The SAT Challenge

Studying for the math portion of the SAT has never been easier thanks to Beyoncé and a group of Frederick High School students.

Frederick High Senior Josephine Murphy and her classmates created a video to help students across St. Vrain Valley Schools solve upper algebra equations to the tune of Beyoncé’s “All the Single Ladies.”

“Now you really, really, really have to factor it,” the students sing. “Now you have to set up an equation and then you have to solve for two answers.”

The video is part of St. Vrain’s #SATChallenge – a yearlong initiative to help students prepare for the SAT through fun, engaging content created by students and teachers.

“We wanted to associated the SAT with a fun, positive idea and song,” Josephine said. “It’s a stressful thing and we wanted to make it fun and maybe when they take the test they’ll remember the steps from our song.”

Teaching students to manage their nerves around testing is one of the primary goals of the #SATChallenge, which is in its second year, said Kimberly Wiggins, St. Vrain Assessment Coordinator who manages the program.

Frederick High sophomore Sarahi Garcia took both practice tests offered by St. Vrain this year. Sarahi said she was extremely nervous about the first test, even though it was a practice exam, because she didn’t know what to expect. By the second practice test, Sarahi said she felt more confident and prepared – a feeling she hopes will carry over when it’s time to take the real thing.

Motivational quotes, funny blog posts full of pop-culture references, studying selfies and tips from students, faculty and staff are all part of this year’s efforts. Content is published on the #SATChallenge blog and Facebook page, and on the personal social media pages of students, faculty and staff using the hashtag.

“It’s about embracing the challenge and growth mindset, and giving students more of a voice in how they prepare,” Wiggins said. “We want students to engage and see themselves through the posts so it’s like they’re encouraging one another, peer-to-peer.”

Parents also are encouraged to follow the posts to gain a better understanding of what students are experiencing as they prepare for the test and advice on how to help their students succeed, Wiggins said.

Frederick High junior Jenna Frenzel played a confused student with a low test score in a video she made with classmates. In the video, Jenna’s friend tells her she needs to work on her math skills in order to bring up her overall score and the pair solve a math problem that they hope will serve as a refresher for other students.

“I personally struggle with math and it’s generally hard for everyone,” Jenna said. “My advice for students who struggle with math is to get the PSAT book and just spend a couple minutes every night doing some of the problems.”

Jenna won a SAT prep book for her video submission to the #SATChallenge, which offers prizes to some of the students who participate in the calls for content.

Many of the student submissions focus on math, which students often report as their weakest subject or the portion of the test that is causing the most anxiety, which is why one group of students chose it as the topic for their video.

Students giggle in the background as Frederick High junior Jacki Castillo talks about making a fool out of herself in an effort to lighten the mood around SAT prep in a peppy, hilarious sketch where Jacki plays a teacher who is dabbing and telling jokes to her class.

“I’m hoping students will remember how to solve the problem on the test because of the video and, also, that it would put a smile on their face, too,” Jacki said.