Conquering SATs, Test Anxiety, Senior Moments, and Learning Challenges

Tyler was a motivated high school junior, potential Ivy League football player, and solid AP (Advanced Placement) student.  But he was SAT-Challenged!

Jessica was also an excellent student in her junior year in high school, but her test anxiety was so great it could only be controlled with prescription medication.

Cheryl is a 50-something baby-boomer with more and more of those embarrassing “senior moments” that leave her at a loss for names and having trouble finding the words she wants to say.

Ryan is a 12-year old dyslexic learner, bright but struggling to read and write.

As diverse as these four individuals seem, they can all be helped with mental fitness, or cognitive skills, training.

Recent brain research indicates that the brain can continue to grow and change throughout our lifetime.  The kinds of skills needed for

  • Quick thinking and problem solving on the SAT,
  • Relaxed, efficient retrieval of information for tests and Common Core,
  • Sharp memory and thinking as we age, and
  • Overcoming learning challenges are learned cognitive abilities that can be improved with training.

Tyler’s Story:  Conquering the SAT

Tyler was a good student and a good football player.  He was being looked at by scouts from Ivy League colleges.  However, his SAT scores were nothing to brag about and he feared they would keep him out of the college he wanted to attend.

Tyler went to a colleague of mine in Addison, Texas, The Core Learning Group, for help.  After completing a 12-week course in cognitive skills training, his SAT scores improved by 200 points!

The SAT is as much about knowing how to think quickly, problem solve, evaluate, and apply knowledge as it is about knowing the material.  The SAT time limits are the enemy of many test-takers.  Students who do well on the SAT must be able to rapidly make good decisions so they can quickly spot and answer easier questions, leaving more time for the tougher ones.

For Tyler, as with many other college-bound students, the stress and length of the test was enough to compromise his performance.  After completing the program of cognitive training, Tyler had the speed and confidence to overcome these challenges.

Jessica’s Story:  Overcoming Test Anxiety

Jessica, a high school junior, was an A student in advanced placement (AP) classes.  In spite of being a top performer, she had extreme test anxiety that had to be managed with prescription medication.  Her parents really wanted to get her off the medication, but Jessica was afraid to because she “didn’t want to screw up her classes.”

Jessica enrolled in an intensive processing skills program over the summer to boost critical underlying skills for confident, efficient learning including auditory and visual processing, short and long term memory, processing speed, attention, logic and reasoning, visualization, and association.  Many of the activities are done to the beat of a metronome, which enhances processing speed, internal organization, and quick decision-making.  For Jessica, activities were worked on at such a fast pace that she couldn’t afford to split her mental energy with anxiousness.

When Jessica went into AP Calculus the following September and began scoring higher than anyone else in her class on her tests, her classmates began calling her “The Brain.”

Jessica attributes her success to her intensive cognitive training.  It showed her that she could perform without anxiety and gave her the skills to hold numbers and formulas in her head.  She was amazed at how strong her ability to do mental math had become.

Jessica’s parents were thrilled that Jessica developed skills that allowed her another kind of success:  She was able to get off of her anxiety medication!

Cognitive Training for Struggling Students

Students who experience learning challenges, including dyslexia and other learning disabilities, usually have areas of inefficient processing, which are interrupting expected academic development.  In order to make real changes in their learning, we need to explore the underlying skills critical to academic and social success.  These include skills such as:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Processing Speed
  • Auditory processing, language, and communication
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Visual processing
  • Logic and reasoning
  • Internal timing and organization
  • Motor coordination and sensory integration

Weaknesses or inconsistencies in one or more of these areas can cause difficulties with efficient learning.  Consistent, targeted cognitive skills training has consistently been shown to improve students’ underlying thinking/learning processes in order to bring independence and success into the learning process.

Keeping the Brain Fit as We Age

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, awareness of brain health has dramatically increased.  Several outstanding books have been written recently by medical doctors who outline steps for maintaining mental sharpness and treating and preventing neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, stroke, and Parkinson’s.   The steps consistently include:

  • Nutrition,
  • Exercise,
  • Sleep,
  • Meditation or relaxation exercises, and
  • Brain Training

The brain is a powerful resource.  At any age, we can stimulate our cognitive skills for more efficient thinking and functioning!


Here are a few good resources for further information on brain health:

The Better Brain Book by David Permutter, M.D.

Making a Good Brain Great  by Daniel Amen, M.D.

The Memory Prescription by Gary Small, M.D.


The brain, at any age, needs strong underlying learning/processing skills in order to learn comfortably, efficiently and easily.  The brain research over the last 25 years and our experience, as well as that of our colleagues across the U.S. over the last 30 years, has proven that learning and attention challenges can change as a result of intensive, targeted cognitive training.

If you or someone in your life is struggling with memory, attention, or learning and you are ready to make a change…

JOIN US for a FREE Information Night.

If you’re feeling alone as a parent trying to help your struggling student, we have a FREE parent support group (P.E.A.C.E.) that’s just for you.

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