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Don't Try to Test Cold

Over the years, messages about how – and whether! – to prepare for admissions tests like the SAT and the ACT have varied. The SAT developers originally insisted that their test measured innate “aptitude” and therefore was impervious to efforts to improve through any type of preparation. Stanley Kaplan changed that! The SAT doesn’t even try to call itself and “aptitude” test anymore; the “a” now stands for “achievement.”

If it’s possible to improve a student’s score through coaching, you can bet that people will do it. Wise students, knowing they will be competing against other applicants who have prepped, will make studying for standardized tests a priority. This needn’t be costly, however. A major factor in the effectiveness of any prep program is the diligence and persistence of the student. While it might well be easier to maintain focus when your parents are paying $200 an hour for a testing coach, serious willpower and effort can provide similar results for under $50.

Give this process a try:

  1. Take a full length practice test, in conditions that are as close to realistic as possible.

  2. Score the exam and evaluate which types of questions give you the most problems.

  3. Practice those types of questions.

  4. Repeat

There are many free websites that will provide practice tests and evaluation, including Khan Academy ( and (See Resources section for other ideas.) Twenty-five hours of concentrated work – with or without a high-priced tutor – can definitely give you an edge in admissions testing.

For up-to-date information about the best testing plan for you, give me a call at 847-660-8625, or fill out the “contact me” form on this page.

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