SAT day is fast approaching. It is one of six days throughout the year when over one million juniors and seniors will sit down to face what has been touted as the most challenging and important morning of their entire high school career. With that kind of pressure, it’s no wonder that normally excellent students often receive mediocre scores. Fortunately, for the majority of students, there is a way to move through this seemingly brain-crushing experience with confidence and the right skills to achieve the scores they deserve.
Myth #1: Memorizing a list of words that have commonly appeared on past SATs is the most effective way to prepare for the verbal portion of the exam.
To shatter this myth, it is first important to understand what the critical reading portion of the SAT is really testing. As the term “critical” implies, this portion of the test measures the student’s ability to apply their long-term understanding of language. In other words, it quantifies efficient reading skills and verbal problem solving skills. While these are not directly taught in high school, these skills are important for succeeding in college. There is, in fact, no “right” list of vocabulary words to memorize; instead students do well who have improved their critical reading and thinking skills. More than 80% of the exam tests reading skills, yet most students spend the majority of their preparation time memorizing words that might appear on the test.
Myth #2: If I consistently get good grades in English, I will certainly get a high verbal score.
While many students can do very well in school, which is based on rote learning and success over the long-haul, many good rote learners have never been taught to apply their knowledge, which is an essential skill for SAT success. The most important factor for scoring well on the SAT is for students to be completely focused on answering the particular question they are on. This requires discipline, which can be difficult to develop. In our program, most students will realize that the majority of the test is not hard, it just requires careful reading and concentration.
Myth #3: Most students have all of the substantive knowledge they need to get the verbal score that rightfully reflects their potential.
Most students have all of the knowledge they need to get a score that reflects their potential, but many miss “easy” questions—why? When students focus on the test’s time constraint, or get hung up on what they DON’T know versus what they DO know, the cumulative pressure and lack of confidence can cause them to make mistakes they wouldn’t normally make. For example, a student will often skip a sentence completion question if they glance at choice (A) which is an “unknown”. Meanwhile, the remaining four choices are all “knowns”.
Myth #4: Preparing for the (verbal) SAT is more akin to preparing for an important athletic competition than to preparing for a school exam.
Students cannot improve on the SAT by preparing for it in the same way they would for a typical school exam. The SAT could be described as a marathon, not a race; where students may test well on school exams that require memorization and association, the SAT cannot be “crammed” for. Students who wish to be assured of significant gains will learn and practice effective reading skills, (particularly skimming and scanning), be trained in developing better verbal reasoning skills, and learn the skill of “decoding” words by cuing in on roots and prefixes.
Myth #5: Regardless of one’s English grades, the student who possesses a passion for reading will more often than not perform exceptionally well on the verbal SAT.
A final comment must reinforce the fact that those students whose true passion is reading will always do well on the verbal SAT. They are constantly exposing themselves to the language and taking it upon themselves to broaden their vocabulary and fine-tune their inferential reading skills.
Just as a person doesn’t become an excellent tennis player just because he had a better teacher, a student will not get an outstanding critical reading score just because he had a better English teacher. It is what the student does outside of English or gym class that will make her exceptional. Regardless of their skill level, students who apply the skills and strategies learned in the HBATTestPrep program will improve their skills and confidence; consequently their scores will increase.
Wouldn’t you like your teen to get the highest possible scores the first time around? BreakThrough Test Prep programs and services can help them now, eliminating the need to prepare, stress, and sit for the SAT multiple times.