When it comes to taking tests—any type of test—most of us agree that studying the material beforehand is a good idea. There may be students who bounce into class, say breezily, “Oh, there was a test today? I forgot,” and proceed to ace the test, but such individuals are few and far between. For the rest of us, good study habits are the key to good grades.
But what constitutes good study habits? Or, in the case of the SAT or ACT, the best study habits?
Studying for a standardized test is trickier than studying for a Monday morning algebra quiz. For one thing, there are choices to be made before the actual prepping begins. ACT or SAT? Optional essay or no? Subject tests? Which subject tests?
Time plays a large part in standardized testing. Students need to estimate how many hours they need to prepare and how far ahead of the test they should start studying. During the test itself, they need to think about both pacing and time management.
Logistics also need to be addressed. School tests are administered, well, at school. But standardized testing may involve unfamiliar places and unusual routines. Where is the test being held? How long will it take to get there? What’s the parking situation? How many breaks will there be? Am I allowed to bring a snack? What kind of calculator can I bring?
Standardized test tutoring can make the test-taking experience easier, less stressful, and more productive from start to finish.
A tutor can serve as a mentor for the entire test preparation marathon. Choosing which test to take, reviewing content, practicing test strategies, and mentally preparing to “go live” on the day of the test: All these steps are easier with an experienced guide to help the student over rough spots. A student studying on his own may get discouraged if, for example, his first practice score does not meet his expectations. A tutor who is familiar with effective study habits can show the student how bigger score increases tend to follow small initial ones.
Structure vs. Temptation
Achieving a high score on a standardized test is a long-term goal, best achieved by setting several intermediate short-term goals. Regular meetings with a tutor help a student to keep his or her “eyes on the prize”—in other words, keep the long-term goal in mind. A student can easily (unintentionally) procrastinate, especially if the test is weeks away. We’re all human! According to DeAnna Rivera (“How to Select the Right SAT, ACT Prep Course”), “individual tutoring is the only way to garner wholly personalized attention to the unique topical and test-taking skills of a given student.”
Proctored Practice Testing
In “Why Should a Student Take a Proctored SAT or ACT Practice Test?” Tucker Coby notes, “Many students who take a test at home don’t do so in a manner that effectively simulates actual testing conditions.” With the best of intentions, a student at home can be distracted by many things: a nearby cell phone, the dog needing to be walked, or a younger sister knocking at the bedroom door to ask, “Did you want that last piece of pizza?” Proctored tests eliminate those distractions and also allow students to practice dealing with test anxiety and the pressure of strict time constraints.
Finally, to use a sports metaphor, which athlete has the better chance to win—the athlete who refuses to let anyone help her or the athlete who has the coach in his corner?
At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, we are here to help make the testing process as easy and stress-free as possible. We help you determine which test—the SAT or the ACT—is better aligned with your strengths, and we match you with tutors who can teach you both content and testing strategies to help you attain your “personal best” score. Standardized test tutoring wil give you the tools you need to succeed.
If you would like to discuss SAT or ACT test prep for your student, have questions about the new SAT or the ACT, or need any other information about college admissions exams, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215.886.9188.