If your teen is acing all of his or her classes, you may not think that extra preparation for the SAT is necessary. However, the stakes of performing well on the SAT are high: SAT scores are incredibly important for college admissions, as they are an excellent predictor of college success; many college admissions departments weigh them higher than your teen's GPA! What's the best way to ensure that your teen performs at his or her best on this crucial exam? Although self-study is an excellent tool, SAT prep courses provide resources that can't be found in a book. Let's examine why live courses are a useful tool even for students who are at the top of the class.
Fill In Those Knowledge Gaps
It's not uncommon for ace students to be taking Calculus when they take the SAT in their Junior year of high school; unfortunately, Calculus isn't on the SAT! The highest level of math on the SAT is basic trigonometry, with a large amount of questions on Geometry. If your teen took Geometry over two years ago, it's likely time to brush up on some of those old skills. A common example is the problem of two parallel lines cut by a transverse line; this is taught very early on in Geometry and will almost certainly never be mentioned again in your teen's math courses. A live instructor from an SAT prep course can help identify gaps in your teen's knowledge, either from information that was taught long ago and forgotten or from sections of the curriculum that were skipped over by the teacher.
A similar problem occurs on the writing portion of the SAT, which involves correcting errors in sentences. For ace students, it's possible to breeze through grammar in high school simply by being a voracious reader and sounding out sentences in your head – not so with the SAT! Tricky questions such as the difference between "lay" and "lie" are not only impossible to sound out in your head, but are often used incorrectly in written speech as well. It's important for your teen to be armed with as much knowledge as possible when going in to take the SAT; SAT prep courses have live instructors with up-to-date knowledge of the breadth of subject matter covered by the SAT, allowing them to fill in your teen's knowledge gaps so a disaster doesn't occur on test day.
Prepare For The Big Day
Although subject area knowledge is the most important part of getting a great score, excellent test taking skills play a big role as well. Working through an SAT study book at home is wildly different than taking the test for real; your teen will likely be in a totally different environment, surrounded by other students that he or she may not know and will be pressured for time. This causes stress, and stress causes even the best students to make mistakes that they normally wouldn't. An SAT prep course will have mock tests that simulate the environment that he or she will experience on test day; this allows your teen to practice the correct time management skills needed for getting a great SAT score. Live instructors will teach these skills to your teen, such as skimming the questions first before reading the passages in the reading portion of the SAT, eliminating obviously false answers quickly on the multiple choice portions and skipping questions that are too difficult or time-consuming and coming back to them later if time allows.
Overall, with the importance of having a high SAT score for college admissions, it's a good idea to consider SAT test prep even for high-performing students. It's easy for your teen to both overestimate his or her competence at subject areas learned long ago and to underestimate just how stressful the day of the exam will be. Don't let your teen go into the big day unprepared!