Games And Learning: How Fun Activities Can Boost SAT And ACT Test Scores

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: January 7, 2014

Grade point average, volunteer work, extracurricular activities and part-time jobs all matter when it comes to applying for college. But test scores remain one of the most important factors in determining whether your school of choice thinks you are a worthy applicant. In fact, in a 2012 Kaplan study, 85 percent of college admission officers claimed that SAT or ACT tests scores were required in order to obtain admission into their schools.

The importance of high test scores is clear, but the path to obtain them, less so. Research suggests that playing the right games could prove just as effective as traditional means of studying for college admission exams.

Computer Simulations And STEM Test Scores

Researchers have long recognized that games can improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, but few could have guessed that fun and high STEM test scores could go together. In a study conducted by SRI International, experts found that students partaking in targeted computer simulations showed vast improvements in both science and math test scores. These improvements were even more significant when students worked in groups to complete the required tasks included in these simulations. Such results suggest that, when used in a collaborative environment, simulations can have a very positive impact on learning outcomes. However, when group work is not possible, the simulations still prove effective for individual users.

Puzzle Play

Puzzles, both physical and virtual, can boost a wide area of learning areas. A study from the University of Chicago suggests that, in young children, regular puzzle play greatly enhances spatial skills, which, in turn, serve a predictor for children's future performance in STEM subjects. Experts claim that puzzles prove similarly effective in later years. including, of course, adolescence. Today's teens may not express much in traditional puzzles, but they are more than willing to take part in puzzle-based activities such as games. This simple past time may feel like a form of procrastination, but it ultimately serves to greatly boost SAT and ACT scores in math and science.

Word Games

Crossword puzzles, word finds, jumbles all seem like they are designed for rainy days, but based on the latest research, they could also boost brain function in such important areas as vocabulary and cognition. And that's just one of many ways in which word games can prove beneficial. Medical expert Emily Senay tells CBS that mentally-stimulating word-based activities assist in the building up mental reserves, thus replacing brain cells that may be lost over the course of daily life.

Even after high school, crossword puzzles can assist in learning. According to one study published by the United States National Institute of Health, pharmacology students who completed crossword puzzles related to drug names had a far easier time remembering difficult terms than those engaging in rote memorization. Thus, students engaging in crossword puzzles during high school are preparing themselves not only for high SAT and ACT scores, but also better grades in college.

Topics: Test-Prep

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