Monday, October 26, 2015

A Non Traditional SAT Preparation Plan

I happened across The Perfect Score Project by chance. I was browsing the new books section at the library and saw part of the title on the spine. Intially I passed it by thinking "Oh, something that has the word perfect in the title isn't going to be something I'm interested in. It's too hard to be perfect". 

For some reason I decided to go back and look a little closer. So I pulled it off the shelf and looked at the cover information. A mothers quest to achieve a perfect SAT score. Hmm, might be interesting and useful as I have a ninth grader this year and the SAT's aren't too far off. I'll at least check it out and look at it. If it's not useful it hasn't really cost me anything but a little bit of reading time. The Perfect Score Project turned out to be very interesting and use. 

I started reading it that evening and could hardly put it down.  Debbie Stier was on  a quest to learn more about the SAT in order to develop a SAT preparation plan for her son prepare. She realizes he has some challenges and maybe not the most interested in academics, but that if he wants to pursue a college education he needs to score well both for admission as well as scholarships.

Debbie decided that in order for her to help her son formulate a preparation plan she needed to know what the test was like now. So she embarked on an ambitious year long plan to take the SAT each time it was offered over the course of a year. She also decided to use a different study prep method or resource in studying for each individual test.

In setting up her plan, Debbie quickly realized that the plethora and expense of preparation resources was overwhelming. Not just that there were many programs to choose from but that the costs of each were staggering and varied as well. In addition the results (in the form of test scores) varied widely.

A very surprising factor in her scores had to do with the location where she took the test. Some locations had better facilities and the quality of the proctors was different at the different locations. While many students may not have the option of choosing from different test sites, if you live in an area where different places are used over the course of the year it may pay to check things out before signing up for the SAT.

The results of Debbies' experiment are too varied to discuss here, but I want to share with you three key points to success which I came away with after reading The Perfect Score Project

1. Read, Read, Read   The more literature your child is exposed to and read before taking the SAT the better off they will be, especially when it comes to the written portion of the exam. I am using literature to mean those titles regarded as classics as well as more contemporary selections. Aim for a mix of titles which expose and explain culture and society over different times and places.

2. Use quality preparation materials, especially those put out by the SAT board. Those will be closest to what your child will encounter on the exam.

3. Keep those math and logic skills sharp. In some cases success on the test boils down to the students ability to think through a problem and determine the correct answer.

Debbie also has a blog  where she shares additional information. Visit Perfect Score Project.

The information shared in this book was gleaned from relatively recent test experiences and all of it may or may not apply to the coming newly designed test, but I feel it is valuable regardless. While the format, requirements and scoring may change I would imagine that the basic premise behind the test will remain the same. Even with the upcoming changes I feel it can't hurt to become familiar with some behind the scene tips and tricks for success. 

This is an insightful chronicle into college admission testing with many tips and insights from a parent who recently experienced these tests. It is an engaging read, yet filled with lots of good information.I would heartily recommend The Perfect Score Project to all high school parents, but especially homeschooling parents. I say this only because it can be harder for us to access some of the information that traditional schools already have. 

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