How and Why I began preparing for the SAT in 7th grade
When I was in 7th grade, someone told me that MIT was the best school in the world. I immediately decided to go there and told everyone my plans. I even sent for the MIT catalog and application forms. The people at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, of course, had no idea I was in 7th grade.
I soon discovered the best part of going to MIT was that there were seven boys for each girl. And yes, I really was a normal, boy-crazy, seventh grade girl. MIT sounded like a wonderful place. The only problem was that none of the classes sounded interesting.
Next, I learned that I’d have to take the SAT and make very high scores. I saved my allowance and bought my first SAT practice book and I started to work. Yes, as a 7th grader, I worked my way through SAT practice books.
There were a lot of questions based on vocabulary so I tried to learn 10 words a day. Little by little I dropped to 5 words and then 3 words a day. The problem was that, while learning new words, I was forgetting words from an earlier week. So I learned to build in review time.
I eventually changed my mind about MIT, but I continued learning vocabulary, reading difficult books from time to time, and doing those practice tests. It was fun and, to be honest, I was usually bored in school.
As a result of six years of preparation, I did really well on the PSAT (the preliminary SAT) my junior year. In those days, they didn’t tell students their scores on this or on the SAT, but I know I did very well.
I wasn’t thinking about winning a scholarship as I was improving my vocabulary and doing practice tests. I was astonished to learn that my test scores on the PSAT and SAT were high enough to make me a finalist for a National Merit Scholarship.
This meant I could go to any school I wanted to go to and didn’t need to worry about money. In fact, just the fact that I had a National Merit Scholarship would have been enough to help me get into almost any school I wanted.
Do I recommend that other students do this? If you are bored in school and want something challenging to work on, certainly, you might enjoy it too.
You probably don’t want to work as hard as I did. You might try to learn one new word a day or something simple like that. You might enjoy occasionally read a harder book than usual. You might also to SAT practice books several years before taking the test. You have to decide.
If, however, you are really going to need a good scholarship to get through college, early preparation will improve your scores and your chances of getting this or one of the other great scholarships that are available. So do as much early preparation as you can comfortably fit into your busy schedule.
Other things are also important like making good grades, participating in school activities, especially if you take leadership roles and spending time volunteering, especially in areas related to what you want for a future career.