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August 26, 2013
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September 16, 2013

Practice Tests: An Important Learning Experience

practice test ACT SAT standardized scoresPractice tests are an essential part of test preparation. Time and time again, it’s the students who see their practice tests as learning opportunities who make the biggest scoring leaps by the end of their test prep program. They understand that practice tests aren’t about scores, but about finding out what they’ve got down pat and what they still need to work on. Often, the sticking points will show up only through the practice test. What might that look like?

Timing

We once tutored a student who, after taking her mid-program practice ACT, said there was no way she could ever finish the reading section in time. When she and her tutor reviewed the practice test, they discovered that she had written way too much for her main ideas (one of our interactive strategies), which caused her to waste valuable time. After practicing writing concise notes, she was able to finish the section in time and increase her reading score! It’s common for trouble with timing not to show up until the practice test. Without that dress rehearsal, students go into the real test unprepared.

Nerves

Another of our students bombed his end-of-program practice test. His scores didn’t show any improvement from his pre-test! His tutor knew something was off because he’d been doing well in sessions and on homework. When they reviewed the test together, she saw that he hadn’t marked it up at all. The student told her that when he got nervous during the test, he stopped using his strategies. They had a great discussion about techniques he could use to manage test anxiety, as well as the importance of consistent strategy use. And you know what? He achieved his goal score on his real test! Just think, had he not taken the practice test, we wouldn’t have known nerves were going to impact his performance. Chances are good he would have tanked on the real test!

Over-Confidence

After months of tutoring and making solid progress on both practice and real tests, one of our high school students took an end-of-program practice ACT. We were all shocked that his scores dropped. During the review session with his tutor, he admitted that he’d rushed through the easy math problems (leading to careless errors) and didn’t follow their plan for the science section (which impacted his pacing). He thought he knew the test well enough to get by without applying everything he’d learned. Again, thank goodness he made this mistake on a practice test! He knocked the real test out of the park by using the strategies he’d mastered.

Practice tests enable us to truly customize our tutoring. This targeted work saves time, increases confidence, and, ultimately, results in higher scores. If you’d like to learn more about how our tailored and comprehensive approach could help your child, give us a call!