SAT Advice For Athletes
SAT Advice For Athletes
I often have students who are athletes – everything from football players to baseball players – come to me for help with raising their SAT scores. Their schedules can be so hectic with school work, school tests, coaching, training, and travelling for games that they are unable to study properly for this crucial exam. A lot of the time, the parent will come to me with just a couple of weeks or even days left before their child has to take the SAT!
Take, for example, my most recent SAT student: a baseball player who’s a part of the Ontario Blue Jays and Baseball Canada. He had already been recruited by a US College. The only thing in his way was this SAT. His requirements were to get a combined 900 points between Critical Reading and Math. He had already attempted the SAT once and achieved a very low score of 900 Total: 300 in Critical Reading, 300 in Math, and 300 in Writing. He needed about 450 in Critical Reading and 450 in Math to meet the requirements. His next attempt on the SAT was coming up in 2 weeks and he had not studied for the SAT at all due to his crazy schedule. On top of that, he only had time to meet with me for two sessions a week. This is a tough situation to be in for the student and the parent – all the years of their hard work rides on this one test.
After spending some time with him, I realized that he didn’t have a strategy for this exam at all. So, we worked on strategies that would maximize the amount of points he could get on each section. For example, in math, we focused mainly on questions that were a difficulty Level of 1, 2, or 3 and question types that are seen more commonly. We also worked on strategies to leave certain questions blank. This way, we were able to maximize the amount of points gained and minimize the loss of points due to getting questions wrong. After just 2 sessions, his score in Critical Reading was 480 and his score in Math was 450. A jump of 330 points!
This kind of drastic progress in such a short amount of time is possible with most student athletes, with the help of an experienced SAT tutor. But, the stress on the student and parent could be so much less if this sort of thing could be prevented.
So, how can you prevent this from happening if you are an athlete or your child is an athlete? Firstly, have them take the SAT in their Junior or even Freshman years. This may sound like it’s too early but that’s the point. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter how many times the student attempts the SAT. So, you can attempt it once or you can attempt it four times – most colleges will take the best scores or take the average (check with the institutions you are interested in for their policies regarding SAT scores). Doing this test early is beneficial for many reasons: 1) The school workload is less in grades 9 and 10 so you have more time to study for the SAT; 2) Even if you don’t do well – the experience of writing your first standardized exam that’s 4 hours long is priceless – it will decrease your anxiety significantly if you have to attempt it again; and 3) If you do attempt it again – you just build on all the material you studied previously so your score definitely improves. There are many studies that clearly state that most students perform better on their second attempt. One of the best books you can get to start practicing for the SAT early on is Rock The SAT Math Test. This book comes with 6 full math tests and complete solutions; it will really help the student bring up his math score. For Reading & Writing, the book we recommend is The Critical Reader. Also, be sure to visit College Board and learn the breakdown of the new SAT. We’ve also covered this entire breakdown on our blog.
Secondly, if you realize early on that they are struggling with Math or English in grades 9 and 10, you should definitely get them the help that they need at that point in time. Otherwise, they will have a great deal more trouble with the SAT math, critical reading, and writing sections later on. It would be wise to consult an SAT tutor about what steps to take and when to start studying for the SAT – as early as possible. Often times, for non-athlete SAT students, I get calls from parents who want to start preparing their child one year or two years ahead of when they want them to write the SAT. This would be a prudent strategy for parents of athletes also. I always tell my students that this exam is just like any sport – you have to learn to play the game and then practice, practice, practice.