Nancy’s SAT® Keys to Success
Most students care enough to want to do their best on college entrance exams, to ensure, to the best of their ability, that they can go to college where they choose. There are, I believe, 5 keys to success on the SAT. They are:
∙A challenging schedule of classes
∙ Lots of reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary study
∙ Specific preparation for the Math, Reading, and Writing and Language sections of the test
∙ Strong math preparation through Algebra II and Geometry
∙ Practice with official test material
Taking a challenging schedule of classes is important because the SAT tests your accumulated knowledge. Consider the math portion of the test. The problems cover skills learned up through and including Algebra II. That means that understanding basic math is not enough. The reading questions cover a variety of genres and levels of difficulty, so simply knowing how to read is not enough. In addition, taking classes that are challenging for you teaches you to think, not just on a test but in life.
Doing lots of reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary study prepares a student for several different aspects of the SAT test. The more reading students do of different types of writing and the better their understanding of grammar, the more prepared they are to unravel the long, sometimes convoluted sentences college textbook authors are known to use and that appear on the SAT test. Practice in writing a variety of projects makes students more confident when they see the essay portion of the test. A broad vocabulary, learned directly and through lots of reading, enables students to understand the passages they will encounter both on the test and in college textbooks. If many words in a passage are unknown to students, it will be very difficult for them to understand the main ideas or to compare passages.
Specific preparation for the math, reading, and writing and language sections of the test really helps students to relax and face the different sections with confidence. They do not have to spend a lot of time reading the directions if they already know them. They will know that they know how to do each part of the test, and that confidence is important.
Strong math preparation through Algebra II and Geometry enables students to face the math portions of the SAT test with confidence. Part of success on the test is knowing how to interpret just what is being asked for in math problems. Simply knowing Geometry and Algebra II is not enough – students must know what type of question is actually being asked.
Practice with official test material is another confidence builder. Students would not go into a piano recital having only practiced the right-hand portion of their piece if they are going to play both hands at the recital. Their practice with official material also ensures they are prepared for each type of question on the SAT test, not just for what some test preparation company “thinks” will be on the test.
Preparation in these five areas will help students know they have done their best at the conclusion of the SAT test. Doing their individual best is really all we can ask for from any student.