Summer just started and the SAT is probably the very last thing on your teen’s mind. In fact, there’s a good chance the idea of tests disappeared when the last one was submitted during May. Now the only thing on your teen’s mind is vacation, music, friends, and of course, social media!
However, you, the responsible parent, can’t help but think about the next year of SAT testing because your teen is going to graduate soon, and you want to make sure your child is prepared to get the best possible score. You want them to get into the schools at the top of your (… their!) list and get a good job and have a good life, but you may feel that getting your teen to study during the summer is going to be like pulling teeth or an act of Congress and you would rather avoid the confrontation and the possibility of ruining your relationship. Take one deep breath, and read through this plan to get your teen on track for the SAT that won’t ruin your teen’s or your summer.
Before you put a plan in place, you need to know what you are getting your teen and yourself ready for because let’s face it, the SAT is a commitment for you as well. So, if you never took it, haven’t taken it in a while, or just want to see the latest version, then you need to become familiar with the test, know its structure, time limits, scoring process, content, and question formats. As a parent, you will better be able to guide your teen as they prepare.
Write an essay. Okay, this already sounds like a bore to your teen, so don’t use the word “essay”. You can spin it any way you want. Try starting a blog on social or political issues to get your teen used to crafting arguments and writing persuasively. Also, take advantage of social media and have your teen read blogs written by others, especially peers, and respond thoughtfully in the comments section.
Read, read, and read some more. Why read? Reading comprehension is a major part of the verbal section, and reading is also a great way to pick up vocabulary. Choose a novel that is at least on a high school level. Challenge your teen with one of the classics and take this time to read a novel of your own!
Use the calculator you were born with. That’s right, your brain. Remember, your brain needs exercise, too. Practice solving equations and problems without using an actual calculator. Start with easier problems the first week and choose more difficult ones as you go. Use the math topics on the SAT guides to map it out. Make sure your teen does not move forward until he or she feels comfortable, and then with the more challenging problems, have your teen think through each as much as possible before grabbing the calculator.
Use the mobile device…finally! Let your teen determine what skills need improvement, and then let him or her search for videos on the phone, tablet, or computer. You will find that among all of the crazy videos on the internet, there are some that are actually helpful. Your teen can also look for videos that share test-taking tips and strategies. There are also plenty of math, reading, and other related resources on the Genius Plaza site.
Practice, practice, practice. I won’t use the phrase “practice makes perfect”, but many know that the more you practice, the better your chances are of getting a higher score. I’m not saying give an entire SAT practice test each week. You will only want to do this once at the beginning and possibly again at the end of summer. In between, you will want your teen to do only chunks, or small sets of questions to prevent frustration and burn-out. You will want to set up a test-friendly environment to closely mimic the one on test day – a quiet space with no distractions and definitely no phones! Take time to go over the questions afterwards, particularly ones that were missed. Doing this could help set goals for the following week.
As you read through these 5 ways to prepare, take a few things into consideration for both you and your teen: schedules, capabilities, and limitations. This will allow you to provide some structure but also flexibility as you plan out each week with your teen. Yes, plan with your teen so that you both understand the importance of this process and come to an agreement that works for both of you. It might be a good idea to set up goals and incentives for your teen each week. You may even choose to double up on one of the days depending on your teen’s weaknesses. For example, maybe he or she needs more math practice, but you agreed that you would not spend more than two hours per day. So instead, you decide that you would replace a strength, such as reading, with math.
These are simply suggestions to get your teen to prepare for the SAT without sitting with a tutor, memorizing vocabulary with flash cards, practicing math problems for hours on end, and burning out before the first test in August. And as a final note, do not be afraid to jump in with your teen on any day (or all days) and practice with them to show your commitment. Not only does it give you the chance to bond with your teen, but it also gives you the opportunity to hone skills you may not have used in years!