Education Evolutions

Students focus on goal setting to excel at digital test taking

The Lana Learn team pushes students to focus on goal setting to prepare for the digital SAT exam.

October marked the first digital administration of the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) which is the practice version of the SAT exam. With it, came initial student and school staff reactions to Bluebook, the new online platform, and the test’s redesign. Predictably, the first few rounds of feedback indicate fewer “gameday” hiccups and a more seamless implementation experience. Some notable factors included the shorter test duration (three hours instead of the previous four) and paperless proctoring. Academic coaches and students focus on goal setting to prepare for the upcoming digital SAT exam.

It’s easy for students to get distracted by college application deadlines and upcoming holidays before the countdown to the SAT starts in January. Teachers benefit from the opportunity to pause and reflect and encourage their students to follow suit. They can focus on gathering data from the previous 12 months to sketch out goals for the upcoming year.

This can look one of many ways. As a teacher, I often have students create a PowerPoint presentation or portfolio detailing their “stats” or noteworthy data points. Then, I guide them to create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals for both personal and academic endeavors. Encouraging students to “own” their data in this way pushes the onus on them to make their goals come alive. Similarly, it gives them space to reflect on and celebrate accomplishments and growth, as well as determine barriers to success.

As we gear up for spring courses – refining curriculum, creating instruction, calendars, and determining practice test dates – the focus on goal setting becomes even more vital. What do we want our students to achieve? In this increasingly digital landscape, how can we best prepare them for not only the digital SAT, but also online classes, discussions, and assignments?

The test’s shift reflects both the need for an improved test experience and a post-graduate emphasis on learning online. While some might argue the pandemic prepared students for this reality, there are still lessons to be learned about how to best balance screen time and educational obligations. As more of our educational benchmarks go digital, how can we still prioritize student connection and discourse off the screen? While we might not yet have all the answers to these questions, the holiday season does provide an opportunity to ruminate on what these major changes to the testing landscape represent for our educational future.

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