There is no test more stressful for anyone than taking the SAT test. It’s like the atom bomb of stress for a teen because not only are parents pressuring you to do well, but you may think your entire future could hinge on the outcome of one test. That is a lot to put on young shoulders.
What most parents don’t get is that the child is probably puts more pressure on themselves than anyone else can. Good students feel they can do better, poorer students know they can, so nagging them is not going to get you the results either one of you want.
At a time when less pressure will give better results, parents have to lighten up and help their child by making preparation for the test as fun and stress-free as possible. Stress can cause a student to have trouble memorizing and learning, and makes keeping the information in long-term memory much more difficult, if not impossible.
Don’t underestimate your child! Take the pressure off, but also help them by finding games that will hold their attention and allow them to learn at the same time. Here are a few memory strategies I believe will help:
Let them play games! Not Avenger or Road Warrior, but there are free educational games online, like SAT Vocabulary Express, (http://www.learnatest.com/LEL/index.cfm/) which are fun, but will help your child to prepare for the SAT test.
Do crossword puzzles or play scrabble with them. There is no better way to learn vocabulary words.
Focus on study skills, not the test. Don’t concentrate on them doing well on one test, help them to improve their study skills. Doing well in class helps get them to understand what they need to for the test. Let them ask their teachers for advice on how to understand the lessons they are having trouble with. Don’t do it for them! They are old enough to assume responsibility, and you can’t take the test for them either.
Get help if needed! If they are having problems with memorizing or understanding something – get them a tutor. When hiring a tutor, find one who emphasizes academics, not just the tricks to pass the test. SAT prep tutors focus on study material relevant to the questions on the test. Follow up on their progress via a phone call or email.
Don’t pressure them to get into a specific school. The competition is more fierce than ever and many “straight A” students are being turned away from the schools they want. Instead, focus on schools that will allow your child to thrive academically as well as socially. Don’t map out YOUR plan for their future — it’s THEIR future. It may not be your first pick, but the best one for them.
Continue to take practice tests. Although memorizing is a great tool it is not the most effective way to ace the SATs. It’s good to remember mathematical theorems in order to do the math problems, but it’s also important to understand how the theorems work in order to solve the problem. Take practice tests (many can be found online) to understand how questions are worded, and what they expect. Practice tests will give you feedback on what you are doing well in, and where you need work.
Learn how the tests are graded. Learn the techniques in how they score to get the best possible grade. Find out how that College Board scores the SAT test. It’s not just the total answers you get right, there are deductions for giving the wrong answers as well, in some portions. This can make a big difference on the grade.
Take the ACT test. Most colleges accept the ACT test instead of, or in addition to, the SAT, and many students do better on it than the SAT. It wouldn’t hurt to take both tests, and if you aren’t sure where your child is going to apply, and what their criteria is, it’s a good idea to take both tests.
Last but not least — stay off their back! Your putting pressure on them only adds to the stress they are already feeling, and leads to arguments between you. Life is simpler when there is encouragement and support – not criticism.
Remember, life is not based on the score of one test. As a matter of fact, you can take the SAT more than once – take it again! The more practice you have the better you will do each time.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time USA Memory Champion . He speaks at seminars and to large groups all over the world on how to improve memory and memory techniques. In addition, his website BrainAthlete.com sells CDs and programs to improve memory skills and advise for success.
Ivy Educational Services: http://www.ivyeducationalservices.com/mission.html
Learning Express Library – http://www.learnatest.com/LEL/index.cfm/