As we all know, getting straight As in school doesn’t guarantee you a stellar SAT score. But why not? Smart is smart, right? Shouldn’t your grades correspond with how well you do on an annoying standardized test?
Not really. The SAT is a critical reasoning test, which is different than the fact-based tests you’re used to taking in school. This discrepancy can make it difficult for “smart kids” to excel on the SAT, which is a phenomenon we’ll hereby refer to as Smart Kid Problem.
Smart kids think a lot. They analyze. They know how to make an argument, and are prepared to back it up with evidence. Smart kids can convince you that a wrong answer is right, and look great doing it, which is problematic when the smart kids starts arguing against themselves.
Don’t believe us? Take this sample (and clearly fake) sentence completion:
Peanut butter and _____.
e) potato chips
Now, this might seem easy. But let’s try looking at it from the perspective of a student with Smart Kid Problem. The average SAT student is going to go through the answer choices one by one, trying to establish which one is correct as he or she goes. Let’s see what happens when a smart kid moves through the answer choices one at a time.
Hmm. My mom puts honey and peanut butter on her toast in the morning. So, that could be it? We’ll say maybe.
One maybe. Not bad so far! Let’s move to the next answer choice…
Oh! This one could totally be it. I remember at summer camp as a kid we’d put peanut butter and raisins on celery sticks and call them “ants on a log.” So, that’s a real thing. I guess it could be answer choice a or b.
Things are already starting to spiral into confusion-land, and we’re only 2/5 of the way through.
Oh, man. I was actually thinking it might be jelly, but now that I think about it, jam and jelly are really similar. What’s the difference? I think one has seeds, and the other doesn’t? Hmm. Maybe?
The smart kid has started thinking. This isn’t good.
I really thought it would be jelly, but now that seems obvious. Plus, they’re always trying to trick us, so it’s probably not the one that seems right. Also, there’s the whole jam vs. jelly thing. But I don’t want to cross it out? Maybe it’s celery. I mean, jam, jelly, and honey are all sweet gooey things, so it makes sense that the one that stands out as different would be correct. Right?
Official smart kid spiral. Uh-oh.
e) potato chips
OK, so it’s clearly not potato chips. Whoo-hoo! Finally I can cross one out. Except- hmm. One time my brother put potato chips in his peanut butter sandwich, and said it was delicious. And maybe the test writers had a brother who did that too? And they think that’s a really normal thing? Ugh, it could be ANY of them!
And this is how smart kids fail.
Obviously, this is an exaggeration – we’re clearly not expecting you to have this much trouble with a question of this difficulty level. But do you recognize the process? Overthinking kills confidence, wastes time, and drastically decreases the likelihood that you’re going to answer the question correctly.
Smart kids are able to argue themselves into a corner. They can think of 20 different reasons to go to bat for any given answer choice. They’re smart enough to think creatively, which is going to serve them incredibly well in life, but not so well on the SAT.
So how do you solve Smart Kid Problem? Revolution Prep has some fantastic strategies – call (877) 738-7737 today for more information on upcoming classes and special events!