SAT Practice Tests and Unit Planning

The result was this document. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s the best I could do before going insane by moving these four hundred sixty-four little pieces of paper around! This document can be used for at least two purposes: (1) developing a pacing guide to make sure all topics are covered before the big day, and (2) deciding what to cover within a particular unit.

I will focus mainly on how we can use the SAT questions to drive a particular unit.

As an example, consider the unit I began the year with: Linear and Exponential Functions. This unit only came about from studying SAT questions. Typically, I pair exponential functions with logarithms and study them both closer to the end of Algebra 2. However, there are no logarithms on the SAT. Plus, the questions with linear equations pretty much divide into two types: applied linear functions and abstract lines in the xy-plane. Thus, it makes sense to exploit the initial value / rate of change connection between linear functions and exponential functions in modeling contexts and teach both function types together. Lo and behold, there are several Common Core standards dealing with linear and exponential functions together (HSF.LE.A.1-3, B.5).

Backwards Design

Following the principles of backwards design, we ask ourselves: if this is a problem we want our students to be able to solve on a quiz, what learning experiences would prepare them?

Let’s see how we can transform this SAT problem into a rich activity. I modified the problem slightly and scaffolded it thus:

For more information about designing curriculum with the SAT, visit our blog on the newly updated SAT Domains and Dimensions!

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