Tackling the SAT – Part I
by Eddie LaMeire
College admissions moves in a cycle. Particular seasons during the year entail different matters that students should focus upon. During this time of year – after applications have been submitted, but just before acceptances and denials return – the focus shifts from seniors to pre-seniors, and specifically deals with the SAT, the test that gives high school students and their parents countless hours of worry.
As we like to say, the most important factor in admission to top-tier schools is the student’s personality. With all the students applying to, for instance, Stanford, Harvard, and Princeton with perfect grades and test scores, it’s not enough to simply have the “numbers.” Everyone applying to these schools has the numbers!
However, while the SAT is not a sufficient condition to earn admission to top-tier schools, it is a necessary condition. In other words, students who have high SAT scores still need to do a whole lot to earn admission to top-tier schools. However, they still need the SAT to even get a look from these schools.
In the first part of this series on the SAT, we will discuss the strategies behind the strategies. In other words, we will discuss the best way to arrange a student’s SAT preparation.
To begin, it is helpful to dispel some myths regarding the SAT. The most significant and misleading mistake? That test preparation is enough by itself to succeed at the SAT. Of course, test prep is a necessary component of student preparation, but it is not enough to ensure success. Let me explain.
The SAT essentially tests students on two different skills: fundamental academic understanding, and test-taking ability. Think of things in this way: fundamental skills are much like knowing how to drive a car. Test-taking skills are comparable to knowing a shortcut from one part of town to another. Although knowing a shortcut is wonderful for getting things done efficiently, it is useless if one doesn’t know how to drive. Just like this, test-taking ability – the understanding of the test structure, the understanding of logical tricks within the test, and the speed with which students are taught to take the test – is useless if students do not have fundamental skills.
So, in order to succeed on the SAT, students need two skill sets: test-taking skills and fundamental skills. What makes this especially difficult for the students with whom we work is the fact that many have difficulty with Critical Reading – the most difficult of the SAT sections to perform well upon, and the hardest to learn quickly.
When beginning to prepare for the SAT, then, students must arrange their plan as follows:
With any case – a student who has fundamental skills deficiencies in all areas, as well as students who need nothing more than test preparation assistance – ThinkTank Learning has solutions. Please feel free to contact one of our centers in order to determine the best course of action for your child.
For next month’s installment, we’ll be speaking about the best way to schedule the preparation and testing schedule for the student. In the meantime, begin to understand how your child stands. What are they strong at? More importantly, what do they need?