SAT Math Example Problem – A Girl and Her Sandbox

Girl in her sandboxA girl is playing in a sandbox. She wants to decrease the volume of the sand in the sandbox by scooping sand and dumping it outside of the sandbox. The girls is a rather inquisitive mathematician and measures the dimensions of her sandbox. She finds the width and length to be 5 feet each and the height to be 4 feet. The sand in the sandbox goes all the way to the top. She wants to lower the volume of the sand to 50 cubic feet. How many feet of sand does she have to scoop out? Continue reading “SAT Math Example Problem – A Girl and Her Sandbox” »

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The SAT Shape-Shifts Again!

We can help with your questions about the SAT's new mutations!

We can help with your questions about the SAT’s new mutations!

OK, since the revision of the SAT is a pretty major topic in college admissions right now, I probably didn’t have to use a crazy title to get you to read about the New SAT, but how else was I going to fit Mystique into a blog post?

YES! If you hadn’t heard, the SAT is changing March of 2016. We know what you’re thinking, Class of ’17: “Why me? WHY NOW?!” But don’t get too stressed out! You might even like some of the changes they’re making. For instance, you’ll no longer be penalized for wrong answers, and they’re doing away with that pesky sentence completion. And never fear! We here at Test Masters are here to help guide you through the transition! In this post, we’ll get our feet wet with some of the overall format changes. Continue reading “The SAT Shape-Shifts Again!” »

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SAT Vocabulary – Inchoate

lvl1This Week’s Word: Inchoate [In-KOH-it] adjective

Inchoate is a word used to describe something that’s just begun, and in an incomplete way.

Synonyms: Incipient; Embryonic

Etymology: It might help to talk about the root of the word first, starting with “choate”. This root is also a word all on its own, and is primarily used in the world of law to describe something that is “completed or perfected in and of itself”; at least, it was thought of as a word. In 2009, a lawyer representing a cigarette company charged with selling untaxed cigarettes before the Supreme Court used “choate” in the language that made up his defense. He immediately was corrected by one of the justices, who claimed “There is no such adjective.” Now, although the Webster’s New World Law Dictionary states there is such an adjective usable in the context the attorney used, the judge makes a very good case for the usage being incorrect in a court of law (or anywhere for that matter). He argues that the prefix in- of “inchoate”, does not indicate a negative context, seeing as how the original Latin term it derives from, “incohare,” specifically meaning “to begin”. So, nowhere in that definition do you see the description “Not (complete)” or “Not (finished)”, and therefore inchoate cannot be used in a directly opposing context to “choate”. It seems as though if you wanted to use inchoate appropriately, you’d need to describe something rudimentary or embryonic, rather than simply incomplete or inadequate.

Sample 1: The Lawyer’s inchoate defense proved a novice mistake, as the Supreme Court Justice proceeded to berate his ineptitude by patronizing his career choice.

Sample 2: The election of Adolf Hitler was inchoate; a kindle of the fire that was to become World War II.

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SAT Vocabulary – Palliative

pain-relief-stopThis Week’s Word: Palliative \ˈpa-lē-ˌā-tiv, ˈpal-yə-\ [PAL-ee-uh-tiv] adjective & noun.

Palliative is used to describe something that relieves an ailment. Adjective form: something soothing. Noun form: painkiller.

Synonyms: Sedative, anodyne, opiate, and calmative.

Etymology: Palliative derives from the word “Palliate”, a verb meaning to relieve a pain or ailment. It derives from the Latin Medieval term “Palliare”, meaning “to cloak.” It was then interpreted by the French into “Palliatif” and the English into “Palliate,” until it settled into what is used now by the late Middle English.

This word has been widely used in recent years in hospitals and other medical field entities. Specifically, the term is “Palliative Care,” described as an alternate means of caring for patients to hospice. Rather than using abrasive measures to keep deteriorating patients alive, as often is the case in hospice, Palliative Care provides safer relief to ailments that patients are experiencing painful symptoms to diseases, injuries, or any other type of condition. In other words, it directly focuses on subduing the suffering of patients.

Sample 1: The Reynolds family decided to submit their grandfather to Palliative Care after his treatments in hospice proceeded to deteriorate his body.

Sample 2: After a long day at work, Ralph went to the pharmacy to look for palliatives for his sore back.


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SAT Multiple Choice Writing Tips—Pronouns

Learn valuable tips and tricks to up your SAT Multiple Choice Writing game!

Learn valuable tips and tricks to up your SAT Multiple Choice Writing game!

Don’t stop reading! Yes, you use pronouns every day and you know how to use them—for the most part—but if you want to make an 800 on that writing section, you’ll want to be able to spot all of the SAT’s tricks, those concerning pronouns included.

