Think you're smart enough to nail them all? Take our quiz and find out. Once you're done, click herefor an explanation of how to get the right answer.
Shaan Patel, 25, an entrepreneur from Las Vegas, Nevada, has never quite followed the expected path.
He spent his formative years growing up in the Sky Ranch Motel, a self-proclaimed budget motel that his family owned and operated as well as called their family home.
"At a young age I saw, like, drug deals and prostitutes," Patel told Business Insider.
The motel is a source of embarrassment for his mother, but Patel says he embraces it and doesn't try and downplay its existence in his life.
"It's kinda like that's where I grew up and people should know," he said.
With a backstory like that, some people may be surprised to find out just how impressive Patel's high-school accomplishments actually are.
He was the valedictorian of his class, was crowned homecoming king, and even shook President George W. Bush's hand in 2007 as a White House Presidential Scholar, a program that recognizes two academically gifted students from each state.
He also scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT in high school, an accomplishment he has since parlayed into a thriving SAT test-prep company.
Ivy League rejections
Buoyed by perfect test scores and numerous extracurricular activities, Patel applied to colleges seeking out some of the top programs in the country. He was rejected from every Ivy League school to which he applied — Harvard, Princeton, and a special medical program at Brown. He also got rejected from Stanford.
"I do think that Asian-Americans have a disadvantage applying to college," Patel said.
Patel is Indian-American and made the comment in reference to both his own rejections as well as recent news stories citing Asian-Americans who say they face discrimination in college applications.
But, not one to dwell on disappointments, Patel explained that he got into the University of Southern California on a full scholarship.
At USC, he pursued the joint BA/MD program that had always piqued his interest. In high school, Patel had volunteered in the emergency department of a hospital, and that developed into a passion with medicine and the desire to become a doctor.
The joint-degree program at USC offered a way into medical school and the security that he would be able to realize his dream of becoming a practicing physician.
More disappointment before finding success
Patel has always been the type of person who embraces having a full plate. "I like being busy," Patel said. "Busy" seems to be a bit of an understatement.
After he had finished his undergraduate studies and was about to start his first year in medical school, Patel tried to launch an SAT prep book to help students prepare for taking the exam using the methods he did. His attempts were unsuccessful. One editor even went as far as to give him the brutal feedback that he didn't have an engaging personality and was not a great writer no matter how well he scored on the SAT.
Undaunted, he used the last of his scholarship money — just $900 — to launch an SAT prep company website called 2400 Expert. He advertised it as the only SAT prep course taught by a student who got a perfect score in high school.
The very first course ran during the summer before med school, and it took off from there. Word caught on after his pilot course showed an average improvement per student of 376. Patel says this kind of score improvement is unheard of in the test-prep industry.
Once the summer was over, Patel trained qualified instructors and managed the company remotely from California. And more satisfying, McGraw-Hill, one of the major education-publishing giants, saw the success Shaan was gaining and offered him a book deal after all. Shaan's book "SAT 2400 in Just 7 Steps" was published in July 2012.
More College Aspirations
Patel was juggling a growing SAT prep business with studying for medical-licensing-board exams and doing 36-hour surgical-rotation shifts at the hospital. He still loved the medical profession, but was also highly interested in learning how to scale and grow his business.
He decided to take a two-year leave of absence from USC to pursue business school, where he has just completed his first year working towards his MBA at Yale's School of Management.
This summer, rather than working in an internship like most of his classmates, Patel is focusing his attention on 2400 Expert. Since he launched his company in 2011, he says he has grossed over $4 million in sales.
His goal is to expand to a dozen new cities by 2016, expand the online portion of his company, and include ACT prep material going forward.
Those are pretty lofty goals for someone who still has a year of medical school and residency to complete. So the logical question for Patel is whether he's planning on continuing on with the medical field, and how he aims to make it all fit together.
Patel says his decision to go to business school was not solely driven by the desire to grow his company. He's also very interested in the management of healthcare.
His plan once he graduates from Yale next spring is to go back to USC and finish his last year of medical school.
