Six Highly Effective Teaching Strategies for the New SAT Test
The new SAT or Standardized Aptitude Test, when launched in Spring 2016, will retain its position as the standard for students at the high school and undergraduate level. Whether you dread the changes or are eager for them, you and your students had better be prepared. Or get another part-time job to pay for college.
In summary, the College Board announced eight major changes. It stands to reason that to remain relevant in this new scheme, teachers would need to revamp their instructional methods and teaching vocabulary in order to keep themselves updated and in the loop, so to speak. Listed below are six unbeatable strategies you should incorporate into your teaching style to ensure students consistently make the best score on the new SAT under your tutelage:
1. Embrace the new while keeping the old
It would be safe to say that though areas like scoring and timing will be structured differently, the overall composition is expected to largely remain the same. Try structuring your classes in a way that students will study both the new SAT practice exams and the old ones.
2. Encourage learning techniques that require depth of knowledge
The old SAT tests were limited in how they allowed students to display their knowledge across subjects. Concepts learned in one subject could hardly be applied in other subjects. The new test is geared towards an interdisciplinary exchange. Put that to use in the classroom, and students will leave your room armed and ready! Use illustrations from other subjects, for example use probability and statistics from math to explain outcomes in history and science. This interplay of subjects helps you to really know if your students are able to display understanding of what they are being taught.
3. Expose students to the Common Core Standards
Teachers must lay a solid foundation for their students by exposing them to complex problems daily if not, students will falter when exposed to the actual tests.
The adoption of the Common Core Standards is aimed at addressing this unique challenge. If you have not already done so, it would be advisable to quickly streamline your teaching standards and techniques to ensure students are gradually preparing for the SAT test every time they attend your classes. Encourage them to ask questions and be actively engaged during these sessions. You must teach them that it is only your job to teach, but it is their responsibility to learn. More than ever, the SAT is looking to gauge what students have actually learned and retained from their classes.
4. Steer students away from memorization to critical thinking.
The College Board has maintained that the major reason for the changes to the test is to ensure college and career preparedness for the students. Introduce more interactive and engaging sessions that encourage students to understand the “why” not just the “how”. Interestingly enough, the research shows that understanding the “why” cements the meaning and relationship of ideas, vocabulary and concepts. A survey of a subject is not enough for real learning. Students need depth of knowledge to ace the big test.
5. Focus on vocabulary learning techniques
Getting your students to study vocabulary is a time tested way to increase their SAT scores because there are some words that have been frequently used in the SAT. Despite what some may be reporting, that is not expected to change too much. Students will still be tested on vocabulary, and the testing will be more rigorous and more challenging. Some exotic terms are being dropped. What is taking its place is a test of MEANING IN CONTEXT and specifically for multiple meaning words.
There are thousands of SAT tutors right now who are mis-preparing their students for the new SAT.
This significant change to the New SAT adds many more questions in which there is MORE THAN ONE correct answer. Students are expected to do a little mind reading and be able to interpret the author’s intention so they can choose the BEST answer. Unfortunately, these types of questions have the most ambiguity, and are the most difficult to prepare for as they require GENUINE mastery of the vocabulary and HIGH reading comprehension. Students can be made to create little handy flashcards with some of the more common multiple-meaning words written on them. These cards are to be carried around and glanced at from time to time.
This is not enough to ensure a good score. Students must read and write using the terms in varied contexts and types of passages. Fiction, essays, novels, plays, personal and business letters. Ultimately, lots of reading will correlate to lots of correct answers on this portion of the New SAT test.
6. Study, use, study, use, study.
Let the students prepare by actually taking the test: in this case a mock test – not just a practice test taken at the students’ leisurely pace. Set a place, time and let it run like the actual exam itself so students can feel firsthand what the actual exam day will be like.
Though the SAT is a very important test, it is important that students are not frightened or panicking on the test day. As their teacher, adopting these strategies can make sure your students are relaxed and confident to face what lies ahead. Optimal performance in any field takes a certain level of internal stress to gather resources and bring focus to bear on the task at hand. Too much stress leads to shutting down and blanking out. Practicing under testing conditions helps keep your students at the top of their game.
How have you been preparing for the New SAT? What Teaching Strategies do you like/dislike?
Let us know in the comments!