Improving SAT and College Performance : Up to the Minute Approaches by Linda Narun, M.A., CCC-SLP & Lynn Ayres, M.Ed.

We are at an exciting time in the world of education, where the technological revolution is beginning to cross paths with a newer educational revolution. Educators are beginning to understand that you can't unlock every door with the same key: each brain is wired differently and benefits from different teaching methods. Educators in many fields have predicted that the computer will be the primary means of teaching in the 21st Century because programs can be individualized to meet these needs. These methods are particularly helpful for students with ADHD and Learning Disabilities who benefit from different approaches to learning, and who need different ways to demonstrate what they have learned.

Through the use of radiological brain measures like the FMRI and PET Scans, we know that the brain is plastic and that the brain never stops learning. It can be stimulated to process information faster and more efficiently, thus enabling it (and the student) to do better in many academic areas. We can literally make the brain grow. It stands to reason that a more efficient brain will help a student perform better academically. We can use this information to teach more effectively.

One area that has not yet adequately used these breakthroughs is the area of SAT and ACT preparation programs for students. Traditional approaches have been in use for more than forty years and do not account for students with ADHD or learning differences. Current programs lack the specificity necessary to help students learn and improve performance. It is time to upgrade these programs and take them into the 21st Century of education.

This summer the Tarnow Center is pleased to introduce a SAT/ACT preparation program that will combine technology with individualized education. Each of our participants will have a customized training program specifically designed to maximize his or her learning capabilities. Computerized programs that increase brain functions like working memory, reading comprehension and processing speed will accompany the tutorial program. These programs are Cogmed, Interactive Metronome and Fast ForWord which are described below. Educational specialists Linda Narun and Lynn Ayres will direct the summer program, and will provide personalized SAT/ACT test preparation along with the computerized brain training exercises. In this way, our participants won't just be practicing the SAT/ACT; they will be learning how to learn. Contact us to find out how you can unlock your child's full potential.


As technology continues to place endless amounts of information at our fingertips, working memory has become even more essential to our ability to function successfully since it allows us to focus our attention and organize and prioritize the things we do everyday.

  • Socially, you use it the moment you are meeting someone and hearing his or her name for the first time.
  • Academically, it is used when you're reading and find it hard to comprehend what you've just read and have to reread the material.
  • Professionally, working memory is what drives your ability to concentrate and not lose your train of thought.
  • Working memory is one of our most crucial cognitive capabilities, essential for sustaining attention, following directions, carrying out multistep instructions, remembering information momentarily, complex reasoning or staying focused on a project.
  • Working memory helps us to control attention and resist distractions
  • Working memory is crucial for math, reading comprehension, complex problem solving and test taking.
  • Working memory skills at four years are excellent predictors of children's achievements several years later; the better the child's working memory skills the better they will perform in school.
  • Working memory is a key function that is necessary for many cognitive tasks.

The training consists of a specific set of working memory tasks that are performed on a computer, where the difficulty level is adjusted according to a specific algorithm. The children complete a fixed number of trials everyday, taking about 30-40 minutes daily. This is done for five days a week over five weeks. During training, performance results are monitored and reviewed weekly with the parents and/or child. The results are saved and can be used for later analysis.

Cogmed's working memory training has been used by more than 10,000 users in the United States and Europe. Cogmed is a video-game like software through which users participate in specialized and challenging working memory exercises. Cogmed strengthens visual and auditory working memory skills, and improves attention and focus.

Cogmed is currently participating in research projects at Notre Dame University, New York University - Child Study Center, Boston Children's Hospital - Harvard Medical School, Stanford University and many more. For more information and research go to

Interactive Metronome

Training: The Interactive Metronome (IM) uses a patented auditory guidance system to systematically exercise and thereby improve a person's timing and capacity to plan action. The IM enables improvements to be clearly measured and it progressively challenges the trainee to enable continuing progress. The standard protocol includes 15 one-hour training sessions performed 3-5 times/week where the trainee performs a series of physical exercises guided by the computerized metronome program.

Benefits of Interactive Metronome:

  • Attention/focus
  • Motor Control/coordination
  • Balance & Gait
  • Language Processing
  • Control of aggression/Impulsivity

Academic Performance: A white paper was recently released that showed a strong relationship between IM score and Academic Performance. Using data from several research studies, IM scores were shown to track closely with academic tests within California Achievement Test. The strongest correlations were found with vocabulary, reading, spelling, language, mathematics, science and social studies. It also showed that IM score was related to the ability to pay attention.

Fast ForWord

The Fast ForWord software products have been designed by neuroscientists to provide the most comprehensive series of learning interventions available. The program is a reading intervention designed for K-12 education institutions and clinical specialists worldwide whose students are reading below grade level. Each of the ten intervention products provide different but coordinated levels of cognitive training of memory, attention, and processing.

"ForWord Products are: Efficient. Effective. Enduring. Averaging a one to two grade level reading gain in 8-12 weeks. When the brain's processing skills become more efficient, substantial and quick gains in reading skills are often the outcome." -

Training: The programs consist of a specific set of tasks that are performed on a computer five days a week for one to two hours. The intensive intervention programs (Language/Literacy and Language to Reading/Literacy Advanced) are blended with the reading programs (five levels) and/or the Reading Assistant. Each day the child has an individual protocol which is adjusted daily as tasks are mastered.

Goals: The research based programs are designed to enhance the brain's processing efficiency by:

  • Improving perception
  • Sharpening phonological representations
  • Enhancing oral language abilities
  • Improving listening, working memory and auditory processing
  • Strengthening reading, writing and spelling
  • The five reading programs target vocabulary, spelling, comprehension, phonemic awareness, and decoding.
  • The Reading Assistant promotes accelerated reading success by enhancing fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, phonics, and phonemic awareness.

More than 100 school districts in the US and Canada have done their own independent evaluation of their student populations for a truly unbiased assessment. Because they have seen such positive results, many are willing to share that information with educators who have yet to try Scientific Learning products. Visit to view the extensive research compiled over the last 10 years.