Even though this is my Perfect Score Project -- and definitely not my son's (though it sure would be nice if he did better as a result of my SAT obsession) -- figuring out how to motivate a non type-A teenager to do SAT work is one of the biggest challenges.
Teenage resistance is the mother of invention.
Here are a few motivating tactics I've found effective:
1) Do short timed sections using a stop watch. Correct and score immediately as well as go over the solutions right away for all incorrect problems. My son's attention span is short. He can comfortably do 1 timed section (25 minutes); the second section is pushing it, but I'm hoping we will build up to that when school is out.
2) Make them use the SAT vocabulary words in sentences. Often the dictionary definitions are misleading and don't put the words in the right context. When I correct him, I use the word in a sentence that is relevant to his life. Here's the real secret sauce: If you can get yourself into a vocab situation where others are involved too (friends are best, but family will do) around a table, and cultivate a little bit of competition, that's the best case scenario. Hard to make that happen though; usually an organic moment.
3) Do SAT work before the homework. I used to think it was better the other way around, fearing that he wouldn't have enough energy for the homework -- but turns out not the case for him. SAT, then homework, works better.
4) He loves explaining math to me, which of course I find infinitely endearing (not to mention helpful).
5) Chart the progress with a bar graph. He loves to see the line going in the right direction (as do I!). In fact I'm headed out right now for charts and graph lessons, because for some reason I'm challenged in this area.
Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis