August 30, 2022

Raising Perfect SAT Scorers: Using Competition to Drive Academic Excellence 

Enrolling a child in a quality afterschool program is a proactive approach to fostering academic excellence. A surefire way to reverse engineer successful scores on the SAT & ACT is by investing in their academic excellence in elementary and middle school. Research has shown that in the middle grade years, when critical academic and social development takes place, participation in academic competitions for kids of all abilities yields positive life lessons, accelerated academic uptick, and a sense of community.

Often as parents we are looking to “hack” our kids’ motivations and their natural curiosity to find those moments where their short term wants can line up with their long term goals. Academic competitions present the opportunity for your kids to have fun while they work. It’s studying that doesn’t feel like studying – that’s the goal. It can be extremely stressful to take timed standardized tests, especially if the testing material is right on the edge of a student’s ability. These programs and competitions help yield better results by desensitizing kids to the anxiety of these moments, while also increasing their intellectual ceiling. 

Academic competitions help kids to develop: 

  • A healthy introduction to competition – competition can have negative effects if not handled thoughtfully in the life of kids. These pressure situations create anxiety in test subjects and often make it hard for those most affected by their anxiety to recall information or problem solve effectively. One way for parents and teachers to help students conquer these moments is by exposing them at young ages to environments where problem solving under pressure is both taught and rewarded. 
  • Preparation – Kids that undergo the process necessary to succeed in these environments learn valuable lessons about commitment and preparation. These settings give kids the opportunity to experience the value of these virtues. And what parent doesn’t want their kid to learn hard work pays off! 
  • Healthy Self Concept – At the end of the day, kids love to demonstrate skill. It’s both validading and gratifying personally to feel the sense of accomplishment and recognition success can bring. Not only that, the confidence we get from these moments inspire and fundamentally give our identities a sense that problem solving is essential to who we are.
  • Value of Perseverance – Over time, raw talent matters less and less. Participating in math competitions helps you to become immune to the pressure of the moment – kids become faster, more accurate, and can therefore go on to learn more advanced skills at a faster rate because of their mastery of the fundamentals. This is especially significant when it comes to solving complex math problems involving multiple steps of computation, verbal reasoning, and basic execution.

These competitions have many of the same situational characteristics as taking standardized tests, but the value of these competitions is not solely about the day of the competition so much as all the practice it takes to get there. Getting your child comfortable with the added pressure while improving their range of mastery within math is a wise investment in the life of your child, one that could pay off over time by helping to win scholarships and reducing tuition costs when the time comes. At The Study Huddle, several of our middle school students are able to achieve perfect scores on the math section of the SAT before entering high school. 

Whether they are winning the competitions or not, especially in the beginning, is less important. The goal here is mentally training your brain to recall advanced concepts in the name of timed problem solving, which as it happens, is exactly like the experience of taking the SAT. Like training for anything, the results of training are a function of time and effort. However, even in the internet-age where all information is available at the click of a button, all of us might not be the types who can teach themselves new things easily. That’s where we come in…

The Study Huddle Approach 

The Study Huddle is like a personal trainer for your kid’s brain. With time and consistency, that investment can REALLY pay off. In 2021, the average advertised salary for entry-level STEM jobs requiring a BA or higher was $93,000 compared to $52,299 for non-STEM jobs. Making an investment during the critical years of your child’s development can benefit your future, but also your kid’s future career too! 

Our lesson plans are curated to teach kids the right way. Make mental and intellectual growth of your child a priority by contacting us today.