The Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT measures three areas: critical reading, mathematics and writing. The purpose of the test is to predict academic strength for college work. While the outcome of the test is not the only thing college admissions officials look at when making an admissions decision, high scores are very helpful.
Parents who would like their children to do well on the SAT should start preparing them early by focusing on three areas:
1. Critical reading skills begin when children participate in story time as toddlers. Taking them to the library, talking to them about what they are reading and otherwise engaging them in reading will help them do well on the critical reading test of the SAT because they will read faster and comprehend more than less practiced readers.
2. Basic math concepts learned in elementary school are the building blocks for more complicated math in middle school and still more complicated math in high school. Students who miss any part of early math foundations are doomed to struggle in classes and tests forever unless they get remedial tutoring help. Rather than have a teenager in that position, parents can put serious effort into helping children learn math facts at home and playing math games. Parents who are unsure of their math ability should start early and get teacher advice on how to help their children at home. When children enter more advanced math courses, parents should make sure their children take advantage of the free tutoring services often provided in schools through student clubs and after school programs.
3. Writing skills, like reading and math, are enhanced and strengthened by practice. Encouraging children to write thank you notes at an early age, to keep a diary and help write a family history are activities parents can encourage to help children have good writing skills. Monitoring writing skills and asking for help from teachers if there are problems is critical to avoid more serious issues with writing later.
SAT Prep programs are very helpful. They provide test taking tips and practice taking sections of the SAT. However, if students have serious academic deficits in reading, math or writing, an SAT Prep course will not be enough to help students do well on the SAT test.