Michigan schools are gearing up for the SAT. Kathleen Gillespie, PhD, spells out what students need to know to get ready.
While there are many ways to prepare for the SAT college board, taking an active role, identifying best test-taking practices, and developing the necessary skills are fundamental for getting the best test scores possible.
Evidence Based Approaches
Although research does not document significant benefits of any one exam prep routine over another, what does contribute to positive outcomes is the consistency with which an exam prep routine is implemented and the extent to which it is personalized and adapted for individual learners.1 Every student is different and there are as many ways to individualize exam prep as there are students. 2 What follows are some of the best practices confirmed by the experiences of Mr. Michael Godvin and Mrs. Brigid Godvin, Co-founders of The Student Connection, and their team of tutors. Each of the following tips are based on the philosophy that learning how to see yourself as able to control your exam performance helps to motivate you to devote the effort and attention required for successful exam prep.3
How to Play an Active Role in Your Exam Prep
To help you avoid feeling overwhelmed with the amount of material you are tested on, take an active role in learning during your exam prep process.4 Here are seven ways you can do this.
- Prepare to acquire new information. Learn all you can about the organization of the exam. The greater knowledge you have about the content and how the exam is organized, the more likely you are to think about, understand, and remember it on exam day.5
- Talk with exam prep tutors. Ask your exam prep tutor(s) about what you are doing and why. Successful students understand what they are doing for exam prep and know why they are doing it.6
- Allocate sufficient time to exam prep. Shield and protect your exam prep time from interruptions by your friends, daydreaming and music. Focus: This improves your concentration. 7
- Spend uninterrupted time in exam prep. This result is that your attention remains focused during exam prep for gradually longer stretches of time. The time spent thinking about exam strategies results in better overall performance. 8
- Ask your tutor(s) to show you how to use exam prep skills. Having someone show you how to work an exam question helps you apply the skill for yourself. 9
- Keep your exam prep organized. Keep track of exam prep materials. Place everything in one folder or binder. Make a study calendar. Mark the exam date and location. Identify tutoring sessions. Set-up exam prep practice at home or at the library.
- Monitor and track your time on practice exams. Then ask your exam prep tutor(s) who has/have specialized skills for feedback on how you can be a better test taker.
- Archambeault, B. (1992). Personalizing study skills in secondary students. Journal of Reading, 35, 468-472. Baumann, J. F., & Bergeron, B. S. (1993).
- Mrs. Brigid Godvin, Academic Success Coach & Co-founder of The Student Connection.
- Zimmerman, B. J., Greenberg, D., & Weinstein, C. E. (1994). Self-regulating academic study time: A strategy approach. In D. H. Schunk & B. J. Zimmerman (Eds.), Self-regulation of learning and performance: Issues and educational applications (pp. 181-199). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Wood, E., Woloshyn, V. E., & Willoughby, T. (Eds.). (1995). Cognitive strategy instruction for middle and high school. Cambridge, MA: Brookline.
- Schunk, D. H. (2000). Learning theories: An educational perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
- Decker, K., Spector, S., & Shaw, S. (1992). Teaching study skills to students with mild handicaps: The role of the classroom teacher. The Clearing House, 65, 280-284.
- Nicaise, M., & Gettinger, M. (1995). Fostering reading comprehension in college students. Reading Psychology, 16, 283-337.
- Gersten, R. (1998). Recent advances in instructional research for students with learning disabilities: An overview. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 13(3), 162-170.
- Harris, K., & Pressley, M. (1991). The nature of cognitive strategy instruction: Interactive strategy construction. Exceptional Children, 57, 392-404.
* Assumption: “Study skills” identified as the topic in “Sources Cited” is synonymous with “exam prep skills.”