It's your habits that will make or break your score
Bodsat students learn the power of a good habit: To receive all of the benefits of doing careful work, without depleting willpower, a limited asset that needs to last through a 4-hour test. But old habits die hard. In fact, they cannot be erased, only replaced. This is why Bodsat teachers help Bodsat students acquire good work habits starting on day one.
The Bodsat Method is holistic
Our programs drill the importance of sleep, nutrition, and a non-distracting environment. Students learn that practice makes permanent: if your practice is compromised by short cuts because you are tired or distracted, then those shortcuts are habituated, so that even if you are well-rested during the official test, you will fall for the many traps these tests set to force careless errors. With the SAT and ACT, often for the first time, many students are meeting an obstacle that they can not overcome simply by working harder. That's why, in addition, we show them how to work smarter. Bodsat teachers make a compelling case for the value of better sleeping habits, eating habits and studying habits. As SAT/ACT experts, they will listen to us if they haven't yet listened to their parents.
The Bodsat Method is Socratic
Rather than fix what is not broken in a student who is already scoring well, our teachers tread lightly, with a minimal footprint, only helping in the specific areas in which their students are stumbling. By asking the right questions, Bodsat teachers turn every missed problem into an opportunity to refine a process and achieve a better outcome instantly. But ultimately, our teachers know that to empower students to improve on their own, students need to learn to ask themselves the right questions—about the test and about themselves as test-takers. What makes this process so effective for eliminating careless errors is that carelessness is never random, especially on standardized tests. The right questions can lead you to patterns of carelessness that, if resolved, can have a huge impact on scores.
A problem-solving tool is worth a thousand problems
Rather than moving on to the next hard problem as soon as they have understood how to do the last one, Bodsat students and teachers dig deeply into the learning opportunities created by every missed question so that they can see what went wrong and then figure out what contributed to what went wrong. Only then can we know which problem-solving tools a student doesn't yet have. Collecting problem-solving tools is far more effective than collecting the problems themselves, because students will never see those problems again.
Hard problems are not unreasonable
To think otherwise is to resent having to prep for an unreasonable test (which will be a real drag on performance), and to miss the biggest learning opportunities when analyzing hard questions. If students think a problem is unreasonably hard, they are looking at it wrong. With the help of Bodsat teachers, they are encouraged to look more closely and ask questions about these problems until they understand what exactly is being tested, and why. Getting to know the test in this way is the single most empowering thing most students can do.
Hard problems are made hard in consistent ways
These are standardized tests, so analyzing any hard problem deeply can empower students to understand and be ready for future hard problems. Bodsat students and teachers look for patterns that help "unlock" not just one tough problem, but many. Without looking closely at the patterns that make hard problems hard test after test, "hard" problems will continue to feel hard and trigger panic and resentment.
Increasing efficiency increases scores
There are many ways Bodsat students and teachers address problems with not having enough time. One is to "reverse engineer" the correct answers to problems that took a while for the student to do (though the student may have still gotten them right). The reason why finding the quickest pathways to the right answers is so effective is that those patterns are repeated throughout the test. When a Bodsat student and teacher follow a student's "play by play," the teacher can point out inefficiencies. This is a much more effective way of addressing pacing issues than simply speeding up and making yet more careless errors.
Stressed and over-confident students who try to speed through problems end up wasting time instead
Some students try to gain time solving problems by reading the questions quickly. Often, if they get stuck, or if they find that there is no answer choice that matches their answer, it is because they are answering a question that only exists in their minds. They have misread or misremembered the actual problem. Of course, this is a complete waste of time. And to compound the problem, standardized tests are good at predicting misreads, so they can and do generate wrong answer choices that fit predicted errors. Those students will lose time and points. Though it feels counterintuitive at first (which is why a great coach can be a big help), Bodsat students are taught to invest more time at the beginning of their problem-solving in order to save time (and points) throughout.
It is inefficient to do an SAT/ACT like a high school test
If they choose to prep on their own, students who are adept at schoolwork try to do standardized tests with the same processes that they know work well for high school. After a few tests they learn that this doesn't work within the time allowed on the SAT/ACT. After a few dozen more hours, they begin to find new ways that are better (for example, various ways to use the answer choices to help speed up the process). And, if they haven't run out of prep time or enthusiasm before the official test date yet, after a few dozen more hours, they get better at those ways. A Bodsat program above all saves students from having to spend countless hours figuring out this stuff on their own. It also saves them from the resentment, anxiety and disengagement that can become a drag on their pacing.
The benefits of a grateful mindset
There are lots of reasons one might fear and/or resent having to take standardized tests, to be sure, but the experience can be quite educational as well (especially the way we deliver it). The more we can help students focus on the opportunities in prep to improve their habits, their metacognition, and their efficiency, the more they will be engaged in the work for its own sake, and the less they will be worried and distracted by how well they are doing.
Re-imagine your goal
Early in the program, when Bodsat teachers discuss goals, many students say some variation of "get a great score to get into a great college." For some, however, it turns out that such a goal unconsciously stresses them out throughout the prep process. The reason for this is that as much we would like to think differently, it is not entirely up to them to decide what score they will receive, or whether it will be high enough for a specific school to let them in. Setting goals beyond their immediate control can trigger anxiety each time they are reminded of this reality (i.e., whenever they think they are missing questions). Bodsat teachers help many students re-write this goal to make it achievable no matter what, such as a goal to "represent to colleges what I can do." In other words, we tell them that their job at any given point is only to work productively. Beyond that, let the universe decide.
Learning powerful de-stressing tools
On day one, Bodsat teachers give their students tools that will help them with test anxiety, and we encourage them to get practicing right away if they fear they will choke on a test. We also help students to distinguish choking from panicking (the latter occurs when you are unprepared for a test, which they clearly will not be). The Bodsat Method includes both abortive and preventative tools that have been demonstrated to work well with moderate test anxiety.
Stress itself is not the enemy
Bodsat students learn the power of reinterpreting (rather than trying to contain or eradicate) their stress. They learn that stress itself is merely heightened awareness, and that it only becomes a problem when that focus is turned back onto the student's own processes rather than onto the test itself. Interpreting stress as something detrimental may begin a cycle of stressing about their stress that will likely impede their ability to represent themselves on the test. It turns out that it is not very difficult to turn that around by, for example, telling yourself at the first sign of stress, "hey, I'm really amped for this test!"