What is MINDLESS STUDYING, and why are you doing so much of it for the SAT and ACT?

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Don’t waste another minute! INCREASE tells students how they should really prepare for standardized tests this spring

INCREASE: We make you outstanding.

INCREASE: We make you outstanding.

Did you know that you can’t “mindlessly study”?

“How are you studying for the SAT, Rebecca?”

“Three times a week, I take a full-length practice exam and go over what I got right and wrong.”

[awkward pause]

“OK… but how do you STUDY?”

Top students don't get copies of the previous ten years’ worth of exams and take them one-by-one in order to prepare for an exam in school. In fact, in Rebecca’s case, she said what she does to study for a typical exam: “I just figure out what I don’t know that’s on the test, and open a book and learn it.”

Why isn’t she doing the same for the SAT, when the College Board takes so much time to list everything you need to know to ace the exam?

After all, the SAT IS an EXAM, and in that way is something very familiar to high school students, and especially those who have spent a good deal of time in high school taking them. However, instead of this providing a sense of comfort for students, they decide to start from scratch, as if they aren’t familiar with how they study best or what studying is at all!

Keith Berman, Certified Educational Planner and founder and President of Options for College, tells us, “It’s a teen thing – it happens a lot. I work with so many talented teens who, because they’ve had no counseling in high school, come in with a college plan that roughly reads “Arrive at college freshman year. Start from scratch.” Instead of sharing where they’ve traveled, using the languages they learned, talking to faculty about how great they are, they just assume they know nothing about school, despite having gone for 13 previous years.

In fact, with some counseling in what we call “The Collection Phase” at Options for College, we find out that most teens are actually very ready for college, they are just unaware of it.

Same with the SAT. Most unguided students go about preparing for it as if it is testing their stamina, personality or willingness-to-grind-through-mindless-exercises. Of course, you can’t mindlessly study.

Once students work with someone who just shows them how to get answers correct on the exam, that’s what they start doing. They start to, with increasing efficiency, use their math, reading and writing skills to answer questions with increasing ease.

At Increase, we turn students onto the idea that A) our students have a great, powerful mind; B) our students’ minds are their biggest weapon on the SAT and ACT, and; C) our students need to study their way to get the score they need.

Our tutors try to do just that – get our students ready to ace the exam by tapping into how they learn best. Believe it or not, it doesn’t seem to be happening anywhere else!”

Mr. Berman, in addition to founding Options for College, created and taught Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth’s College Prep, and has spoken at colleges like MIT, Yale, Harvard, Emory, Berkeley, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, on the topic “What Counts in the College Admissions Process.” He went to Yale as an undergrad and Harvard and Bank Street College for his education degrees, working in undergraduate admissions at both Yale and Harvard.

Students planning to take the SAT/ACT in May or June should begin preparing now (if they haven’t already!) – and beware of the “mindless studying” trap.

Parents and students interested in one-on-one tutoring can visit Increase’s practice at the following URL:


Visitors can learn more about Options for College at:


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Abby Kelly
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