Summer and the SAT

As a junior, you’ve still got time to prepare to do the best you can on the SAT

Summer and the SAT

Q: Are there other ways to prepare for the college admission tests besides working your tail off?

A: “When you think of preparing for the SAT, you don’t think of fun. You think of a lot of work,” says Daniel C. Levine, owner of Big Apple Tutoring in New York, N.Y. “While studying and putting time into preparing for the test is hard work and very necessary, there are some enjoyable activities you can do as well.”

With summer fast approaching, now’s a good time to try inexpensive, fun activities that will also help you prepare for those dreaded tests.

Enjoy a good summer read
Like romances? Mysteries? Comic books? Even newspapers and magazines—Pick up something you enjoy reading and peruse it.

“The writing in Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone and Vogue is actually at the level of the reading comp section on the SAT or very close to it. In fact, in the past I have seen reading comp sections that were pulled directly from these magazines,” comments Levine. “It is important to keep reading during the summer.”

Greg Smith, owner of Northwest Educational Services in Seattle, agrees. “Tom Clancy or Stephen King are authors who are more popular than critically acclaimed. However, they stuff their novels with vocabulary. And what better way to improve your performance on the SAT than to improve your vocabulary?”

If your parents are chiding you for not reading a classic novel, give them a copy of this article. (But reading the classics can’t hurt.)

Challenge yourself with crossword puzzles and word games
“The single best way to improve one’s vocabulary on the SAT is to increase one’s vocabulary knowledge,” says Ron Friedmann, owner of TutorExperts in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Jill McDermott, college and career development director at Parkview Baptist High School in Baton Rouge, La., concurs. “Work the crossword puzzles found in daily newspapers. Not only will the clues and puzzle answers increase your vocabulary for the SAT, they might also supply facts for quick test answers in the reading and science sections of the ACT,” McDermott says.

Levine adds, “Search the Internet and find sites that offer self-administered IQ tests, brain teasers, word problems or word puzzles. Just play. Don’t take it too seriously. …And don’t think your IQ score via the Internet is accurate!”

Tutor younger students in math
“Keeping math skills fresh during the summer provides a definite advantage for students taking standardized tests early in the school year,” says Beth Dare, director of Simply Mathematics-South Learning Center in St. Louis. “It also provides an easier transition back into the classroom. “An upper-level student may maintain his/her math skills during the summer by tutoring other students. Tutoring is an enjoyable way to maintain skills while helping another student who may be struggling.”  And if you charge for your time, your SAT score-boosting measure could also mean cash in your pocket!

Host SAT/ACT game nights
“Misery loves company,” says McDermott. “So gather a group of friends for a test prep tournament. Use actual former ACT and SAT sections, and set up the sections around a room. Divide the group into teams; assign members from each team to each station; set a timer; and let each team progress through the entire rotation.

After each team has completed all stations, check answers and award prizes to the team with the highest score.

Smith suggests the groan game. Have friends make vocabulary flash cards using SAT words. Then challenge each other by figuring out how to use the words correctly and also incorrectly by misusing or abusing the word in as many different situations as you can.

Says Smith, “This sounds a little silly, and that is the point. Not only do the kids learn their own words, but they learn their friends’ words as well. And usually some humorous competition ensues.”

The groan game can also be played on your own. Pick a new word each day and try to use and abuse it in as many ways as possible. The word will stick with you—and will drive everyone else crazy.

And finally…
“Let’s face it: SAT/ACT preparation is serious work, and fun does not rank high on the list of vocabulary associated with it,” empathizes McDermott. “In fact, for the typical high school student, the really fun part—researching admission and scholarship requirements for that first-choice university or college—serves as the motivation for really diligent test prep.”


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