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    Best way to prep for PSAT and SAT

    Would those of you veterans be willing to share your suggestions? Classes, books, online? I did just notice that Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board to offer test prep, individualized and customized. I'm thinking Cindy will have some feedback on this approach. (BTW, have you seen how far they have come in their course offerings? Amazing! So appreciate Sal and his team!)

    Thanks everyone!
    Susan P in VA (who came out of hibernation finally!)

    #2
    Susan,

    I am interested to hear people’s responses as well. My daughter has taken both PSAT and SAT for the experience, but didn’t do prep beyond a practice test. The college board definitely pushes khan academy, but some people say that since they are together that khan will not be able to provide the test taking “tricks”. Khan looks good for content review, but I would love to find the best place/book to teach how to take the test.
    Dorinda

    For 2019-2020
    DD 16 - 11th with MPOA(AP Latin), Lukeion (Greek4 & Adv. NT Greek), Thinkwell (Economics and Chemistry), plus Pre-Calculus, American G’ment, Early Church History set, and British Lit
    DS 14 - 8th with MPOA(Fourth Form), CLRC(Intro Lit and Comp), plus Algebra, Field Biology, Classical Studies 1
    DS 11 - 6th with Right Start Level G online class
    DS 6 - 1st with Prima Latina

    Comment


      #3
      My oldest took the PSAT this fall as a ninth grader just for the experience. To prepare I actually took the practice test (a labor of love, obviously), graded myself, talked to him about it, then had him take the practice test, and I graded his. Much of what we've learned on the NLE applies here. Since there are no deductions for incorrect answers you benefit from making an educated guess on them all. He'll be talking the CLT10 in February, also just to practice. College entrance tests are a game for money in my opinion. We are treating them like a little part time job in high school. Having not been "educated to the test" my seventh year MP kid did just fine on his first go. I was very pleased. ❤️

      Our local library had the most recent PSAT Kaplan study book, which I borrowed. So you might check local free resources.
      Festina lentē,
      Jessica P

      SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
      @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
      S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
      D · 8th
      D · 5th
      S · 2nd

      Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

      Comment


        #4
        Dd took the SAT a couple of years ago as an out-of-level test, so Khan was fine for just an idea of what it would be like. The SAT has had a lot of problems lately, so we are going to try the ACT later this year. Since we use it as just a regular standardized test, we're not really prepping in the way a competitive high school student would. Prep Scholar has a list of books and why they suggest each one. I read the Kindle sample for the "black book" one they mention, and it does do a good job of explaining how the test works for kids who do better with a little background information.

        I'm not sure where your student is looking for schools, but an IRL friend had her son take the Classical Learning Test too. He's been accepted to Hillsdale. I might have dd take the practice test sometime, but she's more likely to apply to a math and science school.
        Find out the critical SAT books you must have, which books are best for each SAT section, and which books you should avoid.
        Bean. Long time MP user.

        DD- 9th grade aerospace enthusiast. Using a mix of dual credit, online and classical materials for 2019-2020.

        Comment


          #5
          One of my sons is a National Merit Finalist, one commended and two did well but not commended level. The only “prep” they did was take PSAT in 10th then do the Peterson prep book. For SAT and ACT they used only the official prep book published by the test publisher. The best “prep” was just a solid education. That and natural ability.
          Debbie- mom of 7, civil engineering grad, married to mechanical engineer
          DD, 25, BFA '17 graphic design and illustration
          DS, 23, BS '18 mechanical engineering
          DS, 21, chemistry major
          DS, 18, Physics major
          DD, 15, dyslexic, 10th grade customizednMP plus co-op
          DS, 12, super squirmy, possible dysgraphia, MP 7A
          DD, 6 , K- finally one who seems to like drawing and writing- first one since my oldest!

          Comment


            #6
            [QUOTE=momgineer;n108297] The best “prep” was just a solid education. [QUOTE]

            I was so thank to see my son's Memoria Press skills translate so well to a standardized test. (I was also thankful that we don't have to spend day after day practicing tedious value-neutral reading selections like that. )
            Festina lentē,
            Jessica P

            SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
            @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
            S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
            D · 8th
            D · 5th
            S · 2nd

            Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

            Comment


              #7
              [QUOTE=pickandgrin;n108302][QUOTE=momgineer;n108297] The best “prep” was just a solid education.

              I was so thank to see my son's Memoria Press skills translate so well to a standardized test. (I was also thankful that we don't have to spend day after day practicing tedious value-neutral reading selections like that. )
              That said, my dd is a discusser, "Well if you look at it this way...". It's really important that thinking kids understand that there is only one right answer on these tests.

              Spending a little time learning how to spot those right answers is an efficient use of time if they are looking at a school that gives merit aid based on standardized test scores. We're not there yet, but since we do so little bubble testing it is a skill that is lacking here!
              Bean. Long time MP user.