And he aims to choose a specialty that allows him enough flexibility where he can practice medicine and run his own clinic, as well as leaving time to pursue his other entrepreneurial interests as well.
As someone who has struggled and succeeded in launching a business, Patel is particularly qualified to answer what it takes to start your own company. His biggest advice is not to let rejection get you down. "Rejection is the necessary evil of entrepreneurship," he said.
If you graduated from high school in 2005 or earlier, then you probably associate the number "1600" with the college acceptance jackpot.
But the College Board, the company that owns and publishes the SAT, changed the test format and content 10 years ago. With the change, the SAT was scored out of 2400.
Next year, the College Board is reverting back to the old scoring out of 1600. And better yet for high school students, the changes will also impact the content of the test and make it the easiest version of the SAT ever, according to Shaan Patel, founder of SAT-prep company 2400 Expert. Here's why:
1. No Obscure Vocabulary
The new version of the SAT will be easier because there will no longer be obscure vocabulary to trip up test takers, Patel told Business Insider. High school students will no longer have to study massive vocabulary lists with obscure words.
Instead, the College Board made the measured decision to focus on vocabulary words that students will encounter on a regular basis in college and in future jobs. On the College Board's website they reference their decision saying, "No longer will students use flashcards to memorize obscure words, only to forget them the minute they put their test pencils down."
2. Fewer Answer Choices
The new format will have four answer choices, rather than five, as the exam does today. This update will benefit test takers in two highly important ways, according to Patel.
First, test takers will save time, as they will have one less answer choice to read through on each question. Second, test takers have better probability of getting the question right as they have a 25%, rather than 20%, chance of choosing the right answer.
3. More Time
Patel says one of the biggest complaints students have with the current version of the SAT is that there is not enough time to take the exam. That will change with the new version of the test.
There will be more time per section on the new version, and students will even have double the amount of time to write their essay. Additionally, the new 1600 version of the test will have 16 fewer questions that the old version.
4. No Penalty for Guessing
On the previous version of the SAT, students were penalized for guessing the wrong answer. For that reason, Patel's test prep company used to provide students with strategies to know when they should guess and answer or leave a question blank. But the new system doesn't penalize students for choosing the wrong answer. If you're taking the new SAT, Patel advises you to make sure to answer every single question.
Ideally, multiple-choice exams would be random, without patterns of right or wrong answers. However, all tests are written by humans, and human nature makes it impossible for any test to be truly random.
Because of this fundamental flaw, William Poundstone, author of "Rock Breaks Scissors: A Practical Guide to Outguessing and Outwitting Almost Everybody," claims to have found several common patterns in multiple-choice tests, including computer-randomized exams like the SATs.
After examining 100 tests — 2,456 questions in total — from varied sources, including middle school, high school, college, and professional school exams; driver's tests; licensing exams for firefighters and radio operators; and even newspaper quizzes, Poundstone says he found statistical patterns across all sources.
From this data, he determined several strategies to up your chances of guessing correctly on any exam, whether you're stumbling through a chemistry final or retaking your driver's test.
While Poundstone emphasizes that knowledge of the subject matter is always the best test-taking strategy and that "a guessing strategy is useful to the extent that it beats random guessing," he suggests you always guess when you're unsure. And guessing smartly will only improve your chances of being correct.
Here are a few of Poundstone's tactics for outsmarting any multiple-choice test:
1. Ignore conventional wisdom.
You've probably been given test-taking advice along the lines of "always guess the middle answer if you don't know" or "avoid any answer that uses the words 'never,' 'always,' 'all,' or 'none'" at some point in your life. However, according to Poundstone, this conventional wisdom doesn't hold up against statistics. In fact, he found that the answers "none of the above" or "all of the above" were correct 52% of the time. Choosing one of these answers gives you a 90% improvement over random guessing, he says.
2. Look at the surrounding answers.
Poundstone found correct answer choices hardly repeated consecutively, so looking at the answers of the questions you do know will help you figure out the ones you're stuck on. For example, if you're stuck on question No. 2, but know that the answer to No. 1 is A and the answer to No. 3 is D, those choices can probably be eliminated for No. 2. Of course, "knowledge trumps outguessing," Poundstone reminds us. Cross out answers you know are wrong based on facts first.
