Every year around this time, some people resolve to change certain aspects of their lives. “Starting January 1st, I will exercise more, eat healthier, be more patient, spend less money, etc.” Most new year’s resolutions are worth making because they involve some form of self improvement.
If your current list of resolutions includes any education oriented goals, like preparing for the SAT, I’d like to offer you some words of wisdom. DO NOT EXPECT OVERNIGHT SUCCESSES. Things like improving your vocabulary, honing your problem solving skills, and internalizing test-taking strategies do not happen overnight. They take time, sustained effort, and a belief in the power of incremental change.
Let’s say you want to improve your working vocabulary, for example. During your first day back at school, you may encounter a word you don’t know. If you take the time to “look up” and learn the word, you will not automatically achieve what the College Board calls “a large and varied working vocabulary.” You’ll simply know one more word than you did the day before. You will have made only a small, incremental improvement in your vocabulary. Such improvement, unfortunately, is not likely to increase your SAT score.
If you believe in the power of incremental change, however, you will not be discouraged. You’ll feel good knowing that with each new word you learn, you are a bit closer achieving your objective. With time and sustained effort, you will get there. Think about it: If you can learn just three new words a day for the next year, you’ll know well over 1,000 more words by this time next year. That pool of extra words will absolutely result in a higher SAT score. I know this because I see students do it every year.
So what are my 2008 New Year’s Resolutions? I have resolved to:
* Spend more quality time with my family.
* Get in shape.
* Eat healthier.
* Continue my attempts to inspire students around the world to prepare for the SAT.
* Continue to make my expertise available through blogging and ePrep products and services.
If I focus on incremental gains, I know I will be a much improved person this time next year. You can do the same. Trust me. In some ways, the younger you are, the easier it is. If you have youth on your side, use it to your advantage.