Attention High School Juniors!
Blizzard Blog: March 14th, 2017
Top Five Things High School Juniors Should Do To Prepare For The April 2017 SAT!
(First: Get Out Of Bed – 18 inches of snow does not give you permission to sleep all day!)
These last two years have been a bit of a whirlwind in the land of college test preparation! With the introduction of the new SAT just one year ago (March 2016), students in the high school class of 2017 were indiscriminately studying for the old SAT, the new SAT and the ACT, to get a top score to present to the college of their dreams!
It was not pretty!
This year, the test prep landscape has stabilized “somewhat” with three authentic tests: Practice Test 5 (May SAT 2016), Practice Test 6 (April SAT 2016), and Practice Test 7 (October SAT 2016) all found on the College Board website. Students should practice and prepare for the upcoming SAT on April 6th using these exams.
But, make no mistake! This is still a standardized test. The more you prepare for it, the better the outcome.
So, here are the Top Five Things High School Juniors should do to prepare for the April 2017 test.
1. Hook up your PSAT scores to Khan Academy. The College Board is in partnership with Khan Academy to produce test prep materials that will help you understand your error patterns. Sal Khan is a math guy, so I strongly feel that Khan Academy is better suited to math for test prep study, but I would still hook up all scores since this site is constantly evolving. Better yet, take a diagnostic test today to see how you stack up with your learning given an additional five months of school work.
2. Center Your Practice On the Real Tests. The big test prep companies do an excellent job with strategy, but they cannot mimic the actual tests. To prepare for the SAT correctly, you must practice with College Board tests #5 (May 2016 exam), #6 (April 2016 exam), and #7 (October 2016 exam).
3. Understand your Error Patterns and Use the Best SAT Resources to Practice.
My recommendations for individual experts in this field:
Erika Meltzer: The Critical Reader for SAT Reading and Writing.
Nielson Phu: The College Panda for SAT Writing and Math
Mike McClenathan: Pwn the SAT for All Things SAT Math.
There are also sites for information and resources beyond the “Big Three” – Kaplan, Princeton Review, and Revolution. These include CompassPrep, Powerscore, and Applerouth Tutoring. They provide free resources, and their blogs are often authentic and insightful.
Also: Testive and Summit Education Group have some impressive infographics! And, certainly, there are many other large tutoring companies that are very generous with their resources.
4. Know Grammar Rules: The Writing Component of the SAT is not difficult if you understand usage and mechanics. Unfortunately, most students don’t know grammar. Practicing grammar WILL give you a huge bump up in your score. And, this is not a waste of time because colleges expect students to know the basic grammar rules anyway! So get going. My suggestion would be to start with The College Panda (see website above). Neilson has some excellent FREE practice right on his website.
5. Third Time is a Charm! Students always ask me: How many times should I take the Test? In my experience, the third time is a charm. (It is sort of like a Goldilocks thing!) The first test is the “practice” test. The second test is for strategy practice to correct error patterns. And the final test culminates in the strongest scores based on additional practice to get the most difficult questions correct. It is just right! Having said that, if you score really well either in the math or reading/writing on an earlier test — you can always “super score” the exam. This means that colleges will take your best verbal and best math score into consideration for college admissions — it doesn’t have to be from one test.
The most important thing every student should know is that test prep is a process. To get top scores, you must practice with a deliberate understanding of your mistakes and how to correct them.
Do it now and get it done before the end of Junior Year. You will be in a stronger position to determine your college list and can focus on the college essay and application process going into the summer and fall of 2017!
Above is an example of one of my student’s SAT scores over the course of three tests. She increased her score 150 points, but it took over six months of practice and perserverence!