6 Ways Parents Can Help Their Child Prepare for the SAT

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Is your child planning to take the SAT in the coming months? Here's how you can help them to be as ready as possible for this all-important academic challenge.

Prepare for Success

Taking the SAT is a major stepping stone in a student's path toward college. It's a long, complicated test that requires intensive preparation for months ahead of time. If this sounds like a lot for a single student to take on alone, you're probably hoping that you, as a parent, can do something to help. Here are our top six suggestions for ways you can help your child prepare for the SAT.

Students take the SAT

1. Be a Study Buddy

As studious and motivated as your child might be, there are some things that he or she can't easily study alone. This is where you come in as the patient, supportive, in-house study buddy. (Note that these are qualities that can't always be found in study buddies who are friends or classmates.) For example, you can go over common SAT vocabulary words, check the accuracy of a math problem, or evaluate a sample essay. All of these activities will be tremendously helpful during your child's test preparation process.

2. Provide a Selection of Texts to Read

One of the more challenging parts of the SAT is the reading comprehension section, which requires students to read different types of texts and understand the vocabulary within them as well as the text's arguments, main ideas, themes, and writing style. To help prepare your child for the reading section of the SAT, consider helping him or her find and parse through an assortment of different types of writing. Some options include historical texts, literature from around the world, and scientific papers, even legal documents.

The SAT test

3. Find Worthwhile Study Tools

While it will be up to your child to actually do all of the studying required to excel on the SAT, you can help by selecting which study tools should be used. Test preparation books can be quite expensive, so you'll want to do some research about which ones are worthwhile, as well as whether or not you might be able to purchase them secondhand. If you're looking for a more affordable option, or simply want to supplement your child's study materials, you have the option to choose from among a variety of online study resources. Although plentiful, some are trustworthier than others, so make sure to read the reviews and consider the source of the material.

4. Hire a Tutor

Sometimes, studying alone or with mom and dad just doesn't cut it. If that's the case with your child, consider finding and hiring an SAT tutor. After all, succeeding on the SAT is a very specific skill that isn't as connected to general knowledge, intelligence, or understanding as one might expect. The best way to get a good score is to work with somebody who has expert knowledge about what it takes to get that good score on the SAT. Whether you choose to spring for weekly meetings or just a session or two before the big day, an SAT tutor will be a major help.

A student works with an SAT tutor

5. Keep a Schedule

It's easy to get lost and overwhelmed when preparing for the SAT, so one effective way for parents to support their children is to help them keep track of their schedules. While having your child be responsible for his or her time management can be an educational opportunity, remember that the major focus should be on the test itself. As such, you can help your test-taker create and track his or her long-term schedule, including signing up for the test, preparing for the test, taking a practice test, taking the actual test, and, if necessary, retaking the test. You can also help to keep your child on track on the day of the test, ensuring that he or she gets to the testing center on time.

6. Offer Emotional Support

The final, and perhaps most important, thing you can do for your child during the SAT preparation process is just to be there. SAT season can be a stressful, overwhelming time for adolescents, and sometimes they just need somebody to talk to or a shoulder to cry on. Check in with your child and provide emotional support as needed. Nothing will make your child happier than a special treat from you during this time of intense pressure.

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By Daisy Rogozinsky
March 2019

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