|By Judy (Judy) on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 11:13 am: Edit|
Hi. My son took his PSAT's as a sophmore last year and scored 61 vebal,62 math,63 writing. He did no prep for it at all. When I suggested to him that he study a bit for the October PSAT's he wanted nothing to do with the idea, saying he will study for SAT's in the Spring. I know the scores matter for National Merit because my older son was a commended scholar based on PSAT scores junior year. I would probably suggest he reads " Up Your Score" and maybe do some tests from "10 Real SAT's".
So do you think I should kind of force the issue now or wait til SAT's? He is doing vocab in his Honors English class from Princeton Review. I know he won't do any prep for it all on his own. A while ago I told him that on the College Board website you can sign up to have an SAT question emailed to you every day. I think that is fantastic and a pretty painless way to study. Of course he hasn't done it.
|By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 11:27 am: Edit|
For a sophomore, these scores are very decent; they are bound to go up after one year's worth of learning. Since he is already doing vocab in his English class, this should be enough practice. Unless he finds that he has many holes in his knowledge, he does not need to prepare more. Up Your Score can be used not so much for practice as for review. It's a fun read and does not feel like study.
|By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 11:32 am: Edit|
Judy, I hear you! With the exception of her math scores, my daughter had similiar scores to your son last year in sophomore year. She has no desire to prep for the PSATs next week. She has been working with a math tutor but they're really focusing on getting ready for the spring SATs, not next week's PSATs. She said she'll probably take a look at the practice test guide over the weekend but beyond that I don't think she'll do much. Since I don't think she has a shot at NMS I guess that's going to be good enough.
|By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 11:37 am: Edit|
Personally, I would leave him alone. His scores are bound to go up, and if they don't, then he will be more inclined to study for the SATs, which are more important.
One caveat -- there are some scholarships apparently tied to NMS status, so if that's important, he may want to study. Also depends on your state -- if you're in a low cutoff state, he's likely to make NMS w/o much effort anyway.
|By Blossom (Blossom) on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 12:04 pm: Edit|
Judy, does he read a daily newspaper? Preferably one written at a higher than 6th grade level (our own city paper would not qualify even though it is well-regarded journalistically). We found that was much easier than test prep... and the verbal and writing scores are bound to go up if he's exposed to the kind of writing in the WSJ, for example.
|By Cheers (Cheers) on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 11:21 pm: Edit|
What a great idea Blossom.
|By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 11:34 pm: Edit|
I've said this on other posts, but maybe it's worth repeating: my kids took the PSAT and the SAT a week apart. That way they only had to study once for both tests, which was a big load off. After that they only had the SAT IIs to worry about and were all set for applying ED.
|By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 01:29 am: Edit|
I have seen various approaches for this, and what works depends on the child. Sometimes a lot of growth occurs between the PSAT and SAT even without studying. My most difficult case last year was a young lady who excelled on the PSAT and made then took the SAT1 immediately afterwards and bombed it. For whatever reason, she was not able to come close to the PSAT scores despite 4 sittings with the SAT1. Either she is a "sprinter" as far as tests go and does not have the endurance for the 3 hour tests or she just got spooked and could not relax to do well on the SAT1.
I always let my kids go regarding the PSAT--they all took it twice as sophomores and juniors. They all got comparable scores for the two takings and it allowed me to focus on where they were weaker and use the scores (none of them did well) to agree to study for the SATs. The girls had modest improvements, the boys skyrocketed with each sitting. With this current son, I force fed him SATs starting second semester and he has gotten very high scores, way higher than his sub par PSATs.
My opinon, and this is my opinion only, no hard evidence or stats to back it up, is that kids who have been studying standardized test all of their lives and are used to having this pressure on them can be pushed hard to study for the SATs as it will be business as usual. THese kids tend to do very well on all standardized tests and it is no wonder; they have been prepped all of their lives. Otherwise, you are taking the risk of spooking the kid, stressing him out or inuring him to the importance of the tests. Better you limit the time period of test prep. Again, the dispostion of the child and how he tests and how he feels about this whole thing is essential as to how much you can bug him and how hard he will study. It is not worth having a time period of 2 years or more of misery in a household which we would have had, if I had started this business with the PSATs. It is bad enough that I am going to have this 9 month stint of misery. But then I have one who has little self motivation and would prefer to take his chances. He has also done well even in a short intensive period of test prep.
I believe my girls would have done better had I started the prep much earlier, but they needed alot of extra work to do well in their coursework even though they were motivated. And they were very active in ECs that they loved. To have made much more difference in the SATs would have been at the cost of those two thing unless I had started from early childhood on, and I really did not worry about standardized test with them until much later. I think it would have affected my daughter's personality to have pounded the tests at an early age.
