SAT, ACT, TOEFL, ISEE, and SSAT
One of the biggest challenges for TOEFL / ISEE / SSAT / SAT is English. ivyGoal's English Express can help students improve their English skills quickly. Nick has accumulated a wealth of examination skills over the past 10 years and has developed a unique teaching method that can consistently help students improve about 200 points on the SAT.
Sample SAT Lesson Plan
This is a highly intensive SAT English Prep course. Many important grammar and reading skills are covered in this course.
SAT Reading Comprehension Video
SAT English - Mostly Grammar Video
Nick Ni - a highly regarded SAT Prep teacher in the bay area and has taught thousands of students; many of his students have scored close to 800 on SAT Verbal and 36 on ACT.
Students are expected to complete 1 hour of homework per week in order to successfully complete the course.
Students will log into ivyGoal’s Zoom online classroom and study with us by following ivyGoal’s rigorous program.
Grammar Skills Covered
- Advanced tenses: Present Perfect and Past Perfect.
- Subject and verb agreement.
- Advanced singular and plural identification in composite sentences.
- Subject and verb identification in composite sentences.
- Conjunctions (however, in addition, indeed, nonetheless, whereas, whereby, provided that, albeit...)
- FANBOYS (for, and, neither/nor, but, or, yet, so)
- Independent vs dependent clauses.
- Adverb clauses.
- Adjective clauses.
- Noun clauses.
- Advanced countable vs noncountable.
Reading Skills Covered:
- Deploying different reading skills for different types of reading passages.
- What to read and what to skip or skim.
- How to identify the main idea.
- How to decipher an author's purpose.
- How to perform deductive reasoning.
- How to apply grammar skills to improve reading comprehension.
- How to become an active reader vs a passive reader.
Nick frequently answers test prep related questions on Quora and some of his answers have close to 20,000 views. Below are some of the popular questions and answers.
Which SAT is the easiest (the month)?
Simply take as many as you can! SAT tests are not high-quality assessments. I know this sounds crazy, but I assure you it is true. I have taught SAT for 11 years and witnessed frequent drastic point difference for the same students within a short period of time, and the change is not due to test prep; it is because SAT tests are not accurate in terms of question difficulties and grading scales. The best way to beat the system is to take it many times and try your luck. Moreover, most private schools allow you to super score. Why not?
How do I improve my SAT score from 1480 to 1550+? I took the December 1, 2018 test and I studied really hard for it, aiming for the high 1500s, but I got a score of 1480 (6 wrong reading, 1 wrong writing, 2 wrong math).
Step 1: take multiple times because many schools will super score your SAT. It is very likely you can score 780–800 on math.
Step 2: identify the types of mistakes you made. Only drill on those.
if you take a pinpointed approach, you should be able to get around 1550.
I missed 1 question on the SAT and got a 1530. Was there a scoring mistake?
SAT is a scaled test; its goal is that the same student should score the same when taking different versions of SAT tests. To accomplish that, each mistake counts differently for different tests. However, overall, the end results have been highly questionable: the same student can score up and down 100 points easily for different SAT tests. I have had many students with great score disparities.
Here is my recommendation: take at least 3 times. Colleges will either take the highest or super score - combine your highest math and highest English together from different SAT tests.
What positive or negative experiences have you had with the SAT?
The positive is you can take it multiple times and many schools will super score them. The negative is SAT tests are not accurate assessments in general.
How much do SAT/ACT scores matter when applying to elite universities? Unless they're alarmingly low, will they have a negligible impact? They've been proven to weakly correlate with college performance, especially after passing a certain threshold.
SAT and ACT scores are often used either as an initial filter or as a part of composite academic scores. For example, if your SAT score is below 1,400, you are most likely filtered out by many top schools. Why would the top schools want to enroll a student with a low SAT score when the average is about 1,450 - 1,500? Another example, UCs often put your SAT score together with GPA… into a computer system that will generate your initial composite academic level like 5, 4, 3…UC Berkeley, and UCLA will most likely take level 5 students only.
So SAT and ACT scores matter.
What is the biggest failing of the SAT general test?
