Tuesday, November 21, 2017

How to Perfectly Practice for the SAT and ACT

Like any skill, test-taking requires time to develop.

If you want to learn to play the guitar, take the time to practice and get better. If you want to speak Chinese, take the time to practice and get better. If you want to do improve your SAT or ACT score, take the time to get better.

But time isn't the sole driver of success. The time you spend on your practice must be quality time.

You could go the gym to practice basketball for two hours but if the only thing you do in those two hours is shoot half-court shots then your practice was meaningless.

As Vince Lombardi famously stated, "Practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect."

So how do you perfectly practice for the SAT and ACT? What is the best way to get some quality practice for your next test?

Consider these practice techniques that will force you to practice perfectly:
  • Remove All Distractions: Many students like to study with the tv on, some music in the background and/or their cell phone close by. Since you can't watch tv,  listen to music or use a cell phone on test day, practice what it feels like to be in a testing environment and remove all of those distractions. By recreating the testing environment, you will practice perfectly the test day experience. 
  • Practice Against the Clock: Some students get lackadaisical with their test prep by not timing their practice. Since the test is timed, be sure to practice against the clock. If I give a student a practice set for homework, my first question is always, "How was your time management?" If they respond, "um, I forgot to time myself," then their practice was likely meaningless. 
  • Know Your Tools: Aside from the math toolbox, students don't have much in the way of tools on test day. A pencil, calculator, test booklet and answer sheet are about it. Nevertheless, practice using these tools during your test prep. For example, don't use your cell phone calculator for your practice sessions as cell phone calculators are not approved on test day. Practice with an approved calculator to get familiar with it. You should also practice annotating reading passages and crunching numbers in your test booklet. Even practicing how to bubble in your answers on the answer sheet, especially or SAT Math grid-ins, can be useful. 
  • Set a Routine: A routine can create confidence and comfort on test day. I once met a student that, in anticipation of test day, took four practice tests on four consecutive Saturdays leading up to the test. On the fifth Saturday, the day of the test, everything was routine for the student. Setting aside four Saturday mornings in a row may not be possible for everyone but setting a routine should be. 
Yes, it takes time to get better at any skill. There are no quick fixes

But take maximum advantage of your practice time by practicing perfectly. 

For more tips on preparing for the SAT, ACT, PSAT, SSAT or other academic subjects, contact CROSSWALK today. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Is the SAT Dying a Slow Death?

The validity and efficacy of standardized testing remains a highly debatable topic

On one hand, highly competitive universities continue to use standardized test scores to sift through thousands of applications received annually. For these schools, an objective and standardized assessment can prove to be an efficient way to determine whether or not a student has the potential to succeed in college.

On the other hand, many schools realize that standardized tests create unnecessary stress for students and results are often biased against certain groups. These schools are moving away from using test scores as a means to weigh an applicant's potential for college success. 

And according to FairTest, the number of schools moving away from using test scores in their process of admission is growing. 

FairTest states that, since the SAT launched its revised version of the test in March 2016, more than 100 colleges and universities have dropped SAT and ACT requirements. Now, there are almost 1,000 colleges and universities that "do not use the SAT or ACT to admit substantial number of bachelor-degree applicants." 

The good news is that with so many schools eliminating the need for SAT and ACT, there are now more reasons to not stress about SAT and ACT performance. The bad news is that there are still thousands of other schools that continue to use test performance in their admission evaluations. 

The SAT may be dying slowly but cynics note that the College Board is a big business with stakeholders and investors who will fight for its relevance, survival and, most importantly, profitability. 

My work as an SAT and ACT tutor is safe for now because I will continue to remind students that they need not stress about test performance. Stress is the enemy of test performance and with almost 1,000 schools not using SAT or ACT performance in their admission decisions, there should be no reason to stress on test day. 

To prepare for the SSAT, PSAT, ACT or SAT stress-free, contact CROSSWALK today.