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Courage, Confidence and Charisma - The PSAT, SAT, College Application and Interview

written by: Donna Clarke•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 6/25/2009

High school students have so much to look forward to...PSATs, SATs, college applications with sage and life changing essay questions, college interviews peppered with seemingly ridiculous and equally obscure questions. What pressure; what stress! How can one possibly be prepared, and know it ALL?

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    Don't stress the test!

    The components of achieving admission into the perfect college can seem a daunting task. Especially off-putting can be the PSAT and, SAT tests, college applications and interviews. Though each appears distinct in purpose, the preparation need not be. All four require a mastery of the written word, an understanding and thoughtful position of current issues, as well as global and social concerns, the ability to put stress and apprehension aside and focus on the moment at hand and most of all, patience.

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    Steps for test prep are life skills!

    These skills when emphasized early in the educational process become part of everyday discovery rather than a last minute cram for an exam, or interview. When mastered appropriately, high schoolers become prepared not only for the challenges stated previously, but also for challenges faced throughout life. The steps are easy, the benefits are endless!

    • READ, READ, READ: The greatest opportunity to broaden one's comprehension of the written word is by reading. Works by a variety of authors focusing on a host of topics, time lines and perspectives offer an opportunity for vocabulary growth, literary style, cultural view, historical understanding as well as personal reflection. Within specific genres lie opportunities to develop expertise and understanding which can be applied in countless ways. Classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries open the door to deductive reasoning and analytical thought, The work of Jane Eyre offers a look into the portrait of women in the not too distant past. Speeches of the late Dr. King, Jefferson, Lincoln, Kennedy, and Reagan, establish passion and empathy to major social and cultural issues, many of which still exist today.

    • WATCH AND LEARN: Expression through polite, rhetorical debate is sadly becoming a lost art. Watching debates, through formal clubs, political campaigns, civic organizational rallies and round table discussions offer exposure to a myriad of venues, styles, approaches and perspectives. Inflection, intonation, double-speak, tonal quality, verbal pacing, sarcasm, and body language are all integral components to successful expression. Observing masters of the craft, as well as those not-so-skilled, exposes each of these necessary ingredients, as well as many unnecessary idiosyncratic ones, allowing the student to develop his or her unique style and approach.

    • STAND UP AND STAND OUT: Learning to read music and playing a musical instrument offer an immense opportunity for growth in areas of mathematics, through a seemingly unrelated yet immensely fulfilling form of expression. Studies have shown students exposed to music score higher on math portions of tests, as it stimulates that portion of the brain, allowing a new way of learning and deciphering values, patterns and codes. Performing music provides a venue for that new area of growth adding poise to the list of courage, confidence and charisma! If the SAT is just around the corner, and your student has not participated in musical activities, then the benefit of music can still be enjoyed. Rhythmic patterns of classical music can be used as an aid in remembering key formulas and theorems, even a short time before the test. An added benefit is the calming effect listening to a favorite group, artist, or musical genre can have with those pre-test jitters.

    • DO YOU KNOW WHAT I KNOW!: What about an applicant is so clearly unique that it makes him or her a fit for a specific college? This cannot be measured by the universal application. Universal applications save time, but you get what you pay for. Individual applications allow specific answers focusing on the applicant's unique characteristics, qualities and how they fit into the particular college or university. Those who participate in a campus tour often find the fee to apply is waived. Seeing the college is a necessary prerequisite in the decision making process, and the application and interview are natural next steps.