Wyomissing, PA

SAT Tips for Parents: What you must do to prepare your kids for test day!

Three tips for parents to help boost their child’s SAT score

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The last few weeks before the SAT exam are often some of the most stressful for students. It’s during this time that I begin to get a lot of phone calls and texts from parents trying to get their child some last-minute tutoring on the exam.  Don’t get me wrong, some help, even last minute help, is better than no help at all. It’s great that parents want to help their child boost their score. In fact, nine out of ten times I get the same question from a parent, “I know this is last-minute, but is there anything that we as parents can do to help (insert child’s name here) to prepare for the exam?”
Actually, there are a few things that parents can do! Here are three suggestions to help your child reduce stress and boost their SAT score.
1. Sleep – Numerous studies have shown that when we get more sleep we perform better.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if your child is well-rested, he/she will be more prepared for the exam.  Typically,  adolescents need between eight and nine hours of sleep each night. Ideally this would be great, but sadly, most teens don’t even come close to this much time sleeping.
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To make up for the lack of sleep, many students tell me that they are going to go to bed at 8 PM the night before the exam. I usually ask, “When is your normal bedtime?” If their answer isn’t within 30 minutes of 8 PM I tell them, “Why bother?”
In order for your body to adapt to a new schedule/rhythm, it takes about 7-10 days.
So, parents, what can you do to help?
Starting about two weeks before the exam, children should go to sleep a bit earlier.  How much earlier? I would start small, say 15 to 20 minutes earlier the first couple of nights. Then they should begin to work their way up to 30 minutes or so the last week of the exam. By the time the exam rolls around, they will have gained several hours of more sleep.  By the way, when I say sleep, I mean sleep. That does not mean laying in bed staring at a phone or tablet for an hour or so.
2.  Homework/projects/tests – So often, I hear students complaining that they have a major project or test due the Monday after the exam. Furthermore, they tell me that  they haven’t even started studying for the upcoming test or haven’t even looked at the project. Now they begin to worry about school work and become distracted thus losing focus on the exam.
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 So, parents, what can you do to help?
Simple, help your child plan out their work ahead of time. If they know that they will have a test or project due early next week, you could help them begin to tackle the work well in advance of the exam. Knocking out large parts of a project or looking over the material for an upcoming exam will lower stress and help them focus on the task at hand -– the SAT exam! Besides, now they have completed the work that they had to do anyway. It’s a win-win.
3.  Supplies – the night before the exam all of the test-taking supplies (printed test ticket number two pencils, calculator, etc.) should be ready to go. A complete list of what to bring (and not to bring) can be found at https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/taking-the-test/test-day-checklist  Please, never assume anything. I once had a student tell me that his high school allowed students to sign out graphing calculators the day before the exam. Everything was great until he tried turning on the calculator–dead batteries. Never, assume anything.
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So, parents, what can you do to help?
Before your child goes to bed on Friday night make sure all of the College Board checklist items are in the same place.  That way they can just pick up and go.
These tips seem small, but they can really go a long way in reducing your child’s stress levels.  Remember, SAT day should be all about lowering stress.  Although these tips seem small, they can really go a long way to help lower anxiety and boost confidence.
Look for my upcoming post on stress-reducing tips on the day of the exam. Good luck!
Lou Blair is a high school social studies teacher and a private SAT tutor. He has been teaching & tutoring for twenty years. 

 
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