The 700s Hurdle

The early stages of SAT prep may have seemed meteoric; maybe you managed to jump from a 500 to 600 with no sweat, or you started in the low 600s and skyrocketed to the high 600s. Yet for some reason, the jump across the 700s just refuses to happen. You get 690, 700, 680, 670 depending on the test, depending on the day, depending on the mood. Maybe you’re missing the same amount of questions, a little more here, a little more there. Regardless, you’ve hit a wall.

So what’s going on?

Likely, you’re missing anywhere from 12-15 questions. Because the scale of the SAT fluctuates with every test, getting 12 wrong on one exam may grant you a 700, but the same number on a different test will get you a 680 or 690. Rather than look at the exam from the perspective of points that you need to achieve, you should shift your thinking to the amount of questions that you can afford to get wrong. In order to consistently achieve a 700+ on an SAT exam, you need to get a maximum of 10 questions wrong across the entirety of the RW section.

Though getting 10 or less questions wrong on a 96-question exam may seem impossible, let’s consider the ways that the test is broken down. The writing portion of the exam is comprised of the following sections: grammatical knowledge, vocabulary, and logical transition. Most students, especially native English speakers, can muddle their way through to a 250-300 on the writing portion of the exam through an intuitive understanding of the English language. Following their instincts, students can typically tell when something should be plural or when a specific pronoun should be used. However, once you reach the 280-300 mark, you’re left with the most difficult parts of the exam: vocabulary and logical transition.

The reading portion is comprised of analysis, evidence matching, and vocabulary. This section of the exam proves much more difficult for native and non-native English speakers alike. In school, literature and composition courses are focused primarily on getting students to develop their own opinions on topics rather than deeply deconstructing what an author is actually saying. This transition presents a road bump for many students, as this particular brand of reading is something students are unfamiliar with. Students can get their way to a 200 or 250 with no prior background or training if they’re rooted enough in the language, but it won’t get them over the hurdles that they’ve set for themselves.

If you want to cross from the 600s to the 700s, you need to have a firm grasp of vocabulary and reading comprehension. At Noumena, we strive to provide students with the building blocks necessary to construct true knowledge; this approach to learning is known as first principles thinking. By providing students with a firm foundation in grammar, vocabulary, and logic, Noumena equips students to successfully pursue the scores necessary to achieve their dreams. Other academies may have promised to send you over the 700 mark over the duration of their program; however, merely solving problems without the appropriate toolset results in wasted time and frustration. Noumena has dissected the exam to its barest components and constructed a method that any student can learn to advance their skills. Through a combination of this method and a deep exploration of the types of questions that students typically find difficulty with, such as political philosophy, 18th century novels, diction, and logical transition, Noumena has provided students with a space to maximize their potential.

The 700s are an entry point, a gateway. For those interested in attending Ivies, this is the preliminary way to do so. Across our programming students have jumped over 100 points in the RW portion of the exam. One student that attended courses with us started online sessions with a score of 320 in the reading; four sessions later he was scoring 390 and received a 780 in the combined RW on the actual exam. Another student started our Thanksgiving Program in the 600s and, with consistent practice, is now consistently achieving perfect scores. At Noumena, we are not interested in giving students the cheat code to the exam; instead, we instill in students a deep understanding of grammar and the logical relationships that connect passages to their answer choices. Through this approach students are able to gain a deeper understanding of the material and fully find themselves in the realm of the 700s.