The ACT for Hong Kong was cancelled for the first time in history and the students who failed to take it this past month are now desperately vying for the seats in the fall. Our sources tell us the September seats are all full.
Long gone are the days of memorizing esoteric lexicon for the reading comprehension section, literature examples for the essay or grammar rules for confusing writing scenarios created by the College Board. The New SAT has now carried out three implementations of the college bound exam; three in the United States and two tests for the rest of the world. And the verdicts are in.
…more than two months after the first administration of the revamped exam and years after the media started to speculate about the new test’s difficulty. And it turns out that, after years of stagnation, the scores have gone up—rather significantly.
As a result of the higher scores, there is talk that the test is much easier. Here at SanLi, one of Hong Kong’s Top SAT Academies and the most successful Test Prep Center on the Mainland of China, we’ve even seen many of our students score quite nicely.
SanLi Student’s 1520 on the New SAT (May Exam) w/ Perfect 800 in Math
From the beginning of time (or at least 1926 when the SAT was created), there has been nonstop debate as to the veracity of the SAT and its large part in the college admissions process. Here, an incredibly long thread on a popular forum Reddit shows how controversial and the topic never rests. The rhetorical piece in question, starts off by informing the world that the New Republic has never produced a more read article based on the topic.
At SanLi Education, one of Hong Kong’s Top Test Prep companies, we’ve seen thousands of students spend time with us in our SAT Prep Courses with many of them raising their scores hundreds of points. Many of them have garnered entry into top Universities like Stanford, Upenn, Northwestern and more. Despite obtaining entrance into many top Colleges, there are still many who ask “are the students more than just test taking machines?”
One of the big changes on the New SAT is the adjustment of the reading section. What used to be critical thinking is now “evidence-based reading.” The New SAT has done away with the sentence completion questions. No more obscure vocabulary, which means no more memorizing extended vocabulary lists… right?
Well… yes and no. Yes, it is no longer necessary to memorize thousands of obscure vocabulary words. However, the New SAT will still be testing vocabulary, only a little bit differently.
The new test will test vocabulary through what they call words in context. What does that mean? Well, according to the new SAT website:
Words in Context questions measure your understanding of how word choice influences meaning, shapes mood and tone, reflects point of view, or lends precision or interest. The Writing and Language portion measures students’ ability to apply knowledge of words, phrases, and language in general in the context of extended prose passages.
You get it. Reading is important. You know that your son needs to improve his reading comprehension. You know your daughter needs help with her vocabulary. You know that the way to do this is to practice. You know your kids need to sit down and read. But what if they won’t? How do you help a kid who hates reading?
Lucky for you, we have a suggestion: picture books.
We’re serious. Picture books are awesome. No, we’re not talking about your toddler’s picture books, like “Hungry, hungry Caterpillar” or “How to give a Moose a Muffin” (although we would fight anyone who badmouths them). No, what we’re talking about are teen and adult-friendly picture books, which are otherwise known as graphic novels.
不知道常看美劇的大家，會不會有時被某些突然出現的詞語“噎”住——不明白為什麼大家都覺得好笑，自己卻很困惑。 美劇White Collar (《妙警賊探》)裡有這樣一個場景，高智商罪犯Lawrence向另一個高智商罪犯Neal吹噓自己的“豐功偉績”： Lawrence: The Federal Reserve Job… it was flawless. Probably the most secure vault in the world and I walked out with $60 million. It was Prometheus…stealing fire from the gods. Lawrence把自己從密不透風的美聯儲保險櫃裡成功盜走6千萬美元的行為，比喻為“普羅米修斯盜火”，意為冒著極大的風險。 普羅米修斯的故事大家都熟知，他創造出了人類，而且為了使人類能更好地生存，他來到天國，在阿波羅的太陽戰車上點燃一個火炬，將火種帶給了人類。有了火這個有力的武器，人類可以征服野獸、製造工具、耕作土地，住在溫暖的居所裡，不再畏懼嚴寒，成為“萬物之靈”。天神領袖Zeus大怒，下令把普羅米修斯用一條永遠也掙脫不了的鎖鏈，縛在高加索山脈的一塊岩石上，並讓一隻神鷹每天去啄食他的肝臟。
新SAT推出後，大家都很關注到底哪一個更難。事實上，我們認為新老SAT考察的核心和考察的能力是一致的，對老SAT了解和熟悉的同學，在新SAT考試中也會佔據優勢。 首先閱讀方面，變化大概在20%-30%。老SAT有7篇文章（對比類文章算一篇），但文章比較短；新SAT有5篇文章，但文章比較長；所以整體閱讀量是一致的。新SAT自然科學和社會科學的3篇閱讀文章比老SAT簡單，難度僅略高於雅思和托福。新SAT唯一有難度的部分是建國文獻，但只有一篇文章。所以整體難度並未增加。 新SAT的數學會難一些，但中國學生數學有優勢，所以影響並不大。語法方面，難度是降低的。作文方面難度增加，但作文是可選項，並不計入成績。所以，整體來說，我們認為新老SAT難度並沒有大的差異。
新SAT作文與老SAT作文有很大的不同。從本質上看，它屬於分析性寫作。考生需要先讀一篇字數在650-750的議論型的論文（an argumentative essay）。在這篇文章中，作者會提出一個論點，並且通過邏輯的或實證的論證來“洗腦”讀者，最終說服讀者接受其論點。讀完這篇文章以後，考生要寫一篇作文，分析作者是如何利用論據（evidence）、邏輯推理和文章結構（reasoning and organization）、文體或說理的技巧 （stylistic or persuasive elements） 等手法來成功說服讀者。這種分析性寫作看似新穎，實際上它的形式參考了AP 英語語言和作文考試（English language and composition） 裡的分析性論文（analytical essay），這也是為什麼在本文末的推薦書目裡有AP的原因。需要重點注意的是，在讀完一篇議論文（比如美國應該禁槍）之後，考生不應該解釋你是否同意或者反對禁槍（選擇一個立場，舉例說明，這是老SAT作文的考察內容），而是應該把重點放在分析作者是如何通過論證來說服讀者接受他的觀點的（你可以從上文所提及的三個方面——evidence, reasoning and organization, stylistic or persuasive elements選擇，或者你在讀文章時發現作者運用的一些特別的技巧，比如重複、精心選詞等方面）。簡單說來，作為考生，你的角色不是辯論的參與者，而是中立的評判員。
與老SAT不同，新SAT作文分三部分給分：Reading （1-4分），Analysis（1-4分），Writing （1-4分）。
So the standardized tests are dueling. Prompted in part by the ACT’s runaway success, the SAT is loudly overhauling its test structure. The ACT is also adjusting its format albeit more quietly. The new SAT and ACT will now be more aligned than they ever have been before, which is good or bad depending on how you look at it.
On the plus side, the tests should feel more similar to high school and college curriculums. Students no longer have to stuff their brains full of obscure SAT vocabulary words they will forget the moment they finish the test. Instead, the new SAT asks kids to understand words through context. It’s much more similar to the way in which vocabulary is introduced in college as well as the working world. Similarly, the tools kids need to succeed on the new ACT are now theoretically more closely linked to the tools kids need to succeed in college. The new ACT essay, for example, focuses more on world issues rather than the particular school debates of before. For both tests, the changes are designed to be more related and relatable to high school and college classrooms.
This past year, a Chinese student from New Zealand won the College Board & The Atlantic’s Essay Writing Contest.
This year’s winner, selected by a panel of College Board and Atlantic staff, [was] Nicolas Yan, a Year 13 student at King’s College, an independent secondary school in Auckland, New Zealand. His essay – on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech – stood out as a successful demonstration of analytical writing.
For our great students at SanLi, we thought it would be a great model to try and emulate.
Reading MLK in New Zealand
More than 50 years later, the Southern Baptist preacher’s words resonate—even outside of America.
More than 50 years after its delivery, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous refrain of “I have a dream” remains a cry for freedom that has been adopted by activists the world over, from Tiananmen Square to the West Bank. But in order to fully appreciate the magnitude of King’s 1963 speech at the March on Washington, we must first understand the context of its delivery. King spoke of an America whose black population was “sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”