Helping Your Teen Cope With the Dreaded SATs

This is the time of year when most high school students seriously consider taking the dreaded battery of tests known as the SATs. Many colleges use a student's SAT scores as a crucial factor in their admission process. Though the SATs are scheduled at various times of the year, most students opt to take the tests in the spring. Preparing for them is one of the most important things your college hopeful child can do.

The acronym SAT originally stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test. The definition of the word "aptitude" became a topic of controversy, and the original wording was rejected, but the letters SAT still remain as the official title of the test. Taken junior and senior years in high school, these tests measure a student's reasoning, verbal and mathematical abilities as a sort of rating system for college.

We want to help our children all we can. You as a parent can work with your child on a one-to-one basis, helping him or her to chart their strategy for the SATs. Besides helping them study, talk to them concerning any anxiety they may have about test-taking; an over anxious student rarely does well on any type of test.

Some parents choose to hire a tutor for their children or enroll them in weekend SAT classes. These can be costly. A less expensive way to help your child is to purchase a good, comprehensive book that teaches them how to study for, and how to achieve, top scores.

But which book should you buy? There are many books on the market that sell because they propose to help your child achieve higher scores on the crucial SATs, but not all are quality. It can be similar to searching for the perfect shell on a beach: There are so many of them!

So how does a parent know what is best? It is a difficult call.

As an educator, I have found that a book called How to Ace the SATs Without Losing Your Cool, is the best one I have ever used. Written by two sisters and educators, Michele Lo Bosco and Jacqueline Lo Bosco, Ph.D., the book is completely understandable, user friendly and "do-able" for both parents and children.

The authors do not talk down to their readers or speak to their audience of high school students from a typically pedagogical level, as some SAT prep book authors do. They explain and help the students to assess their abilities and offer support and strategic keys for interpreting the intricate and intimidating language of the SATs. I liked it, as did my colleagues.

Remember that the SATs measure a compilation of all the knowledge a student has accrued over his or her school years. Good reading ability and common sense reasoning skills are important.

The SATs are only one area of the collegiate selection process, but it is still a very important one. Helping your teen feel self assured and comfortable for this important part of their high school years is something every parent can do.


You may email Kristen Houghton at