Lemma recently ironed out an agreement to partner with The Opportunity Network, a non-profit based in New York City that focuses on providing historically underrepresented students with high-quality tools to succeed too and through college.

What is OppNet all about?

Lemma has partnered with OppNet to provide our SAT prep product to their rising junior class over the summer and through next fall. OppNet arms students with the tools necessary to succeed both in and out of the classroom, and we’re excited to be part of their toolbox!

Since their founding in 2003, The Opportunity Network has positively influenced thousands of students. While statistics from the Pell Institute indicate that only 10% of low-income first-generation students attain a bachelor’s degree, The Opportunity Network has posted some incredible numbers over the years. All OppNet students– let me repeat, 100% of OppNet students in their six-year “OppNet Fellows” program graduate. What’s more, 85% of students “secure meaningful employment or graduate school within six months of graduation,” according to their site.

If you want to help The Opportunity Network achieve their goals, consider donating to them! Click this link to learn more.

The Lemma difference

Our plan is to provide OppNet with personalized SAT prep support, access to our communications suite, and our digital classroom organization features. Our goal is to help OppNet students as they move to and eventually through college by focusing on pedagogy and substantive improvement in mathematics. With subjects essential as remedial math and college level calculus to more advanced courses like Linear Algebra and Vector Calc, we hope to become an essential part of OppNet’s toolbox!

The Lemma team is partnering with New York Cares this spring and summer to help deliver high quality SAT materials to a cohort of their summer students!

Who is New York Cares?

The mission of New York Cares is to increase and simplify volunteerism in New York City. The organization was founded in 1987 to simplify the process of volunteering in the city that never sleeps. Since then, the organization has grown to partner with over 1,350 nonprofits and schools, and to staff and manage 1,600 volunteer-led projects each month. Last Year alone, they served 400,000 New Yorkers in need.

Lemma has partnered with New York Cares to deliver our high impact content and insightful data analytics platform to a cohort of high school students within the five boroughs. We are very excited to help New York Cares achieve its goals!

To best suit their needs, we’ve built out a custom variation of our enterprise SAT product. Their students will be placed into digital classrooms where they can be better analyzed by their tutors. To learn more about how Lemma helps organizations like New York Cares achieve their goals, click here.

We’re both excited and honored by the opportunity to be working with such a well renowned and far-reaching organization!

We are thrilled to announce that Lemma has recently partnered with Let’s Get Ready a non-profit organization dedicated to making college more accessible to disadvantaged urban high schoolers.

Lemma’s SAT platform will be rolled out in a select few of LGR’s summer sessions. We’ll be working directly with a small cohort of tutors to deliver high impact SAT prep to a dedicated group of students throughout New England.

Let’s Get Ready does some great work throughout the country, and have built quite a good reputation over its 20 years.

From Let’s Get Ready’s website:

“Let’s Get Ready provides free SAT preparation, admission counseling, and post-enrollment mentoring to students from low-income backgrounds and first-generation-to-college students to help them get into and graduate from college. Our peer-driven program is administered by volunteer college students, keeping costs low and ensuring outstanding success rates.”

LGR also walks the walk

Over 92% of their students enroll in college and the organization boasts a high school graduation rate that’s five times the national average for students from low-income circumstances. Those are some amazing numbers.

Let’s Get Ready’s empowers their students through building confidence and fostering a growth mindset. As our Founder, Pavel Grinfeld, pointed out in his recent post, Lemma’s learning theory is based on the mantra that “Competence Breeds Confidence.”

Let’s Get Ready also address a pressing societal inequality by providing high quality SAT prep to those who can least afford it. Their admirable mission parallels ours at Lemma, and we are thrilled to help them achieve their goals!

To put it simply, we’re honored by the opportunity to work with Let’s Get Ready’s administrators, tutors, and, most of all, its students.

As Pavel described in a recent post, the ultimate guide to the SAT requires a steady march along the Path to Competence. That being said, there are a few SAT strategies that are so essential – so crucial to success – that, if ignored, might torpedo the advances you’ve made towards doing the best you can.

Here’s our list of five must-doSAT strategies. While some of them seem obvious, they are all hugely important. Think of this as your to-do list in the months and weeks before the SAT!

