SAT Prep and Sylvan

So another job (after teaching ESL and yes, I still have two other jobs that I’ll blog about next week) is teaching SAT Prep. I started teaching SAT Prep in July with Sylvan in North Carolina and they liked me so much, they recommended me to another branch in Virginia.

SAT Prep through Sylvan has been an interesting experience for me, after teaching the first year where students are tested for end-of-year tests, and also after a lifetime of standardized tests. With teaching I heavily used the RRReal Strategy (read the title, read the questions, read the story, eliminate the wrong answer (slash the trash), and look for evidence. I did 180 days every morning, taught a specific skill each week with PowerPoints that matched the textbook/guided reading/centers, Readworks a few times a week on that specific skill, and a skill comprehension test every week where I would take points off if RRReal wasn’t used. Strategies and test-taking were taught so heavily in my classroom that my students could do them in their sleep.  Oh yeah, and I had outstanding reading test scores for a first-year teacher. Still proud of the massive amount of coordinated work that went into the scores.

In 2015 I took six standardized tests, five for teaching licenses for NC/VA, and one for the GRE. I spent the entire summer studying for the GRE with flashcards, Barrons books, and Princeton’s guide. I even read Anna Karenina to have a larger vocabulary.

So standardized testing and strategies are like breathing to me. In the summer, I taught the SAT Prep for both Reading and Math, which brought back a lot of old high school skills. Now I’m teaching just reading.

Here are 3 strategies I’ve learned from my time with Sylvan:

1: Bait-and-switch, extreme, not-mentioned but sounds good, and generalisms. I wish I had known these strategies when I taught for identifying answer choices as it is incredibly helpful to think about why answer choices could be wrong and how to identify them.

2: Summarizing: think of your own summary first and then answer the question

3: Fill-in-the-blank: fill in the blank with your own word first, then look at the answer choices.

I’m interested in how much has changed since I took the SAT with the essay being optional and most schools don’t want it. Getting questions wrong doesn’t count against you, and it is back to being only out of 1,600 now. Even the vocabulary part has changed with the words being more in-context, not just random words and analogies. I think the new format was a much-needed upgrade.

Overall, it is another great experience in my life and I’m grateful for the opportunity.



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