Friday, October 2, 2009

master the sat

(Apologies for the long post, but this is good info.)

Ack. I am so ready for the SAT to be over. (Sorry, it’s the truth.) The PSAT is coming up in a couple of weeks, SAT is down the road just a bit. I had noted here that we were asked to review College Prep Genius’ Master the SAT program. Here’s what I have found so far:

  • The goal of this program is to help you score higher on the test and (hopefully) as a result, increase the availability of scholarship money. (Woot!) As such, this is about how to do better on the test – If you want a scholarly treatise, go elsewhere, but I think most of us with SAT-aged kids want a prep program that does just that: prepares them for the test.
  • The course is divided into sections – critical reading, math, writing – with time saving strategies for each.
  • The key component (for me) to this course is the strategy aspect. Much of the course is devoted to understanding the questions on the test and learning strategies, by way of acronyms, for answering them. (Notes can’t be taken into the testing area, of course, but students are encouraged to memorize the acronyms and then write them on the test booklet when the test begins.)
  • This course is comprehensive! The amount of information is designed to be absorbed a bit at a time, throughout high school. This is not a cram course. If you are cramming, you can certainly benefit from the information here, but it is best used over time. Scheduling bits here and there will definitely provide the most benefit.

My daughter is using the program to prepare for her first (and-wouldn’t-it-be-great-if-it-was-the-only) taking of the SAT. I can’t yet speak to the difference it will make in her score, but I can say with certainty that it will have her at ease when test day arrives. Knowledge of the unknown really is power and this program strips away the unknown of the SAT with great clarity. It gets to the meat of the test – what you will see on the page, how to read and understand the questions, what math terminology is key to doing well, and how to dazzle with a strong essay. It also includes information on obtaining scholarships and preparing for the college interview. (I never had a college interview. Did they even do that back in the day?)

Is the SAT about what you know? That’s arguable, of course, but I don’t want my daughter penalized because she knew the material but not the test – and there is a difference. Master the SAT definitely evens the playing field in that regard.

One additional note: If, like me, you took the SAT back in the day when we carved our answers on a stone tablet, the test is dramatically different now. Hang on to your hat. There is much to learn. :)

(As of this writing, the program, including textbook, workbook and set of four DVDs, is on sale for $79.)

For more information, here are author Jean Burk’s ten tips to increase your SAT score.

Waiting to take your first SAT in your senior year is a mistake! But sadly, many students start thinking about this important test in their last year of high school. Preparation is the key to conquering this right-of-passage for college applicants, and it needs to be treated with respect. Delaying the inevitable can add enormous stress to an already taxed final year—full of college searches, career decisions, and graduation. More than that, a good SAT score can have several great benefits, so it should not be put off or trivialized, but made a priority long before a student becomes a senior.

Here are ten tips that can help students prepare for the SAT:

1.) Make the SAT a priority; the right score not only means college entrance, but also could result in substantial scholarships to college.

At many universities, each department offers several full scholarships based on students’ abilities and their SAT scores. Many of these scholarships start with a score of around 1400 (math and verbal). So, make a game plan on how much time you will spend daily or weekly working on practice SAT questions and then stick to it.

2.) Learn the hidden patterns and tricks that the College Board likes to use on their tests.

The SAT has profiles of recurring patterns and hidden strategies in its problems that can be decoded. Students who learn these secrets will usually score higher on their SAT tests. Even smart students can do poorly on this test because they don’t understand how to take it.

Read more here.

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