Friday, April 10, 2015

Really Early SAT Prep

In my last article, I outlined my At Home Schooling strategy, which focuses on a few things that we can do effectively, mainly math and vocabulary.  We try to maintain a home environment that fosters learning and exploration, but I don't push anything else in a concerted way because it will just backfire.  Music is mandatory, and I "assist" with practicing.

I didn't mention this last time, but at least once a year I go through Reading Comprehension phases and we switch either vocab or math with a reading comprehension book or practice test.

It occurred to me today that the strategy of math and vocab is 2/3rd of the SAT test prep regimen.  The other 1/3 is reading comprehension practice and making sure the test taker is conversant with the types of questions on the test.   The SAT has undergone a few big changes since I took it in 1893.  Therefore I just ordered an SAT test prep book to see what is in there.  My wife will surely think that I've gone insane when it arrives.

It is well known in the Test Making industry that vocabulary is the single best predictor of "intelligence", and "intelligence" is the single biggest predictor of success in school.   I'm using quotes around "intelligence" because, while no one has actually defined it, let alone measured it, the Test Making industry uses the working definition of "Things that we put in the test, mainly vocabulary and arcane math problems."  These tests, like the SAT, are good predictors of how a person will do in college.   The 2nd best predictor of how well a person will do in the future is how they are doing now, since people tend not to change their habits.   During adolescences, about 15% of kids do change their habits and raise their scores by 15% or more, but mainly people don't change.

How can I use this for test prep?

After the elementary school entrance exam, the next major milestone is the high school entrance process, which consists of 7th grade grades, the 7th grade standardized test, and another entrance exam.  Right now I have a 1st grader who I'm going to ignore for 2 years, and a 4th grader who needs about 3 years of test prep.  But how to do test prep?

I've considered doing all of the 7th grade curriculum on the side, but this will backfire because he'll do poorly with material he's seen before out of boredom.  Instead, I'm thinking of preparing him for the SAT.  If he can pass the SAT, he should be able to pass the entrance exam, provided that these are similar tests.  They should be.  If vocabulary and arcane math problems are great predictors of school success, then the super secret entrance exam must have heavy doses of these.  I'm not sure what else.  I'm going to guess reading comprehension.

Time for another wall chart.  There are 20 full length practice tests in the book I just ordered.


  1. Any recommendations on reading comprehension books? There are so many choices out there but many of them don't seem worthwhile.

  2. We just finished the one that came home with my child at the end of the year. It was good. The publisher was Modern Curriculum Press (Pearson Education). Unlike math, I didn't buy all available reading comprehension books so that's all I can say.