So I used to work for The Princeton Review. There was this guy in the marketing department who sat just on the other side of a very thin wall; I could hear him when he was on the phone with prospective clients. One of his favorite lines was:

“The SAT can make a question like, ‘What does 2 + 2 equal?’ seem difficult.”

I always wondered how the people on the other end of the line interpreted that statement. I could see it going one of two ways…

“The SAT can make a question like, ‘What does 2 + 2 equal?’ seem difficult.”

I always wondered how the people on the other end of the line interpreted that statement. I could see it going one of two ways…

or...

I suspect it was usually the first one. Someone good enough at math to think the second probably wouldn't be calling a test prep company.

But was his statement accurate? What does it really mean?

It’s true that the SAT can take relatively simple concepts and morph them into something more difficult, but characterizing it the way my coworker did is somewhat disingenuous. Let’s look at a more instructive example:

But was his statement accurate? What does it really mean?

It’s true that the SAT can take relatively simple concepts and morph them into something more difficult, but characterizing it the way my coworker did is somewhat disingenuous. Let’s look at a more instructive example:

The thing about this question is not that it’s making a simple operation more complicated. The question preys upon an assumption our brains make when presented with a question like, “What is the value of x/y ?”

When we see this type of question, our brains think…

When we see this type of question, our brains think…

That’s the issue.

It’s impossible to find the value of x and y in the question above. There isn’t enough information. However, there is exactly enough information to find the value of

It’s impossible to find the value of x and y in the question above. There isn’t enough information. However, there is exactly enough information to find the value of

*x*divided by*y*. Check it out:So, one of the issues with SAT algebra is NOT that it makes “What does 2 + 2 equal?” difficult. It’s that the test is designed by educational psychologists who know exactly how a typical student’s brain works and take advantage of common (but mistaken) mental processes.

This is just one example of ETS’s machinations. There are dozens. When you work with us, you’ll learn about them all.

So drop us a line. We’ll help you beat this test.

Til next time,

-Patrick

This is just one example of ETS’s machinations. There are dozens. When you work with us, you’ll learn about them all.

So drop us a line. We’ll help you beat this test.

Til next time,

-Patrick