Not every child is good at test taking, but this is a skill that many develop through their years in school. They learn to anticipate certain types of questions on tests—either multiple choice or essay-type questions. And they develop a knack for answering these well.
However, the SAT is quite different from tests that students have to take at school. To begin with, it’s much longer, and just having to sit down for that long and answer questions is taxing for anybody. Plus, things get more complicated when you think about negative points and the advantages and disadvantages of guessing if you run out of time.
A parent can only do so much to help a child prepare for the SAT. After all, most of us have forgotten everything except basic math skills. Any vocabulary we managed to cram in before taking the SATs was forgotten a long time ago. Most times, the best thing a parent can do is just give the child space and encouragement to prepare for the SAT. It’s also possible to get professional help at places like the Huntington Center where tutors will come up with a personalized program for the student, depending on how many weeks are remaining before the SAT exam. Between encouragement from you, the parent, and professional help from tutors, it’s possible to fully equip a child to take this challenging and lengthy exam.
Taking a number of practice tests is also helpful to the student. As they say, practice makes perfect, and these will help your child develop that feeling of self-confidence, which only comes after intense preparation.
One thing that you and your child can be thankful about is that there won’t be any surprises on the SAT. There are certain types of questions that are asked on the test, and these don’t change without some kind of notice from the College Board, which administers the tests. Even though there are a number of sections, the types of questions are more or less the same throughout, varying only in the degree of difficulty.
It is generally considered a good idea for the test-taker to concentrate on getting the simpler questions right first before trying to tackle the really difficult ones. Once you get stuck on a question, it’s harder to move ahead. No one wants to be a quitter, but, when it comes to the SAT, it is better to quit while you’re ahead!
Similarly, when preparing for the exam, it’s best to revise the things you already know rather than trying to learn too many things that you don’t. The acronym SAT stands for Scholastic Assessment Test. It basically attempts to test how much a student has managed to learn during the twelve odd years of schooling before graduating high school. So it really isn’t possible to learn everything that a student could have learned in twelve years within the space of a few weeks.
As a student, if you know that a certain topic is your strong point while another is your weak point, focus on strengthening the strong points first and then move on to the weak points. Similarly, trying to learn a lot of new words, although a popular method of studying for the SAT, isn’t all that useful because you do also need to understand the words in context. Of course, if you have a lot of time to study, then it might make sense to learn new words or new mathematical problems that you’re not yet familiar with. But the less time you have, the more you should focus on just strengthening what you already know.
Familiarizing yourself with the different types of questions on the exam and the instructions for these questions ends up saving a lot of time while actually taking the test. A student will have time to tackle 2–3 more questions in the time saved by doing this.
In terms of preparedness, make sure that you have the right kind of pencils and erasers and that you’re not taking anything into the test center that you are not supposed to. This will help to eliminate last-minute jitters. Getting a good night’s sleep before the last day and having a healthy breakfast will help immensely in making sure that you’re relaxed and ready for this important exam. When you are feeling fresh, mentally calm and composed, you are well placed to do your best and get the result you deserve.