SAT in middle school

SAT in middle school

Q: My middle school aged child has been invited to take the SAT. The organization that invited her said it was a great opportunity to increase her odds at acceptance to the college of her choice. It seems kind of young to me. What do you think?

A: It sounds like your child is very bright. That is wonderful and hopefully your child’s school provides the appropriate level of academic stimulation for your child. It is very important that all children be appropriately challenged in academic settings.

For some children taking a standardized test can be anxiety inducing. If that sounds like your child, then your child might benefit from taking the SAT when there is no college admission stress attached. But there is no reason to push. There will be plenty of time during the high school years to take the SAT. (Your child can take it as many times as desired!)

And did you know, some colleges do not even require the SAT as part of the admission process? Instead of placing a disproportionate weight on a standardized test score, many colleges look at the whole child- solid grades in challenging classes, involvement in extra curricular actives, commitment to community service, etc. Some colleges even require a recommendation from a peer! The SAT score, while taken into consideration, does not hold the same importance it once did.

If your child would like to take the SAT as a non-pressured learning experience then: fine. But steer clear of pushing your child into an unnecessary stressful setting. There will be plenty of time later for testing.

Instead, your energies might be better spent helping your middle schooler find a volunteer opportunity they enjoy. Years of consistent community involvement may speak more clearly to colleges, give a truer picture of your child, and increases the chance of admissions to the college of their choice.

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  1. The only organization I know of that offers the SAT to middle schoolers is the gifted student summer camp offered through Duke University, known as the Talent Identification Program or TIP. The early test results have nothing to do with college admissions – you’ll end up taking it again in high school – but the camp is a wonderful experience. As a “tipster” myself, I’d encourage this student to take the plunge.

    My own reaction as a middle schooler was “They want me to PAY to take a TEST on a SATURDAY!!” But my parents gently pushed me to do it and I’m so glad they did.

    1. The Duke TIP program has a great reputation! It offers the opportunity for middle school students to take the SAT in hopes of identifying students who would benefit from their program, not just to get into a “good college” (although participating in the Duke TIP program might help). The reader who asked the above question was not writing about Duke TIP, but rather an organization with the sole purpose of getting middle school students college-application-ready. That could be a lot of weight placed on a standardized test and a lot of pressure placed on a middle schooler!

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