This is the second part of three in my series on the Three Pillars of Success for the ACT and SAT. (Click here to read the first part of the series.) In the first part, I discussed how mastering effective strategies is the most important pillar for success on the SAT and ACT. The next pillar that I will discuss is content.
What I mean by content is how well students know the math concepts, how well they read, how well they understand graphs and tables for the science section of the ACT, and how well they know grammar and punctuation. Content is what the ACT and SAT are most explicitly testing. In fact, the makers of the SAT and ACT tend to imply that knowing the content is all that is required to do well on these tests. My experience is that this is simply not true. As I discussed in the last post, it's very possible for students to be highly skilled in math but still not score well because they haven’t learned the skill set of taking standardized tests.
Don’t get me wrong. Knowing the content well is extremely important as a pillar. It's just not sufficient without knowing great strategies as well.
There is a lot that students can do in relatively short periods of time to improve how well they know the content of the SAT and ACT. If students have more time to study, then they can learn and improve their knowledge and abilities with the content even further.
While students can improve their skills with and knowledge of the content a great deal, especially if they have the guidance of a skilled teacher, I have to acknowledge that there are some limitations in terms of how much students can improve in this pillar. For example, by the time students are taking the SAT or ACT, they have been learning to read for many years. If they are weak readers at this point, while it is certainly possible for them to improve their reading skills considerably in a few months, and while strategies can help compensate to a certain extent, they are also unlikely to become masterful readers and get top scores on the reading section as a result of studying for a few months, or even for a year.
On the other hand, the grammar and punctuation rules that students need to know to do well on the English section are completely learnable by most everybody in a relatively short period of time.
Once I have worked on strategies with my students, my next priority is to assess what content they already know well and what content they don't yet know well so that we can focus on their weaker areas.
To summarize, a lot of improvement of students' scores is possible through studying the content of the SAT and ACT if students have great strategies in place as well. While some improvement in knowing the content is possible in a relatively short period of time, when students have a longer period of time to study, they can make a lot more progress with learning content well and truly maximize their scores.
Click here to read about the third pillar for success on the SAT or ACT.
To discuss your SAT or ACT coaching needs, contact Inspired Test Prep by phone at 206-395-6676 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.