Thoughts Behind FlipDeck

Please send any comments, questions, and issues to satFlipDeck@welcm.com.

“知之為知之, 不知為不知, 是知也 .” said Confucius . My direct translation of this phrase is “Know is Know, Don't Know is Don't Know, It is Know.” It sounds philosophical. It sounds tongue twister. Well, my interpretation of it is this: If you know what you know and you know what you don't, you know what to do. By the way, there are more, better explanation of the phrase on the web. Just cut and paste the first 5 (in case the punctuation do not match) Chinese characters and search on Google.

“One, Two, Skip a Few, Ninety Nine, and One Hundred” Is it how you count to 100? If you have young child, you definitely heard the way to count to 100. I have 2 boys, I know. At that moment, your child may, at least is ready to, learn addition. (Hopefully you agree that counting is easier than and is basic for addition.) Your child at that age usually does not have any idea what are out there. School (or education system) leads him/her to next step. Here is the sequence, know counting, don't know adding, and then learn addition. This is a sample of what-know, what-don't-know, and what-to-do (learn). This is how education brings us into wonderful world of knowledge. Of course, the meaning of the Chinese phrase goes to all aspects of our life, not just education.

The steps in teaching arithmetic are relatively clear and reasonable. Vocabulary, on the other hand, is totally different story. After memorizing the 26 letters, you do not need to know all 3-letter words before go to 5-letter words. (To be politically correct, I jump over a group of words.) On top of that, a word can have different meanings. It could have a common meaning for most of us. When we read it in a context (sentence, paragraph, or topic), we would pick out proper, other than common one. Many words mean differently in different professions.

Let me put the can of warms back to shelf before it gets out of my grasp. Let's focus on the topic of SAT vocabulary. The what-to-do part in this context is simple – get higher scores. The more questions right, the higher scores. The fewer questions wrong, the higher scores as well. If you doubt the formal one, do not waste money to take the test.

Two ways are to make fewer wrong, by not answering the question and by making it right. Both ways start with what-don't-know. When you realize you do not know the answer or even the question, for whatever reasons, skip it. After you go through all questions you can do correctly and you still have time left, double check those answered or come back to those skipped and apply select by elimination. Eliminate choices that are not correct. Should there be only one left, you got it. Should none be eliminated, you might as well leave it. Should the result be in between, make a guess. Although it does not guaranty the pick is right, but it gives you higher chance. If you study the SAT penalty system, you would understand.

What about the what-know part? What about it? You have used it to get correct answers and to find wrong ones during select by elimination.

OK. It is not new. You know it all along. Here is one more you know too, “I-Thought”. A mistake, with a benefit of doubt, bases on wrong understanding. It is not a careless mistake. It is not an intentional mistake. It is not an excuse. It is a mistake because of true misunderstanding. A word you thought you knew could easily lead you to incorrect path. To me, it is worse than realizing it is new word. A new word will alert you to examine carefully. An “I-though” could easily send you to wrong direction. During a test, if you are lucky, the wrong answer may not be one of the available choices. That helps you to think over. Then again, it is only an “if”.

Kind of. Sort of. Not quite sure. Familiar. These fall between yes and no. These require re-enforcement. These belong to another category. Sometimes people read words here and there. Sometimes memory fades. Sometimes they mix things together. They all contribute to this category of words.

A software program is here to help to learn SAT vocabulary. About 10,000 words are used in SAT vocabulary test over the years. Some are simple, daily words. Some are rarely used. However, there are sources for 5000 words and 1000 words that are claimed to be important for SAT.

This learning program is honor system software. It first randomizes the 5000 or 1000 words in the source pool. It picks a word from the source pool without showing the meaning of the word. User (honestly) selects Know, Not Sure, or Don't Know. The program then shows the meaning. User (honestly) confirms again with Know, Not Sure, or Don't Know. Each word is then put into different pools: Known pool (Know/Know), New pool (Don't Know/whatever), and Mistaken pool (Know/Don't Know), Unsure pool (Not Sure/whatever). These 4 pools match the discussion earlier. This is a start.

Learning involves repetitions. That's where those pools come in. Words in New, Mistaken, and Unsure pools require Know/Know multiple times before they are in Known pool. To reduce short-term memory effect, those words are not selected immediately. They are mixed within themselves and words from source pool or known pool, when all words in source pool are viewed. Short-term memory has its position in preparing tests, but it does not work well for SAT vocabulary.

Remember what you know!

Learn what you don't!

Clarify what you are not sure of!

Correct what you thought you knew!