As someone who speaks often to groups of parents of college-bound high schoolers eager to help their teens advance and prosper, I hear all kinds of questions. I’ve answered most inquiries about the SAT and ACT, why they matter, and what should be done about them so often that my responses tend to spawn detailed articles. One common question, however, appears easy on its face but has proven difficult to fully answer over the years:
“What can or should my 9th or 10th grader be doing now to prepare for the SAT or ACT?”
Simple, right? The early grades may be too soon for formal prep but they are exactly when teens should be building their academic foundations for future test success. Since the SAT and ACT test fundamental reading, writing, and math skills, freshman and sophomores should focus on excelling in those core areas in two basic ways:
1. Take the highest levels of math possible, based on access and ability level.
2. Read (and understand what you read) every day.
No parent struggles with the first step. The math tracking system in most schools provides a clear path to grade-appropriate and advanced math instruction, even if teachers don’t focus as often as they could on the kind of conceptual understanding and problem solving the tests prize. Reading presents a tougher nut to crack, though, as school assignments don’t fully satisfy the reading requirement based on what is known about mastery in this area. If you want to be able to understand unfamiliar written text quickly and readily, you need to read high-level fiction and non-fiction every day.
Nobody disputes this point. In fact, most parents and teens agree that reading more would undoubtedly lead to better grades, test scores, and outcomes in college and beyond. Yet, that sage advice rarely ever leads to high schoolers picking up books outside of school and reading every day. Why not?
- They don’t know what to read.
- They don’t know when to read.
- They don’t know how to read.
- They don’t have someone outside their family monitoring their reading.
Basically, the question of what freshmen and sophomores should do to prepare for the SAT and ACT is easy to answer but difficult to implement… at least until now. After puzzling over this problem for years, the solution emerged: a special book club designed specifically to cultivate superior reading skills.
We’ve all heard of book clubs. These groups read the same books and meet at regular intervals to discuss them. The typical book club consists of adults with shared interests in certain types of fiction and are moderated by group members. A more strategic reading club for teens seeking future test success must differ substantially from a traditional book club. Everything from who runs the group to what they read to how discussion is structured should focus not just on immediate reading enjoyment but also on long-term applicability.
For these reasons, we are proud to announce our new Strategic Reading Club. If your high schooler doesn’t read regularly outside, he or she is missing out on the chance of a lifetime to build those reading skills we all know support success and satisfaction in life. A special group designed for high schoolers may be just what your teen needs. Find out how powerful and engaging a strategic reading club that answers the critical questions of what, when, and how to read–while making sure that reading actually happen–can be!