Friday, August 6, 2010

Prepping for the SAT: Practice Makes Perfect

Though the SAT might seem intimidating at first, the test is absolutely learnable. There are hundreds of students each year who do well enough on the SAT to get into elite colleges. Thousands more do well enough to get in to the school of their dreams. How do these students do it? It all comes down to practice. Given the basic skills necessary for doing well on the SAT, it is clear that early practice truly does make perfect.

Studies show that students who begin studying for the SAT *early* are more likely to get a top score. This makes sense, as well, since the ins and outs of the SAT are relatively easy to learn. It is a test designed to trick students from start to finish. With more practice, kids have a greater chance at learning those little tricks that most students fall for year after year. As students get more comfortable with the timing and challenges of the SAT, they begin to see patterns in the questions that they failed to realize at first glance.

Students who want to do well need to get started as early as possible. Taking untimed practice tests to learn the question types is always a good idea. Drilling with various problems will teach a student to recognize mistakes and correct them. Recognizing patterns in the types of mistakes you are making is an essential step towards allowing yourself to see what you are getting wrong and why. This helps you determine what kind of material you should focus your efforts on in order to minimize the amount of questions you get wrong on the real exam.
From there, students can move on to taking full, timed practice tests in the hope of simulating the testing environment. Over time, smart students will build up stamina and get used to the grind of the SAT. This will lead to prolonged elite performance throughout the test. Smart students that practice efficiently rarely feel the “crash” of energy towards the middle or latter end of the exam. Prevent this from happening by taking initiative and practicing a little bit every day (yes, it is manageable!).

There are many ways to prepare for the SAT, from vocabulary study to math practice. No matter what strategy your child employs, he or she will benefit from consistent practice. Starting early and building long-term familiarity with the material is the secret to high scores. Research shows this is the best way to unlock all potential and open doors to elite universities.

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