### I hope you're happy with your score today. But if you're not...

March SAT scores are out today and I've heard almost exclusively good news from the students I've worked with. The smiles and laughter of children, they are like manna to me. I know, however, that score day is never a happy day for everyone. If your results today fell short of your expectations, here's some advice to help you avoid this feeling next time around.
1. Don't panic. You have FIVE more chances to take the SAT before applications are due in the winter: May, June, October, November, December. Some seniors even get away with taking January. So you've got time.
2. Don't sulk. Perhaps you've heard before that the best thing to do when thrown off a horse is to get right back on it. The same applies to the SAT. Feeling sorry for yourself won't help; focused and assiduous prep will. Take today to lick your wounds, and start working in earnest tomorrow.
3. Set expectations. Most people will never score a 2400, and that's OK. Figure out the scores you need to be comfortable in applying to the schools you like best, and make those scores your goal. If you're having a hard time, check this post for more about how much you should be looking to improve.
4. Develop a plan. Taking the test the same way you did last time will probably result in a very similar score, so just doing a bunch of practice tests isn't enough. You need to identify your weaknesses, and then focus on them to make them strengths. Start by doing a drill or two to help you identify weaknesses, like these ones!
5. Execute it. Whether you plan to take a course, work with a tutor, or prepare on your own, the key to your success will be your own personal commitment to improving. Even if you take a course for a few hours a week, you won't see a huge improvement unless you also practice on your own. Today it felt crappy when you didn't get the score you wanted. Remember this crap feeling every time you're tempted, in the coming weeks, to blow off SAT prep. A huge improvement is possible, but only when accompanied by a huge commitment.
This site exists to help people like you do better than you were doing before. Consider subscribing to the blog, or following me on twitter: @PWNtheSAT. Good luck!

### Score Choice™ and "Super Score" FAQ

Most of what you'll read below can be found couched in more confusing language right at The College Board's own Score Choice™ website, or in their Score-Use  Practices report. The College Board, obviously, is the final authority since they make the rules, but since I'm often inundated by these questions, I thought it'd be nice to put all my thoughts down in one place. Ready? Me too!

### Right Triangles

So, I trust by now you know what's going on with regular triangles, and with angles in general. Right triangles get a post all to themselves because they're special, and have some rules of their very own. Let's dig in, shall we?

##### Ancient Greece was awesome.
First, let's briefly review the Pythagorean theorem. You know this, yes?
I trust that you do. It is, after all, basically the most important thing to have come out of Ancient Greece. Now show me what you can do with it:
Note: Figure not drawn to scale.
1. In the figure above, AC = 6, BC = 10, and CM = 2√13. If N is the midpoint of AC, what is BMMN?

(A) 3 + √13
(B) 7
(C) 5 + 3√2
(D) 9
(E) 4 + 5√3

### Angles and Non-Right Triangles

Before we get into triangles, we need to take a very quick look at the ingredients of a triangle: line segments and angles. Please tell me you already know this stuff:

We good? Cool. Prove it:

1. In the figure above, AE, BS, CG, DS, and FS intersect at point S. Which of the following pairs of angles must be congruent?

(A) ∠ASF and ∠BSF
(B) ∠ASG and ∠CSE
(C) ∠ASG and ∠FSG
(D) ∠ASB and ∠ASG
(E) ∠ASC and ∠BSE

### Fun with geometry. Well, I think it's fun, anyway.

This is a little harder than a typical SAT question, and obviously formatted with a bit more flair and color than the College Board would use, but it deals with the same concepts you'll need to master to kick the SAT where it hurts most, so have a go at it:

I looked out my window the other day and realized that the shadow that my apartment building was casting was a perfect square. If the distance from the edge of the shadow to the top of the building (the dotted line on the diagram) was 100 feet, and my building (which has a square base) is 7 times as tall as it is wide, what was the area of the shadow?

I'll refrain from answering this myself just yet. Put your answer in the comments, and check back in a few days to see if you were right!

