It’s the early bird that catches the worm!
Do you think class 8 is too early to start prepping for the SAT? You may change your mind after you read what follows.
Almost everyone in India, who is interested in pursuing a UG program in universities abroad, knows about the SAT and the ACT. In India, while it is absolutely normal for most children to start their weekly sojourns to an IIT coaching institute from class 8 while preparing for IIT Entrance Tests, prepping early for the SAT, which sets the benchmark for determining college admission abroad, is explored by only a few parents and children in India. This needs to change. As Barrack Obama puts it, “Today a college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class and beyond“. Why not make it doubly sure for your child by starting to prepare for the SAT early?
Let us look at the advantages of starting young, say, when in class 8.
- Gaining familiarity: Starting early ensures that students get familiar with the SAT even before they decide to take the test in class 11 or so. The familiarity is not only just about knowing what the SAT score does in terms of admissions to colleges, but also about what the SAT tests in the 3 sections of Math, Reading, and Writing & Language. The reading passages on the SAT are quite abstruse and definitely, nothing like the friendly passages students come across in their school curriculum. Introducing SAT reading techniques and familiarizing students with the characteristic SAT question types will certainly help students to face the daunting test in the calm of mind all passion spent – as said Milton, the great poet.
- The other side of Math: Students who have a flair for math often do exceptionally well in entrance tests such as the EAMCET or the IIT/ JEE. But, it is possible and has happened in a few bizarre instances, that school math toppers and Math Olympiad winners fail to get a perfect score on the SAT Math. Strange; isn’t it? SAT math is not tough, but it is definitely circumlocutory. This means that the math problems are served in the English language that is layered with a lot of waffle that distracts our young math-magicians who get lost separating the chaff from the wheat, and inevitably come up with a skewed understanding of the problem at hand. Starting early will help students face this challenge with confidence.
- Reading for knowledge: SAT reading passages are at times excerpts from US Founding Documents which are the primary documents of American political and social history. These documents are often in a language and style that is beyond the understanding of our 21st century young minds. The SAT Evidence-Based Reading test serves 5 passages with 10-11 questions each and is to be completed in 65 minutes. One or two of the passages can be from the US Founding Documents and if a child has never read such heavy stuff in his entire school years, he may be in for a rude shock. So familiarizing oneself with the knowledge contained in such historical documents, will help one in prepping for the D-Day. If students start early, they will have the time to read for knowledge and not just for the test.
- Vocabulary in context: The Old SAT required of students to have a healthy vocabulary before they took the test. But the new SAT with its leaning towards academic passages and knowledge, expects students to have the talent to understand simple words that are placed in exceptional contexts. This is a challenge in itself because the word looks ridiculously easy, but the meaning is not what it could be if examined out of context. The word will have the meaning that the context throws up, so vocabulary is linked with better reading skills and this, again, can be developed when one is very young.
- No guessing penalty: For SAT takers who start young in their preparation, the best advice would be to imagine that there is a guessing penalty and work furiously against time to ensure that all questions are answered. Starting at an early age, they can aim to acquire speed with accuracy instead of following the usual advice of sacrificing speed for accuracy. Young SAT preppers can attempt several practice drills with or without the timer, till they acquire the confidence to take on real mock tests. That is the best advantage SAT test takers, who begin early in their preparation to crack the SAT, will enjoy, and, believe me, it is no mean advantage