1. Be familiar with the test.

In order to understand how to succeed on the SAT, you need to, well, know how the SAT works. This means understanding how much time is in each section, how the test is scored, and how many breaks there are. The best way to prepare for this is to read the College Board’s description of the test structure. Also, try taking a few practice tests to figure out the timing. If you’d like to take a Math section practice tests with Lemma, try this one.

2. Manage your time well.

Time management is an essential part of success in all endeavors, but especially the SAT! If I told you that I got every answer right on my SAT you’d be pretty impressed…But, what if I added the point that I managed my time poorly and only answered half the questions… I bet you’d think of my score a little differently!

Lot’s of students struggle with running out of time while taking the test. (I did). The best technique for dealing with this problem is to skip a problem that is tripping you up. Finish all the questions that you can first before circling back to the more difficult ones. Just be very careful with filling in the bubbles correctly when you start going out of order!

3. Condition yourself

It’s important to acclimatize yourself to specific conditions and to use memory techniques when studying. Popular memory techniques range from somewhat intuitive to totally bizarre. Some people even advise chewing the same type of gum while studying and taking the test, or even wearing the same clothes!

A perhaps more reasonable suggestion is that you study the same way you take the test. Doing one Problem of the Day with a service like ours (or the myriad of others) is not bad for your test preparation. However, it is very important that you try to simulate the test as best you can. Try to find a quiet room to study and practice, avoid playing music in the background, and turn your phone off for a little. The best way to condition yourself is to try to simulate the actual conditions you’ll be taking the test in!

4. Guessing when you don’t know the answer

Ah guessing… one of the most often discussed test-taking techniques. But for good reason! You aren’t penalized for wrong answers on the SAT, so if you don’t know the exact answer to a question, first try to eliminate answers you know are not options. Check out this example:

Question: At Lemma, the cost \(C\), in US Dollars, of producing \(n\) Chalkboard Robots is expressed by \(C=12n+261\). Lemma sells these robots for the all-too-low price of $15. Lemma makes a profit when the total income generated from our robots is greater than the cost of production \(C\). Which of the following inequalities defines all possible values for \(n\) where Lemma makes a profit?

\(n<87\)

\(n>261\)

\(C>87\)

\(n>87\)

No need to do all the work on this one- unless you want to. The point is that you recognize that option c is out of the question because the question isn’t asking anything about Cost \(C\), but how many robots we gotta huck before making some dough!

If you have absolutely no idea on where to even begin on a question, just guess. Like I said, you aren’t penalized, so just go for it!

5. Don’t Cram and get some sleep!

The social science backs the intellectual ridiculousness of cramming. The problem with crammers is that sometimes they do generate results. I’m sure you have someone in your life who you swear only studies for a test the day beforehand and always gets good grades. Maybe you’re that student! But the SAT isn’t a reading quiz. Well, it kinda is…But it’s a really big reading quiz.

The best technique is steady practice in the months before the test and a good night’s sleep the night before. DO NOT stay up all night cramming the even-b quadratic equation into your head your overall performance will suffer as a result!

To Wrap Up:

If you follow these 5 easy no-brainers, you’ll be well on your way to success on the SAT. If you combine these strategies with following the Path to Competence, you’ll be a superstar. Hard work and diligence are the ultimate tools for beating the SAT!

Sorry. If you’re here for a “get rich quick” scheme, you’ve come to the wrong place. You know what I’m referring to… those: “Read this book of tricks and see your score go up 200 points!” or the “Just plug in some values to see which formula is right,” or even the “Practice 10 minutes a day while you’re riding the bus!” (Seriously, don’t do that.) As I’ll explain below, these strategies alone will fail you.

That’s not to say there aren’t certain strategies that are essential to succeed on the SAT. There are some, and my colleague Jack discusses some of those here. However, what I’d like to recommend instead is what I call the Path to Competence. Its design is pretty simple: Better mathematical skills = better SAT results.

I don’t think I need to convince you of the veracity of this statement, as it is pretty self-evident. However, what I’d also like to demonstrate is that the Path to Competence also has broader implications for better preparing you for the more advanced math courses at the college level and for the careers of the near future.

Before we really get into the Path to Competence, however, let’s first discuss some of the other popular test strategies and explain why they will fail you over time.