Update: This post had LOTS of views and very few folks attempting an answer, so either people were finding this post by mistake when they Googled for something else, people are shy, or this question was harder than I thought. Answer and explanation below the cut.

### Jack, be nimble.

Here's a question I love to throw at students early on in the tutoring process (let's call this a grid-in for now, to keep things simple):
1. If $\fn_phv&space;\frac{4^{999}+4^{998}}{5}=4^x$, what is x?
It's a beautiful question because no matter what, it's going to show me something about the kid with whom I'm working. Almost everyone goes to the calculator first. Once it becomes clear that the calculator will be no savior I see a few divergent paths, all illuminating:

### Sentence Improvement Workout: Practice Section 10

I've done my best here to be faithful to the structure of an SAT section 10, although I've obviously been a bit loose with the subject matter. Since this is designed to mirror a section 10, though, you should time yourself on it. You'll get 10 minutes to complete the last writing section on the real test, so you should give yourself 10 minutes to do this one.

Once you're done, click the link to the answer key, which also contains brief explanations of why the wrong answers are wrong. If you'd like more of an explanation than is provided there, obviously feel free to leave a comment right here on this post.

When you're ready to begin, click the link below. If you'd rather print this out and do it on paper, there's a .pdf of it here. Good luck!

### Some SAT advice for non-native English speakers

 source
I was looking over the visitor stats for this blog last night and I was pleasantly surprised to discover a small international audience! The SAT is administered all over the world, and at least a few people have visited this site from (in order of frequency) Singapore, Hungary, India, Vietnam, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel. That's great! I'm glad you're considering taking this test, which means of course that you're seriously considering attending university in the US.

As I'm sure you're finding out, the SAT is a very difficult test -- even more so for those for whom English is not a native tongue. While English grammar required for the writing section can be mastered (and I assume you've been studying English for some time if you're seriously considering the SAT), the reading section presents a unique set of challenges because it requires students to engage with reading passages in a very deep way: comprehending not only the content of the article, but the author's tone and intent, which can be very subtly disguised and are often difficult even for native English speakers to pin down. It also requires a substantially larger vocabulary than you've probably ever needed for conversational English -- in school or elsewhere.

There are no easy answers here, but I'd like to give you a few pieces of advice if you're preparing for the SAT and you haven't been speaking English since infancy:

### Plugging In FTW

OK, so you know how I'm always saying that the SAT is not a math test? This is one of the primary reasons why. On the SAT, it's often completely unnecessary to do the math that's been so carefully laid out before you. A lot of the time (and on a lot of the most otherwise onerous problems), all you need to do is make up numbers.

Sounds crazy, right? Well it's not. It would be crazy to just make up numbers on just about any other pain-in-the-ass task (for instance, it would be bad just to make up numbers on your taxes), but you'll be dumbstruck by how often it works on the SAT. Of course, you have to practice doing it to get good at it, so that when an opportunity to do it on the real test pops up, you don't panic and blow it. That's what your old buddy Mike is here for.

I'm thinking we should start with a more obvious plug-in. If you would consider trying to solve this one with pure algebra, you're probably out of your mind. Still, it's a great illustration of the technique:
1. If m and n are divided by 8, the remainders are 3 and 5, respectively. What is the remainder when mn is divided by 8?

(A) 0
(B) 1
(C) 3
(D) 5
(E) 7

### On the whole reality TV kerfuffle

 image source
It's been over a week, and still not a day goes by that I don't see a new article bashing The College Board for its decision to use reality TV as an essay topic. The topic caught me off guard just as it did everyone else, but I can't justify all the hand-wringing that's occurred in the days since.

Here's the full text of the prompt:
Reality television programs, which feature real people engaged in real activities rather than professional actors performing scripted scenes, are increasingly popular. These shows depict ordinary people competing in everything from singing and dancing to losing weight, or just living their everyday lives. Most people believe that the reality these shows portray is authentic, but they are being misled. How authentic can these shows be when producers design challenges for the participants and then editors alter filmed scenes?

Do people benefit from forms of entertainment that show so-called reality, or are such forms of entertainment harmful?

I'm of the opinion that the prompt provides even television-less students enough information to opine about the benefits/harms of reality TV, regardless of whether they partake in the shows themselves.

A lot of test prep people are up in arms about the prompt because it caught them off guard, and they're rightfully hearing from their students who felt unprepared to answer the question. That's unfortunate for those who paid for prep that proved ineffective, but it's not a fault of the test, whose stated goal is to assess how well a student develops a point of view, organizes an argument, and displays mastery of grammar and style.

A lot of us in the prep world encourage students to come prepared with a few "universal" examples ready to go -- classic literature or historical figures, for example -- and those weren't exactly well suited for this prompt, but there's no rule that the SAT has to use a prompt that will help students who've taken prep courses succeed. In fact, I'm sure the SAT writers are quite happy to be able to foil us once in a while.

This was a tough question, but it was fair. Different essay prompts are always accompanied by slightly different scoring tables for the writing section, and if this prompt really was more difficult than the others given on the March test, that difficulty will be reflected in a more lenient scoring table.

Believe me, I'm no member of The College Board's booster club, but I just can't bring myself to be mad at them for this one. I just have to tip my hat to them that they threw something at me that I didn't expect, even after all these years.

### Parabola Schmarabola

 Leonardo da Vinci totally <3'd parabolas.
The parabola is actually a hugely important mathematical concept with tons of forms, properties, and even its own history. It can open up, down, left, right, or any other direction. It can be used to graph the trajectory of my last AT&T cell phone that I threw in a lake when it dropped one too many calls. But if you're interested in that stuff, you should go to the Wikipedia parabola article, and tattoo the word NERD on your forehead while you're at it.

On the SAT, there's actually not much you need to know about parabolas. So let's keep it simple, huh?

##### Parabolas Are Symmetrical

This is the most important thing to remember about parabolas, because this is the key that unlocks most of the SAT's most difficult parabola questions. The awesome thing is that you probably already knew this. The not awesome thing is that the SAT still finds ways to make you miss these questions. Let's look at an example:

1. The graph above represents the parabolic function f(x). If the function's minimum is at f(-3), and f(0) = 0, which of the following is also equal to 0?

(A) f(3)
(B) f(-1)
(C) f(-4)
(D) f(-5)
(E) f(-6)

Right. So let's translate this into English first (if you're having trouble with the function notation, have a look at this post for some help). What they're saying here is that the line of symmetry for this parabola is at x = -3, and that the function goes right through the origin: f(0) = 0 means that this graph contains the point (0,0). They're basically asking us to find the other x-intercept.

### Diagnostic Math Drill #1 - GET SOME.

I spent some time today putting together a diagnostic math drill for you to try, if you're so inclined. It's 20 (pretty hard) questions, formatted more nicely than I usually bother to do on this blog and completely printable. It's not meant to be done in 25 minutes like an SAT section; it's meant to help you identify some weaknesses so that you can start to fix them.

Whether you're just starting your SAT journey or you've been at it for a while, my hope is that this will be a great jolt to your math prep.

--OR--

All done with this one and want more? Try the more difficult Diagnostic Drill #2!

### Dealing with ExPWNents (see what I did there? OMG LOL!)

 I found this image here.
You can be sure that you're going to encounter exponents on the SAT. Hopefully, once you've been through this post, you'll look forward to the opportunity to spank these questions like they deserve. Look at them, mocking you. They're totally asking for it. Show no mercy.

##### The Basic Exponent Rules
• Anything to the first power equals itself:
y1 = y
• Anything raised to the zero power equals 1:
m0 = 1
• Remember that a regular old integer exponent means something very simple:
x4 = xxxx. Don't be ashamed to do this when you're stuck. You'll be amazed how often this will unstick you.
• When you multiply like bases, you add their exponents:
p3p5 = p3+5 = p8. Why? See the bullet above.
• When you divide like bases, you subtract the exponents:
r9/r4 = r9-4 = r5. Again, why is this true? Think about it. Does it blow your mind?
• When you raise an exponent to another power, you multiply the exponents:
(z3)7 = z21. Why is that?
• When you're adding or subtracting like bases, you can't do JACK:
y3 + y4y3y4. There's no simplifying (although you might decide to factor a y3 out depending on where you're trying to go -- remember this for practice problem #18 below). If you make the mistake of adding these exponents, people will laugh at you in public places.
Before we go further, let's make sure you've got this. Try simplifying the following. Hold your mouse over the questions when you're done, and the answers will reveal themselves, as though they were genies and you Aladdin. Don't click, just hover.
• t9t2 =
• 3n/32 =
• (xy3)(x5y) =
• (8m)2 =
• r16 - r12 =

### Some kids are about to be in HUGE trouble.

According to this article at The Princeton Review's site, some kids from Great Neck North HS (that's on Long Island, for those of you not from the NY metro area) are about to get SO totally busted. Can you pay someone to take the SAT for you? Yeah, I guess. Can you ever overcome the shame, guilt, and stigma if you get caught? I guess some folks are about to spend the next few years finding out.

To be clear: this kind of thing happens everywhere because some dishonest people are always scheming for ways to get ahead by paying for it instead of working for it, and some unscrupulous people are willing to do just about anything for a buck. It's not endemic in Great Neck, and it's not fair to the many kids there who work very hard for their scores to assume so.

I guess years of trying to shield my test papers in school have irrevocably changed me, though, because I love seeing cheaters get caught. Hence the LOL scroll.

### Sentence Completions: Making Predictions

 I found Leonardo here.
When it comes to sentence completion questions, it's important to have some idea what you're looking for before you hit the choices. In fact, it's a really good idea to cover up the choices while you read the question, and not to uncover them until you have a pretty decent idea what word you're looking for. Yes, I'm serious.

Here's why: the SAT writers basically have to tell you exactly what they're looking for in the sentence. They can't just give you something open-ended and expect you to conjure up the correct answer. People always complain to me that the reading section is subjective. It so totally is not. They tell you exactly what they're looking for in almost every question.

For example: here's a sentence completion you will never see:

The dog is ____.

The dog is what? Awesome? Smelly? Brown? Friendly? Wet? Dangerous? Groomed to resemble a buffalo? The question doesn't give you enough information to solve it! Can we make it better?

Because it jumped in the lake, the dog is ____.

Ok, better, but there's still some ambiguity here. Could we say that the dog is smelly still? Couldn't we also still say it's wet? It's probably not brown because it jumped in the lake, but what if the lake is full of sewage? The SAT will do an even better job telling you exactly what it wants:

Because it jumped in the lake (which has almost no poop in it), the dog is ____ and our mother says it can't come inside until it dries off.

Aha! Now we know for sure the word must be "wet" or some synonym of it like "soaked," because not only do we know it jumped in a lake, but our mother is not allowing it back inside the house until it is dry.

I'm having a bit of fun here with the subject matter, but the SAT really will give you this much information to help you select the correct choice. Often, in fact, they'll blatantly give you synonyms for the words they're looking for!  It is therefore prudent to pay very close attention to the sentence before you even think about looking at the choices.

Have a look at these three examples (left choice-less on purpose). Try to come up with a word (or a meaning of a word--something like "un-cool-ness" is OK if you can't come up with a word that means exactly what you want), and then hold your mouse over the blank to see what I think are good predictions.
1. Although he stayed away for several months, Harold was ____ the entire time and kept a diary detailing his wishes to return to his family and friends.
2. John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath tells the story of the ____ Joad family, which was forced from its home by the Dust Bowl and traveled from place to place in search of a better life.
3. The horde of zombies was ____ but deadly; it wandered aimlessly about the once-great city, but it ____ anyone unfortunate enough to cross its path.

### "The most common answer on the SAT is C." No, not really.

 Assuming (C) is the most common answer makes no sense. Just like this picture.
People say dumb things about the SAT a lot. It's really common to hear someone say the thing about the most common answer being C. Honestly, I set out to write this post to eviscerate those people, but then I did my own research and saw that they're wrong, but not as obviously as I had thought. So this'll be more of a light ribbing than a true evisceration.

Let's be clear: it's not true that C is the "most common answer" on a given test. It's straight-up not, and guessing based on that is tantamount to relying on thaumaturgy to improve your SAT score. It's a poor excuse for strategy and preparedness.

However, it turns out that if you look at all the tests in the Blue Book in aggregate (my raw data is here, in case you're curious where I'm getting all this) C is, in fact, more common than most answers, and only less common than D. The least common answer is A. WTF?

Answer choices are ostensibly determined at random, so you'd think with a large enough sample size (the Blue Book is 10 tests x 160 questions per test, so 1600 questions) all the answers should appear pretty close to an equal number of times. Across all 10 tests, here's how it actually breaks down:

A: 290
B: 319
C: 337
D: 340
E: 314

Honestly that's more variability than I expected, but it's not outlandish and it does nothing to prove that the answer distribution isn't random. It's still superstition to say that the most common answer is C (and don't get any ideas about assuming it's D now instead) but it turns out it's also a dumb rumor to say that every answer appears an equal number of times on every test. So...yeah.

### 7 things to do today if you're taking the SAT tomorrow

 I did a Google Image Search for "badass" and this is what I got. Yes. I agree.
1. Print your Admission Ticket. If your printer is going to decide to barf when it prints your ticket, better to find out today while you can still print it somewhere else. Tomorrow morning, that'd be a big deal. Today, not so much. File this one under "duh." (Go here and sign in to print your ticket.)
2. Check your calculator's batteries. True story: my calculator died during the first math section when I got my 2400. Turns out long division still works! But seriously, even though I pwnd that test anyway, it would have been less stressful if I had use of my apparently-not-so-trusty TI-83.
3. Set out everything else you'll need for the test. Pencils (like 7 of them, sharpened), eraser, picture ID, non-beepy wristwatch.
4. Watch The College Board's Test Day Simulator. You don't really need to do this unless you're worried and you think it'll help calm you down. It's super-hokey and boring, but if you want a sneak peak at what the proctor will read to you unenthusiastically tomorrow morning, here you go.
5. Watch a movie or something. Seriously, take your mind off the SAT for a bit. You've been sedulous in your preparation for months. Nothing you can do today is going to drastically change anything, and you want to walk in there tomorrow placid and well-rested, not panicked and enervated.
6. Set your alarm. Yes, really. A lot of folks use cell phone alarms these days, and sometimes those are set only to go off Monday through Friday. Make sure your alarm is going to wake you up tomorrow.
7. Before bed, walk through your vocab words one more time. You know them all. This is a security blanket action to help you sleep, not hard work. Just remind yourself how much you've learned. Now, take a deep breath. I think your pillow wants to tell you a secret.

### Plain-old (non-symbol) function questions

Not all function questions have weird symbols, some are just vanilla f(x) type things. You've probably been working with the f(x) notation in school for some time now, but let's review some of the things you'll see over and over again on the SAT:

##### Interpreting function notation
One thing you're definitely going to need to be able to do is interpret function notation. For some questions, it's enough to remember that saying f(x) = x3, for example, is basically the same as saying y = x3.

For other questions, you're going to need to take that a bit further and identify points on a graph using function notation. Here's a quick cheat for you (with colors!). When you have f(x) = y, that's the same as an ordered pair (xy). For example, if you know that f(4) = 5, then you know that the graph of the function f contains the point (4, 5). Likewise, if you know that h(c) = p, you know that the graph of function h contains the point (cp). And so on. Basically, whatever is inside the parentheses (that's called the argument, if you care) is your x-value, and whatever's across the equal sign is your y-value. This is important. If you don't understand yet, read it over and over until you do. Might help to write it down. Just sayin'.

To make sure you've got this, think about what the following things mean. Once you've thought about them, hold your mouse over them (don't click, just hover...follow directions) to see what they're about.
• f(0) = 3
• p(12) = 0
• s(3) = r(3)

### Test Day FAQ

I figure now is as good a time as any to answer publicly some of the questions I've been asked more than once privately. Some of these are great questions. Some are...not.
• Should I take a practice test the night before? No. Relax on the night before. If you're cramming now because you didn't prepare enough ahead of time, it's probably not going to help and you'll only stress yourself out more. Remember that feeling of unpreparedness and channel it into preparing more assiduously next time. If you really must do something, go through your vocab words one more time. Then get to sleep.
• What should I bring with me to the test? Admission ticket, photo ID, 4-5 sharpened pencils (better safe than sorry), a calculator with fresh batteries (I have experienced the death of a calculator mid-test and it's not fun), and a watch so you can keep your own time since you can't count on the proctor to give you regular warnings about timing. See the College Board's own checklist here.
• Should I drink coffee/Red Bull/5 Hour Energy before the test? Only if that's part of your routine every morning. If it's not, you're only setting yourself up to have to drop a huge deuce in the middle of the test. Your best-score scenario does not involve a stall with a broken door in the 2nd floor men's room in the middle of section 5.
• Should I take Ritalin/Aderall before the test? I swear to God I've been asked this a million times. Has it been prescribed to you by a doctor and do you take it every day? If not, then don't be an idiot. Look, I know that stuff is available pretty readily to those who go looking for it, and while I'd rather you not abuse drugs period, I try not to make it my business. But if you're so stupid that you think it will help you concentrate just because it's prescribed to some people who have trouble concentrating, then you're hopeless. ADHD drugs are basically amphetamines. You'll be bouncing around the room, and you'll deserve the horrible score you get. Kindly remove your head from your rear end.

### College Board Question of the Day archive search

Although the College Board's Questions of the Day do remain archived on the CB site, it's not so easy to browse them from there. Conveniently, last year someone created a searchable archive that links directly to the College Board's own archives. It looks like it was more of a one-time project than something that's indefatigably maintained, but if you're looking for some more questions written by the actual test-makers during the lead-up to test day, this is a great place to spend some time.

I find the "advanced" search to be the most useful. From there you can, for example, view all Math questions that have been answered correctly by less than 50% of respondents. That's pretty good, quick access to some decently hard questions. Here's a particularly brutal one that I give to my students sometimes when they get too cocky.

Anyway, here's the link. Go nuts!
http://atekkie.com/sat-question-of-the-day-archive-search/

### Symbol Functions

 source
One of the SAT's most nefarious tricks is the symbol function. That doesn't mean you should let it intimidate you, though. In fact, symbol functions (and function questions in general) are some of the easiest hard questions you're going to come across. Which is to say: these questions come late in sections because kids tend to crap their pants when they see a bumblebee (or whatever) used as a mathematical symbol, so these questions come late in the section because kids do poorly on them. That's an important distinction. Some questions come late because they're hard, and some come late because kids do poorly on them. Often those are one in the same, but they don't have to be. If you become comfortable with symbol functions, you'll basically never get one wrong again.

Ok, so what makes these questions so easy?

Think of a function question like you think of a car wash. Not like a bikini car wash where you pay \$20 and your car isn't even that clean at the end (WHAT IS THE POINT?), but an automatic car wash like the one pictured above. If I drive my dirty black Jeep up to the car wash, what's going to happen? First it'll get sprayed with water, then with soap, then it'll get to the spinning brushes, then those dangly-slappy things pictured above (seriously, what purpose do those serve?), then the rinse, then the biggest hairdryer of all time will blow it dry. What comes out on the other end? A clean black Jeep. Not a clean blue Honda; that'd be crazy. However, if a dirty blue Honda went in after my Jeep, then all the same stuff would happen to it as happened to my car, and then a clean blue Honda would come out.

You can always predict what's going to come out of a car wash based on what goes into it. Functions are the same way.

Let's look at an example to illustrate.

Say the function ab is defined as:
ab = a3 + 2abb2

### Solve directly for expressions!

If I asked told you it was my birthday and I wanted a cake, what would you do? You've got two choices: buy a bunch of ingredients and start baking, or go to a different aisle in the grocery store and just buy the damn cake.

Baking the cake yourself is not only more time consuming than just buying one; it also gives you more opportunities to screw up (like, say, mistake salt for sugar and bake the grossest cake of all time). Since you know I'm a shameless crybaby who will never let you forget it if you ruin my birthday, you should just buy the cake in the cake aisle, and then use your time to do something more fun than baking.

And so it is with the SAT. What do I mean? WHAT DO I MEAN??? Read on, young squire.

Here's a pretty common question type on the SAT:

1. If 3x - y = 17 and 2x - 2y = 6, what is the value of x + y?

(A) 8
(B) 9
(C) 11
(D) 12
(E) 14

The SAT is asking you for a cake here. Baking it yourself will still result in a cake, but it will also give you opportunity to screw up, and take longer than just buying one. They don't give a rat-turd if you buy the ingredients (x and y), so don't waste time on them! All that matters is the finished cake, (the value of the expression x + y), and we should be able to solve for that directly without ever finding x or y individually.

### What Halo and the SAT have in common

 source.
I'm constantly reminding students to look for patterns. The key to transcendent scores is pattern recognition. If you want to be a truly adroit test taker, you're going to have to devote yourself to taking every test you take actively. Obviously, you should be looking for patterns in the kinds of mistakes you're making, but you should also be making mental (or hell, physical) notes of every question you see that strikes you as something new or novel.

Do you play Halo? Or COD? How about poker? Do you ever go outside and play baseball? When I was your age...

True domination in any of those games comes only after you have internalized the systems in which the game is played. If it's a FPS, even if you're good at FPS games in general, you've gotta spend time getting shot in the back right after you spawn until you've really learned the maps in a new game. You've gotta master the trajectories of projectiles that don't go in a straight line (grenades, etc). You've gotta learn the timing of the sniper rifle. You have to learn the game's physics, inside and out, and then you need to recognize the patterns of other players. Most guys run right for the rocket launcher when they spawn anywhere near it. How can you use that knowledge to your advantage? Once you've got all that down, you start teabagging. One time in COD4 some guy PREbagged me*. That guy knew every in and out of that game.

### Percent change

When I was in high school, I weighed 125 pounds fully clothed and soaking wet. I couldn't do anything to change it, either. That was the worst part. I yearned to play varsity baseball, but at my weight, I just straight up wasn't big enough.

College was mostly the same, although I filled out a little. I'd say my average weight in college reflected the "freshman 15," but for me it was a welcome change.

Then I got a job, spent 4 years sitting on my ass all day, eating large fast food meals, and not getting any exercise. I weigh about 170 now.

So over the years, I've put on 45 pounds. Damn. What's the percent change in my weight from high school to now?

### Some good (and FREE) SAT resources

If you're not paying someone to help you prepare for the SAT, that doesn't mean you should be going it completely alone. I hope you're able to find some helpful things here on this site, but I figured I'd give you a few other things to add to your bookmarks bar as well:
• College Confidential's SAT Prep board - I check this once a day, and I'm constantly impressed by how smart, motivated, and willing to help their peers all the kids on there are. Some of them are a little too aggressive in assuming that everyone will learn best the same way they do, but hey -- they're kids. If you ask a question on here, a bunch of people will literally jump at the chance to help you out. I might be one of them.
• erikthered.com/tutor - Erik's site is very complete, but I think its utility suffers a bit from that. Some of his "Must-Know Facts and Formulas," for example, aren't really must-know. They're all nice to know, and many of them might help you on math in school in addition to any help they'll give you on the SAT, but I don't feel like they focus you on the truly salient, score-moving concepts. It's also a very mathy site, which isn't really my style, but to each his own. Still, it's a great effort, and it's all free and in nicely printable form.
• Khan Academy - An autodidact's wet dream, this site. I've linked you to the video explanations of every single question in the Blue Book (the old version, anyway, which has tests 4-10 from the current one). If you go to the main site, there's a video to explain every math concept under the sun. Again, I think the explanations here are at times unnecessarily mathy, but some people like that. If that's you, go nuts. This Khan guy really likes making videos.