How many high school juniors are athletes? Many are, and why shouldn’t they be? Athletics is a fun and social way to stay in shape and let off steam after school. For all the junior scholar-athletes out there, let me draw some analogies from the world of sports to describe the ideal SAT and ACT prep program.
NEW TO THE SPORT
Doing nothing at all to prepare for the tests is like trying to play a sport before you even know the rules. You arrive out of shape and unable to show off your skills. Students who walk in cold either assume they can’t study for a standardized test (wrong) or are unmotivated to make test prep a priority. Hang on… there’s a much better way!
TUTORING AND CLASSES
You’ve joined the team! All the instruction, coaching, and playing facilities are available to you. You have a great opportunity to sharpen your skills, learn new strategies, prepare for competition, and get into good mental shape. Juniors who view test prep as a season have a plan to follow and an end goal in sight. Juniors who prep early in the school year can use the fall, winter, and even spring seasons, if needed.
Taking a full-length practice test is like playing in a scrimmage game. You can practice your game-day skills in a setting much like a league game, but without the risk of a poor performance hurting your record. The importance of this practice test setting and environment can’t be overstated: you can bring all your new skills to the forefront, PLUS GET A SENSE OF GAME-DAY TIMING, PACING, AND STRATEGY. Familiarizing yourself with the test structure is like knowing your opponent; the more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to go up against the big test.
PRACTICE TEST REVIEW
For an athlete, nothing compares to post-game analysis, the dreaded yet vital review of game tapes. For a test taker, test review is essential. By analyzing your practice test performance with your tutor, you greatly expand your skill set. You provide yourself a priceless opportunity to learn from your mistakes. This is where the “game” gets personal: how can I increase my chances of getting these types of questions right next time? After all, score improvement is often a game of inches, where just a few more right answers can be enough to get you into a new achievement bracket.
At last, you’ve made it to the big game, prepared to win out over all obstacles. You know what’s expected, and what it will take to succeed: EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT. You fight for every point and leave it all on the field. You walk away fatigued, knowing you did your very best, right from the beginning of your prep season.
There is a lull in the action while you wait for your test scores. Time to rest and take a break from prep. Once the scores come in, you’ll find out if all your hard work yielded the results you wanted. If so, victory! If not, it’s time to apply the age-old line immortalized by Dodgers and Cubs fans: wait ’til next year. Except in your case, your next shot at the test won’t be a whole year away!
Student athletes, keep working on your game… your test game, that is! And stay in good physical shape too, by eating well, getting rest, and working out. You’ll be building physical endurance, which will offer added stamina for those four-hour test marathons.