What to Do During Coronavirus Quarantine?
By Paul Lim | Kaplan SAT & ACT Trainer
The year 2020 so far has not turned out to be a good year. As most of us sit at home wondering what is going to happen next, we might as well do something more useful. It is not a time to panic, and certainly not a time to waste, especially for students going to take the SAT/ACT this year. It is now a time to press the PAUSE button, re-think, and plan for the future after the pandemic. It is believed that Newton formulated his theory of gravitation (while sitting under an apple tree) and finished his work on calculus during his “quarantine” for the Great Plague of London.
It is a time for “organic growth,” especially in our language skills because language skills need longer time to improve than math skills. We should be reading more books, in more variety. If you have been reading non-fiction books all along, it is now time to read non-fiction books of other subjects. Remember that SAT/ACT reading sections test students on subjects such as narratives, humanities, social science, and natural science? Reading other varieties of non-fiction can help you to improve your “general knowledge,” which is essential to understanding the background of the passages. Furthermore, if you have been reading fiction of a certain type (fantasy or science fiction), it is now time to read fiction of a different kind – literary narrative. Pick up a literary classic like Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice or even A Tale of Two Cities. Getting used to these classics will help students immensely in the reading sections.
It is also time to hone our fundamental skills in math, for example algebraic manipulations and simplification techniques. From my experience working with students from different schools, I find that many students are hampered in math by their fundamental skills. Maybe this is due to their over-emphasis on using calculators in school. Skills like factorization, simplification, and algebraic manipulations of equations are under-developed. Many students are generally slow in these techniques and sometimes, they couldn’t do it at all. So, during this period of quarantine, they should focus on practising these techniques until they are thoroughly familiar with them. In this case, practice always makes perfect. The more practice you do, the faster and more accurate you will be. There is no short-cut for this.
Because of the coronavirus, the timeline for college application has been squeezed. What used to be a 12-month timeline is now narrowed down to 6 months. That means that instead of taking the test 2 to 3 times as planned, you may now only have time to take it at most twice, maybe only once. So, if you find yourself having nothing to do, do not be tempted into binge watching videos or playing computer games. These are essentially entertainment and it should not take up a majority of our waking hours. This pandemic is like a storm; it will blow over. When it will blow over and how severe it will be, nobody knows. At times like these, we have to ask ourselves relevant questions, not questions that nobody can answer. We have to come out of this storm faster, better, and healthier than before. Success in SAT/ACT is achievable within the next 6 to 9 months, only if you start preparing right now.
Mr. Paul Lim
Kaplan SAT and ACT Trainer
MBA, National University of Singapore
B.Sc., Harvey Mudd College
- Over 15+ years of experience in teaching SAT and ACT
- Graduated from a prestigious U.S. college
- Proven record in helping students achieve a perfect subject section score of 800
- Author of a book on effective learning strategies for mastering vocabulary
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