Years ago, before my kids were old enough to give the SAT a serious thought, I read a book subtitled The 7 Secrets of Acing the SAT. I just rediscovered my old notes and realized that they could be helpful and inspiring to many of you. (Of course, not everyone should take the SAT or ACT, but that’s an entirely different topic; this is for those families with teens who should.)
Tom Fishgrund listed 7 characteristics of teens who had aced this major test:
- They are self-confident, self-effacing, and self-motivated.
- They are intellectually curious, and excited about learning new and different things.
- They read quickly and voraciously, following their interests wherever they may lead.
- They develop a core group of passions, pursue them eagerly, and excel within them.
- They are proactive; they create their own luck.
- They develop a social network of friends and family that gives them critical support.
- Their real goal isn’t to ace the SAT but to succeed in life.
What advice did perfect score teens have those planning to write the SAT?
- Think deeply about life
- Be fascinated by the world and everything in it; explore
- Work hard and play hard, be filled with joie de vivre
Notice that these are all qualities that can easily be cultivated in a homeschool lifestyle.
Specific test preparation tips included:
- Read everything (50%)
- Take practice SAT tests (42%)
- Relax, don’t stress about it –it’s only a test (41%)
- Memorize vocabulary (20%)
- Rest the night before the test (14%)
- Pace yourself (9%)
- Identify and focus on weaknesses (8%)
- Double check your work (7%)
- Study early (preferably 1 year before taking the test)(7%)
- Take a test prep course (5%)
So what does it all come down to? Encouraging your children to live a lifestyle of learning and to follow their own interests. As I recall from the book, most of the perfect scorers had well-balanced lives, involving academics, friends, athletics, hobbies, and even some screen time.
Note that this information was based on the old SAT; the current SAT involves an essay-writing component that may require special preparation. While my two oldest children approximated the top scorer profile above and both scored extremely well on the SAT, they both did only average on the essay-writing portion. We’ll be focussing more on writing in our homeschool and in our test –prep strategy.
These notes were taken from an outdated book based on the old SAT, 1600 Perfect Score: The 7 Secrets of Acing the SAT by Tom Fishgrund. Obviously, the concepts are not outdated, and the book is still available from Amazon. If there’s a SAT in your family’s future, you’ll want to buy a copy of this book and also think about the writing skills needed for the new SAT.