5 Helpful SAT Tips for Parents and Students

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This piece was originally written by Tom Rose from Testive

The SAT tips for parents and students we share in this article will help your child begin test prep. To master the SAT, you must pay a high cost for the rewards it brings. SAT test prep can be very stressful for parents and children. For the test-taker, the stress comes from the high stakes of the test, and for the parent, the stress comes because they have little control over the outcome.

However, there is good news. The process can be manageable. I’ve made changes in many students lives, helping send them to Duke, MIT, Harvard and other prestigious universities. Here are 5 helpful SAT tips for parents and students to make the test prep process easier.

#1: Start Early

The most effective thing a parent can do to help their children succeed on the SAT is to get them started early. Start the summer before junior year. Here’s why:

You want to have time to take the SAT three times. Test ability can always be improved with practice, but you only have a limited amount of time. Test prep also takes a lot of effort, so having some time in the summer can help so your child can focus mainly on that during the summer. Taking the test the summer before senior year is too late because you won’t have time to retake the test multiple times.

With “Score Choice”, students can choose to send their highest score to colleges, so there is an advantage in taking the test multiple times.Here is a guide on when to take the SAT.

#2: Apply Pressure Constructively

Often, parents say that getting their children to do test prep is very difficult, like pulling teeth. Students have low motivation because the process seems insurmountable and the stakes are high. They then procrastinate. Here are some great ways to get started:

  1. Arrange a college visit. College visits are good for parent and student bonding. They automatically bring the topic of college and test prep to the forefront without you having to mention it to your child.
  2. Schedule a test date. Deadlines are important. The best first time test dates are May or June at the end of sophomore year.
  3. Get a coach. This way, the coach can take over the responsibility of managing the process and is highly trained in it, which will make it easier for the child.
SAT Tips for Parents pressure
Sometimes pressure can result in something beautiful


#3: Focus on the weakest areas

This may sound obvious, but focusing on weak areas requires analysis, a trait which can be hard to develop. Often, this step of analysis is skipped because it is so difficult and time-consuming. Most lists of SAT Tips for parents and students fail to mention this.

It is critical that you ensure that your child is working with a tool that can do this analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, providing feedback. If you don’t have a tool like this, you can use practice tests or PSAT score reports for more general results.

#4: Deliberate practice

The only way to raise your SAT test score is through regular, focused practice. There really aren’t shortcuts.

The problem with test prep group classes and online self-serve tools is that they don’t keep students accountable, so students end up investing little effort.

It doesn’t matter the method you use if you don’t put in the work. In my experience, it takes most students about 100 hours of test prep time for them to reach their potential.

There’s nothing magic about test prep; it’s just deliberate practice.

SAT Tips for Parents practice
I find this true as well


#5: Review your work, don’t grind

Testive’s data shows that students that review every single question they missed and record notes on them improve over three times faster than those who don’t. How can you ensure these benefits happen?

Testive has tools that manage this review process and record all the results in a format easy to look at for parents, students and coaches. The worst thing to do is to grind hundreds of review questions without ever reviewing them afterwards. We call that “churn-and-burn”.

Remember that you don’t have to go it alone in test prep. Testive has coaches, but you can also find them in other places as well.

SAT Tips for Parents grind
We’re not making coffee, so don’t grind! Source: Amazon

Note: These SAT tips for parents and students also apply for the ACT.

A different version of this post originally found here

If you or your student is preparing for the SAT, you’ll find StudentSharp’s Ultimate SAT Guide very useful. Thanks for reading!

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