Practice Matters: The Importance of Proctored Practice Exams

359572656_51a00dc2a6_zWhat does it take to excel?

In “Why Practice Tests Matter So Much,”an article written for the website Chariot Learning, author Mike Bergin asks us to consider some examples that illustrate the value of practice.

“Have you ever met someone who planned to take her road test without first logging as much time as possible behind the wheel? Do you know any athletes that expect to play if they miss practice? How about actors who perform without ever rehearsing?”

Think about it. Arnold Palmer golfed as a toddler. Felix Mendelssohn was composing at ten. The cast of a Broadway show does not see an audience before everyone has rehearsed six days a week for a month or more.

These facts probably don’t surprise you. Who would pay to see actors “winging it” on opening night? Likewise, no golfer has ever won the Master’s six months after taking his first swing.

So why assume that a student can waltz into a standardized test with no preparation and get his or her best score?

Enter the simulated practice proctored test. This is the “dress rehearsal” for ACT and SAT exams. A good practice proctored test reproduces anxiety-creating aspects of standardized testing but in a safe, supportive environment. Practice helps a student build confidence and prepare for the real test.

At A+, we know there’s more to testing than understanding the difference between “it’s” and “its.” Content knowledge is only part of testing success. Testing strategy is a major, often overlooked component. There are testing traps that can be dangerous no matter how much math, science, or English you know.

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The Beyond-a-Reasonable-Doubt trap. Courts do not require jury members to knowthat their verdict is correct. Juries need to be reasonably certain, as certain as you might be that it’s safe to cross the street. Of course accidents happen, but if your light is green and you are in the crosswalk, you can reasonably assume you will safely reach the other side. The same applies to testing. Sondra answers question A correctly (the area of a rectangle 6’ x 8’ is 48’). Suddenly, anxiety kicks into gear and triggers un-reasonable doubts (Did I use the perimeter formula by mistake? I’ll do it again. Am I supposed to convert feet to yards?  It doesn’t say so, but maybe…Did I just record my answer in the wrong row?). This is not a knowledge problem; it’s a confidence problem.

The Now-It’s-Personal trap. Say it with us: the only thing standardized testing measures is how well you take a standardized test. A student who views any individual question as a challenge to his or her personal expertise is missing the point. The test is a tool to get you into the school you have picked. Don’t win the battle (one difficult question) and lose the war (the seven questions you didn’t have time for).

The I’m-My-Own-Worst-Critic trap.Also known as Looking-Over-Your-Own-Shoulder syndrome. Tune out that voice. You know the one I mean: it’s the voice providing running commentary as you try to focus. “Am I doing okay? I think I’m getting everything wrong. I should probably just give up. I’m probably doing terrible…Oh no! They just gave the ten minute warning…I’m doomed!” Don’t take the test and simultaneously evaluate your performance.

Simulated proctored testing means a student can confront these situations before the test. Instead of being taken by surprise, the student learns to respond with testing strategies that he or she has already mastered.

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our focus is always on you. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing goals, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you would like more information, our Client Service Directors Anne Stanley and Susan Ware are available to answer questions and provide solutions. You may reach either of them by calling A+ Test Prep and Tutoring at 215-886-9188.

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Posted in Test Prep, Free Proctored SAT and ACT Exams, Test Preparation

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