The truth about learning is that it comes in fits and starts. We learn a lot and then the learning stalls. With practice, we learn again but it will stall out again.
Studies show that learners experience plateaus in between bursts of learning.
Musicians know this all too well. And so do learners of a foreign language. They both find themselves frustrated at times when progress stalls then, after time, they experience major jumps in their progress.
The only way out of the plateau is to keep plugging away. Once you understand that learning plateaus are normal, you can accept them and push through over time.
The challenge with the ACT and SAT learning plateaus is time. With a testing window, for most students, of about six or nine months, there isn’t enough time to push through a plateau.
Consider Tristan, a hypothetical student. Tristan might take the SAT or ACT twice, and like most students, he would likely see an increase between the first and second sitting. But if Tristan were to take the test again, he would likely plateau and not see much of a score increase. Most data shows a little increase on a third sitting, but not much.
The problem here is that by the time Tristan can learn from his mistakes and take the test a fourth time, he is faced with college application deadlines. There just isn’t much time from Tristan’s junior to senior year to push through any plateau.
Strategically, pushing through a plateau may require experimenting with different tactics. There is some risk to messing with strategy but if the plateau remains, it might be worth considering.
Otherwise, the hope is that students understand that we all plateau with learning. Six to nine months may not be enough time to push through the SAT and ACT plateau.
Perhaps the big lesson here is that we need to continue to remind our students that they are more than a test score.
For more SAT and ACT test advice, contact CROSSWALK.