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Test Prep for the SAT and ACT: Does Your Student Need It?

January 21, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 172

As high school juniors, Alex and Stephanie were registering for the SAT and ACT. They had both heard all kinds of stories about the tests from their friends, and neither one was looking forward to the experience. They knew about test prep courses, but didn't know whether they should take one. The question came up to their parents, "Do you think this is something we need?"

For students who are self-motivated, good test-takers, and confident their test scores will be reflective of their academic ability, additional preparation may not be necessary. However, it still can build confidence. In a recent study, most students said that taking a good course was far more effective when they had a specific time and location to attend once a week, as opposed to trying to do it on their own.

Students will usually improve their scores if they participate in a course that helps them to identify their strengths and weaknesses and they become familiar with some good test-taking techniques. It is important for parents and students to find a course that has a limited number of students. The maximum number should be 10 to be effective. Students need to be in a class where it is easy to ask questions so they will learn from both the teacher, as well as the other students in the group.

A good SAT or ACT test prep course should have a good teacher. This is someone who has had a lot of experience teaching and tutoring for the SAT and ACT and knows how to help students deal with the time constraints and difficulties that some students have when it comes to standardized tests. The teacher should also be able to help students deal with test anxiety and distractions that occur all too often.

Something else to think about when you are considering test preparation is whether the instructor uses real tests? Since the key to improving scores is to provide a lot of practice, why waste your time on tests that are not put out by the American College Test or College Board? Practicing on the real thing only makes sense. Students need to become familiar with both tests, their similarities and differences, and how to approach the specific passages.

Many tutoring and test prep companies will do what they can to sell parents on a test prep course that costs at least $1000. It is impossible for anyone to justify the price, but without looking further, many students sign up. These test prep companies may or may not have the expertise they claim and guarantees are really just false advertising. Look for a good local, independent test prep company in your community that is affordable and provides a course that works. Try doing a Google search for "test prep" and the name of your city.

The more familiar students are with the test set-up, the less anxious they will be on test day, and the more comfortable they will feel with the questions. Good test prep can help students do their best. Make sure you pick the prep course that will have your student ready and relaxed on test day. Even small gains can make a difference with college admissions and scholarships.

Susie Watts is a test prep tutor and private college counselor in Denver, Colorado. To find out more about the SAT and ACT and test prep, go to Susie is the founder of College Direction and has been helping students with college planning for more than twenty years. She assists with choosing colleges, essays and applications, college tours, financial aid and scholarships, and test prep.

Source: EzineArticles
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