Monday, December 28, 2009

What Can Mom or Dad do to Help SAT Test Prep?

Standardized tests can be scary. Not all students thrive during timed-tests with pressure-inducing consequences.

So what’s a mom or dad to do? What can a parent, guardian or caregiver do to help out?

It’s a simple answer: get engaged.

Moms and dads, take note: you don’t need to be a successful test-taker for your teenager to succeed at the SAT. You don’t need to know all of the answers in the test booklet and you don’t need to know all of the strategies.

You simply need to be engaged with your student. Talk to him and her about what they know or don’t know.

The first place to start is the end goal. The end goal is the school your teenager wishes to attend. Get on that school’s website together and find out the test scores of the incoming students. That score becomes the goal to shoot for.

With that goal in mind, you can now engage your learner in meaningful discussions. This exercise alone will foster some discussions about the test and the strategy behind it.

But don’t end the conversation there. Continue to engage your student. Find reliable sources of information like and talk more about the test.

Make the test a journey with you and your teenager. Success with standardized tests requires preparation, support, confidence and repetition. You don’t have to know all the answers but you can be a great companion on your loved one’s trip.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Most Important SAT Tip

The number one most important SAT tip is Think With the End in Mind.

Simple enough, right?

Think With the End in Mind—I tell my students—means first figure out where you want to go to college. Even if you cannot decide on one school, narrow down your options to two or three.

Once you know the school or schools where you intend to apply, find out the average SAT score for the incoming students. Most schools post this information on their websites.
For example, about 10% of incoming Stanford students had a combined 2400 on their SATs. About 40% had a combined score of 2100-2399.

The score you find for your ideal school is now your goal, or your End.

Note that this score is “scaled” and based on your raw score. The raw score is basically a calculation of total correct answers minus ¼ incorrect answers (for most questions, you lose ¼ of a point if they are incorrect).

If you use the Official Guide to the SAT by the College Board, you can learn how the raw score is then converted into a scaled score. It’s a process that the College Board uses to standardize scores across all test takers.

In knowing your raw score, you know how many correct answers you need per section to achieve your scaled score. And this knowledge is more than half the battle.

This knowledge drives the strategy behind your approach to each and every question.

So Think With the End in Mind. This will determine your strategy which is really what the SAT is all about.