Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Nowadays, for better or worse, most colleges require prospective students to submit standardized test scores as a part of their application. More often than not, this test is the SAT exam; however, some of the same strategies used to practice for the SAT can be applied to just about any other test you’ll ever take. The most important strategy, though, is always practice; but the question is, how should you practice?

Even though the College Board says there is no way to really “study” for the SAT, practice, as with everything else in life, really does make perfect. In this case, practice begins by learning the material in school, in your math and English classes. Even though the SAT tests your critical thinking skills, you’ll still need to start learning those skills from your school work.

If you understand the concepts behind the SAT math and have honed your critical reading and writing abilities, you have developed the strong basis needed to ace a test of critical thinking. These are all skills that you need for the SAT, for college and for the rest of your life, but you can only acquire proficiency over them with years of practice at school.

No matter how good you are at school, though, the SAT can trip you up if you don’t know how to find the real answer, or some shortcuts or strategies to move through questions more quickly. After all, the SAT is a timed test, and high scores inevitably rely on how fast and accurate you are. Much of this is based on really understanding the ways the test is designed to confuse you. At Victory Step, we help prepare you for this reality of taking the SAT by teaching you to avoid common pitfalls, such as not answering the real question, and by showing you ways to save yourself time answering each question. In doing this, even if you’re not always sure of how a problem works or what a word means, you can figure it out on the spot and earn that all-important point. We also provide you with intelligently created homework and practice problems that will help you hone your skills.

Finally, there is nothing that can prepare you for the SAT as well as taking the SAT itself. That is why most students take the test two or three times before they are finally pleased with their scores, or before they realize their true potential. Even taking practice tests at home cannot really simulate the experience of taking a test in a crowded classroom on a Saturday morning for four hours. You need to prepare yourself for the conditions of the exam- like the noise from other test-takers and the hunger that inevitably sets in by section 8.

Because we at Victory Step recognize this, our program offers you the opportunity to take four practice SAT exams, giving you a feel for not just the material tested, but also the conditions you will face when you really take the test. This removes morning-of jitters, prepares you for the less-than-ideal conditions of the actual exam, and helps you learn to work against the clock.

As you can see, a lot goes into making yourself ready for the SAT, but most importantly, it’s practice, practice, practice!

Toni Whalen
SAT/ACT Instructor
Victory Step

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