Taking any test is stressful, but the SAT is like the granddaddy of all stressors for a teenager. Parents just don’t get it sometimes. They are putting pressure on their child to do well in school, get into a good college, and live up to their expectations.

Kids want to be their own person, and believe it or not, they probably put more pressure on themselves than you can. They don’t need you on their back telling them they aren’t doing well – they already know that. Those who are good students feel they could do better, and those who aren’t know they aren’t. You don’t have to stay on their back to push them further. Don’t underestimate your child!

Here are a few strategies that will keep the teen hormones in balance, and your household as stress-free as possible while they gear up for that big SAT test.

  • If you want your kids to do well on the SAT, make learning fun! Let them play games! I’m not talking about Avenger or Road Warrior, there are free educational games online, like SAT Vocabulary Express, (http://www.learnatest.com/LEL/index.cfm/) which will help your child to prepare for the SAT test and have fun doing it.
  • Do crossword puzzles. There is no better way to learn vocabulary words than a crossword puzzle.
  • Give your child space when preparing for the SAT. Don’t concentrate on them doing well on the SAT, focus more on improving their study skills and doing well in their class work. Ask teachers for advice on how to get them to understand things they are having trouble with.
  • Ask for help! If they are having problems with memorizing or understanding something – get them a tutor. When hiring a tutor, find one who emphasizes academics, not just the tricks to pass the test. SAT prep tutors focus on study material relevant to the questions on the test. Instead of staying on the child about how they are doing, ask the tutors to keep you up to date via a phone call or email.
  • Don’t pressure them to get into your Alma matter. With so many more students trying to get into college today, the competition is fierce. Many “straight A” students are being turned away from the schools they want. Instead, focus on schools where your child will be able to thrive academically as well as socially. It may not be your first pick, but the best one for them.
  • Take practice tests until your child is comfortable with taking the SAT. Although memorizing is a great tool it is not the most effective way to ace the SATs. It’s good to remember mathematical theorems in order to do the math problems, but it’s also important to understand words, the meanings, and how they are used. Take practice tests (many can be found online) to understand how questions are worded, and what they expect. Practice tests will give you feedback on what you are doing well in, and where you need work.
  • Learn how the SAT tests are graded. Find out how that College Board scores the SAT test. It’s not just the total answers you get right, there are deductions for giving the wrong answers as well, in some portions. Learn the techniques in how they score to get the best possible grade.
  • Take the ACT test. Most colleges accept the ACT test instead of, or in addition to, the SAT, and many students do better on it than the SAT. It wouldn’t hurt to take both tests, and if you aren’t sure where your child is going to apply to, and what their criteria is, it’s a good idea to take both tests.
  • Last but not least – Don’t nag or criticize them! That only adds to the stress they are already feeling, and leads to arguments between you. Life is simpler when there is encouragement and support – not criticism.

It’s his or her last year at home, so why make it a difficult one for everyone? If they don’t get a great score on the SAT life will not cease, they can take it again!


Ivy Educational Services: http://www.ivyeducationalservices.com/mission.html

Learning Express Library – http://www.learnatest.com/LEL/index.cfm/