studying for the SAT
10/12/2007 at 07:53 AM

My son says he is studying for the SAT, but then I go in his room to find him surfing the internet or writing on Facebook. I have tried making him sit at the kitchen table and study while I am making dinner, but he just sits there being angry with me and nothing really gets done. Does anyone have any tips on ways to get your teen to study and maybe, god forbid, enjoy it? I have no idea how prepared he is for the test.

Jess is stressed

Hey Jessicamom,


Well, I have to say the first thing I would do is remove the computer from his room.  I think that is one of the biggest mistakes that parents make, to let a kid have a computer in their room.  I would also talk to him about how important the SATs are for him if he wants to get into the college of his choice.  We have a rule here that there must be study time with no distractions, including no radio.  My daughter hasn't always been happy about it but she does it now with no argument and it seems to help her be able to concentrate.  Also, you can and should help with the distractions and do everything you can to help your son be able to study but ultimately you can't make a child that age study if they don't want to---you can make them open a book, you can make them sit there with the book open, you can make them stare at the book but you can't make them read or study it, there has to be some sort of self-motivation.


Anyone else have any ideas?




Yes!! Remove the computer! Not only is it distracting, but I think it is best to have the computer in a common area where you can monitor its' use. As for making your son study, we bought an SAT game off of recently and (surprisingly) the kids are really enjoying playing. I have a better idea of how prepared they are for the test and also know that they are studying. Great solution to the problem of sticking a book under their noses, but not being able to make them read! Of course, they have to still study - a board game isn't the only solution, but it is a step and the motivation that if they study a bit they will whoop mine and my husband's butts at the math questions seems to be somewhat motivating. Good way to throw a little bit of study into a Sunday aft. too. Anyone else have this game? Where can you buy it other than amazon, I've never seen it in a store.


Just chiming in here to say that we have this game too. I can't tell you how it has turned around the whole SAT study experience in our home. Naturally, at first the kids thought the idea of playing a game with their parents was pretty lame, but that attitude quickly dissipated. I know they enjoy playing and seem to be improving their speed and ability. Frankly I am surprised, but I guess it actually makes a lot of sense. I mean, if they have to study, isn't playing a game a poreferable way of doing it? What is great too, which we actually never even thought of, is that I can actually see how ready my kids are for the test. Before I was just taking their word for it. Give it a try - if you can find it. We got it on amazon from testprepu games. Can't find it in store. unfortunate.


Removing the computer is a valid suggestion but may be potentially problematic in the long-run. When your child moves into the world of work or into college, he may have a computer in front of him all day. He needs to learn to approach the machine from a mature perspective and know when using it a certain way will harm him in the long-run. It's difficult to do, and only he will be able to force himself to do it in the long-run. As a short-term fix, however, having him study in a common room or somewhere like a public library may be a good stepping stone. Once he gets into the habit of studying, it may be easier for him to continue it in front of the computer, resisting its temptation.

Overall, however, if your main concern is the SAT in particular and not his work-ethic in general, I sincerely recommend a tutor. Not just any tutor will be of much help, so it's important to ask around and find out who one has had good experience with in your area. Often, private tutors who charge $80-100 dollars for a [weekly] hour of their time are of more help than large tutoring organizations or programs. The SAT is a heavily-tutorable test, and tutors in my area have brought up grades from an 1800 to a 2300 (500 points!). Generally, however, at least a schoolyear of tutoring is required for that effect. Lesser positive effects can be achieved pretty quickly, though.

Thanks for the chance to chime in!



I agree about the computer situation. Our kids have to get used to them, as they are a permanent part of our lives. Limiting computer use, keeping the computer in a common area or setting designated computer hours might help. As for SAT study, a tutor is well and good, provided you are a family that can afford to pay for it. Tutoring doesn't come cheap and for many of us it is out of the question. I think an SAT board game is a great idea. I don't have the game myself, but located it online at It looks pretty interesting and compared to private tutors, it is certainly affordable.


idealistically perhaps, but my hope for my children was, that by the time they were required to take the SAT, they not only had learned how to study, but were, for the most part prepared to take the test.  general knowledge aside, we got the big old SAT study guide for $49.95, a word a day vocabulary calendar, which i kept on the kitchen table, and a math tutor for review and brush up.  there were also SAT tutorials there were offered by the school and taught by a company that contracted through the school to provide the instruction.  that service ranged in price from a few hundred dollars to many hundreds of dollars. it seems crazy that after and entire education, parents would have to pay for this stuff, but life is just that competitive these days.  i also insisted that my kids sit for the ACT test because it is easier and many high-reach colleges accept it in lieu of the SAT.  i found that when all was said and done, the most important aspects of this college-entrance proceedure was the writing of the essay, familiarity with the common application proceedure and choosing colleges realistically.  my kids never had puters in their rooms but had freedom of acces to the home computers and laptops which often ended up in their bedrooms.  i agree wholeheartedly that they have to learn how to take responsibility for the distractions of life. 


i agree  you should take away thing to get his attition may be have him study right next to you  but if he studies right next to you it has to be quite  i'm working on studing my self and it's hard to get started