Why Most SAT “Tricks” Fail

First, The College Board, the company that develops the SAT, works very hard to defeat every strategy other than substantive competence – and they are very good at it! Why though? Are the evil or something? Quite the contrary, the College Board has a vested interest in making a fair test.

The “why” is simple. Colleges looking at students would like to have an honest assessment of the student’s ability to succeed at their respective level. In other words, while admissions offices are interested in finding out how good a student you were in high school and how well you’ve learned high school mathematics, they are far more interested in estimating your chances of college success. And it’s the College Board’s job to deliver a test capable of making an accurate prediction. Are they successful at it? Yes! Studies show that SAT scores are, in fact, good predictors of college success. So, kudos to the College Board!

And what is it that makes one successful at the college level? Is it possessing a handful of tricks? Knowing how to narrow down multiple choices on some problems? How about picking up disparate problems from using an app 10 minutes a day? No, no and No! What will define a successful college career is the ability to acquire competence in a particular subject. Competence is King.

But how does the SAT test achieve the goal of assessing competence? After all, it can only test a narrow range topics, typically not exceeding sophomore-level mathematics. Take a moment and think about how hard it is to write this test. The authors have to predict how good the student will be at learning college level Calculus by testing how good the student is at Algebra! That’s like a college basketball recruiter trying to see if you will have the skills to play for the D1 basketball by looking at your ability to make free throws alone. If that’s all the recruiter could observe, I could be a contender… and that would certainly not be good for the team.

So over the years, the College Board has found an effective solution. First, let’s discuss what we mean by competence. Competence is more than basic knowledge, it’s more than being able to do routine exercises correctly, and it’s far more than memorizing all of the “tips and tricks” SAT gurus push.

Competence means having the ability:

To tie mathematical concepts into real-life situations

To apply one’s knowledge in unfamiliar scenarios

To use logic on new kinds of problems

To extract essential information from complicated data

To see simplicity in complex problems

To overcome complexity in simple problems

To recognize concepts in various formulations, and finally

To dismiss non-essential data, and more!

These are all pretty hard to fake, and the College Board takes full advantage of this fact. Yes, they are only able to test a narrow range of topics, but they are not at all limited in the ways in which they ask questions. So they often ask questions in a way that would expose any lack of competence on the student’s part. This is not very hard to do in mathematics!In fact, it’s very easy to take a simple problem and pose it in several different ways in order to root out those who are competent in the concept and those who are not.

Let’s try an example

Consider the following four questions:

For the function \( f(x)=3x^2+11x+6 \), find the endpoints of the range of the values of \( x \), whereas \(f(x)>0 \).

For the function \(f(x)=3x^2+11x+6 \), find the values of \(x\) where \( -|f(x)| \) attains the maximum.

For the function \( f(x)=3x^2+11x+5 \), find the values of x where the function \( \frac{1}{f(x)+1} \) is undefinied.

Solve the quadratic equation \(3x^2+11x+5\).

If you are comfortable with the quadratic formula, you will find Problem 4 quite straightforward. However, the other three are the exact same problem in slightly different variations! Did any of them throw you? If you understand quadratic equations inside and out, I doubt it.

In summary, the folks at the College Board have mastered the art of asking questions in a way that exposes any lack of thorough understanding or, as we call it, competence. This cannot be overcome with rote repetition, tricks or any other strategy meant to avoid mastering the substantive content.

In addition, you should know that the authors of the problems are fully aware of the strategies that are advertised as a way of “beating” the test. For instance, it was once believed that when you have no idea how to approach a problem, that choosing B) increased your chances of getting it right. I assure you that, even if it ever was true, it no longer is. Plugging in values to assess the correctness of each of the multiple choices? Questions like that can hardly be found on the test anymore, especially in the New SAT.

So Where Does That Leave You?

In a wonderful place as a matter of fact! It leaves you with the one strategy: taking the Path to Competence. This method increases your substantive understanding of the Math itself, makes you feel great about yourself, develops your problem-solving abilities in an array of different topics, enriches your life and actually prepares you for College and your career beyond.

If you feel overwhelmed, like you are way behind and will never recover, do not give up. Instead, develop a plan based on the strategy I’ve laid out here. If you spend a little bit of time on the substantive content, it will help a little. If you spend a lot, it will help a lot. That’s the very nature of learning: you can only get back what you put in.