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Articles / Preparing for College / Parents Can Help with SAT Prep

Parents Can Help with SAT Prep

Dave Berry
Written by Dave Berry | Aug. 28, 2012
Parents Can Help with SAT Prep

Parents, how much are you involved in your child's college process? There are many ways you can lend support. First of all, you can communicate openly about finances. This will keep expectations realistic. Why allow your son or daughter to go to the trouble of applying to a school that cannot meet your family's financial need without piling on loan debt? You can also facilitate college visits. As I have said many times to students considering certain schools, "You've got to trod the sod!"

Perhaps one of the more important services you can offer is lending a hand with their efforts to prepare for standardized testing, mainly the SAT, especially around the time that summer is coming to a close and school is back in session. This is when many high school juniors and seniors – and their parents – should be turning their attention to the college admissions process. A student's SAT score is one of the most critical components and is often the first filter colleges and universities use to determine eligibility.

While the exam is unlike most a student has ever taken, it doesn't have to be an unknown. To help parents better support their students as they prepare for the SAT, the folks at VeritasPrep.com have outlined some actions parents can take now.

For many parents of high school students, the SAT – a standardized exam most colleges and universities use to evaluate applicants – is somewhat of an unknown. While they understand that it is an important part of the college admissions process and that a high score can result in acceptance to the best schools and lead to scholarship awards, they may not know how they can help their students with SAT test prep so they can do their best on the exam. To assist parents, Veritas Prep has outlined five things every parent can do to help their student ace the SAT and become a more competitive college applicant.

1. Encourage Your Student to be Self-Motivated - While it's great that you bought your son or daughter some SAT prep books or an SAT class, it may all be in vain if your child is not motivated to do well on the SAT on his/her own. Parents are only an external motivator for children; scores will start to skyrocket when students have an internal drive to do well. To help foster that drive, have your child identify three reasons why he or she wants to score well on the SAT. For example, do they want to gain admission to a competitive program? Or earn a significant scholarship? By creating a list of reasons and goals, students will be better able to self motivate and if they begin to lose focus you can remind them of what they're working toward.

2. Simulate Real Testing Conditions - You know the cliché: practice makes perfect. But in reality, perfect practice makes perfect. And in order to practice perfectly, you should make sure your student mimics test day conditions when taking an SAT practice test at home. This means timing every section, no TV/internet/cell phone, 5-10 minute snack breaks every hour and nothing on his/her desk except a pencil, calculator and water bottle. Help your student know what to expect on test day so there are no surprises.

3. Teach Your Student New Vocabulary - The SAT is an exam that requires little memorization because it primarily tests higher order thinking skills. However, a scholarly vocabulary is one asset students must have to ace the SAT. As part of your student's SAT practice routine, write an SAT "word of the day" on the refrigerator or in another area of the house that everyone can see each morning. To make it more fun, challenge your family members to use the SAT vocabulary word in at least one sentence throughout their day. Quiz your student regularly to make sure they retain previous days' and weeks' words as well. Note: make sure you use words from SAT-specific vocabulary lists rather than generic vocabulary lists.

4. Subscribe Your Child to the Official SAT Question of the Day - There is no company that produces more realistic questions than the organization that makes the SAT itself: the College Board. Everyday the College Board releases a real SAT question through its website. The Official SAT Question of the Day is not a throwaway problem, but an authentic SAT question. Your student can sign up to have the question e-mailed to his/her inbox, making sure SAT prep is a part of their daily routine. Students will have a bank of real SAT questions that they can use to improve their skills by preparing with questions exactly like the ones they'll see on test day.

5. Ditch the High School English or Math Textbook as a Prep Tool - Traditional high school English and Math classes do not prepare your student for the SAT. The SAT is an exam that can be systematically prepared for using SAT-specific strategies. Have your child get ready for the exam using SAT preparation material, not classroom material that barely relates.


So, there you have it. Solid advice from those in the know. It's never too late to help your son or daughter prepare for the SAT. But why wait? The letters "SAT" can also stand for "Start Assisting Today!"


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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