Why I Wrote This Book
Every year a new crop of pupils begins the college entrance “process”. There are the interviews, the tours, the financial aid, the applications, the anxieties and, of course, the “SAT/ACT.” The large majority of pupils entering the eleventh grade truly know very little about these exams: what is on them, how to prepare for them, how to improve their scores, which ones to take and when to take them. This book is intended to ease pupils into this often confusing process and give them confidence that they will get through it all – and, likely, quite successfully.
In my discussion involving pupil commentary we will see that most pupils are quite unaware of the impending “ordeal.” Yet after it’s over, most find that it was not as big a deal as it had been billed to be. As in most endeavors in life it is often quite beneficial (from almost every angle imaginable) to get familiar with “ropes” of a process – in this case, of course, the SAT/ACT “megilla.” When pupils become familiar with the entire SAT/ACT situation and its logistics from A to Z, much of the complications, difficulties and anxieties are diminished. That is one of the major purposes of this book - to ease and guide pupils through the (mostly) eleventh grade “rite of passage” known as the SAT/ACT.
The process can even become “fun” for the pupil. In addition to improving their SAT/ACT score this process (reflected in the content of this book) will also help them become better students, become more organized, improve vocabulary, reading comprehension, and mathematics and study skills. Along with enhanced vocabulary and self-confidence, speaking and listening skills will also improve. Pupils will gain confidence in these types of standardized exams that they will be confronting from time to time in their future. For example, they shall go through similar preps in their graduate school application process, on their upcoming college freshman placement exams as well as on the usual tests along their continuous educational journey. This book will teach them those all important “ropes” that make success in any new adventure that much easier and less stressful. The books that they will use for their review, the help that they may need to receive (from tutors, classes, guidance personnel, self-study methodology, and relaxation strategies) are all discussed in this book that will positively enhance their experience with this “rite of (SAT/ACT) passage.” The book will teach pupils major score - enhancement strategies whether their “starting point” baseline results are low or high. Using this book will greatly increase probability of score growth.
As far as psychology and its impact on exam results. I worked with a so – called “rising” senior during the summer before twelfth grade. She had taken the SAT once as a junior and did not do that well! She was down on herself, became quite negative, lost self confidence and was very “stressed out.” She had not prepared at all for the SAT and knew very little about the ACT.
Strategy. Insight. Planning. More reasons why I wrote this book. First of all she should have prepared for the 11th grade SAT. She likely would have done better, allowing for stress relief early in the college application process. However, now that she discovered the ACT and began practicing for it, she started gaining confidence again. She scheduled herself for the September ACT in order not to have to wait for the late October ACT. This way she would be able to apply for early admission if necessary. But more importantly, she did very well, thus having good scores “in the bank”, relieving loads of pressure. The ACT was “her exam.”
This last two paragraphs show you more of what reading this book can do for pupils. It makes them aware of test calendars, scheduling, planning, preparing, knowledge of access to critical resources and insight into the different types of exams and options possible.
This book is for the use of pupils and parents (and even teachers and tutors of these students) of any school - age child. As pupils enter grades eight through twelve, however, the need for the material contained in this book will grow enormously. Grade eight is not too early a point for pupils to being gaining familiarity with SAT/ACT ideas. Even parents of younger children can benefit. However, it is truly the “rising” high school juniors (early summer of the upcoming junior year) that have the critical need for knowledge in this arena.
When I was a first year teacher, a first year camp counselor, a first year assistant principal, or a first year union leader it was always that A to Z orientation (or “ropes”) that eased my bumpy ride and greatly shortened the “learning curve.”
Similarly, it is this book (and one reason why I wrote it) that will give students that quick (relatively) orientation so critical to exam success.
What qualifies me to write this book? Teaching for 38 years, tutoring for 25 and serving as a staff developer, helped provide me with in depth knowledge of the learning process and of methods to assist pupils in succeeding on “high stakes” exams. In addition, as an Assistant Principal of Guidance and as a veteran camp counselor, I received great insight into the influence of psychology on the learning process. It is often more than knowledge that goes into exam success here. We have many other factors at work too. We have motivation, support, methodology and planning, we have influences from parents, teachers and friends. Just take a look at the Circle of Success (in Appendix and detailed later in the book) to see what goes into our expected positive outcome! My experiences in education and beyond eminently qualify me as an expert in this field. My track record in working with students is getting better every year as I gather more knowledge and analytic evidence from my involvement with the exams.
As the SAT changed in 2005 and will continue to change well into the future, the teaching strategies must also adapt and change. It is very interesting and challenging to be involved with this ongoing process. So many young lives are positively affected by these wonderful explorations.
That all being said, many students will take the SAT/ACT journey nearly “solo.” They may not have a tutor or never attend any classes. Reading this book is the perfect “flight plan” for their upcoming long and sometimes bumpy journey. Thus no matter which route they take to achieve their dream SAT/ACT score, this book will guide them every step of the way!
Again the material in this “guide” is for both pupils and parents. Both can derive major benefit and if these two “constituencies” work together as a team, results will be even greater!