Khan Academy + SAT = A Winning Combination

khDo you know the man in this picture?  If you don’t recognize him, I bet you would recognize his voice.  He is Sal Khan of Khan Academy, and he believes that faces are distracting, so his instructional videos include only his voice and an electronic blackboard.  I met Sal (he prefers informality) in San Diego in September after his address to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.  Here, he is signing his book One World Schoolhouse, a book that I would recommend to students, parents, and educators.  

Sal Khan is one of my heroes.  After earning three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard, he became a successful hedge fund analyst, but those accomplishments are not why I admire him so much.  

In 2006, when Sal’s cousin Nadia was struggling with math, he created YouTube videos to tutor her.  These videos rapidly evolved into Khan Academy, which many students have used to master math concepts.  Taking a huge risk, Sal left his promising job as an analyst and devoted himself fulltime to his online school.  His mission:  a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere.  Now that is why he is one of my heroes.

On Khan Academy, you can learn math, science, economics and finance, art history, computing, health and medicine, organic chemistry, probability and statistics, and more—a feast for lifelong learners.  You can enter Khan Academy through YouTube or , so why not enroll?  There is also a free, highly rated, user-friendly Khan Academy App available.  

In addition, when you visit the College Board website , you will find a link to Khan Academy.  As the College Board was developing the new SAT that will be rolled out in March 2016, it invited Sal Khan to develop SAT preparation free of charge for students.  The result is Khan Academy’s SAT practice course for math and reading/writing.  After taking brief diagnostic quizzes on these subject areas, students begin personalized, recommended practice to strengthen weak spots.  Like playing a video game, when you have mastered a skill level, you move up to the next.  Also, you can take four complete practice exams.  The best part of this SAT practice is that after each section, there is instant feedback, which explains the answers.  Watch this video that gives an overview of the official SAT practice .  

Sal has posted a video on his website with this theme: “You can learn anything.”  Inspired, I decided to test that bold claim by trying out the new math SAT test prep.  

Disclaimer: I have never considered myself a competent mathematician.  Actually, I grew up with math phobia, so attempting to learn math for the new SAT was a real risk for me.  

While I have not spent a lot of time on the practice, and I have felt daunted (even discouraged), I can say that I am better at right triangle word problems and data collection and conclusions than I was before.  I have at least mustered enough confidence to push ahead to polynomial factors and graphs.  (I haven’t opened a math book since way before you students were born.)  The 3,700 energy points and a “Ten to the Fourth” badge that I have earned are incentives, and the weekly progress summaries in my email remind me that I need to get back to work.  

Bottom line:  If I can do this, you can do this.  Go for it.  

Ms. Kathy Hobbs, Associate Director of College Counseling
Norfolk Academy

Winter, 2016