High school grades matter — a lot. For both those students who submitted their test results to their colleges and those who did not, high school grades were the best predictor of a student’s success in college. And kids who had low or modest test scores, but good high school grades, did better in college than those with good scores but modest grades.
The Math SAT is an aggressively timed exam which hinges upon numeric, algebraic, and geometric foundations. The de facto approach taken by many SAT books, courses, and tutors focuses on doing sample SAT tests. This is productive when the student’s SAT math foundations are already strong. The student isn’t reviewing concepts at this stage, but rather, is practicing & optimizing. But, is this approach ideal for students who are just beginning to prepare for the exam?
I feel that effective preparation for the SAT entails a two stage approach. You should first back-fill core foundations before jumping into randomized SAT problems (which students may not yet be sufficiently prepared to tackle). In other words, targeted review “by topic” will prepare him for tackling the comprehensive practice tests. If you do 10 problems of a specific concept in a row, the concept is much more likely to “stick”. In contrast, prematurely doing practice tests can result in the following unproductive cycle: try a problem, get it wrong, move to an entirely different problem.
If you buy into my rationale, the key is to find an SAT book that clusters the practice problems “by topic”.
Here’s a link to a article that is a follow-up to the famous Marshmallow study of the 1960s. Turns out, you can correlate SAT score and the ability to save for retirement as early as age two! Both require: delayed gratification, self-control, discipline, obedience, etc.
According to Mischel, this view of will power also helps explain why the marshmallow task is such a powerfully predictive test. “If you can deal with hot emotions, then you can study for the S.A.T. instead of watching television,” Mischel says. “And you can save more money for retirement. It’s not just about marshmallows.”