High school juniors and seniors took the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude/Assessment Test) on October 6th in an effort to meet college admissions requirements at their college of choice. That means many parents have been asking me for recommendations on how to prepare for the test. Do you know a tutor? Can you recommend a test preparation site? Is there a book? Can my student prepare online?
There are many options to prepare for the test and the route you chose to take depends on your particular student and how do they learn and study best. The SAT has a math section as well as a reading/writing section. Some colleges also want you to take specific SAT subject tests in addition to the standard SAT test. Figure out which college you would like to attend, carefully read their admissions requirements, and simply do what they ask you to do in regards to the SAT. In addition, there are many colleges that do not require the SAT!
How do you study for the SAT? A good reader will do well on the test. How do you become a good reader? You practice. You do a lot of reading. Once you learn how to read as a child, you need to keep reading. It could be books, magazines, e-books, or comic books. The point is that you read and that you read a lot. You can only improve your reading ability by reading as much as possible. Get away from the television and get a book.
Parents, make sure your students are reading about a subject that they like so they can stay interested and keep reading. It does not need to be a classic novel, but with time and practice they should be advancing their reading skills.
For the SAT test, the specific way to prepare is to read long non-fiction articles typically found in newspapers or news magazines. Students should read an article and then discuss the article with a parent or other adult. The SAT is going to provide similar reading material and then will ask you to use your analytical skills to answer questions. You not only need to answer the question, but also indicate where you found the answer in the reading passage.
The other section of the reading test also provides a long reading passage but asks for corrections on grammar, usage, punctuation, and the order or organization of sentences. Again, being a good and practiced reader assists in being able to score well in this section. However, you also need to pay attention in your Language Arts courses to learn the basic rules of grammar and punctuation.
Finally, there is a writing section. The SAT will provide a passage with several paragraphs and then the student needs to write an essay about what they just read. In your essay you will need to argue for a particular point, you may need to evaluate evidence, perhaps even discuss the style of the writer. Let me repeat, only with practice will you be able to read the material well, but will also be able to respond in an intelligently written essay. Make sure that you check the colleges you are applying to and see if they even require the writing part of the SAT!
The math section is a whole different approach. This is something you can definitely study. Review the rules, formulas, and strategies that your math teachers have taught you. The SAT math section includes basic algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and many concepts from algebra II.
The strongest recommendation I can make is that you take algebra II in your sophomore year of high school or if you take it in your junior year, wait until later in the school year to take the SAT. Reading also plays an important part in the math section. The SAT will have word problems in which the wording is rather dense. Read the problem carefully to determine exactly which math equation to put together.
To do well on the SAT, of course you should study specifics. Start eight weeks before the test and don’t go overboard because you do want to show up for the test fresh and eager, not overworked and fed up with SAT practice.
More importantly, parents, you need to start working with your children before they even get to high school. Help them with their math and if they have not taken algebra II before the SAT, wait. And- read, read, read, read, read. And then read some more.