Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ about Integrity Tutoring's service preparing candidates for the US College Board's SAT.

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What is the SAT?

The SAT Reasoning Test:

  • is an internationally-recognised college- or university entrance credential, accepted by a wide range of tertiary institutions (world-wide).
  • is undertaken by over 2 million candidates every year, over 6 administrations throughout the year.
  • assesses a candidate's readiness for College-based study in 3 areas: Writing, Reading and Mathematics.
  • assesses critical thinking and problem solving skills

Why should students take the SAT?

Students and parents often ask why it is important to take the SAT. Reasons include:

  • All US colleges accept the SAT as an objective measurement of students' college readiness;
  • Used with GPAs and high school transcripts, SAT scores allow colleges to fairly compare applicants;
  • Taking the SAT gives US-bound students access to scholarship opportunities;
  • Most colleges require an admissions test like the SAT – some universal; moderating item;
  • The SAT provides students with the most comprehensive performance feedback of any admissions test.
  • The SAT is understood and recognised by QTAC.
  • The SAT is uncapped – it is possible for Queens-land students to achieve a rank (performance permitting) equivalent to an OP 1 (Rank of 99).

Many US institutions require a writing assessment for admission. Students who take the SAT automatically fulfil such requirements for entry to US colleges.

Those interested may learn more about the scholarship search tool in the student area of the College Board's site.

The essay question on the SAT is the students' opportunity to effectively develop and express their ideas under timed conditions. Students will have 25 minutes to write a first draft of an original essay in response to a prompt. This will be a measure of their ability to do the kind of writing required in most college courses. The essay will provide an assessment of writing that emphasises

  • precise use of language,
  • logical presentation of ideas,
  • development of a point of view, and
  • clarity of expression.

How often is the SAT offered?

The SAT is offered six times per year at international sites (which include Australia). Several centres open for at least 5 of those sittings, both throughout Australia and in Queensland. It is administered 6 times every year: on Saturday mornings at the end of January, then the first Saturdays of May, June, October, November and December.

The March SAT is only available to US-located centres.

How long does the test take?

The test takes 3 hours and 45 minutes, with three 5-minute breaks.

Which educational skills are assessed?

The SAT examines three areas:

  1. Critical reading containing questions relating to:
    • Sentence completions
    • Passage-based reading (short passages), and
    • Passage-based reading (long passages);
  2. Mathematical Reasoning containing questions relating to:
    • Improving sentences
    • Identifying sentence errors, and
    • Improving paragraphs
  3. Writing skills containing questions relating to:
    • Improving sentences
    • Identifying sentence errors, and
    • Improving paragraphs

What are the types of questions asked in the SAT?

The test contains three kinds of questions:

All questions in the SAT are machine-scored, except for the essay. The SAT has been developed to reflect accepted educational standards. The data show that the material on the SAT and the time allocated to each section are appropriate for the intended test-taking population:

  • On average, students answer 50 to 60 per cent of questions correctly.
  • 80 per cent finish nearly the entire test.

Almost all students complete at least 75 per cent of the questions.

How is the SAT scored? Is it marked out of 100?

No. All 3 sections are marked and statistically scaled out of 800 – for all 3 individual sections (2,400 in total). Every correct answer receives 1 mark (whether the question is regarded as ‘easy', of ‘medium difficulty', or ‘hard'. A penalty of ¼ point is deducted for incorrect answers. A ‘nil attempt' attracts neither a mark nor any penalty. The lowest scaled score becomes 200; the highest becomes 800.

Are wrong answers penalised?

A correct answer receives 1 mark; an incorrect answer (except in the Maths Student-Produced Response section) attracts a penalty of ¼ mark.

How is the test structured?

The test consists of 10 separately timed sections:

  • Three sections test critical reading (70 minutes in total)
  • Three sections test mathematics (70 minutes in total)
  • Three sections test writing (60 minutes in total)

One variable (unscored) section tests critical reading, mathematics, or writing (25 minutes total)

Is there any comparability between different SATs?

