Parents are so inundated with information regarding the SAT that they often have trouble knowing fact from fiction, truth from hyperbole. For years, I’ve dealt with such misconceptions and uncertainty any time I talk to a parent. If I had to think of five things I wanted every “SAT parent” to know, five important facts to help them navigate through the welter of confusion, I would tell them the following.
Students can improve on the SAT.
There is a myth that the SAT is a glorified IQ test, and a student’s score is impervious to change: it is as hard-wired as the color of their eyes. This is a patent falsehood, as year after year, I see students scores shoot up by hundreds of points (a phenomenon many an SAT tutor witnesses each year). I have yet to see any student’s eyes change color after my class ends.
Prep doesn’t have to break the bank.
All too often, parents pack their students off to brand name testing centers, many of which run into the thousands of dollars. Some opt for tutors who can be even more expensive.
With a few key books and a helpful but inexpensive tutor, effective SAT prep can end up costing you less than a 1,000.
Not every SAT book is created the same.
Before you go running off to the bookstore, you should know that not every SAT book is the same. Some are essential; others downright execrable. The one book every student should own is the College Board practice test book, aka The Blue Book. Chock full of past exams, nothing will better prepare a student for test day.
Colleges care about more than just scores.
Just as a great SAT store is not a golden ticket to an elite school, so too a mediocre score won’t preclude admission into a competitive institute. Many colleges consider SAT scores just a small slice of the “admissions pie.” True, some schools will weigh SAT scores more than others. But the smaller the school, the more likely the student—and not the score—is going to matter.
It doesn’t hurt to retake the test.
Many parents believe that retaking the SAT is akin to plastering a large scarlet letter upon their child’s back. The reality is students can take the test as many times as they want and choose the highest score from any of their sittings.
While I don’t want to advocate becoming an “SAT junkie,” students should know that the SAT is not a one-time, make-it-or-break-it thing. This knowledge will help relieve the considerable amount of stress every student feels walking into that cold classroom on a Saturday morning.