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COLLEGE PREP | SAT PREP | March 15, 2012

How to Use Angry Birds to Improve Your SAT Score

By Rory Hatfield | For

To get a high score on both the SAT and ACT, it’s vital to have a specific plan for each section; otherwise, you won’t be maximizing the amount of points you can earn. Let’s say you’re playing “Angry Birds”. The structure you need to destroy has stones on the top (where those dastardly pigs are hiding) but wood near the bottom.

Assess the Material Before Taking a Shot

If your friend looked down at your screen, and advised you, “Shoot your birds at the stones on the left – a pig’s behind them!” you’d probably roll your eyes and aim for the wood instead. After all, wood is more flimsy than stone; it’ll take fewer birds to destroy the wooden supports, and attacking them first will make the structure implode more quickly. If you know how tough the materials are, and the right order to assault them, you’ll beat the level quicker and earn more points than if you just fired your birds straight at the pigs.

Angry Birds- SAT Prep

When you attack the SAT without the right plan, you’re playing “Angry Birds” like your silly friend would – randomly and inefficiently. It’s no accident that I used the word “attack” here – going into Test Day primed to root out specific information in each section puts you in control of the test. An empowered student is a high-scoring student, so let’s talk strategy.

Save the Hard Targets for Last

In the SAT Math section, don’t feel obligated to answer the questions in their given order. Even though the questions are presented in order of difficulty, different students have different skill sets. For instance, if you’re a rockstar at Algebra but struggle with Geometry, a late-section question asking you to solve x3 – y2 may be easier for you than a mid-section question asking for the side length of a trapezoid.

Choose the questions that you want to solve by spending the first two minutes of every math section skimming the problems, circling the ones you would find the hardest, and attack the remaining questions. That way, you’re spending your time on problems that are easiest for use to solve -the “wood” in Angry Birds Land - and saving the hard ones - the “stone” -if you have time for them!

Screen the Reading Section

Apply a similar method on the Critical Reading section. Take 1-2 minutes, flip through the passages, and attack the ones you feel the most comfortable reading. Love reading Jane Austen books for fun? You’d probably start with the Humanities passage. Get annoyed when people think the Hadron Collider is a monster truck? Go for the Natural Science passage first instead. Why read the passages in the order given, when it’s easier to approach them your way?

Master Your SAT Critical Reading “Hit List”

Speaking of Critical Reading passages, always read them with purpose. Plan to root out the following things in every Reading Comp selection on the SAT:

  • The thesis
  • The main idea of every paragraph
  • The author’s tone and opinion
  • Helpful transitions (“despite” and “however”
    set up a contrast, “thus” and “because”
    foreshadow a main idea, etc.)

Reading a Critical Reading passage without knowing what to look for is like playing “Angry Birds” without knowing the difference between wood and stone; you’ll waste time and energy in the wrong places, which doesn’t earn you points!

In short, don’t beat your head against a rock on Test Day. Determine your preferences, seek out the right information in every Reading passage, and get your high score!

Rory Hatfield teaches pre-college classes (SAT/ACT/PSAT) for Kaplan's Live Online division full-time; and is also a student at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education, where he is earning a Masters in Instructional Design. He has taught numerous courses and events for Kaplan, including sample classes on college admissions, writing an effective personal statement, and whether to take the SAT, ACT, or both.

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