All SAT tests have been standardised so that the scores from one test administration can be compared with different SAT scores. (This is certainly the case with SATs since March 2005 when the College Board introduced new test components and introduced the essay question)

How do I register to sit for the SAT?

Web Address: www.collegeboard.org

Where can I sit the test?

Australian SAT administration centres are required to tell the College Board in the 6 months before the new American academic year the dates they will open for testing (and will not open). As soon as those centres are posted on-line, Integrity Tutoring processes that information (centres and dates when they will open) and makes it available. This helps students plan more intelligently, and saves them time so that they do not need to trawl laboriously through various centres and dates.

Browse list of Australian SAT Administration Centres

To maximise the period of SAT preparation, it is recommended that a student begin earlier (as soon as possible and practicable) rather than later (and run out of time closer to the test).

Do you recommend any particular reference text?

There are many SAT reference books on the market, demonstrating various approaches: the College Board's Student Guide, McGraw-Hill, Kaplan,

Our preferred textbook is Barron's SAT, by far the best SAT preparation text on the market.

The tutor uses sections of other materials as relevant and useful, and makes them available to students.

Where do I purchase Barron's text?

Sadly, Barron's is very difficult to obtain domestically, in Australian or Queensland retail outlets. So, as a service to students, Integrity Tutoring has imported a consignment of Barron's text which it makes available to students at cost.

The initial Diagnostic Test

In that text (in Barron's), there is a Diagnostic Test instrument which probes to identify a student's strengths and weaknesses. From a comprehensive analysis of the results of that Diagnostic, a SAT Preparation Plan will then be designed to further enhance strengths and repair areas where there appear to be weaknesses. No time in tutoring is ever wasted in unnecessary or irrelevant work.

  • Complete and return this sheet (as promptly as possible)
  • Purchase Barron's SAT from Integrity Tutoring
  • Attempt Barron's Diagnostic Test (on pages 35 - 69); then post it or scan it and email it as an attachment to

How many times may I attempt the SAT?

It is possible to attempt the SAT more than once. Some students have 4, 5 or more attempts.

Many institutions (but not all by any means) will accept the best scores, even if the scaled scores were not the most recent.

Integrity Tutoring seeks to prepare candidates to the degree of SAT readiness with stamina to endure the 3¾ hours of testing.

The vast majority of students take the SAT once or twice, and the College Board does not recommend that students take the SAT more than twice. There is no evidence to support the idea that taking the SAT more than twice results in significant score gains.

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How often should tutoring sessions be scheduled?

The majority of students opt for a weekly tutoring session. However, some choose a session fortnightly.

A few begin immediately, learn the SAT requirements in their initial sessions, but, because of other pressing commitments (like study in Year 12), then postpone further tutoring until a later date when those additional pressures are more manageable.

Whether students use the services of Integrity Tutoring or not, they are strongly encouraged to become as familiar as possible with the test before they take their first SAT. The College Board's SAT Preparation Centre offers:

  • Sample questions
  • Answer explanations
  • Official SAT practice test
  • Personalized score report

If I have been unable to register by the due deadline, can I attend on the day and be admitted?

Since the beginning of the 2012 academic year, Standby Testing has no longer been available for testers who fail to register by the due deadline.

A new Waitlist Status procedure has replaced the previous Standby arrangements. This is a major change for those who understand only the previous and now defunct Standby system.

Disclaimer

The information provided here contains the most current and accurate information available at the time of compilation but students and parents are strongly advised to consult extensively about their specific circumstances with QTAC, QSA, and individual universities of their choice, whether within Australia or overseas.

Thorough preparation maximises SAT results

Are other textbooks and reference materials available?

