SAT Preparation in Sprints
What do Agile Methodology and SAT preparation have in common? More than you may think. Just recently, I used Agile methodology to help my daughter effectively prepare for her SAT test.
Agile methodology is a project management approach, typically used with software development projects. A core concept utilized in Agile methodology is that of“sprints.” As defined by Tech Target, a “sprint is a set period of time during which specific work has to be completed and made ready for review.”Normally a sprint lasts between 15 to 30 days, but the actual length of time is ultimately determined by the project team (known as the “Scrum Team” with software development projects). This team decides on what tasks will be completed during each sprint and the “product owner” (project manager)determines the acceptance criteria for each sprint.The team also usually meets daily to discuss the progress of the project, and to brainstorm for solutions to any existing problems. Once the sprint is completed, the product owner determines whether or not all of the acceptance criteria have been met.
What is the SAT Test?
The SAT exam is a college admission test that impactsthe acceptance of students in colleges and universities throughout the United States. The goal of the SAT is to test a student’s critical thinking skills as well as his/her analytical skills. The subjects that are tested are Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing. Normally students take several months to prepare for the SAT exam. The students who get the highest scores are usually given preference for admission to the top colleges and universities.
My goal is to help my daughter get into a top school, ideally one of the eight Ivy League colleges,so my mission is to help her achieve high scores on her SAT.All high school students takea Pre-SAT test (PSAT) as a precursor for the SAT exam. Given my daughter’s PSAT results, it was clear we needed to implement a strategy that would ensure significantly better scores on the actual SAT.
The Strategy – Applying the Sprint Technique to SAT Exam Preparation
I developed a strategy using the sprint concept to assist my daughter in preparing for the SAT. We agreed that each sprint would consist of preparing for each subject one week at a time. Essentially, she would dedicate one week to studying for Critical Reading, another week preparing for Mathematics, and an additional week preparing for the Writing exam. In addition, we established a target score for each subject which would be the equivalent of the acceptance criteria in Agile methodology.
At the end of each week, my daughter will complete a practice test to ascertain whether or not she hasmet the acceptance criteria in each subject matter area, and we will use the concept of “retrospective” to pinpoint any areas of weakness. If we identify any areas needing improvement, we willmakea plan to address these weaknesses in the following weeks. This will be the approach each week until she meetsthe acceptance criteria by reaching the target score. Once she achieves her goal in the first subject area, she willthen move to the next subject and apply the same techniques until she has achieved the target score for each subject.
The Results of the Sprint Experiment
Using the sprint technique, my daughter has successfully completed the Critical Reading sprint, and has achievedher target score on the Critical Reading practice tests. She has now moved to the Writing sprint. She will go through the same sprint techniques until she has met her target scores for both Writing and Mathematics. As soon as the established target scores are reached, my daughter will be ready to sit for the final SAT test which is scheduled in her school district for mid-April. I am confident that if my daughter continues to apply the sprint concept, shewill score wellon the final SAT exam.
The concept of completing projects in sprints can be successfully applied to many areas of life in which results can be measured. By breaking down large projects into smaller more manageable tasks, by establishing targets, and by measuring results at the end of each period (or sprint), a project can be more efficiently and effectivelycompleted.
My daughter’s ability to improve her scores on her SAT practice tests clearly demonstrates that the agile concept of sprint can work not only in software development, but in everyday life as well. If there is a project that you are experiencing difficulty in completing successfully, you may find it beneficial to utilize similar sprint techniques.