The SAT Essay: An Exercise in Efficiency

When it comes to the SAT, there is a core set of strategies that can be applied to the Verbal, Math and grammar part of the Writing section. These multiple-choice sections can generally be approached with the same box of tools. Process of Elimination, for example, is a fundamental strategy: if you can't find the correct answer, then look at the choices. Usually two of them will be wildly off base. Eliminate those and then, if you have to, guess.

The Essay section, however, does not avail itself to such a strategy, because it is abstract; there is nothing to eliminate, back-solve or break down. There is only a prompt - a quote or a description of a situation - and an assignment: evaluate and write, using examples from "reading, studies, experience or observations." That's it. That, and a ticking clock. When was the last time you wrote an analytical essay, in 25 minutes, on spec? For many, the essay can be the most confounding part of any standardized test.

The Single Best Strategy To Improve Your ACT Score

Your ACT score is based on how many questions you answer correctly in each of the four graded sections. Unlike the SAT, the ACT does not deduct any points for wrong answers, so it benefits you to answer as many questions as possible.

Here's the key to improving your ACT score: answering everything doesn't mean you have to attempt every question. Accuracy is essential.

Some students make the mistake of attempting every question. This only makes sense if you are already an exceptional test taker scoring in the top 90%. If you are trying to earn a 28 or higher on any section, go ahead and work every question; you've already proven your ability to dominate the test.

Standard Planning And Reporting For Optimized Statistical Testing

The boss just asked you to write an explanation of planning for a statistical test, choosing a test quantity, and reporting the results after the test is completed. This is the way I, as a mechanical engineer, statistics wannabe, would do it. Working for the feds for 22 years has caused some to suggest that money is always plentiful. It's not. In fact, the best way to optimize funds, in my opinion, is to test "just enough" to achieve 80% confidence with the new "power" number set at 74% and allowing for 1 failure during testing. Why such an odd power? Well, the old binomial calculation only dealt with confidence but the new "proportion" calculation that all the new software uses adds the power number into the equation. When I ran all probabilities through the new software with one failure, the power was 74% across the board when the confidence exceeded 80%. It makes sense since the mistake related to power (beta error) just means "back to the drawing boards" for a while, but a mistake due to confidence (alpha error) means a bad product out in the field that performs more poorly than expected.

Is the ACT Easier Than the SAT?

In the competitive world of college admissions, students and parents are looking for any advantage they can get and improved test scores can help. But which test is easier -- the SAT or ACT? The best way to find out is to take both.

If you don't have scores from both tests to compare, here are the top 5 factors for deciding between the SAT and ACT.

1. Shorter test or shorter sections?

With the additional writing section, the ACT consists of 3 hours and 25 minutes of tested material; the SAT is longer at 3 hours of 55 minutes. Both are long tests. Some prefer the ACT format with longer, but fewer sections. The ACT has one section each of English, Math, Reading, and Science and you never need to guess what section is next.