Friday, October 9, 2009

What's Behind a Perfect SAT?

Love my newest pleasure read! Recommended by a veteran, I searched the Internet to find a used copy. Eureka! Found! It was in my mailbox a week later and I immediately opened the package and began reading, while cooking dinner. This stuff is so fascinating! Not because I have a student who achieved a perfect score or that I endeavor to have a student who will earn a perfect score, but because I am curious what elements comprise a "perfect score".
SAT Perfect Score: 7 Secrets to Raise Your Score written by Tom Fischgrund, Ph.D, complies and details the results of his landmark study. His findings come from interviews with students who earned a perfect score on the SAT (160 of them and their parents) and College Board data. His goal "was to understand the academic habits of these bright students (p.3), who these students were as individuals (p.4), and what made them successful." (p.4) He asked:
  • How many times did they take the SAT?
  • What kind of education did they receive?
  • How many hours did they spend studying?
  • What were their sources of inspiration and motivation?
  • Did their parents interact with them in special ways?
  • Did they read a set number of hours a night?
  • Were they interested in certain subjects?
and more....

From the data he answers commonly asked questions. Some of the answers are obvious, others thought-provoking.

Some (there are many more in the book!) of the interesting findings:
  • "Succeeding on the SAT is not a short-term approach but takes a lifetime approach to learning." (p.5)
  • "Students who scored a 1600 on the SAT typically spend more hours a week reading than those who get an average score." (p.5)
  • "A vast majority of perfect score students participate in multiple activities outside of the academic realm... and pursue these endeavors with passion and won't settle for half-hearted attempts to learn a new skill." (p.5)
  • "They were not pushed by their parents or teachers to achieve. Their drive comes from within." (p.6)
  • "Parents motivated them to learn in the early years and then gave them the tools to motivate themselves through high school." (p.6)

The author uses charts, graphs, and in-depth insights into the lives of these students and their families to answer the 7 secrets. Students share their likes and dislikes (very interesting!), how they spend their free time (equally interesting!), how they relate to friends, and the role of family in their lives. The book also contains information about preparation (long term and short term), study tools, test-taking tips, developing passions, and learning styles.

Interesting information, wouldn't you agree? The next question for me: How does this effect, or will it effect, how I am teaching my children? For certain I will continue to foster a love of reading with my children, through reading aloud and listening to great audio literature, and nurture a love of learning, not with the intention of scoring a 1600 on the SAT, but with the goal of raising thinkers and problem solvers, adults who will use their creativity and God-given talents to provide for their families, to care about and for people, and to serve where they are called.

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