Where did July Go?

July has hit like a hurricane. I can’t believe it’s this late in the month. Honestly I feel like I’ve been stuck between helping super prepared rising seniors wanting to perfect their scores and this hard place of trying to advise seniors that don’t even know more than their PSAT scores from last year. My first senior to come in this summer I hoped would be the last. I’ve spent many nights in meetings, schools, and libraries trying to tell parents and students about school timelines. Most often I get the “you’re selling a program why should I listen to you?” But for me, it’s about helping students reach their goals. I talk until I’m blue in the face about starting early, planning early, making sure everything is understood… early. But I get a day away from giving one of these talks and I have a panicked senior sitting in my office telling me how they’ve never taken an SAT, they don’t know what they need to do next, and they want to apply early action. As someone who loves to plan, this makes me anxious. Their timeline now becomes my stress. I take on their goals because they matter to me. At this point we’re now a few weeks out from many seniors last chance SAT date in Aug and for a few it’s also their first opportunity. These kids hit me the hardest. There’s no time to adjust, no time to fine tune, and no time to try for another test.

But I do my best to not let them know that this is stressful, because the more nervous they are, the more self-doubt they put on themselves come test day. I have now sat with six of these students all varying levels of goal ranges and all varying reasons for why they waited. Some just didn’t know. They weren’t aware that they should have taken this last year at this time, they didn’t have counselors and teachers talking about these tests, and they just thought they did it at the same time they applied to school. These seniors I feel for. They can’t know what they didn’t know they needed to. Other students though, they are the ones that took a test last year this time, didn’t like their score, and are just remembering that they need to take it again. These ones I can’t help but be a little disappointed in. Just because a year of school went by, doesn’t mean a year more learning how to improve your test scores went by.

Regardless of why they are in my office at this stage, and regardless of how much time they have before the test date, I let parents know my goal is simple- to help prepare your student for the best score possible. This is a tough one though, because other factors go in to whether or not that goal can be reached. Time is a big one. It takes time to improve a score on something you already know. I’m generally not teaching students to read, but I am teaching them how reading a fiction piece, a speech, a research study, and an economic report is different. And I am teaching them how they don’t need to read this passage to fully understand it, but rather they need to understand how to use it for 8–9 min max. These tests are not about the overall skill, they are about the super exact abilities in each reporting category. It takes time to learn something you already know in a new way. And for many students, time is something they don’t have.

So as I look at the calendar and realize I am within 24 days of school starting and 26 days until the next SAT, I know the rush isn’t even close to being done.