Stacey Howe-Lott remains the single highest score increaser I've been able to personally locate. As implausible as this sounds, she's a mom too, who discovered the joy of the SAT long after high school. Incidentally, Stacey is now an SAT tutor and works via Skype.
Unlike me (thus far, though I will optimistically point out that my year isn't over), Stacey managed to raise her SAT Math score by leaps and bounds: from a 500 (45th percentile) to a 700 (93rd percentile). It took her the better part of a year to do so. She was already in the 98% percentile for the Reading and Writing sections.
When I asked her how she did it, she told me, "I was a 40-year-old new mother at home with her baby, battling sleep deprivation, and desperate to find some sort of intellectual stimulation between cooing at the baby and doing more laundry. During nap-time, I’d work on SAT problems, approaching them as logic puzzles rather than a math death-march."
Here are Stacey Howe-Lott's Top Math Tips:
• Most students (500s-600s) can skip the hard questions
• Medium and hard questions don’t have easy answers
• Draw pictures to help you see the problem
• If you can’t solve the problem directly, estimate, backsolve or make up numbers
• Keep clam (That’s a Northwest joke. Keep calm for the rest of you)
And here’s what Stacey would have done differently:
• Hire a tutor for at least a couple of hours to put me on the right track. It would have saved so much time and heartache if I only knew where the find the best materials, what strategies I should follow, and who I should trust. I wasted so much time and money on bad materials, bad strategy and bad advice.
• Kept obsessive records from the beginning so I could track what I was learning and what I still needed to learn
• Focused in more quickly on the stuff I didn’t know. And learned just the amount I needed to use on the test.
I worked with Stacey for a month last Spring (before the June SAT). Here are the top 10 things I learned from our sessions together.
And, you can read her full story in this blog post, which includes some amazing quotes and more details.
Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis