Tim Holm
Spring 2012

Goal of the Course

The SAT has earned a bad rep as a test that doesn’t meaningfully test anything, is loaded with cultural bias, and has nothing to do with college readiness. With all due respect, I disagree. There are a few odd obsessions of the SAT test writers, but generally the test does a good job of assessing important knowledge and skills. Briefly, these are:

  • Reading: Vocabulary and the ability to read a variety of advanced texts critically
  • Math: The ability to apply algebraic and geometric reasoning to new and diverse contexts
  • Writing: The ability to produce a written argument quickly and a strong grasp of grammar rules

The purpose of this course is twofold: first, to familiarize yourself with the SAT and its expectations so that you demonstrate your ability as fully as possible, and second, to actually increase your knowledge and essential skills in areas the SAT tests because such knowledge and skills are important for success in college and beyond.

Major Emphases

The course is designed to address students' most common needs on the SAT, and in ways that are both efficient and effective. The SAT tests knowledge and skills, not "tricks," so there are few if any silver bullets for raising scores. Instead, students are immersed in general content and targeted small-group tutoring to encourage improvement. Major elements of the course include:
  • Vocabulary – Students learn about 700 commonly-tested words from Word Focus (majortests.com) and Advantage Testing. A special emphasis is placed on key Latin and Greek roots.
  • Grammar – Students learn the grammar rules tested by the SAT (first quarter of class).
  • Essay – Students practice timed writings and improving them (second quarter of class).
  • Math – Most math instruction is in small groups organized by student need.
  • Practice – Students take and correct several SATs at home to familiarize themselves with the test.

The SAT Prep course is considered a companion to the core curriculum: It does not reteach or replace other curriculum, but rather supplements material from other courses and applies content in perhaps new ways. Students frequently participate in teaching material (particularly with vocabulary and work on the essay).


Grading focuses on effort and applying new knowledge, so corrections are accepted on nearly every assignment, often for full credit. Students never receive a grade based on SAT scores, and students who both a) register for the June SAT and b) have an 80% average or better by review week are exempt from the course final. Students who register for the SAT may add the cost of the test to their tuition.
  • 25% Homework (including take-home SATs)
  • 25% Quizzes, Essays, and Presentations
  • 50% Vocabulary Tests


The vast majority of our curriculum is offered free-of-charge by Advantage Testing of Houston. Vocabulary lists, grammar and essay packets, and frequent small-group math tutoring are all provided to our students on the condition that AT copy-written material is NOT shared outside the school. In addition, students purchase and nearly exhaust the ten tests provided in The Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd Edition.