Monday, August 23, 2021

5-Day SAT Prep Plan

Many students will be taking the SAT on Saturday, August 28th. 

That's in five days.

At the end of summer. 

Talk about getting back to school! 

If you are in this situation, and you want to perform your best on test day, consider this very brief and easy 5-day test prep plan:

1) Don't Stress: Followers of this blog and all my students know that, say it with me, "stress is the enemy of test performance." So first and foremost, don't stress! There are so many reasons to NOT stress and the main one is that most schools will remain test-optional for this upcoming year (and beyond). Since test scores are not as meaningful as GPAs, transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation and the other key components of the application, then don't stress! 

2) Practice a Section Each Night: Starting tonight (Monday), practice one section each night. Do the reading tonight, writing and language tomorrow night, math no-calculator Wednesday night and finally the math calculator section Thursday night. But don't worry about scoring your practice, unless you are curious. Just practice the section like you would on test day meaning against the clock. This is no time to try out new or crazy strategies (that usually don't work). Just get into the rhythm of the test, read the directions (so you don't have to on test day) and rehearse your performance. 

3) Take Care of Yourself: Since the goal is to wake up on Saturday as fresh and focused as possible so that your brain can work at its maximum power, you need to take care of yourself all this week. Eat well, get plenty of sleep, and do whatever you need to do to ensure that you wake up on Saturday rested, stress-free and mentally firing on all cylinders. Self-care goes a long way, especially when it comes to standardized tests. 

4) Chill on Friday Night: The night before the test is the night to simply chill. Relax, watch a movie, hang out with friends or family. Just don't any test prep. Remember: the SAT is a mental marathon. A marathon runner does not run a marathon the night before the race so you shouldn't either. Perhaps you could organize your testing materials the night before, like get your calculator ready, your pencils sharpened and your testing identification all set up. Otherwise, do nothing! Chill out and relax. 

Really, with only five days left the key is to familiarize yourself with the test and take care of yourself. That's it. That's the plan. 

You can't go back in time and do a bunch of practice tests so why start now? Just relax, review each section of a practice test and then see how Saturday goes. 

You might be surprised: a summer off from school might actually help you stay calm and relaxed on Saturday. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

How Musicians Become Good Test Takers

Make no mistake: successful test-taking is simply a skill. 

To learn a skill takes dedicated practice

And since musicians are well-versed in practice, they can become good SAT or ACT test takers. 

Most skilled musicians know how to push through difficult learning. They understand that learning comes in fits and starts. A new melody or a new 8-bar progression is not mastered in one sitting. On the contrary, mastery is achieved through repeated attempts.

Learning a new skill is also about embracing humility. Musicians understand that their successes are a direct result of their failures. Fail first, fail often and then succeed. 

Really anyone who has worked diligently to practice and perfect a new skill, like musicians, has the ingredients to be successful test takers.

So approach your test-taking goals with measured, consistent and ongoing practice. It need not be stressful. Just the routine of doing the regular practice: read, take practice tests, analyze performance, improve weaknesses, repeat and repeat.  

Like a musician, prepare for your performance (i.e. test day) with regular and ongoing work to build the skill of test-taking. Become a musician with your SAT or ACT preparation and you will deliver a fantastic performance. 

And if you need any fine-tuning, CROSSWALK is here to help.