“Nathan did way worse than expected on the SAT. Can you help?” Mrs. Honig said about her very bright junior at Old Lyme.
After working with Nathan a few times, I agreed. This is not always the case. Sometimes parents expectations are not based on real data but rather hope. In Nathan’s case, he definitely demonstrated a mastery of SAT problems that illustrated an underperformance.
During the school year, I usually meet with students for 1 hour because the student has homework and activity demands that preclude meeting longer on the weekdays. But Nathan had a day off due to professional development for teachers and we were able to meet for 2 hours. That’s when the problem revealed itself. Somewhere in the middle of the second hour, I noticed Nathan’s attention fading. His performance correspondingly declined. I asked Nathan whether this was typical. He said “yes, after a while I just can’t pay attention on tests.” For the most part, this did not affect Nathan in school because most tests are only the length of a period. But Nathan did have some underperformance issues on finals, particularly on non-memory based subjects where he had to maintain a high level of focus.
Stamina training is one of the areas where I have created a best practice framework for improvement. Parents and students should know that the ability to pay attention is an important factor for SAT and ACT success.