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How to Help Your Teen Succeed on the SAT

Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Studying_(2759729091).jpg

Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Studying_(2759729091).jpg

 

Many students are gearing up for the SAT. Preparing for the SAT is similar to the way an athlete prepares for a race or a big game. There is so much to do, know, and remember. Meanwhile the students must continue to focus on their everyday classes, homework, projects, and tests. So how can you help your teen?

Put the test into perspective for them.

Yes, the SAT is important, but it is not the only thing that colleges and universities look at when making a decision about your application. Even though a good score can definitely sat

help, lots of schools these days are not placing as much emphasis on those test scores. More than 800 schools list the test as optional depending on the student’s GPA or class rank.

Help your teen with test prep.

There are many options for help with test prep. Some parents get their high school student a private tutor. College Board offers a FREE online program through Khan Academy. Parents can help quiz their teens with the Question of the Day. Create a study plan together. Creating a plan will alleviate stress and help your teen feel more confident and organized for the SAT. They do not have to follow the plan precisely, but the simple act of making the plan is helpful. When your teen takes a practice test act as the proctor. Take their cell phone, help with timing, etc. Make it feel as real as possible.

Discuss the reward(s).

Studying for any major exam is stressful. Help your teen decide what their reward will be after they have finished the exam. This could be a day at the beach, a massage, etc. Do something fun! Post this reward somewhere that it will be noticeable on a daily basis.

Alleviate test anxiety.

As an Academic Coach in Jacksonville who works with teens I notice how stressed and overwhelmed students get with regard to tests. No matter how hard they study test anxiety can negatively affect their efforts to be successful. I have also noticed things that work to help alleviate test anxiety and seen students defeat those negative feelings. Here are a few that are easy to implement.

Mindfulness: My favorite FREE apps that are perfect for high school students are MindShift and Breathe.

Music: Creating a study playlist with a few power songs is helpful not only while students are studying but when they are gearing up to study. Listen to this playlist the morning of the test to pumped and sty positive.

Stretching: Practicing simple stretching is great for the body and mind. This is useful not only while studying but also the day of the test.

Affirmations: Student affirmations are positive statements to help teens stay in a positive mindset. Hang one up a day where it can be seen. Saying them out loud is powerful. Below are some examples.

  • I am a great student and getting better each and every day
  • I am prepared for my tests. Tests are a breeze for me.
  • Today I study hard so tomorrow I can reach my goals.
  • I can learn anything! I can know anything! I can be anything!

Best wishes for less stress and more success.

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

 

 

Studying and The Brain

Photo Credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/B2hRq1JnBGk/maxresdefault.jpg

Photo Credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/B2hRq1JnBGk/maxresdefault.jpg

What do teachers and students mean when they say review or study?

In my conversations with students they say they are going to study or review for a test. What does that mean though? Teachers will tell students to study or review a particular chapter or section before a test. However, students are not taught how to study or review material. Most students read over the textbook or their notes again and don’t interact with the material. In order for our brains to truly learn and retain the material we need to do something with what we have read.

First, we encode information by reading. The information goes into our brains and we become familiar with the material. Then, we need to retrieve the information to use it.  We have to get it out. In psychology this is referred to as the “retrieval effect.” “The more things you have it (information) connected to, the easier it is to pull it out, because you have lots of different ideas that can lead you to that particular material,” Mark McDaniel, a Professor of Psychology at Washington University. “And the things you retrieve get more accessible later on, and the things you don’t retrieve get pushed into the background and become harder to retrieve next time.” Hence, the reason why students need various strategies and quizzable tools when preparing for tests. Students need to quiz themselves before the teacher does to see how much they know and reflect on how to retrieve the information in the future.

Tips to help students successfully “retrieve” information for tests:

  1. Stop using the words, study and review. Be specific! How will you study or review for a test? For example, I am going to make flashcards for Spanish class, or I am going to quiz myself for my math test by completing practice questions.
  2. Form or join a study group where you can quiz your friend(s). Two heads are better than one! In your group you could each make up 5 test questions and exchange and discuss them.
  3. Take notes in a format where you can quiz yourself later. Cornell Notesare great or write the term on one line and then below it write the definition. This way you can fold your paper up and slowly bring it down as you quiz yourself.
  4. Read your notes out loud. It might even be helpful to record yourself.
  5. Use mnemonic devices to help make the information stick. It can be a song, rhyme, acronym, image, or a phrase that helps you remember the material.
  6. Create and answer your own quiz using helpful websites like Quizlet orGoConqr.
  7. Use your senses: smell, touch, hear, see.  The more senses you use when learning material the more likely you are to remember it.
  8. Have a whiteboard at home? They are great to use when quizzing yourself or getting information “out.” Mind maps are fun to draw and help with the retrieval process.
  9. Relate the information to something you already know, something in real life.
  10. Self-questioning is a helpful habit to form! It will increase your comprehension. The following questions are great to ask yourself when checking for understanding.

How were ___ and ___ the same?  Different?
What do you think would happen if___?
What do you think caused ___ to happen?
What other solution can you think of for the problem of ___?
What might have prevented the problem of ____ from happening?
What is important about ______?  

**For more tips on how to ace tests read my post, Test Taking Tips: Strategies on How to Reduce Test Anxiety

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.