  • The US College Board produces a number of preparation resources – both on-line as daily questions, helps and suggestions/tips when a candidate registers on-line, and

Print materials:

  • The Official SAT Study Guide contains 8 practice tests, advice and instruction about the various aspects of essay Writing, Critical Reading and Mathematics. Correct answers and explanations are also provided.
  • The Official SAT Teacher's Guide.
  • Barron's How to prepare for the SAT similarly contains 6 practice Reasoning tests, and advice and instruction on all the important sections of the test. Correct answers and explanations are provided.
  • Several independent agencies provide on-line help – an on-line search will highlight many sound sites.

Do you conduct Workshops?

As a service to students and all potential test-takers, Integrity Tutoring conducts 4-day intensive workshops during mid-semester school breaks in March-April and September-October every year. For specific details, see our website or call us.

Enrollment for the workshops carries a cost, which entitles the student to:

  • The 4-day intensive Workshop;
  • A kit of resource materials;
  • 18 sample essays upon which to commence practicing aimed at improving writing skills;
  • Thorough constructive critiquing of every essay as written – with feedback for improvement, according to the criteria used by the College Board markers/ assessors.

Integrity Tutoring uses Barron's book because it is comprehensive and thorough. It is available from Integrity Tutoring.

Barron's is the preferred and the workshop text, but the College Board's materials are used where relevant.

Private Tutoring Arrangements

For those who are unable to attend the mid-semester workshops, private tutoring can be arranged, at mutually convenient times, either in a public place, in person (at the tutor's or student's homes) or on the phone.

For personal tutoring, a third person must always be present.

How much does it cost to register for the SAT?

These are approximate (as at June 2013)

1. Registration with the College Board to attempt a SAT Reasoning administration $80 USD.

See the College Board website for registration and the most current fees – all amounts there are expressed in US dollars. This is a candidate's responsibility.

2. Purchase of Barron's SAT $40 AUD.

How much does Integrity charge for tuition?

Integrity provides affordable quality tuition

  • Integrity Tutoring's 4-day SAT Prep Workshop and kit $250 AUD.
  • Private Tutoring per session $60.

What are the deadlines for Registration?

International Registration deadlines (which include Australia) occur approx 7½ weeks before the date of the test.

Can I submit my SAT results to QTAC?

QTAC will only accept the official College Board's formal hard-copy results sheet of the SAT. Downloaded results (obtained by the candidates) from on-line access to SAT scores are not accepted by them. College Board official SAT results must be requested at the time of registration, but are not usually available until 6 weeks after the test date.

How do Integrity Tutoring's SAT rates compare with others' rates?

Integrity's professional, private tutoring fee is $60 per session which normally lasts a generous hour; plus (in circumstances where the tutor must travel), travel costs.

One major commercial tutoring organisation operating out of Melbourne advertises (prices quoted as at June 2013):

  • Private Course – $1580 saving $250 (20-Hour 6-Session SAT Private Long Course) ($79 per hour; $263 per session).
  • For students in selected cities outside of the US: $1980 (saving $400+) = ($99 per hour; $330 per session).

Presently, we are unaware of any other specialist tutors for the College Board's SAT in Queensland.

Generally, tutoring ranges from $70 to $100 per hour – by both commercial organisations and individual tutors.

There are many organisations which provide SAT tutoring services, mainly in the US. One such organisation, operating internationally, charges from $4,400 for a 35-hour course ($125/hr), to $650 for a 5-hour tutoring package ($130/hr).

How is the SAT essay different from the QCS essay?

The essay is the opportunity to demonstrate writing skill and ability. In the very best essays, examiners will see an insightful, disciplined, controlled, coherent, intelligent, convincing essay, illustrated with strong, relevant examples.

The SAT essay must be completed within 25 minutes; in the QCS writing task, students are provided with a colourful broadsheet of stimulus materials and extends over 2 hours.

How do I improve my essay writing skill?

