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Gifted & Talented Education (G.A.T.E.) Overview



  • READ! One hour a day is ideal. A lifelong reading habit is the best way to prepare yourself for standardized tests, with their focus on reading fluency and grammar. Every test prep expert agrees on this, and offers it as their number one piece of advice. Choose books you know you will enjoy that will also challenge you; look up words you don’t know as you turn those pages. (If you use a Kindle or an iPad, this is super easy, as you can just click on the word!)

  • Read The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It will help on the SAT or the ACT, in your future English classes, and will continue to come in handy for years to come.

  • Use the Vocabulary Cartoons series to memorize about 50 words a week, or whatever you can manage.

  • Take a speed-reading course. There are many short and sweet varieties out there (such as MindFlow class from Test Prep San Francisco) that will teach you invaluable lessons in just one day of focused effort!

  • Google “Top SAT words.” Use any of the given sites (,, etc.) to set up a learning plan to acquire the words you do not know. (Master even the ones you’ve seen and kind of know in context, but couldn't define on your own.) Every week, quiz yourself on that week's words and last week's words. Every month, quiz yourself on the entire month’s words. (If you do only two words a day for the whole Summer, that’s over 150 words you will know!)

  • Use's “Word of the Day” function to master new vocabulary.

  • Use Barron’s Hot Words for the SAT to increase your vocabulary.

  • Using The Bedford Reader by X. J. Kennedy, read three short essays a day, underlining a sentence that represents the main point and a few sentences that represent the greatest supporting points for each one. This builds reading comprehension, speed, vocabulary, use of idiom, and command of structure. It's best to do this with a peer or a parent, with whom you can have a discussion as you compare underlined sentences arguing why your points are "more important" than the others.

  • Read the New York Times daily, as well as magazines like The New Yorker or The Nation. These texts feature new vocabulary in context and provide practice with reading difficult (and sometimes boring) passages on new subjects, often with complex arguments and several pieces of evidence. (These same pieces are adapted by the College Board for the Critical Reading section of the test!)

  • Stretch your fluency with numbers through Sudoku and other math games. (Again, you can make this fun by using an iPad or phone app if you’d like.) Specific math formulas and SAT/ACT strategies are best learned as you get closer to optimal test-taking time, but you can improve your basic math fluency through games.

  • Complete two chapters a week from a Kaplan or Princeton Review SAT math workbook. When you score yourself, circle the problems you miss so that you can retry them without knowing the right answers. If there is something you do not understand, look at the explanation. If you get it right on the second try, write down exactly why you missed it, and what you should do differently next time.

  • Find a site (such as or Khan Academy) where you can do math problems for points. Make an account and spend some time on math problems a few times a week.