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How a Navy SEAL studies for the SAT

If your son or daughter is taking the SAT or ACT in the coming weeks, here are some tips to help them maximize their score:

Common (but good) advice

  • Register for the exam
  • Prepare well in advance
  • Match study style with learning style (e.g. book, online, classroom with students, tutor, etc.)
  • Learn tips and tricks to help manage time, guessing strategies, etc.
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before

PrepWell's "uncommon" advice

Take practice tests under real test-taking conditions - over and over again!

Let me elaborate. Many students spend a lot of time looking for hacks, tricks, and shortcuts to improve their test scores. They also normally study in "short bursts" (e.g. Study Math for 40 minutes every M, W, F) - when they really should be spending a lot more time and effort simply taking more full-length tests.

In my opinion, a large component of how well you perform on the test will be based on how much mental endurance you have built up by test day.

Most high school students aren't accustomed to spending up to four continuous hours taking a single test. This is a completely new and unique experience.

How often does a teenager EVER sit in one spot for four hours - let alone concentrate deeply for that long? Almost never. This is what makes the test so challenging - not necessarily the subject matter.

No one will tell you this, but the SAT and ACT are mental endurance tests. Who can concentrate longer?

By practicing the tests, under real test-taking conditions, over and over again, students will begin to train their brain (and body) to handle the mental fatigue associated with the test.

Over time, they will grow their ability to concentrate for long periods of time. This is not unlike training for any other activity.

A Strategy Born in Navy SEAL Training

When I trained for my Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Test, I practiced taking the test over and over again exactly the way it was administered in real life - not one event at a time.

The training was brutal. It started with a 500-yard swim, then max pushups for 2 minutes, then max situps for 2 minutes, then max pull-ups for 2 minutes, then a 1.5 mile run with combat boots and pants.

Most other candidates trained for each of these events separately - but rarely together. Pushups on Mondays, Pull-ups on Tuesday, Run on Wednesday, etc.

This was their undoing. Because when you string all of those events together, the cumulative fatigue was a killer. Candidates weren't prepared for it and they fell apart.

I always trained by doing all 5 events in a row, so when I had to take the real test - I had no problem. I felt like I had been there before.

The same goes for studying for a standardized test. The more you can subject yourself to actual test-taking conditions, the more confidence and calm you will have on test day.

Not easy

If this sounds hardcore - it's because it is. I'm a hardcore guy. I train and mentor people who want to get after it. And this is one way to do it!

Like most things, training the right way isn't always the easiest way.

It might take a lot to convince your son or daughter to subject themselves to taking multiple full-length SAT or ACT exams as part of their test preparation. It's a commitment and it's challenging.

However, I know this advice has worked wonders for many PrepWellers out there and I wanted to share this advice with you and your child.

If you appreciate this unique perspective on preparation and think it would resonate with your son or daughter, I encourage you to enroll them in PrepWell Academy, where they get a dose of advice like this every single week.

Want more unconventional tips and training like this? Enroll in PrepWell Academy today.

Prep On,

Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.

Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.

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