SAT Prep: The Importance of Continuity
When it comes to earning top scores on the SAT and ACT, students know preparation is key. However, most students don’t know where to start on their SAT or ACT test prep journey.
At MEK, we believe that there are three components that make for a successful test prep experience: continuity, practice, and repeated evaluation and assessment.
How does continuity affect test prep?
We interviewed Mr. Tony Kim, MEK’s Director of College Test Prep Math, to get his take on why continuity during the SAT and ACT Test Prep journey is essential.
Why is continuity so important for test prep?
Kim: Test prep is all about building momentum, and the best way to build momentum is through continuity and repetition. Through continuity and repetition, students gain confidence and reinforce skills. We can think of it like a race. You can’t rest and then expect to be able to sprint. In order to be successful, you need to practice a little each day. The same is true of test prep.
Why do students tend to break this continuity?
Kim: After students take the SAT, it takes about three weeks for them to get their scores back. During this time, some students opt to take a break from SAT prep as they await their scores. These students believe that they will be able to return to SAT Prep with the same momentum they had when they left. However, this is a dangerous assumption.
The benefits of continuity to SAT Prep is best observed through a case study of two students that began their SAT test prep journey in September. This case study is show through the graph below.
Student A is represented by the blue line on the chart. They had a six month goal to reach their target score of 1400 by the March administration of the SAT. At the start of their journey, Student A was scoring 1310. Student A took the December SAT, but continued their SAT prep, even while they waited to find out their score. By March, Student A ended up scoring a 1480 on the official SAT, which opened doors to the types of colleges they could apply to.
Student B is represented by the red line on the chart. They also started their SAT Prep journey in September, was scoring higher than Student A when they began. Student B even scored higher than Student A on the December SAT. However, Student B opted to not continue their SAT prep for the three weeks that they awaited their score, and that three week break turned into a two month break. Student B came back confident that they would be able to pick up where they left off. Unfortunately, Student B lost momentum and did not progress as much as they could have if they had just continued with their SAT Prep instead of taking a break.
How can students gauge whether or not to continue their test prep?
Kim: At MEK, we usually take the average of the last three CollegeBoard SAT tests that students have taken with us and predict their official test score based on that average. If the average of a student’s last three scores is above their target test score, then we ask that the student let us know as soon as they take the SAT so we can talk about a plan for the future. However, if the average of a student’s last three tests did not meet their target score, there’s a big chance that their official test score is not going to meet their target score.
I understand that SAT Prep is daunting. And what makes SAT Prep challenging is that it is different than preparing for a traditional classroom test. In school, students are given exactly what to study. But with SAT Prep, while there are topics you can study, you never know exactly what is going to be on the test. That’s why I always recommend to my students that rather than setting aside three hours of study time every week, it is better to set aside thirty minutes of study time every day.
At MEK, we give students tools through our Canvas platform, such as question banks and problem sets. We also teach students how to effectively use their study time whether they are in the classroom or at home.
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