From a very early age, students in the United States are exposed to the existence and importance of the SAT. In junior high school, it’s the PSAT, which comes with a considerably lighter amount of pressure. But in high school, the specter of the SAT looms over the heads of virtually every student for four years.
The problem then becomes how to prepare students for the test in meaningful ways that will encourage them to study and face the test with less anxiety. Traditional tutoring materials tend to be about as interesting as the test itself. The old-school way of studying for the SAT relies on the student adapting to the curriculum, not the other way around.
This past weekend at ORR, students had the opportunity to prep for the test using a new type of material: pop culture.
“I think the advantage of using pop culture is that it makes things more interesting,” said proctor Mariel Heupler, who works for Catalyst Prep, the company responsible for putting a modern spin on SAT prep. “Students are most likely to remember this stuff if it’s related to something they actually like.”
For two days, participants spent a total of eight hours reviewing strategies for mastering the SAT, from using Lindsay Lohan to reinforce vocabulary to studying how Justin Bieber’s head can teach about parabolas.
“It’s getting me more comfortable with the SAT,” said Sophie Harding, a senior from Marion. “It’s making me more confident for the test.”
Harding said she had taken the PSAT and SAT in previous years, but did so with no organized preparation.
If Harding’s experience is any indication, this new-fangled approach to SAT prep may be the key to getting kids interested in studying.
“It’s still respectful. The material is relevant and helpful, but presented in a more accessible way,” Heupler said.
The next SAT is being held Saturday, October 6 at Tabor Academy.
By Eric Tripoli