The SAT is a huge part of most high schoolers’ life. For some, the studying process can be the majority of their high school career and include a plethora of SAT tutoring sessions. I began to tutor the SAT during my senior year of high school and continued on with it through my freshman year of college, eventually joining one of the test prep companies. Here’s what I’ve learned.
A Positive Mindset Matters
This is true for everyone involved—student, tutor, and parents. Tutoring really isn’t effective unless the student’s actions are positively reinforced. It’s up to the tutors to congratulate, encourage, and accept any and all answers; wrong answers simply lend themselves to a lesson in how to get to the right ones. Parents also need to be on their students’ side. Tutoring can be expensive and time consuming, and the pressure to get a high score can be incredibly high for some students, but it’s important to let kids take their own steps towards improvement.
Studying Requires Quiet Time
When I held private tutoring sessions, I would go to the students’ houses to tutor. Some of the homes were completely chaotic, and tuning out all of the madness was nearly impossible. Students need a quiet place to study, free from their parents, siblings, and whatever else—phones, computers, etc—could distract them. Setting aside a workspace is really helpful for whatever studying needs your student has. You’d be amazed at how much more can be accomplished, and accomplished well, in such a short period of time.
Who Tutors You Matters
Huge improvements in scores are possible. They happen everyday. In order to get those score jumps, the student and tutor need to be on the same page. Where is the student messing up? What ways can the tutor offer to correct these issues? Having one blanket method for everything isn’t going to help every student. Even though I have specific methods that I like to use on the SAT, I know that my way won’t work well for every student. Choosing the right tutor is a crucial step.
Some Kids Just Don’t Need Tutors
When I began tutoring professionally, one of the first things I noticed was how many students really didn’t need my help, at least to the extent that they or their parents thought they did. They were so worried about the monstrosity that is doing well on the SAT exam that they got a tutor just to “keep up” with the rest of their peers. Not to mention, adding SAT prep lessons might not always be best idea at certain times. If students are already busy with a ton of work, the added stress of preparing for the SAT may just overwhelm them. Lessons once or twice a week for an hour might not seem like a lot, but there’s the additional prep and homework that comes along with those sessions to consider.
Everything’s Going to Work Out
I pretty much ignored how my peers did in high school. I didn’t even share my score with anyone. There was so much stress about who did the best or what smart kid didn’t do as well as expected that I just stayed away from everything. When I became a tutor, nothing made me feel worse than seeing a sophomore worried about the SAT and whether or not they would get into a great school. They had so much pressure on their shoulders, whether it be of their own design or their parents and friends. No matter how much preparation you do for the SAT, and no matter what your score is, you’ll be fine. You’ll get into the right school for you, and before you know it, the SAT will be a thing in the past. Nobody even cares about your SAT score once you set foot into college (ignoring the overzealous kids who have nothing else to talk about during orientation).
I know that the SAT is stressful and weirdly frightening, but don’t put so much pressure on yourself that it overtakes you. Nothing is worth your emotional health.