              DD- 9th grade aerospace enthusiast. Using a mix of dual credit, online and classical materials for 2019-2020.

              Comment


                #8
                [QUOTE=bean;n108304][QUOTE=pickandgrin;n108302]
                Originally posted by momgineer View Post
                The best “prep” was just a solid education.

                That said, my dd is a discusser, "Well if you look at it this way...". It's really important that thinking kids understand that there is only one right answer on these tests.

                Spending a little time learning how to spot those right answers is an efficient use of time if they are looking at a school that gives merit aid based on standardized test scores. We're not there yet, but since we do so little bubble testing it is a skill that is lacking here!
                It was this reason that my son said, "I prefer the math portion because numbers don't lie." What he was meaning was that who's to say which reading passage answer is the "best" answer? That was a thinking shift we discussed. Great point.
                Festina lentē,
                Jessica P

                SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
                @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
                S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
                D · 8th
                D · 5th
                S · 2nd

                Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks for all your feedback, suggestions everyone! I am printing all this up. Wow, Jessica. I wish I had been doing as you have done all these years. I think it would have been much better for Blake to have started taking PSAT/SAT type practice tests the past couple of years. I'm now wondering if I should search out some Spring offering to have him take for practice. In the meantime, I need to start weaving this into our time on a regular basis.

                  Local homeschool friends have suggested College Prep Genius (or is it Test Prep Genius?) They have a website where you can sign up for the 'course'. They definitely get into strategies. In fact, a lot of it is all about strategy.

                  SusanP

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Best wishes as your sort it out up there, Susan. I can take no credit for being proactive on my own. Other mothers who've gone before tipped me off.
                    Festina lentē,
                    Jessica P

                    SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
                    @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
                    S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
                    D · 8th
                    D · 5th
                    S · 2nd

                    Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Susan,
                      I wanted to mention that Blake can take PSAT and SAT practice tests online for free. Both CollegeBoard.org and Khan Academy offer them.
                      Someone suggested the "official" test prep book. There are sections in these books that discuss strategies. The redesigned SAT (2016) has fewer "tricks" to prepare for, but learning how to use evidence-based reading and writing is very important. The tester needs to quickly determine what evidence supports the answer to determine the "best" answer. Practice helps with this (in addition to the superior MP education your children receive).
                      Khan Academy offers the most accessible, independent test prep (and it's free!) A student can spend 1-2 hours per week in 30 minute increments, to prepare steadily during 10th and 11th grade.
                      Redesigned SAT is very similar to ACT, so the same prep helps for both. There are also free ACT prep activities on www.actstudent.org
                      My own children found that 100 point gain on SAT translated to about $2000 increase in merit award (by comparing to friends with similar GPA and different SAT scores). So Jessica's idea of test prep as a part-time job is a good idea! It takes a lot of hours at Chik-Fil-A to earn $2000. How many hours to increase score by 100? Of course there are other benefits to a part-time job, but that is another conversation.
                      Cindy Davis
                      Science and Math teacher at Highlands Latin School - Indianapolis
                      ds-25 college graduate: autodidact, working to pay the bills
                      ds-23 college graduate: 1st year med school
                      dd-21 college senior: Nursing

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Cindy,

                        I know you can take practice exams online, but do you know if they are the same official tests available in the book or on prepscholar? Since the test isn’t administered online, I still think it is valuable practice to get a study room at the library and do at least one practice test start to finish with scheduled breaks as close to test conditions as possible. I just don’t want them to accidentally take the same test online that I print out.
                        Dorinda

                        For 2019-2020
                        DD 16 - 11th with MPOA(AP Latin), Lukeion (Greek4 & Adv. NT Greek), Thinkwell (Economics and Chemistry), plus Pre-Calculus, American G’ment, Early Church History set, and British Lit
                        DS 14 - 8th with MPOA(Fourth Form), CLRC(Intro Lit and Comp), plus Algebra, Field Biology, Classical Studies 1
                        DS 11 - 6th with Right Start Level G online class
                        DS 6 - 1st with Prima Latina

                        Comment


                          #13
                          The ACT and SAT official books have “official” practice tests in them that are set up just like the real test. I don’t think PSAT has an official test prep book but there are many other companies that print test prep books with sample tests. We used Peterson. I can’t remember if the non official practice tests are full tests or just each subject in its own section.
                          Debbie- mom of 7, civil engineering grad, married to mechanical engineer
                          DD, 25, BFA '17 graphic design and illustration
                          DS, 23, BS '18 mechanical engineering
                          DS, 21, chemistry major
                          DS, 18, Physics major
                          DD, 15, dyslexic, 10th grade customizednMP plus co-op
                          DS, 12, super squirmy, possible dysgraphia, MP 7A
                          DD, 6 , K- finally one who seems to like drawing and writing- first one since my oldest!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Joining the conversation late...but our experience is....