Essay writing is a skill which develops in exactly the same way as the development of any other skill (like learning to ride a push bike, or learning to play a musical instrument, or riding a surf board) – with constant P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E.

Not surprisingly, the more one practices, the better one becomes, and the more enjoyable the experience becomes.

What are the criteria for the best SAT essays?

The very best essays show:

  • Controlled, disciplined, skilful use of language, and logical, articulate use of argument. This is the standard towards which candidates will be working. If at all possible, despite the limited time in which to write (25 minutes),
  • Superior development of a theme – that is, to develop a case line, a theme or a statement that the essay returns to repeatedly to emphasise the position on the topic.

Essays are double-blind marked by assessors in different parts of the United States, and if there is a discrepancy of more than one mark (on a scale of 1 to 6), are triple blind marked by an even more experienced assessor. That third mark then over-rides the other two.

In order to be successful in developing a logical and lucid argument in the SAT essay within a very limited timeframe (25 minutes in the SAT Reasoning Test – a very demanding yet not impossible task), every candidate needs to have:

  • developed some high-level brainstorming techniques – again, developed by repeated practice, and
  • some clear, definitive examples (illustrations) of life principles available at instant recall (so as to speak), which can be readily recalled and modified depending upon the specifics of the position taken on the topic.

These matters are part of Integrity Tutoring's student preparation program.

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What qualifications does Integrity Tutoring offer?

Integrity Tutoring's principal workshop facilitator has:

  • 40+ years' successful experience in junior and senior secondary teaching in the disciplines of:
    • Economics,
    • Business Studies,
    • Geography and
    • Mathematics,
    in both NSW and Queensland;
    • in State and Independent schools;
    • in single gender and co-educational schools;
    • in secondary and P to 12 schools.
  • 15 years marking the NSW HSC examinations in Geography;
  • Conducted SAT workshops and one-on-one private tutoring sessions for students for the last 10 years;
  • Occupied senior educational management leadership positions;
  • Professional Qualifications:
    • Masters Degree in Educational Administration (University of NSW),
    • BA (Macquarie University),
    • Teachers' Certificate (Sydney University).
    • Current registration with the Queensland College of Teachers.

What have workshop- and privately-tutored participants said about Integrity Tutoring?

"I re-sat the [SAT] test after attending your workshop and my score improved by 250 points" – Hannah, Mt Gravatt.

"I have learned so much that will help me in the SAT from this workshop. I could never have done it on my own." –Michael, Cairns.

"My daughter felt so much more confident – and did so much better in the SAT than she thought she would – and she believes that it was because of the help you gave her in your SAT workshop" – grateful mother, Townsville.

"I learnt so much more in the workshop because you catered to my individual learning needs. It was so helpful. Thank you." – Peter, Gold Coast.

"What good value! You should charge 3 or 4 times more for the services you are providing. It's a bargain at twice the price." – An experienced teacher from an elite Brisbane secondary school.

Are we happy with your tutoring today? We are very happy with every session. It is very informative and instructive. You make it so interesting.

From your tutoring, we receive so much more value than the money we outlay: in your time so generously given; in the skill you demonstrate in your teaching; in the simplicity you develop complex concepts; in your understanding of how teenagers process concepts; in the acceptance and patience you show to repeat and revise earlier concepts; in the inspiration and warmth you communicate to our son.

You explain and model maths solutions so well for our daughter. Thank you.

What is involved in the SAT Writing Skills sections?

The multiple-choice questions ask students to:

  • Recognize sentence errors
  • Choose the best version of a piece of writing
  • Improve paragraphs

What skills are involved in Critical Reading?

The questions assess students' reading skills, such as:

  • Identifying main and supporting ideas
  • Determining the meaning of words in context
  • Understanding authors' purposes
  • Understanding the structure and function of sentences

What topics of maths are tested in Mathematical Reasoning?

