The SAT has always been a trivial part of university applications. As time passes, especially during the covid period, standards for university admission change. One of the most prominent ones has been the erasure of SAT as compulsory. At GZAAT, all juniors have the ability to participate in a year-long SAT prep course, led by Irma Chelidze in the Math section and Ken Goff in the English section. The course is not mandatory, (as Irma Chelidze says “Why should it be?”) and some juniors choose not to participate at all or not to complete the full course. If you’re interested in the SAT course prep and how it works, we interviewed two teachers who teach the course, Irma Chelidze and Ken Goff. Some students who completed both courses fully were interviewed, and their opinions on the classes were taken.
Mr. Ken told us that his teaching techniques included discussing strategies for answering the different styles of questions found in the Reading and the Writing and Language Sections. At home, students took practice examinations. In the beginning, time was not the main focus, but as the real test neared, the importance of fitting into the time limit was emphasized. Some problem questions from students were discussed in class. Ms. Irma told us that in the first half of the course we cover topics and strategies during the weekdays and then assign HW on the same topic. In addition, every Saturday students do one practice test. In the second half of the course (after January) emphasis falls on test practice at home. Similar to Ken, in class student’s questions are discussed from the assigned homework.
The validity and usefulness of the SAT is an ever present question in students. Mr. Ken tells us that “There have always been some questions about whether the SAT really is effective in predicting how well students will do in university.” and that “The pandemic might be the end of the SAT since it led to many universities making it optional.” Ms. Irma said that “In terms of educational value, I believe that SATs or any test-prep in general have a very small benefit.” and “The SAT score is by no means more important than high performance at school or in other activities.” So, if you’re deciding to prepare for the SATs for years, Ms. Irma would advise against it - she says “I am totally against such prep lasting for years because it kills creative thinking.” So, if you’re a student who’s stressing about the SAT, take into consideration these recommendations. SATs aren’t impossible, monstrous tests that require years of practice - with the right motivation and effort, you can prepare for the SATs in a year better than stretching it over a few.
Asking the students whether or not the prep course significantly affected their ability to perform at the SATs generated a unanimous response - Yes. All the students agree that the courses helped them improve a lot. One of the students says that she had no other private tutors and got a score that impressed her, “all thanks to the two amazing teachers.” She also adds that the course “helped [her] pull through and get to a level [she] did not deem possible.”
The skills most advanced by the course differed. The one thing another student said was very useful was the little tricks, like in the English section reading questions before the text. An opinion that all share is that just because you know the math topics or english grammar doesn’t make you prepared for the test. As one said, “I guess one thing I learned during this course is that actual Math and SAT math are not quite the same.” Future course takes, beware of this tip. If you think you’re fully prepared, you’re not. ‘More tests you take, the more predictable the answers become.” Constant practice will take you towards the skills you need for the SAT test.
Classes you take give you knowledge outside the classroom. In this case, two students said that the course helped them improve their time management and gave them knowledge before they actually went through the material in their actual classes. “By preparing for the math SAT, I basically went through the 11th grade material before my classmates, so math class became easier.”
Those who complete the course have positive things to say about it. If you’re a sophomore who’s planning on taking the SATs and need a course you take, this is available to you next year.
Edited by Kato Ambokadze