Prep course help juniors get ready for upcoming SAT

March 7, 2024

By Chiara Cardona
Staff Writer

For most students, lunch is reserved for relaxation or club meetings, but for college-bound juniors, it has been a time to prepare for the SAT. 

Juniors registered for the March 9 test date were encouraged to sign up for the high school’s free SAT preparation course, which takes place four days a week during lunch. The class, which has 32 students, is running from Feb. 5-March 7.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, English teacher Dr. DiMaggio leads sessions in which she acquaints students with the digital test’s format, goes over various question types and provides test-taking strategies.

“[Students] practice doing the problems, timed, and their homework is to make corrections so they can see why their answer was wrong and what evidence is making the correct answer choice correct,” DiMaggio said.

DiMaggio, who does SAT tutoring for students from various high schools in New Jersey, said the material she covers in her tutoring sessions is the same as that which she addresses in her class. However, she said there is one major difference. 

“When you’re in a class setting, you can’t give as much individualized attention,” DiMaggio said. “If you have a class with 30 students, and you only have lunchtime, you don’t have time to [address] each student’s individual [needs].”

DiMaggio said the district decided to offer this course to help students increase their scores.

“High SAT scores open the doors to more possibilities for where they will get accepted into college… and also to more opportunities in terms of scholarships,” DiMaggio said. 

She said students should take advantage of the prep course, which has been available to juniors for the past three years.

“This is free… and you don’t have to come at night,” DiMaggio said. “You don’t have to go anywhere else besides where you already are, so why wouldn’t you do it?” 

Math teacher Ms. Fernandez, who teaches the mathematics portion of the prep course on Wednesdays and Thursdays, said her goal has been to prepare students to tackle the types of questions they can expect to see on the SAT.

“I enjoy being around people [who] also want to get help for the SAT and get higher scores. I feel like everyone is there for the same purpose.”

Fernandez said one strategy she recommends is eliminating as many multiple choice options as possible to increase one’s chances of selecting the correct answer.

“Make educated guesses, and always you know first,” Fernandez said. “Come back to [questions you are struggling to answer] after completing the ones you do know.”

Like DiMaggio, Fernandez tutors students outside of LHS for the SAT. 

“The last student I tutored… improved 100 points just with four [sessions],” Fernandez said. “If you put in the work, you do see a big improvement.”

Fernandez said she suggests students take the SAT at least twice, once during their junior year and once at the beginning of their senior year.

Junior Isaac Camilo, who is enrolled in LHS’ SAT prep course, said he plans to take the SAT until he gets a minimum score of 1200. He said he hopes the class will help him reach his goal.

“Although it takes up some of your time, it’s definitely beneficial in the end,” Camilo said. 

He said he misses having free time during lunch, but the advantages of taking the course outweigh the inconvenience.

PHOTO BY SHELBY PEREZ Math teacher Ms. Fernandez teaches a lesson on Feb. 14 to prepare juniors for the math section of the SAT.

“Both teachers give good tips and tricks and even [explain] common sense stuff that we wouldn’t think of,” Camilo said. 

Junior Abigail Mongelli, who is also enrolled in the class, said she decided to register after hearing DiMaggio would be one of the instructors.

“Everyone was saying she was one of the best at teaching it,” Mongelli said. “I feel like she will help me a lot with [getting] a higher score.”

Mongelli said she especially likes the class environment.

“I enjoy being around people [who] also want to get help for the SAT and get higher scores. I feel like everyone is there for the same purpose,” Mongelli said.

She said the class requires a lot of mental energy, but it is necessary because one cannot improve without completing practice questions.

“Even if you’re wrong, you’re still learning why you’re wrong, which is really helpful,” Mongelli said. “I like everything about [the course]. I feel like I’m genuinely learning something.”

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