What to Expect
Beginning March 5th, 2016 a new SAT emerges from the dungeons of the College Board. Will you be ready?
Fortunately for you, will be! We’re here to help every students’ transition be as painless as possible.
It’s no secret that the current College Board test can make or break a student’s chances at getting into a good college. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are– if you suffer from test anxiety you’ll probably bomb the test just out of sheer nerves.
The new SAT* will be no different, if not worse. The test will be even trickier and more psychologically demanding because of the overall structure of the test and never-before-seen question types.
The Test is Structured to Psych You Out
First Up: 100 Minutes of Reading & Grammar
Very few students nowadays are gifted readers or writers. It’s a fact of modern life because of the mass availability of smartphones an tablets. Our kids just don’t read anymore! And if they do, it’s probably Twilight— which hardly counts as literature.
The test writers are taking advantage of this by making the first section 65 minutes straight of sophisticated reading passages and complex analysis followed by 35 agonizing minutes of more reading in the next section, this time analyzing English grammar. Bottom line: 100 consecutive minutes of reading–the least favorite subject for the vast majority of students–to start the test.
This is their way of wearing students out physically, mentally and emotionally. And it works!
Next Challenge: Mental Math Only—Calculators Banned!
The next psychological weapon used to break the typical teenager into a heap of terror is a 25-minute math section in which the students are NOT permitted to use a calculator. And after that? Another 55-minute marathon math section–calculator permitted this time.
This might not seem like a big deal to the math-whizzes out there, but there are nuances unique to each question pattern that are hard to catch to the untrained eye. You’ll have to exercise extraordinary care to recognize what parts of the problems are important and how to use them correctly.
And Finally: The Mother of All Essays
If that isn’t enough, the geniuses at the College Board have doubled the time of the essay from 25 minutes to 50 minutes for the new SAT*. This time, students must painstakingly analyze more reading passages and complex data and structure a 3-4 page essay where length and creativity are critical factors in the score.
Extra Test Pain
Within the psychological snake pits peppered liberally throughout the test are further layers of deception that require extreme attention to detail to successfully navigate; something that is NOT taught in any public or private high school. The chief element we can take from this is that the College Board test writers are exceptionally adept at wearing students down into a puddle of brain mush. As a result, a student’s focus becomes severely compromised and the scores plummet.
If you think that merely going over a bunch of questions–the typical tutoring approach in the test prep industry–is going to help you, then you will be spectacularly frustrated in terms of score improvement.
The 4 keys to beating the new SAT*
#1 Treat it like a game, not a test
First, a student must get into the mindset that the new SAT*, just like the old one, is equivalent to a challenging sport or performance art. So what you need to do is prepare for the test like it’s a game, not an exam. We recommend:
- Quickly energize in the morning with some light stretching
- Take healthy snacks with you for break-time
- Stay calm during the test by taking deep breaths if you start to feel anxious
#2 Gain test endurance–the smart way!
Most people wrongly assume that to ace the test you need to practice over 2 hours a day by mindlessly going over question after question after question. That’s not how it works– bad practice will just mean you won’t know how to take the test. The key is to build up and store tremendous physical, mental, and emotional battery power. Endurance in these 3 areas will help students be focused, calm, and confident for the roughly 4-5 hours of test time.
It takes time to install new habits and get through the learning curve. Instead of trudging through 100s of practice questions at once, we advise you to pick apart a one section at a time. Take the grammar one day and really understand the rules. Then do math, then tackle the reading and essay! Once you feel ok in all of the sections try taking a practice test all in one go to build your endurance.
#3 Learn to identify question types
Students need to learn the different question types. Diagnosing reading passages, fixing grammar errors, and analyzing the full spectrum algebra and geometry is very demanding. Fortunately, there are consistent patterns, concepts, and shortcuts that can lead to a dramatically greater number of correct answers. Whether they learn to do it on their own (usually only exceptional students are capable of this) or get a tutor to show them the tips and tricks for every question, this is a must for successful test prep.
Just as in sports, performance, or business, effective coaching greatly helps in putting the pieces together properly while providing positive reinforcement and priority oversight. It’s critical to choose the right tutor to fit your child’s needs. First assess the level of attention your child needs, and then choose your test prep company based on that. Most tutors only teach for the test and provide no essential life skill training. If you’re looking for that extra oomph, check us out here.
Peak Performance tools and test strategies developed by Steve Kirshenbaum over a 15 year period have resulted in a 336 point average score improvement compared with an overall industry average of 35 points (according to the College Board). Should you have any questions or would like to schedule a free and convenient in-home consultation please contact Randy Winters at 954-290-4253 or 877-672-8773.
Steve Kirshenbaum is CEO and Founder of SAT Preparation Group.
*SAT is a registered trademark of the College Board.