SAT Preparation

Like an exam in school, the SAT is a test that can be studied for. However, while students can make modest improvements in their scores by taking a practice test or learning a few basic facts about the test, dramatic score increases only occur when students rigorously review and prepare for all aspects of the SAT. At Odyssey, we ensure that in addition to learning important information about how the test is designed, students devote considerable time and energy to learning what kinds of questions are on the test by delving deeply into content review and strategy.

Our Approach to the SAT

Our SAT methods have been designed by accomplished tutors, writers, and educators. We put particular emphasis on making our materials clear, concise and engaging. Many SAT guides on the market today lumber along for hundreds of pages, spelling out strategies in a mind-numbingly tedious way that leads to boredom and frustration. In contrast, our entire SAT guide is less than 100 pages. As we review each section of the test with students, we employ a disciplined, efficient approach that allows students to digest the essential facts and strategies of the test without losing focus.

  • Finding the Starting Line: We first work with students to arrive at a benchmark. This is usually found by administering an SAT/ACT diagnostic exam. We then grade the test, analyze the results, and compose a detailed score report.
  • An Introduction to the SAT: If it is clear from the diagnostic that your child will perform better on the SAT, we will work with them to prepare for that test. When we begin our review, we analyze how the SAT is organized and scored, and review concepts like guessing and pacing.
  • Content and Concept Review: After reviewing the structure of the test, we thoroughly review each section found on the SAT—the Writing/Reading, Math, and Essay sections. This includes going over strategies, shortcuts, and question types. It is during this phase of our review that we put particular emphasis on disciplined, targeted analysis of the types of questions found on the SAT. If there is an apparent weakness in a student’s knowledge base (say, an aversion to triangle problems) it is during this phase of studying that a concerted effort will be made to shore up deficiencies.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Odyssey knows that reviewing questions under test-like conditions is one of the best ways to methodically improve scores and confidence. Knowing this, we have students take frequent practice tests to track progress. Odyssey also goes to great lengths to ensure that students in our SAT programs have extensive resources for additional practice and review.

Our Expectations

We have high expectations for our students. While an excellent tutor can make a positive impact on even the most unmotivated of students, test preparation must be approached with diligence if it is to be truly transformative. Students will have homework in between sessions, and we expect these assignments to be done carefully and thoroughly. We also expect students to be attentive and engaged during sessions. We understand that high school can be a busy, stressful time for students, and empathize with the many obligations that students have during this period of their lives. However, we require students to take their test preparation responsibilities very seriously.

Length of the Program

The length of an SAT program depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The needs of the student (as evidenced by the diagnostic/recent test scores);
  • The student’s goals for a final score;
  • The student’s own schedule and timeline for taking the test; and
  • The number of meetings the student and tutor have each week

We recommend a course of study totaling 24 tutoring hours (not including practice tests or homework that students are expected to complete between sessions). In lieu of or in addition to a package, individual two-hour meetings are also available. See below for a more thorough description of the SAT tutoring package.

SAT Tutoring Package

Length: 24 hours (12, 2-hour sessions)

Course Description: This comprehensive course carefully reviews the strategies and techniques needed to excel on the SAT. This course is tailored specifically to the testing strengths and weaknesses of your child—we will spend the most time and effort on sections that give him or her the most trouble. With these strategies and skills in hand, your child will be armed to tackle even the most difficult questions on the test. This package includes:

  • A personalized study plan, along with practice and review materials;
  • A proctored SAT/ACT Diagnostic (if necessary);
  • Written session summaries after every meeting;
  • Proctored practice tests

Who it’s designed for: Students looking for thorough preparation for an upcoming SAT. If your child has an SAT coming up in 12 to 16 weeks, we’re here to help. We have an excellent record of results and are committed to delivering superior outcomes for your child on the SAT.

About the SAT

The new SAT (which will first be administered in March 2016) is a 3 hour and 50 minute test divided into two sections: 1) a Reading/Writing section and 2) a Math section. The test also includes an optional, 50-minute essay, which is always the last section of the test. Since most of our students will sit for the essay, we have included it in the total time for the test.

The scale of the SAT differs from the way a test in school might be graded. The SAT is not out of 100 points. Instead, the totals for the Reading/Writing section and the Math section add up to produce two separate raw scores. The raw score for each section is scaled within a range of 200-800. Thus, the cumulative score on the SAT ranges from a 400 to a 1600. The essay will be scored from 6 to a 24 (two graders will each give it a score of 3-12). The national average on each section of the test hovers around 500, while a perfect score of 800 puts you in the 99th percentile.

  • READING/WRITING: There are two major components in this section: 1) a Writing Test and 2) a Reading Test.
    • The Writing Test consists of a 35-minute, 44-question section that asks students to revise and edit text from a number of different sources. Questions in this section test a student’s knowledge or grammar and the fundamentals of standard written English.
    • The Reading Test consists of a 65-minute, 52-question section that asks students to read a number of passages and answer questions about them. The section features 4 individual passages and one paired passage; the passages themselves come from science, history, and literature.
  • MATH: The Math portion of the test consists of two sections: 1) a 55-minute multiple choice section in which use of a calculator is allowed and 2) a 25-minute section in which use of a calculator is not allowed. The math section tests a number of different concepts you’ve learned in high school math classes, including algebra, geometry, and arithmetic; a few questions cover more advanced math concepts.

  • ESSAY (optional): The optional 50-minute essay section asks students to read a passage and then write an essay explaining how the author uses evidence and other techniques to get his or her point across to the reader.