Characteristics of Readiness
By Paul Lim | Kaplan SAT & ACT Trainer
In the previous article, we discussed the saying “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” From this, we know that the main point is the student has to be ready, because the teacher is always ready to teach. In this article, we will discuss some of the characteristics of the students that show they are ready. To be sure, this is not a scientific study, although an empirical one. It is based on my personal experience of teaching students in SAT/ACT for many years. Throughout the years, I find that students who show the most improvements are those who are aware and acknowledge their deficiencies, willing to work hard to achieve their goals, and willing to follow instructions.
The first characteristic of a student who is ready is when they are aware of their current abilities. In other words, they have no disillusions about who they are and what they can do. They are aware what scores they are likely to achieve in the SAT/ACT tests. They also know that with their current abilities, they are not able to reach their goals. In other words, they know that they need help and are willing to seek for help. It is important to note that since the students are not yet adults, their parents also have to be aware of the students’ abilities and acknowledge their deficiencies in order for interventions to come in. Otherwise the parents will tell their children a different story: that they are very good students, and with their abilities, they can definitely achieve their goals. With such cognitive dissonance, the students become even more perplexed.
Once the students are aware and acknowledge their shortcomings, they must also commit themselves to work hard to achieve their goals: their desired scores in SAT/ACT. They must allocate adequate time to learn and to practice so that they can show improvements. At this point, the teacher will be able to help the students to develop a realistic improvement plan that can bring the students to their desired levels. Sometimes, this cannot be done within a short period of time and has to be done in multiple stages. The teacher needs to observe the students for a short period of time to see their commitments and to gauge their progress in order to determine whether the goal can be achieved realistically. If the teacher is unsure, then it can only be done on a “best-effort basis” for both parties. Nothing is predetermined and nothing is guaranteed in the real world. So both the teacher and the students just work their best to achieve the best possible results. In the end, pleasant surprises often follow.
The third characteristics is that they are willing to follow the instructions of the teacher. This sounds like common sense, but I have experience with many students who won’t do what they have been told to do and end up with little or no improvements at all. The parents and the students have to trust that their teacher has their best interests in mind i.e. to attain the highest scores that the students can achieve. If this sounds like another platitude, I can tell you many stories of parents who second-guess the teacher or even tell the teacher how to teach the lessons. These attitudes are counter-productive and can only result in a strained relationship for both parties. And the result is usually less than satisfactory.
These are the characteristics of many of my students who have achieved score improvements of more than 200 in SAT; some have even achieved more than that. Does your child have these characteristics? Is your child ready to learn? If so, I think we should talk.
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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