How Students Can Increase Their SAT Scores

The first question that comes to mind in regard to taking a Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) has to be, “Is it worth it to prep?” The short answer is, unequivocally, “Yes.”

Even though there are a number of schools that have opted out of mandatory test score submission, SAT scores remain the best way for colleges and universities to evaluate students based on more than just grade point average. Take, for example, a university that receives thousands of applications from students with straight “A” averages. Aside from looking at a student’s extracurricular activities at school and volunteer experience within their communities, the SAT is still the best way to compare aptitude.

In fact, according to Ivy Bound, “… students with high aspirations should not overlook the importance of a good SAT/ACT score. More schools should provide SAT coaching because a good score can help students achieve 200-plus point improvements, which can significantly open opportunities. Since 92 percent of colleges take the best math score and combine it with the best reading score, it makes sense to plan on taking the SAT three times. If you know you can excel on a third SAT, not trying is leaving opportunities on the shelf.”

So, where can your student turn for help? There are a number of national testing service companies with offices in Coastal Virginia. Kaplan Test Prep has courses that help students prepare with an expert teacher in a structured, interactive classroom—either in person or online. They can customize Study Plans based on strengths and weaknesses and offer a “Higher Score Guaranteed” or your money back (some restrictions apply, of course).

Sylvan Learning has learning centers in Newport News/Yorktown and Chesapeake and offers an online component that provides anytime access to video tutorials focusing on real test problems for specific subjects, as well as practice tests and an interactive vocabulary builder.

There are other national and local businesses in Coastal Virginia, as well as some schools, that offer SAT prep classes. You may want to conduct an online search, read through your options and see what best suits your student’s needs.

A second option is to hire a private tutor who specializes in SAT prep instruction. Again, you can do a search to find information on those who offer their services, or you can ask around to see if anyone you know can personally recommend a tutor. Your student’s high school guidance office may have a list of available tutors, as well as what they charge for their services.

Private tutors can usually arrange to come to your home or meet your student at school to provide one-on-one instruction. This type of study can be beneficial for students who do not have excellent study skills or who relate to personal interaction over group study. A good tutor can immediately recognize areas that need to be targeted and adjust lesson plans accordingly, on the fly. Another advantage private tutors can offer is the length of time or number of study sessions needed. Where standardized prep classes often have a set curriculum, a tutor can provide instruction for as long or as limited a time as you feel is necessary.

The final option is complete self-study. There are a number of free prep lessons, tutorials and tests to be found online. Veritas Prep is one of many options available that provide specific strategies and helpful study tips, as well as free online classes. In addition, they provide a wide array of General SAT topics on issues such as overcoming test anxiety, time management on test day, three things you need to stop doing and 11 test day tips for SAT success. This is just one of many free options available.

As for when to get started, it is recommended that high school sophomores that are planning to take their SAT (or ACT) in the fall should start studying around mid-summer. For juniors scheduled to take the test in the spring, they should start to study during the winter. As mention previously, many college and universities now combine the best of each math and reading score, so start early, test several different times, and make sure to do your due diligence when it comes to prepping for the exam.

Barrett Baker
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