Poor test quality is the biggest failing of the SAT test. As a standardized college entrance test, the SAT test must meet certain requirements:
- Score representation is consistent, meaning 700 on the January test = 700 on the November test. SAT scores are highly inconsistent.
- Grading is consistent, meaning 5 mistakes yielding 700 on January test = 5 mistakes yielding 700 on the November test. Today, 1 mistake could take down 50 points on the January test and 10 points on the November test.
- Not susceptible to test prep significantly, meaning students would score more or less with/without test prep. Today, a high quality SAT prep can kill the score. I can easily teach students to score very high on the SAT, whereas it is much more difficult to improve students’ ACT scores significantly.
Comparing to ACT, SAT is a lower quality test.
Are points added/taken away from a student's SAT score due to their race? If so, why?
Yes, of course!
Why are so many people are in denial mode? Let’s face it.
That is why there has been an Asian Americans Harvard Lawsuit going on for years. Based on the researches done by some non-profit organizations, to be accepted by top schools, Asian students have to score 1500+-, whereas Hispanic and African Americans only need 1350+-.
Top private colleges like Harvard, MIT, and Stanford… have a quota system to limit the number of Asian students, which is somewhat FAIR.
If there is no quota system, maybe 40%+- of students at top private colleges are Asian, which is severely detrimental to campus diversity. For example, UC Berkeley and UCLA have about 40% of Asian students because they do not have a race-based quota system. The quota for Asian at top colleges are typically around 10–20%, which is significant considering Asian being only 5.6% of the US population.
In summary, your SAT scores will be + and - based on your race in many top colleges that have a race-based quota system for admission.
What was the SAT score you used to get into Stanford if you can share and how did you study for that?
SAT score itself may only count 10% of weight when applying to Stanford. The more important factors are GPA, AP scores, SAT subject scores, activities, school recommendation letters, and your essays.
You will be automatically disqualified if your SAT is below 1,400. Also, your SAT score will weigh less if you have a combination like 650 in English and 800 in math. The basic requirement is 700+ in both the English and math sections.
I had one student admitted to Stanford last year. Her SAT score was 1520. She is a very nice girl and did a competitive boat race for many years. She got in.
Another student got rejected with an SAT score of 1580, 12 AP classes…This student was super-advanced in school with an egotistical disposition. His father was a Stanford professor; I guess his school teacher did not speak highly of him as a person. That is probably why this high achiever failed his Stanford dream.
I got a 1490 on the SAT and am a junior in high school. Should I retake the SAT if I want to apply to Brown and Vassar?
It depends on your race and other tests. If you are Asian, then maybe try to take a couple more time. If not, then try to work on your GPA, SAT subject tests, and AP exams. You only have so much time in junior high. Investment in SAT may not give you the best return since your SAT 1490 already meets the Ivy League requirement. There isn’t a significant difference between 1490 and 1520. However, having another 800 on the SAT subject test or 5 on the AP exam will make the difference. Good luck!
Is 700 considered a good score for the SAT subject test? I am applying to mid-high tier universities. No Ivy Leagues though.
700 is barely OK. It does not add or subtract weight on your academic measurement for 50–100 ranked colleges. I would not settle for 700. It does not help and may backfire.
What guessing strategy is the best on exams?
Different skills for different expectations; the higher you want to score, the less you want to guess. For example, I do not allow my students guessing on SAT if they plan to score 700+ on English. If they only want 650-, I will teach them how to guess.
How common is cheating on the SATs?
It is easy to cheat on the SAT. Many tutoring centers will sell SAT tests and answers to students at a price of $10,000-$100,000. Here is how they cheat. They will have a student on the east coast take SAT and send pictures over to California. Then they will have multiple tutors work on different sections of the SAT. Last, they will send the test and answers to the students who paid.
It is not common, but some of my students were offered. Not sure if they took.
Is a sat subject test score of 670 on biology e test worth submitting to UC Irvine?
Subject tests are expected to be 750+- in general because you are allowed to make multiple mistakes and still score 800. Therefore, 670 is unlikely to add weight for any quality college applications including UC Irvine.