Sunday, September 11, 2011

SAT prep in 8th and 9th grade? You Betcha!

We've had almost 2 full weeks off of lessons.  First, the Big Dog took a stay-cation.  We spent the week having fun and relaxing.  THEN we got back to lessons the day after Labor Day.  THEN the flooding began Tuesday night in Wednesday morning and that was all she wrote.  And so tomorrow we begin again.  And when we do begin, we will complete our next lesson in our SAT Prep book.

SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student

When I was planning this school year, I had a TOTALY different plan for Language Arts than what I'm using now.  Just before beginning our new school year I received a copy of SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student, by Dr. James Stobaugh.  As I began reading it, I said to the Big Dog, I think I'm changing our Language Arts Plan for this year!  And that is just what we did.  This year, and for the next three years, the boys and I will be working through the lessons in SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student.

This books is easy to pick up and get started.  There is very little teacher prep required.  We began with the first lesson, and each of the boys selected books to read from the recommended reading list.  Last week both boys finished their first book from the list, and had to pick a new book to read.  Now, Dr. Stobaugh suggests that students read one book a week.  Since our boys are not used to this amount of reading, we have adjusted it to be one book every two to three weeks.  Anyway, when they finished, I handed the book to Big Mac and said, "Pick your next book."  There is a book list broken down by grade, beginning with grade 9, in the back of the book.  Big Mac picked 11 books from that list that he would like to read.  And these are classic books, not popular fiction, so I think that's pretty impressive that he had so many he wanted to read this year.

As I mentioned before SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student is laid out to be completed in three years.  There are weekly lessons with a reading comprehension, and writing exercise, test-taking tips, and a math challenge among other things.  It does not take us long to complete and the lessons are actually a lot of fun.  The boys each have a notebook in which they write their answers or their essays for each lesson.  We try to take our time and work through each lesson without a time limit.

After reading their book, there is a form at the back of the book that I've scanned and copied for the boys to complete as a book report.  It's called the Reading Journal.    I plan to have the boys complete one of these forms for each book they read and place it in their yearly portfolio.  At the bottom of the report form is a place for a parent to sign and date the report.  We are having Big Dog read the reports and sign them.  He is reading with a critical eye and asking the boys questions about what they've written.  It's a great way to involve him in the process.

The SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student book has a great 30-minute devotional guide.  We already have our devotional plan in place, so we are not using it, but the book stresses time in the Word is key for SAT success.

There are sample essays and essay practice opportunities galore.  There are book lists for all three grades (Dr. Stobaugh believes that 12th grade is the time that you spend focusing on college applications) with enough books to keep the boys busy.  Dr. Stobaugh stresses that reading with a critical eye is essential to SAT prep.  And he guides the student on how to read critically in each lesson.  He also encourages the reader to read their books with a stack of 3x5 cards at their sides on which to write vocabulary words.  We have adjusted this slightly and the boys are keeping their vocabulary words in their notebook.

Each lesson has a scripture to read and discuss, as well as a portion of one of the classics on the book list.  But the test-taking tips are my favorites.  I am sure to read them to the boys each time we complete a lesson and it has really changed my perspective on preparing for the SAT.  As a matter of fact, you can become friends with Dr. James Stobaugh (the author) on FaceBook and Twitter.  He gives pointers and tips there all the time.

I really think this book is best if begun in 9th grade.  Since we do everything together, our 8th grader, T-bone, is also working through the same lessons.  That's working fine for us.  But the point is that I think you should start this book early, don't wait until 11th or 12th grade to begin SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student. We will be completing one lesson a week for the next three years.  We will also continue to read from the book list working up to where the boys are reading 1 book a week.  It is easy to adapt the SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student to your children and your family situation.  I also think that it would be a great book to hand to your older student to work independently while you work with younger children.  It's an excellent resource and will be our spine for Language Arts Literature for the next three years.

If you would like a copy, they are available at most of the major book retailers:  Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, and Barnes and Noble.  Right now (9/11/2011) Amazon has it for $19.88, not a bad price to pay for 3-years of curriculum.  So, check it out!


I received a copy of SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student by Dr. James P. Stobaugh from New Leaf Publishig in order to complete this fair and honest review.  I was not required to be positive.  All opinions are my own.

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