3. Choose the longest answer.
Poundstone also noticed that the longest answer on multiple-choice tests was usually correct. "Test makers have to make sure that right answers are indisputably right," he says. "Often this demands some qualifying language. They may not try so hard with wrong answers." If one choice is noticeably longer than its counterparts, he says it's likely the correct answer.
4. Eliminate the outliers.
Some exams, like the SATs, are randomized using computers, negating any patterns usually found in the order of the answers. However, no matter their order, answer choices that are incongruent with the rest are usually wrong, according to Poundstone. He gives the following sample answers from an SAT practice test, without including the question:
Because the meaning of "gradual" stands out from the other words in the right column, choice E can be eliminated. Poundstone then points out that "haphazard" and "improvised" have almost identical meanings. Because these choices are so close in meaning, A and C can also be eliminated, allowing you to narrow down over half the answers without even reading the question.
"It's hard to see how one could be unambiguously correct and the other unambiguously wrong," he says. For the record, the correct answer is D.
Test-takers may be surprised to learn the new test will line up more closely with the Common Core, nationwide education standards that sparked a national outcry for being too one-size-fits-all.
The new test "aligns with the Common Core curriculum standards," Kasey Urquidez, dean of undergraduate admissions at the University of Arizona, told US News & World Report in 2014.
The College Board doesn't point specifically to the Common Core as a reason behind the changes, instead speaking about making sure students are well-prepared for college.
"We basically focused the redesigned SAT and PSAT on the skills and knowledge that research says matters most for college readiness and success," Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment at the College Board, told Business Insider.
Schmeiser still acknowledged that "we'll see a high alignment" between the SAT and Common Core in the redesigned exam.
While that may seem unexpected, there is more of a connection between the Common Core and SAT than many people likely know.
"The President of College Board, David Coleman, was a key person in helping develop the Common Core,"Shaan Patel, founder of SAT-prep company 2400 Expert, told Business Insider. "Therefore, when he took over as the President of the College Board in 2012, David Coleman was very interested in aligning the SAT with the Common Core."
The College Board hasn't said much about the specific ways the Common Core standards and the new SAT line up, but EdWeek did a side-by-side comparison to highlight how similar Common Core and the redesigned SAT actually are.
They used the following example to demonstrate the alignment:
Current SAT: Reading and writing sections do not require students to cite evidence. Students select answers to demonstrate their understanding of texts but are not asked to support their answers.
Redesigned SAT: Evidence-based reading and writing. Students will support answers with evidence, including questions that require them to cite a specific part of a passage to support their answer choice.
Common Core: Citing specific “textual evidence” when interpreting material is a key thread of the common core. In the introduction, the English/language arts standards say college- and career-ready students “value evidence.” It says, “Students cite specific evidence when offering an oral or written interpretation of a text.”
Opponents of the Common Core may be displeased to learn the standards they decry as educationally inappropriate were used to update the format of arguably one of the most important standardized tests.
And there are further questions for the seven current states — Alaska, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia — that have not adopted the Common Core, and other states which may decide in the future to opt out of the Common Core.
For these states, it doesn't make much sense to have an SAT that aligns with the Common Core, when they will not be learning under those standards in high school.
The College Board, for its part, says students in Virginia and Texas should be fine.
"The new SAT is focused on what is being taught today in classrooms across the nation," a College Board rep said in a statement. "In redesigning the SAT, the College Board used the most current research to identify the knowledge and skills most essential for college readiness and success. The same knowledge and skills are found in state academic standards focused on college and career readiness, including those in Texas, Virginia, and in other states."
Either way, there is good news for students in every state. The revamped SAT will be the easiest version of the SAT ever, according to Patel, the SAT preparation company founder.
The new SAT will also feature other substantive changes. The College Board has said that there will no longer be obscure vocabulary on the exam. Each multiple choice question will have four answer choices rather than five, and there will be more time to answer each question.
Additionally, the penalty for guessing will no longer exist in the new format. These changes, taken together, mean that the new SAT will be easier, according to some experts in the test prep field.