The SAT (or ACT) is that sort of friend, a supplier of not-always-flattering truths. Those scores are a reality bite, and although many students are dismayed, I don’t think they are usually surprised.
I suggest that students view their SAT or ACT results as a wake-up call, a spotlight shining onto the skills they ought to finally get a handle on.
Too many students drag their weak academic areas around with them like a ball and chain, trying to ignore them, too frightened and confused to know how to fix them.
And most students experience an enormous sense of relief and empowerment when they improve in a skill that’s been holding them back.
So make NOW be the time you make a dent in that weak vocabulary…or improve those critical reading skills…or brush up those shaky math concepts.
One great thing about these standardized tests? Some focused work in a specific area, done consistently between now and the next test, can make a noticeable and satisfying difference. I suggest you select one or two areas you need to improve on and concentrate on those.
And, here are some great free resources you can take advantage of:
- The SAT website gives some good information and tips on how to improve your scores, plus a free full-length online practice test.
- Here’s a link to many good videos containing specific advice on how to handle many kinds of SAT and ACT questions.
- Khan Academy has a ton of helpful test prep and math help videos and exercises.
- I’ve created this simple calendar/checklist to help students stay on track with their daily SAT/ACT practice. Print a copy and hang it in a prominent location (refrigerator door, bathroom mirror, etc) so that family members will all look for those check marks and help reinforce daily practice.
- Visit my website for other free resources and ideas.
It’s my third time teaching this class, and I’m finally feeling like I’m getting the curriculum shaped into a form I like a lot.
I’m trying to create something more than just an SAT class: I blend in research-based study tips, plus I’m trying to get my students embarked on some good habits that they’ll need to succeed in college and in life:
- Studying with focus (which includes doing without cellphone and music)
- Studying consistently, over time (not cramming the day before the test)
- Keeping a Study Journal so as to plan, track progress, and stay motivated
- Practicing by writing (annotating, working math problems on paper) not by just looking over one’s notes (a very ineffective method)
- Quizzing and testing oneself as a study method, as well as to assess progress (good old-fashioned flash cards are a great learning method, because the brain learns best with quizzing and repetition).
After each class, I’ve been posting on my website my outline, notes and assignments.
I’ve also inserted links to many useful and free online videos, worksheets and interactive practice. My students use these posts for review or to catch up if they miss a class, and…
Anyone who wants to follow along at home each week is welcome to access all of these materials and use them as a FREE do-it-yourself SAT prep class!
We’ve had two classes so far (there will be six in all):
Session One (January 26)
Session Two (February 2)
I will post notes for the remaining classes after I teach them, on the following dates: Feb 9, 16, 23 and March 2. Just go to my website, www.LeighCousins.com, click on the “Tests” page, and visit the purple box.
A student who follows my notes and does the work ought to be well-prepared for the March 9 SAT or any other SAT this year. (Make sure and register soon for the March 9 exam!)
It would thrill me to have any or all of you …
Take just a few seconds to consider this question.
OK, now: unless you were too rushed or distracted to actually invest those few seconds, you found that your mind automatically began forming a reply.
Questions can be great for kicking the brain into a productive mode, because:
- Questions stimulate thinking, and…
- Questions provide focus.
Here’s a Thanksgiving feast for your brain, a few of my favorite websites for educational games and videos:
Sporcle has quizzes on all sorts of subject matter. How well do you know the countries of Africa, or the periodic table, or sports teams? What countries have the highest populations of turkeys?
On Quizlet you can make your own flash cards (online or printed), or use sets in their extensive collection. Brush up on your vocabulary (excellent for test prep!) or your times tables or your French verbs. I really like their “Scatter” game, one of several flashcard-flipping options you can try.
I stopped blogging because my routine had been disrupted. My morning writing time was no longer available, and that’s when my head was in “writing mode.”
“Packing” in this case means “throw a sweater and some books in the trunk,” because LisSurMer is a place to be casual, comfortable and private.
Every walk I took this week, I had to keep reminding myself to ENJOY THE SPRINGTIME. I live in a beautiful New England town of antique houses, rolling hills, white churches and nature preserves. Through my window as I write this, I see a blaze of yellow forsythia rising behind the red barn.
I already live in a beautiful, serene place…and yet I am struggling right now to appreciate it!
So what does this have to do with parenting?
Test preparation is big business these days, and I’m part of it.
I’ve been prepping kids for the SAT, ACT, PSAT, SSAT, ISEE and other tests, for decades now.
Is test prep a plus? Or does it do more harm than good?
In my opinion, it depends on how the preparation is done.
Is the goal merely to achieve a higher score? One common approach is to teach tricks and shortcuts, which supposedly produces higher scores quickly. JenBee wrote about how harmful this sort of coaching was for her:
I received this thoughtful response from to my last post about standardized tests and your child’s self-esteem:
I’m 36 years old and I’ve been harboring bitterness about the PSAT since I was 17. We took it in 10th grade and I got a really high score. This made me feel like the bar was set pretty high. Well, when I took it again in 11th grade… I bombed.
For most kids, these scores (and other standardized test scores, such as the SSAT, ISEE, SAT, ACT, etc) hit hard, whether they’re bad or good! And it’s important to give kids the perspective and support they need to turn their results into personal empowerment, and not discouragement.
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- Michael: Great tips, thanks! I like number 2 a lot. I always found that the more I prepared the less stressed I was.