As schools across the country start to let out for summer break this week (except for those of you in northern states, of course, who have to make up snow days until July), the last thing you want to talk about is the SAT, right? I understand. I don’t get as many vacations in a year as you do, but when I do, you won’t find me on the beach or by the pool addressing the secrets of a 30:60:90 triangle. It’s okay if you need a couple of weeks to unwind, but unfortunately, I’m not on vacation with you. I have to write about the SAT. It’s my job. So as a compromise, I promise not to mention The-Test-That-Must-Not-Be-Named by name, and instead talk about some seemingly unrelated activities you can do this summer to help you prepare without even realizing it.
Read some novels
While you’re kicking back on the beach, read a paperback to help you pass the time. Save the classic novels for September and start your summer with a thrilling mystery or tragic love story. The point is to enjoy the text and to practice reading for longer periods of time, a skill that will help you on The-Test-That-Must-Not-Be-Named and in college. You can also use a paper bookmark on which to write vocabulary words you encounter but do not know. Sounds too easy? Check out what you can learn from the Harry Potter and Hunger Games novels. Bestselling fiction is a lot smarter than you think.
Buy a puzzle book
Pick up a variety puzzle book at your local drugstore on your way to the pool this summer. It’s packed with fun vocabulary-building exercises and critical thinking games, which can help you improve on all sections of The-Test-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. Crosswords are great ways to build your vocabulary, and logic puzzles help you learn to approach math questions in new ways. Eager to start? We’ve got some puzzles you can try in our Free Help Area.
Keep a journal
You don’t know it yet, but you are about to change. It’s inevitable. Until now, you’ve been surrounded by people from the same town with many of the same experiences and same interests. But you’re about to enter college, where you’ll meet people from all over the world and be exposed to new ideas and new activities. You are going to change, and how wonderful to be able to look back someday at a journal of your last year in high school and remember who you once were (or in my case, how embarrassing. I was obsessed with Andre Agassi and we both had really bad early 90s hair). And then there’s the fact that writing every day will give you an advantage on The-Test-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. If you spend 25 minutes a night writing about who’s seeing who and the most recent scandal at your summer job, you’ll not only have blackmail for your 20-year class reunion, but you’ll also find the time requirements of the essay portion of the The-Test-That-Must-Not-Be-Named somewhat accommodating.
Watch a movie adaptation of a classic novel
At PowerScore, we are big believers in entering The-Test-That-Must-Not-Be-Named with essay ammunition: pre-planned examples you can adapt to almost any essay. For example, the novel The Great Gatsby provides endless fodder for essay questions. Gatsby himself works as an example for questions about success, motivation, individuality, happiness, culture, compromise, and many others. Supporting characters can also be analyzed (Daisy is a shoe-in for self-esteem and honesty, Tom reeks of arrogance, racism, and jealousy, and Nick is a perfect example of tolerance and open-mindedness). But why spend your summer reading a classic novel when there are awesome movie versions you can see? Both Leonardo DiCaprio (2013) and Robert Redford (1974) make dashing Gatsbys and provide intelligent examples you can use for killer essays. If you prefer Netflix over the local multiplex, check out these other classic novel movie adaptations handpicked by our instructors.
Well, there you have it. The secret to painless summer prep for The-Test-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. Now if only we can get your Calculus teacher to think along the same lines this fall.
Photo: "Rest in Peace" courtesy of Randy Robertson