Want to Boost Your Kid’s SAT Scores? Don’t Hire an SAT Tutor, Hire a Swimming Coach Instead

Many high schoolers, and their parents, are often looking for ways to boost their SAT scores. The hope is that a higher score will increase their probability of getting into their school of choice.

One popular approach is to hire an SAT tutor; someone who will work one on one with the student to improve their knowledge of Math and English. And for many students, such an approach does lead to better SAT scores.

But if we were to extrapolate a bit from a recent study conducted at the University of Delaware, there may be a more novel approach to boost at least the student’s verbal score.

Researchers found that exercise appears to help boost a child’s vocabulary skills.

A group of children between the ages of six and 12 was taught some new words before moving on to one of three activities. Some children went on to take a swim, while others performed CrossFit exercises, and the third group filled out a coloring booklet. Notably, kids assigned to the swimming group performed 13 percent better on follow-up vocabulary tests than the other two groups.

According to lead researcher Maddy Pruitt, “motor movement helps in encoding new words.”

As to why CrossFit didn’t result in the same learning benefits, study authors theorize swimming is more beneficial for learning because it’s more of an automatic exercise requiring less mental energy. The kids could go swim and not really think about it, whereas CrossFit demands much closer attention to detail. Not to mention the fact that children had to be taught how to perform the CrossFit moves. In this experiment, everyone in the pool group already knew how to swim.

Imagine if such an approach could be used with students studying for their SATs. That 13% increase might be the difference between getting into a student’s school of choice and their safety school.

I just wish I knew this when I was in high school. Given all the time I spent swimming, I should have been able to score a perfect score on the verbal section of the SATs.

And imagine the big words I could be using in my blog posts.

But it’s too late for that, so I’ll just keep writing at a third-grade level…

52 thoughts on “Want to Boost Your Kid’s SAT Scores? Don’t Hire an SAT Tutor, Hire a Swimming Coach Instead

  1. From personal experience, I am a better thinker during and after exercise. I don’t know if I buy that swimming is better than cross fit, but a walk can have amazing restorative powers when I’m not feeling very creative.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. When I was in high school, no one even discussed SAT scores. It was not something that was done here unless you wanted to go to an American school. Personally I don’t believe in pushing high school kids in educational directions. I feel they need to figure it out on their own. This may be because I never liked to be pushed and neither did my son.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. there is certainly too much emphasis on test taking, but now more and more colleges are making the SAT optional. I’ll be curious to see if it makes any difference…

      and I’m the same way with my students; I encourage them to pursue their own interests and I try not to push what I teach…

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  3. I love this and, as a pre-k teacher, certainly could not agree more! we have to move – do physical things: lift, run, jump, carry, skip, roll, pound, climb, etc. and then it is so much easier to focus and learn.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never been a competitive swimmer, but before I ruined my shoulder for good, I spent a lot of time in the pool. Swimming for me always represented ‘down-time’ for my brain. Unlike biking and running where one needs to dodge obstacles, swimming just requires turns. Add in meditative breathing and it’s a perfect environment to encode information. I used to play brain games while I swam.

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  5. I swim with my son nearly every day … clears my head every time and always makes me feel better/think more clearly! I call it our cold water therapy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Makes sense. But wouldn’t they have to control the groups so they were equal in verbal ability? I always felt that exercise helped my performance at school and work. Please keep writing at third grade level. I really appreciate it.😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t know how they would control for verbal abiity. And no worries about me continuing to write at a third grade level. On occasion, it may drop down to second grade…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe test scores or grades. Also I wonder how well the kids 6 -12 could swim. Unless this was an unusual group, they probably weren’t swimming laps for any length of time, which is where it seems you and others got the most benefit from swimming. If these kids were expert swimmers at those ages other factors may be at work that could give them better verbal abilities. I’m nitpicking but don’t doubt the conclusion that exercise helps mental performance. I had to concentrate on not drowning.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree that exercise is good for both physical and mental health. And yes, the most important thing to focus on when learning how to swim is how to drownproof yourself…

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I use the internet to expand my vocabulary. I’m still stalling on looking up the meaning of “a priori” though. Why should dead Latin be embedded in modern tongues? I understand science and technology (biology, “television”) but common speaking seems to be immune to Latin’s charm.

    Blogging is actual a way to get an education. Recently, I learned all about ecosystems so I could write an introductory entry on the topic. I worry though that a topic might be too esoteric or advanced to appeal to the avg reader, so I second-guess my choices sometimes. My pro blog is dear to my heart, though: it’s where I go when I want to express myself and be a part of the wider world. As of yet, I haven’t made a big splash, but I’m getting a surprising number of random people showing up. Vive le world!

    — Catxman


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that blogging can be a great ay to learn about topics, but I am careful with the sources. Glad to hear your blog is gaining some traction!


  8. This is so interesting.. My first thought was bc swimming is a repetitive sport, it’s easy to dim the outter noise to focus on a particular newly learned skill?? But this is so good to know as I am trying to get my daughter into swimming…!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for your article. Children who learn to swim tend to develop both fine and gross motor skills faster than non-swimming children. When swimming, the child uses the entire body, so it’s a great activity to help them with coordination. A four-year study of more than 7,000 children in Australia specifically, the 3- to 5-year-olds who swam were ahead of the normal population in verbal skills, math skills, literacy skills, story recall and understanding directions.

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