Brag alert! I also intend this post to be a big "Thank You!" to everyone who has contributed to this thread as well as possible encouragement to others with slow testers.
DS17 is a rising junior this year and he started PSAT prep this week. On Tuesday, he retook the first official CB SAT practice test to kick off the season. He has done no test prep beyond his normal schooling since he took the SAT in November 2016.
I was shocked by the results! He completed every section in the allotted time with extra time remaining to check his work. Not only that, he achieved his highest score ever on any practice or official SAT (he has done the first six practice tests)!
Math No Calculator: 20/20
Math With Calculator: 36/38
R&W: 780 Math: 770 Total: 1550
This compares with DS17 achieving the following on the same test last August:
Reading: 44/52 (DS17 missed several questions at the very end of this test, indicating time pressure.)
Writing: 38/44 (DS17 missed several questions at the very end of this test, indicating time pressure.)
Math No Calculator: 19/20 (DS17 took 28 minutes instead of 25 to achieve this result.)
Math With Calculator: 31/38 (DS17 took 73 minutes instead of 55 to achieve this result.)
R&W: 690 Math: 730 Total: 1420 (But not within the allotted time.)
This is an outstanding start for this season of test prep! I had expected (and told DS17 before the test) that he would likely need a couple of practice tests to get back into the swing of things. Boy, was I wrong!
So, what made the difference?
1) First, I want to acknowledge and thank everyone who has contributed input and ideas to this thread. Your help has been very much appreciated and has made a real difference for DS17.
2) MomsintheGarden has continued to push DS17 on his math curriculum. He is currently working through Precalculus, so the trigonometry and drill he has been doing there certainly have helped.
3) MomsinthGarden says, "A year makes a big difference!" I agree. Part of this is that when DS17 started test prep last year, he was only two years out of his treatment for severe chronic Lyme disease. His improvement since that illness has been slow, but steady.
4) DS17 told me that his work in his AP Chemistry class as well as our work together for AP Chemistry test prep were a factor in his speed improvement. DS17's AP Chemistry work was delayed due to his PSAT/SAT test prep last year, which really made a hard course harder. When he started taking practice exams in February, he really strucggled with many of the problems. He not only couldn't finish on time: he couldn't finish! He never was able to complete the entire test, and was not even very close during practice, but he *almost* finished the actual exam. The bottom line is that he came close to earning a 5 on that exam. With only 9.2% getting that score this year, I won't be surprised if he earned a 4, but we will all be pleased if that is the outcome. The point here is that his confidence in his speed and his math skills has grown immensely due to the hard work he put in on AP Chemistry.
5) I believe he was burned out last year. He was taking two practice tests each week going into the actual PSAT and SAT. I asked him if he felt more relaxed taking this practice test and he agreed that he was.
6) He took a test he has taken before. While this does make a difference, I feel it is a very minor factor. He hasn't seen that test for over 10 months. Previous retakes have not resulted in him completing the work in the allotted time.
This year's test prep will be somewhat different from last year's. Here are the changes:
1) DS17 will only take one test each week.
2) The focus will be on taking the SAT during prep, even though the priority is on the PSAT test itself. Last year the focus was on taking the PSAT. There are several reasons for this change. The main one is that he thoroughly went through all of the PSAT practice materials we have available, with some tests used twice already. DS17 will focus on PSAT practice tests for the last month or so to re familiarize himself with the format and timings.
3) The focus this year will be on speed and consistency. Last year, the focus was on learning the skills to answer the questions correctly and improve efficiency.
4) DS17 will be focusing more on reading and writing than he did last year. Last year, math was the focus. Specifically, he will be going through the prep book The Crtical Reader, Second Edition: The Complete Guide to SAT Reading by Erica L. Meltzer
5) DS17 will spend minimal, if any, time with Khan Academy doing SAT prep this year. That was a significant part of his effort last year and it was extremely beneficial. Unfortunately, he has seen many of the problems and passages multiple times already.
6) One thing we will keep the same is DS17 will again take the SAT in early November. That worked out very well last year since he was able to use his PSAT prep as SAT prep and only had the "ordeal" drag out for a couple more weeks. The difference this year is that there are three weeks between the tests this year compared with only two last year. (There was some discussion here of taking the SAT in August *before* the PSAT, but I felt that would distract from PSAT prep. In DS17's case, the PSAT is the priority, for a variety of reasons.)
DS17 will be taking the second official SAT practice test (again) next week. That should tell us more about his speed, since he took 50 minutes(!) last year to complete the Math No Calculator section and only achieved a score of 17/20. That test may be closer to his experience with last year's PSAT offering, so it should tell us more.
Interestingly, DS17 is at the same level of preparedness, if not a higher level, than DS19 was when he entered this stage of PSAT prep. DS19 is still a much faster processor than DS17, but DS17 is very solid at this point. If he can maintain the speed he achieved on Tuesday or improve on it a bit, he should do fine. Unfortunately, there is no longer any room for error when taking the PSAT in VA. That was NOT the case when DS19 took this test three years earlier. Simply put, the new test is harder since you cannot make the same number of mistakes and still achieve NM Semifinalist status.
Thanks again for all of your help. I'm interested in hearing how your students are doing and also other thoughts as you have them. Of course, I will update here as this testing season unfolds.
Edited by RegGuheert, 22 June 2017 - 08:56 AM.