Both my son and nephew took the SAT1 a fourth time late in the process, a definite break after the third time and that is when their big leap in scores came. I had seen a study that said that most college sophomores on up at "good" colleges can score an easy 1400 on the SAT1--don't remember the study or have any idea of the validity, but it rings pretty true to me ---I have spent the last 20 years tutoring SATs and have worked with over a hundred kids a year in the last several years. I see kids get into ruts and it is unfortunate when that occurs during the crucial months of the prime test time (like now). I wish there were a one size fits all strategy, but there is not. I try to fit the timing of the testing with the rhythm of the child, but am not always successful. Even if you could, external factors come into play that force a different timetable.
Also, Blossom's idea is a great one. The best preparation for the SAT1 verbal is reading. A lifetime reader has such an advantage over someone who is just studying the test for the test's sake. My kids were all readers which I believe gave them a certain base in the SAT1 verbal so I was spared certain exercises with them. Some excellent students who dislike recreational reading and do very little of it have been the hardest ones to bring up that verbal SAT. That is only one part of the test, and it is not going to guarantee you a top score, but the strong reader does have certain advantages without having to pound salt in test prep.
|By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 01:35 am: Edit|
I like Blossom's suggestion too, but if the WSJ is used, have him skip the editorial pages.
|By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 07:45 am: Edit|
Since the student is a sophomore, he will be taking the new SAT eventually. It is not clear whether colleges will accept scores from the old SAT when he is ready to apply. The PSAT is close enough to the format of the new SAT to work well as practice for it.
|By Judy (Judy) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 08:42 am: Edit|
Thanks everyone for your posts. Unfortunately getting my son to read the WSJ would be impossible. Recreational reading is not an interest of his although he is doing a tremendous amount of reading in his English class. His honors English teacher is probably the best teacher in the school. I am confident she will be doing all she can to prepare her students.
My son does not get at all nervous about standardized tests although he has a big football game at home the afternoon of the PSAT. Mornings before a game he usually is getting himself pretty pumped up - his motor starts racing and he is focusing his energy towards the game. I am a little concerned if this abundance of energy will keep him from or help him to focus on the test. Hmmm.
Jamimom - If I decide to suggest that he do some small amount of prep, do you think that reading Up Your Score would be good since it is fun and easy reading and it could be helpful in test strategy?
|By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 10:49 am: Edit|
Judy, if it's any comfort, my s, who scored a 780 on the verbal, read only fiction and Sports Illustrated. I think the key is to make sure they are reading *something.* He did have fun using Up Your Score.
|By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 01:41 pm: Edit|
Speaking of the new SAT, my daughter and I have been talking about the essay writing section. She's very nervous about this because it's a timed writing section. I think she is a decent writer but she's worried about "freezing" on the test. So, we're planning to get a hold of the "REAL SAT" book for the new sat when it comes out and do some timed essay writing sessions, just to get her used to writing and thinking quickly before next March. I don't think we will focus on what she writes as much as HOW she writes - getting over that writer's block type of thing when the clock is ticking. Anyone else have any ideas or suggestions for this section?
|By Searchingavalon (Searchingavalon) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 01:55 pm: Edit|
Carolyn, On the assumption that the writing section of the new SAT has something in common with the Writing SAT II, I can tell you a few things D did in preparation for it. Before she even started practicing writing an essay in that brief amount of time, she practiced thinking of things to write about for the various types of prompts. We'd be driving to school, I'd give her a prompt, she'd volley back the particular subject she'd write about if given such a prompt. She also made a sort of list of the subjects she knew most about and could write about most concretely, and hoped that one of those subjects would be appropriate for whatever prompt she got. As it happens, none of them were, but at least she felt prepared and a little more confident.
|By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 02:00 pm: Edit|
I, too, do not like the little time given for the essay; that was my biggest concern for my S. So I had him make a list of events, dates, figures (both fictional and historical) that he could use as examples in a variety of essays.
Xiggi also provided a list of past essay prompts which basically showed, in my opinion, that the best essay for the purpose is bland and formulaic. Since a student does not have time to experiment, the best thing is to go for the 5 paragraph essay structure. The essay does not have to be long. I had him read Strunk & White to review grammar, and asked him to write a few essays to get a sense of how much he could write in 20 minutes. I think he wrote no more than 2 or 3 essays altogether. He could have done better on the essay (he got an 8), but considering how little time he invested in practicing for it, it was probably a fair score. His total score was improved by his good performance on the MC section. I still have the message from Xiggi if you''d like it.
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