Escape Room Style Challenge Gives New Twist to SAT Prep

Of course it wasn’t a real cafe and although there was a “menu” no food was served. Instead, students got a heaping dose of interactive reading for details, following instructions, being resilient and never giving up, and the final satisfaction of success when the task was completed. 

“We have been doing SAT Bootcamp. The skill today is in reading for the main idea and for details,” said teacher Molly Neveau as students entered. “You need to find a four-number combination to unlock the lock box filled with prizes. There are clues in these written paragraphs and you may have to go back and read and reread to get the answers.”

The exercise was built like an escape room where the goal was to find the combination to open the box. It took all team members working together to be successful. To make sure teams didn’t just work off each other, there were slight differences in the clues for each group. 

“They have to get every clue right in order to open the boxes. They are reading actual passages from the SAT prep,” she said.

Students said it was a fun break from the regular prep work for the tests that will be taken after spring break. 

“Even if there weren’t any prizes, this was a lot more fun than just sitting in class and taking notes. You actually had to apply what you’ve learned and practice it. Then you get the satisfaction of finishing and unlocking the box,” said Tristen Beck. He and his teammates were the first in their class to successfully open their box filled with small treats and prizes.

“Actually getting to practice this is so much better than just talking about it in class,” said Benjamin Scott. “You just had to read the clues carefully.”

Another teammate said they all worked well together. “We looked at the clues and read the directions. We kind of split up to find the clues and come up with the right answers,” said James Walker.

Even as the first group was enjoying their success, Neveau encouraged other teams not to give up and reminded them what they were working on.  “We are training on details, details, details. Go back and reread. We are also working on stamina - something you also need when taking the SAT. Don’t give up,” she said. 

Neveau said for three weeks her classes as well as Jessica Broussard’s classes have been training in what she called “SAT Bootcamp.” They’ve worked on various skills that will be tested and the escape room was a fun way to train for reading comprehension, reading for the main idea and reading for details. 

The exercise, she said, gave students a break from the norm. “This gets way more of them engaged and it’s something different,” she said. “So much of the SAT prep is reviewing things where they have to sit still and just get through it. This is one area where we can have a little more interaction and remind students that they have to look for details in the passages and they may have to reread to find the right answers.”

She said it’s also good practice for students to remember not to give up. While testing, students may not always know the right answer immediately, but they need to keep trying and persevering.

A group near the back of the room knew they were running out of time, but they didn’t give up. Just a few minutes before class ended, they successfully unlocked their box along with the other four teams that hour. Throughout the day, more than half the teams were successful.