Friday, May 11, 2012

Advice from an SAT Expert

I've been an SAT and ACT tutor for 5 years now.  I've taught hundreds of students in test prep classes and in their homes.  The majority of my private tutoring students are bright teenagers taking multiple AP and Honors classes.  These kids should be well prepared for the SAT.

They're not.

Here's what I would like to say to their parents.

"Your child has spent 12 years in school learning to read, write, and solve problems.  Now he has 8 weeks to prepare for the SATs.  In 8 weeks I can:
  • Teach him strategies to improve his accuracy and avoid careless mistakes so his test scores will reflect his actual abilities.
  • Review math concepts he hasn't used for a while and may have forgotten.
  • Show him how to write the specific type of essay that the essay graders are looking for.
  • Review and/or teach grammar rules.
In 8 weeks I cannot:
  • Provide your child with a college level vocabulary.
  • Greatly increase your child's critical reading ability.
  • Increase your child's math problem solving ability to the point where he can see a problem and determine the simplest way to find the information he needs to solve it.
What can you, as a parent, do?  You can get in a time machine, go back to kindergarten, and start working on those skills then!"

Somehow, I don't think that conversation would go over well.  But hopefully, your child is still in elementary school and you have plenty of time to prepare!  Does this mean I advocate spending 12 years "teaching to the test"?  Absolutely not!  However, I do advocate spending 12 years helping your child prepare to be an articulate adult who reads critically and solves difficult problems.  Starting tomorrow, I'll help you out with a series of posts demonstrating how to build these skills in children.  No flash cards or bubble tests necessary!

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