Why Students Love Reviewing for the SAT and ACT: Part 2

February 14, 2017
Stephanie Jolly

Learn why students love reviewing math for the SAT and ACT.

Learn to love (and master) the math section on the SAT and ACT.

Today is Valentine’s Day and we at Kaplan are passionate about one thing: test prep! We interviewed elite SAT/ACT Kaplan instructor Stephanie Jolly to find out what subject she just loves to teach and what topics her students simply love to review.

Yesterday, we discussed the SAT/ACT topic that you love teaching. Is there a particular topic your students love reviewing?

A number of strategies that we cover are, with good reason, very SAT and ACT specific, so when we touch upon topics that students recognize, it can be quite a confidence booster! A lot of my students really love reviewing advanced algebra. They already have a strong foundation from their high-school courses, so they can quickly build upon that in class. It’s always rewarding for students when they are able to tap into pre-existing knowledge to see their scores increase. We’ve even had students tell us that it helps them study for their tests in math class—bonus!

It’s great students can apply what you teach to their schoolwork. What specific math content do they tend to recognize?

This varies considerably based on what level of math students are taking—and what grade they’re in—but SAT and ACT math is still math. While the questions may be worded in a very test specific manner, the general principles of algebra, geometry, and precalculus haven’t changed. That said, factoring quadratics is frequently a topic students recognize, which allows us to focus on some of its more advanced applications—like using completing the square to rewrite an equation for a circle. Geometry equations are another topic that students like to review—partially because it’s often a been awhile since some students have used them, so those topics are always greeted with a mixture of “Oh my gosh, I used to know this” and “Oooh yeah, now I remember!”

What tips do you have for students to help them best remember the formulas you review in class?  

I’ve always learned best by writing things down, so if I need to memorize a lot of formulas or equations I’d get a small whiteboard and jot down them down ten times until I could do it from memory. Another favorite tool of mine is flashcards—just remember to quiz yourself based on what the formula does (for instance, “What is the distance formula?”) so that you’re forced to recall the equation based upon the context where you’d use it. Recognizing a formula once you see it is a good start, but on Test Day you can’t assume all necessary formulas will be provided for you.

For access to some of the best instructors in the country, like Stephanie, check out Kaplan’s exclusive SAT Channel. (ACT Channel coming soon!)

Stephanie Jolly Bio: Stephanie Jolly is an alumna of NYU, and earned a perfect 800 on SAT Math. She loves to identify patterns and to break down Reading passages using the same analytical approach. She tutors, teaches, and writes content for Kaplan SAT, ACT, and AP programs in her home base of Kentucky—internationally and for Live Online.

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