                            We used an online class provider to do some SAT prep classes, which were somewhat helpful. More helpful was what others have mentioned...regular, steady practice through Kahn Academy. We set a schedule of regular practice, which sends emails to the student to go in and do sessions, and then as the test day itself approached, she took several full-length practice tests. When she did the full-length ones, she was able to print off paper answer sheets that she used so that it would feel more like the real test. The only problem we discovered is that with self-grading, you do not know how the SAT actually "weighs" each question...so you can think your scores are higher than what they turn out to be in real life because missing one question versus another makes a difference. So, in our case, when she took the SAT a second time, she got more questions correct, but her English score actually went down a smidge because she got a "heavier" question wrong than she did the first time. (I hope that makes sense)

                            We have approached it with the same viewpoint as Jessica, and by doing what Cindy suggested. It's a job to earn scholarship money. But the upside of that is by combining the excellent education they get through MP, with good test scores, they can get enough scholarships to actually make small, liberal arts school education cheaper than a big state school, even in-state. (not that I would want to send one of my children down that path anyway). We had sticker-shock when we first started looking at the price of private colleges, but once you dig in and start realizing the scholarship process, there are lots of avenues of bringing costs down. And most schools we talked to "super-score" the tests, which I don't think was mentioned yet...that your child will benefit from taking the tests as many times as possible...even right up until the beginning of freshmen classes (as one school told us!) They will take the child's highest test score in each area - not an average - to determine which scholarship bracket applies.

                            Lastly, be aware that the SAT essay portion is not a "true" essay in the sense of how we try to prepare our children to write. There is a formula to it as well. All they want is to see that your child has ticked the boxes they expect and followed the pattern. So have them practice that portion just like you practice the others, if they are going to take that part of the test (it is not mandatory). It's not about expressing a clear argument of their own so much as it is including what the college board wants to see to give a grade. We learned that the hard way! (she didn't do terrible, but she could have done better if we had known that ahead of time)

                            Susan, I was really nervous when we began this process. But just take your time, and learn it little by little. Start the SAT prep, don't overdo the practice, just keep it regular and don't let stress over it creep in. The more you do, the more it becomes familiar so that when the test days come, it's no big deal.

                            And then just start digging into colleges. Figure out the personality of each school on your list to consider if it would be a good fit for your boys. Find out their financial aid processes. Call the people and talk to them in person. Many schools not only have automatic scholarships that they give when a student is accepted, but they also have competitions students can take part in to get additional awards. Our E's top choice (Christendom) even has a price-match program, which is pretty cool. So there are lots of options to make it work and not saddle them with tons of debt. We have been pleasantly surprised by how it has come together for E...just in time to start the process all over again with A (the next one)!

                            AMDG,
                            Sarah

                            2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
                            DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
                            DS, 16
                            DD, 14
                            DD, 12
                            DD, 10
                            DD, 7.5
                            DD, 5.5
                            +DS+
                            DS, 18 months

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Mom2mthj View Post
                              Cindy,

                              I know you can take practice exams online, but do you know if they are the same official tests available in the book or on prepscholar? Since the test isn’t administered online, I still think it is valuable practice to get a study room at the library and do at least one practice test start to finish with scheduled breaks as close to test conditions as possible. I just don’t want them to accidentally take the same test online that I print out.
                              Dorinda,
                              I have printed out practice tests from CollegeBoard, and you can administer them just like a "real" test, with bubble answer sheets, official timing, etc. It is even more effective if you can group a few kids together, so they have a "test room" feel. However, since only the 11th grade PSAT qualifies for National Merit Qualification, we use the 10th grade "official" PSAT test as our "practice" opportunity. It includes all the test conditions: room full of nervous adolescents in the early morning, proctors walking about, random throat-clearing, etc. Then in 11th grade, they know what to expect: pray, relax, and let it flow.

                              For the SAT, since they can take it multiple times and colleges superscore, I would just prepare, sit for an official test, and then repeat. I have not seen students increase their scores very much from the 2nd to 3rd time (or more). But from the 1st to 2nd time, they can usually improve 100 - 200 points, if they spend time preparing.

                              I have administered practice tests from CollegeBoard, Khan Academy, and the Official SAT (ACT) prep books, and I have never seen the same test twice. So I don't think that would be an issue.

                              Did I mention that I serve as the College Counselor at HLS-Indy? Shoot.... the number of hats in my closet!
                              Cindy Davis
                              Science and Math teacher at Highlands Latin School - Indianapolis
                              ds-25 college graduate: autodidact, working to pay the bills
                              ds-23 college graduate: 1st year med school
                              dd-21 college senior: Nursing

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