My oldest child is a freshman in high school. There are reasons that home educating an older student could bring me anxiety, not the least of which is standardized test preparation and college admissions. With so much emphasis being placed on test scores, especially for homeschoolers, I feel the need to make sure my children are well prepared for the college entrance exams. We work hard in our coursework, but even with a rigorous curriculum for high school students, studying for the SAT is essential.
So, where to start? Many communities have learning centers and tutors that work with students on test preparation, but what if you would like to do that in your own home? There is an option - the get It Independent Tutorial by Lynn Scully.
get IT includes the following:
1. Nineteen DVD disks (One intro DVD, fifteen math DVDs, and three vocabulary DVDs)
2. A 300-page workbook
3. Four folders:
- Getting Started - Making sure you have a good plan of study
- 5-in-5 folder (5 weeks worth of math problems, 5 problems in 5 minutes for every day.)
- Vocabulary Builder - Help in memorizing words
- The Week before the Test - an organized study plan, test taking tips and reminders.
You begin with the Getting Started folder, where you will find an introductory DVD. After listening to the DVD, you move on to read a proposed course schedule and other suggested strategies. Also included are a diagnostic test and a full-length practice test.
There is information regarding interpretation of the test scores and some optional instructions for using a TI-89 calculator (which is highly recommended). The course is designed to take eight weeks, and the planning is all done for you. You can work your way through the proposed schedule, or you can begin with a diagnostic test and work on your weak areas. An important note: if you discover this course with less than eight weeks to prepare, there are strategies for you too. You can also begin preparation far in advance and adjust your study plan to include several months of work. However you choose to approach the course, it is easy to follow the plan, and to keep track of what is completed.
The proposed schedule has you work through various parts of the math and verbal sections each day for seven weeks, adopting a special "The Week Before the Test" strategy for the eighth week. The 300-page workbook includes the basics about the PSAT and SAT tests, suggestions for studying for specific areas, and the detailed lessons that are given on DVD. When watching the lessons, you are free to listen without note taking, since the notes are included in the workbook. This helps you concentrate while still providing opportunity for review.
In Week Three you begin the "5-in-5's". These are a set of five-math problem to be done in five minutes daily. This keeps the information fresh as the test day approaches. Solutions are provided and are a useful tool in preparation.
The "Week Before the Test" folder includes basic instructions for the final week which are very detailed (using favorite snacks or helpful inspirational techniques and instructions for the night before the test, for example.) Want to know how to dress for the test? This is where you would look.
I have a clear idea of how to set up a curriculum scope and sequence to maximize preparation for the SAT, but understanding how the test works is a mystery to me. Ms. Scully does a fantastic job of explaining the scoring, what percentage of the test is what kind of question, how to use different test taking strategies to minimize mistakes, and time management methods that give the right amount of time to each test section. This is the kind of information that makes the get IT course invaluable.
Ms. Scully communicates in a way that is confident and relaxed. She gives enough detailed instructions to limit the fear of the unknown, demystifying the SAT process. Preparing for the SAT is hard work, but it doesn't need to be anxiety producing. With eight weeks of time, a concentrated effort on the part of the students, and partnership with parents for inspiration, support and vocabulary practice, students can move through the test with confidence. After all, the SAT isn't the end goal; it is only one step toward our children's future.
If you want to have tutorial assistance for SAT preparation, but don't want to leave home, I would recommend the get IT Independent Tutorial. Their materials can be found on the website. At this site you can find ordering information, testimonials, FAQs, and a chance to download a media clip of a sample lesson.
Stay tuned for an additional review of new materials that will prepare students for the changes in the S.A.T.
The additions to the get IT Independent Tutorial for the new SAT are available and help take the mystery out of the new SAT. For your information, collegeboard.com, the official website for the SAT, describes the changes to the 2005 test as follows:
The new SAT will be different, not necessarily harder. Quantitative comparisons in math have been eliminated. A few math questions on the new SAT will cover some topics from what students learn in their third year college preparatory math classes, including concepts in Algebra II. However, the test will still measure reasoning ability and problem-solving skills gained through activities and learning in and out of school. Since few students are exposed to analogies in their classrooms, the analogy questions have been replaced with more critical reading passages. With the addition of the writing section, students will have the opportunity to demonstrate how they have learned to develop, organize, and express their thoughts.
To reflect the changes, Lynn Scully, the author of get IT Independent Tutorial™, has made several changes to the program. Instead of nineteen DVD disks, there are now twenty-three; instead of a 300-page notebook, it is now 400 pages. The additional pages and DVD time will provide the training for the new components of the SAT. In the original tutorial package, the Five in Fives™, a series of five questions answered in five minutes as a daily drill, were for math only. In the new package there are Five in Fives™ for grammar, critical reading, and changes in the math section that will correspond to the test.
Her approach remains the same, giving plenty of tips, drill, and attitude preparation for test-taking success. I am grateful to have the new materials to help my daughter navigate the new SAT test.