College Preparation: The SAT
- Wednesday, April 17, 2002
How often do you recommend students take the practice tests?
A student should take a practice test at the end of his sophomore year before the PSAT is taken in the fall of his junior year. Additionally, he should take practice tests at least once a month five months before taking the SAT in May of his junior year. Retakes of the SAT are helpful - but only with coaching between tests. The timeline to prepare for the SAT I is surprising. I think one needs to prepare from one to three years; the best score will occur during the junior year for most people. If the young person does not do well, he/she can take it again senior year.
How involved should parents be during this process? Can parental involvement hinder the child's progress in any way?
If one sees preparation as a spiritual enterprise, parental input is vital.
How do Christian students prepare for the SAT I? Don't they take the same college entrance exams as nonbelievers?
1. If one sees all endeavors in which Christians involve themselves as led by the Holy Spirit, and if one accepts that a high SAT score is desirable, and if one believes that one may have to spend a great deal of time preparing for the SAT, then it seems to me we should contextualize this event in Christian terms. If one is called to college, I see SAT preparation as a preparation for life, not merely for college. However, if Christians truly want to change their world for Christ, if they want to be world changers - and not merely successful students - they may need to do more than make a high score. That is easy - what is more difficult is to prepare in the spiritual area.
2. Next, many of the secular courses have real attitude problems. They show us how to "crack" the SAT. My children already have enough attitude! Avoid these strategies.
3. SAT preparation should be a long project. This would never work for most Americans - but it should and does for Christians (especially of the home-schooled variety!). Preparation best occurs over one, two, or, even better, three years.
4. Finally, when the Educational Testing Service changed the SAT in March, 1994, it did the Christian community - especially the Christian, home-school community - a great favor. The Christian home-school community is scoring almost 150 points above the national average. Additionally, I believe home schoolers will begin moving to the head of graduating classes of the most prestigious Christian and secular universities in America. I believe that they will become leaders in government and industry. The Christian community has not had such an opportunity to influence civil society since the time of Constantine. This is a great opportunity and challenge. The SAT I is the first challenge home schoolers must overcome.
In closing, I would like to say that I think that this is the most strategic generation in the history of the world. Within their lifetime--those from age 10 to 20--will occur the greatest revival in human history. I tell you I am excited! That is the reason that my SAT prep course The SAT Preparation Course for the Christian Student is so important - not that it simply increases scores - but it is helping this generation grow in the Lord.
Os Guinness, Christian scholar and author, in his book Beyond the Culture Wars argues that America is in trouble. America's problem is much deeper than obvious problems such as family breakdown, the deficit, drugs, AIDS, discipline in the schools, or crime. There is a crisis of cultural authority which means that once inspired, disciplined, and restrained Americans have lost their binding addresses, their inner compelling power to shape culture. In short, Guinness argues that America is in danger of losing its soul.
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