Some pronoun errors are easy to spot; your’ll see they and say, “Wait, us don’t talk like that.” But, if that’s your only argument, chances are you’re missing more pronoun questions than you think. Many SAT problems cleverly mimic mistakes we make when we’re speaking every day English. Many of these errors are so pervasive that they have passed into accepted spoken English; when we understand what someone means without much effort, we can say they were correct as far as “descriptive grammar” is concerned. The SAT however is testing us over our knowledge of “prescriptive grammar” (the kind your English teacher attempted to tell you about once), so even though there were no descriptive mistakes in the previous sentence, there was one prescriptive mistake. Continue reading “SAT Multiple Choice Writing Tips—Pronouns” »

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SAT Vocabulary – Venerable


This Week’s Word: Venerable \ˈve-nər(-ə)-bəl, ˈven-rə-bəl\ [VEN-er-uh-ble] adjective.

Venerable is a word used to describe someone who commands respect by virtue of age, dignity, character, or position.

Synonyms: Revered, Respected, Honored.

Etymology: Comes from the Latin Venerari, meaning “to worship or revere.”

Additional Information: Although used primarily as an adjective, venerable is sometimes used in the noun form by certain writers (especially clergymen). In certain religions, venerable fits into a certain figure’s title (i.e. “The Venerable Bede”, which is the primary label for St. Bede).

Sample 1: Carolyn was distraught when she learned that her grandfather was less than venerable, discovering that he was a gun-runner for the famous outlaw, Pancho Villa.

Sample 2: In addition to being a fantastic comedian and actor, Bob Hope has gone down in history as one of the most venerable celebrities of all time.



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2015 Spring & Summer SAT & ACT Test Schedule

Hey guys! College Compass here with a friendly reminder to plan ahead. Remember, you can’t actually take these tests unless you register for them.

Upcoming SAT Test Dates

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
January 24, 2015 December 29, 2014 January 13, 2015
March 14, 2015 February 13, 2015 March 3, 2014
May 2, 2015 April 6, 2015 April 21, 2015
June 6, 2015 May 8, 2015 May 27, 2015

 You can register for the SAT here.

Upcoming ACT Test Dates

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
February 7, 2015 January 9, 2015 January 16, 2015
April 18, 2015 March 13, 2015 March 27, 2015
June 13, 2015 May 8, 2015 May 22, 2015

You can register for the ACT here.

For everyone who thinks they may need a little extra help achieving their goals on the SAT or ACT, remember the experts at Test Masters are available year round to help with your test preparation needs.

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SAT Multiple Choice Writing Tips – Parallelism

Learn valuable tips and tricks to up your SAT Multiple Choice Writing game!

Learn valuable tips and tricks to up your SAT Multiple Choice Writing game!

Wait. Did that header just say “writing” and “parallelism”? Are they combining English and Math? I’m OUT!

No, don’t worry! We’re not about to start graphing sentences on a coordinate plane; we’re just going to examine one of those nit-picky grammar concepts that you never really learned in school and that the SAT suddenly expects you to know (that’s more fun, right?).

Parallelism in language occurs when two verbal constructions share a grammatical structure. In more pure cases of parallelism, phrases may also have corresponding meter, meaning, or sound and can be used as a poetic device. The immortal opening lines of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities illustrate parallelism wonderfully:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”

Continue reading “SAT Multiple Choice Writing Tips – Parallelism” »

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SAT Vocabulary – Exacerbate


This Week’s Word: Exacerbate [Eggs-ASS-sir-bait] \ig-ˈza-sər-ˌbāt\

Exacerbate means to make more violent, bitter, or severe.

Synonyms: Worsen, Aggravate, and Impair.

Etymology: Stemming from the Latin acerbus, meaning “harsh” or “bitter.” This, combined with the prefix “ex-“ results in the current definition above.

Additional Information: Exacerbate, although not specified, is usually used to describe an act that is intentionally harsh, painful, or detrimental. Writers often use this word to describe behavior that is intentionally malicious or detrimental, rather than a negative form of behavior that is accidental.

Sample 1: Hoping to exact revenge on Mr. Bond, the villainous Goldfinger proceeded to exacerbate his tortuous methods of violence.

Sample 2: To say that the teacher’s notes were critical is a minor assessment; her accusation of the student lacking intelligence was a demonstration of exacerbation that was both rude and unnecessary.

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HBCU Spotlight – Xavier University of Louisiana

XulasealHistorically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have served a vital and transformative role in the history of America. Many of this country’s most prominent civil rights activists, politicians, actors, scientists, scholars, and public figures attended or taught at HBCUs, and for students of all backgrounds who want to connect with and be inspired by this history, HBCUs can provide an excellent education and a sense of pride in the extraordinary accomplishments of the many students who have gone before them. Continue reading “HBCU Spotlight – Xavier University of Louisiana” »

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