1570/Oct 16'/SC/Urbana HS/Junior

With the restructuring of the SAT and my lack of improvement to begin with, I thought I could not possibly score well. I knew I didn’t need a perfect score to enter my dream school of UC Berkeley, but I was not going to score even a 1560, the equivalent of a 2300. Dr. Li’s class gave me the motivation and strategies I needed to improve on the SAT.

Since the start of that school year, I had been practicing with prep books, but I always scored poorly on the reading and writing sections. I knew that I was still familiarizing myself with grammar rules and vocabulary, but I was frustrated with the questions that had seemingly subjective answers. My answers seemed just as founded in the text as the correct ones, and each book only vaguely explained why I was wrong, especially Barron’s. Not only did I not improve from all that practice, I was losing hope in my score. My parents and friends couldn’t suggest any effective strategies, so my mother enrolled me in Dr. Li’s class because of all its positive reviews. Indeed Dr. Stanica, the English teacher, helped me focus on the main point of each passage and not speculate on the author’s purpose. Through my weeks of revised studying and guided practice in class, I better chose answers that agreed with the main point and purpose of the passages, improving my scores as well as the way I read. The following summer, I looked back on my old practice tests and improved greatly using the strategies I learned in class.

Every week, Dr. Stanica evaluated our practice essays, exposing the speculations I made about the prompt and suggesting clearer wording and possible details to add. I appreciated these comprehensive evaluations because my English teachers at school only revise my content and rarely my style; even now as an AP Lang student, I wish I could have as thorough a revision as the ones Dr. Stanica gave me. I still have much improvement to make in writing, but Dr. Stanica objectified a conciseness and flow that I can work towards.

Even though I already scored well on the math section, Dr. Li emphasized problem solving strategies that made the problems even easier. For example, the algebra problems on the SAT always seem complicated but usually can be solved with substitution of entire expressions. Geometry problems are direct applications of certain rules. These shortcuts let me finish early enough to do my work a second time and confirm my answers.

Besides Dr. Li’s class, I put in hours of work over the school year and the summer. I bought four books for problems and borrowed several from the library over the course of my practice. In addition, I used Khan Academy’s SAT prep and wrote an essay everyday over the summer. Even though I improved most during the summer of practice, I have to thank Dr. Li and Dr. Stanica for giving me the strategies that made my diligence effective.