The questions require students to apply mathematical concepts and to use data literacy skills in interpreting tables, charts, and graphs. They cover skills in four major areas:

  • Numbers and operations
  • Algebra and functions
  • Geometry and measurement
  • Data analysis, statistics, and probability

The SAT maths topics cover the following areas:

Arithmetic

  • Basic Arithmetic
  • Fractions & Decimals
  • Percentages
  • Ratios & Proportions

Algebra

  • Polynomials
  • Solving equations/inequalities
  • Word Problems
  • Lines and angles

Geometry

  • Triangles
  • Quadrilaterals/polynomials
  • Circles
  • Solid geometry
  • Co-ordinate geometry

Miscellaneous topics

  • Logical reasoning
  • Counting & Probability
  • Functions & graphs
  • Interpretation of data

All maths problems require some logical and mathematical reasoning. Some questions are quite easy, others more complicated and more difficult. For Queensland students, the topics examined follow more closely the Senior Maths A syllabus content, understandings and skills. Higher order mathematics covered in Maths B and Maths C are of no real advantage in the SAT.

What services does Integrity Tutoring provide?

In the final analysis, Integrity Tutoring focusses on thorough preparation of the student for the SAT. An in-depth Diagnostic Test which helps to identify individual strengths and weaknesses. Reinforcement of strengths; remediate areas of weakness.

  • A constructive analysis of strengths and weaknesses, from which an individualised study plan is constructed.
  • Devise a complete and comprehensive Study Plan.
  • Model, demonstrate quality SAT writing.
  • Provide constructive critiquing of SAT essay attempts thorough constructive critiquing of every essay as written with feedback for improvement, according the criteria used by the College Board markers/assessors.
  • Provide many useful worksheets
  • Outlines of various biographies that would be helpful in the Essay's illustrations
  • Exemplars of quality modelled writing.
  • 18 sample essays upon which to commence practicing, aimed at improving writing skills;

However, incidentally, other matters will be addressed as the need arises (such as Motivation, Time Management, Goal Setting, Basic organisation, how to create neat work, and similar topics)

What steps are in place to prevent student sexual abuse?

  • Blue Card issued by the Commissioner for Children and Young People
  • Strictly enforced personal requirement that both female and male students have an adult as the third party in attendance for the full duration of every tutoring session. The accompanying adult may pursue other activities (knitting, reading, watching TV or movies, alternative computer work – so long as they are physically present. (This is then a protection for both student and tutor.)

For absolute transparency and probity, should there be no accompanying adult, no private one-on-one tutoring will take place – under any circumstance – until a third party is present (parent, sibling, other responsible adult, or, as a last resort, a mature unsupervised but occupied and well-behaved pre-teen)

How long should I allow in preparation for the SAT?

I have attached some documents which would be a good starting point. You may wish to check out the US College Board's website as well.

Candidates are wise to give themselves adequate time in which to prepare for the SAT.

To prepare thoroughly for this test needs probably 12 months. Furthermore you will be inundated with the demands and the work of Year 12. Both are very manageable with skilful planning (and I can help you there as well, if necessary) Those who come to me desperate for a score in 3 or 4 weeks I work with, but assure them that the more time they have to invest in preparation, the better will be their scores.

To maximise the period of SAT preparation, it is recommended that a student begin earlier (as soon as possible and practicable) rather than later (and run out of time closer to the test)

Integrity's Commitment to the student

Engaging Integrity Tutoring to help you comes with a guarantee that its tutor will be committed to helping the student to achieve the very best SAT score of which s/he is capable.

We guarantee that every session will return an investment of greater value for money than the dollars you outlay; and

Under all circumstances, our commitment is that we will do our very best to help your son/ daughter to be as well-prepared as possible for the SAT and to achieve the very best result of which they are capable, given the amount of time for preparation. We are in this together to get the best possible outcome for the SAT candidate. Integrity Tutoring regards itself as a partner (with parents and the SAT candidate) in our endeavours to maximise those SAT results.

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