Chess Holds Important Lessons for SAT-takers and College Essay Writers

by Dominique Padurano, M.S., Ed., Ph.D., Founder and President, Crimson Coaching

Sportsmanship.  Patience.  Abstract reasoning.  Who wouldn’t want their child to develop these skills?  As a college essay coach, and ACT/ SAT tutor, and academic tutor, I see the enormous value in getting kids into real-life situations that force them to exercise these muscles.

Children learn these and other intellectual and emotional skills through chess, according to the Whitby School in Greenwich, Connecticut.  But today, I’d like to focus on three skills that hold particular relevance to doing well on the SAT (or ACT) and to writing a memorable college essay, two adolescent rites of passage that occupy about 80% of my work with students.

Problem solving is key to chess and SAT success.

As players decide which chess pieces to move where, they learn how to choose among a variety of options to solve problems.  This ability then translates to the test-taking environment when eliminating answers and choosing between two that seem to be viable contenders.






Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

Maintaining calm is another SAT and chess requirement.

As players advance, they must solve these same problems in a timed game.  The SAT and ACT impose similar limits on students who will eventually apply to college.  Students who have learned how to maintain their composure and continue to think critically in a timed exercise like a chess match will be in a much better position to demonstrate equipoise on the SAT or ACT.








Photo by Ameen Fahmy on Unsplash

Exercising creativity is as essential on the chess board as it is on the Common App.

Creativity isn’t solely the domain of painters, musicians, and actors.  Chess, too, requires that players exercise unique ways of thinking – the hallmark of creativity – in order to succeed.  Applicants who can reflect on their own lives with a fresh eye and write about them in novel ways will be much more likely to author a college essay that sticks in an admission officer’s mind.

As an academic tutor, author, yoga teacher and practitioner, and SAT and college essay coach, I try to practice what I preach.  If you’re interested in developing your child’s problem solving, calming, and creative potential, feel free to contact me at for a complimentary consultation.  Till then, play on!

* About the Author

A classroom high school teacher for over a decade, Dominique Padurano, M.S., Ed., Ph.D., Dr. P. founded Crimson Coaching LLC in 2014 to help students fulfill their academic and life goals.  Dr. P. conducts 99% of Crimson Coaching’s private tutoring sessions herself, working directly with students across the globe on college application essays and analytical writing; SAT, ACT, and AP exam prep; history, English, Spanish and French; and time management and study skills.

Dr. P. graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and went on to earn a master’s degree in secondary education and a doctoral degree in history.  Her rare combination of academic excellence and practical experience has enabled to help students with learning disabilities as well as those who have gone on to Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and other top U.S. universities.  Read more about Dr. P.’s work at and on Google, straight from the hearts and minds of Crimson Coaching’s parents and students.


4 thoughts on “Chess Holds Important Lessons for SAT-takers and College Essay Writers”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *