Standardized Test Prep for the DIY Student a new series offer for FREE!
So recently I was asked if I could teach teachers how to help students learn how to prep for the standardized entrance tests and AP exams. Specifically, I was asked by a few parents in a location near me whose public school offers these classes are a regular part of the junior year curriculum, but for which few seem to be benefiting from or seeing score improvements. Since really superior, premier help is costly in metro urban and suburban areas, the high, high score improvements of over 200 points on the SAT or 5 points on the ACT are relatively elusive for the average middle class student, whose parents do not have the disposable income to invest in such studies.
I have a personal peeve that I regularly write my government representatives about that I feel all college preparation should ALSO be included as a cost that a parent can use their 529 funding to help. Now, there are some exceptions for certain classes of disabled students where such counseling can fall under a 529 Plan expense, but unfortunately, those cases are not the majority of students. The 504 Class of the ADA, which is largely Learning Disabilities and some other such as ADHD, do not get to use 529 funds for the actual college preparation to gain entrance.
As a result, many suburban and urban schools, as part of their own desire to show good placements for their own reputations, started to offer some preparation for the testing as part of the curriculum. However, these classes are largely about handing out practice question packets and really teaching nothing at all. The smart strategies and tips are locked away from these students, or so it seems. The inevitable result is that those students who are brighter to begin with pick up the practice and get some score improvements, but the majority of student do not see results at all. And worse there is no genuine practice testing involving sitting for a full test, but rather times sections are given over the course of week, then the teacher uses those to render a score, but in reality that score is nothing like what is actually scored. I have had a recent rush of people calling asking about why a student, who diligently practices this way, thinks he is scoring 29 or 31 on the ACT, take the test and gets a 22. I had one such conversation recently after the April ACT scores came out where a student had taken the ACT three times, each one 22 or 21, but he was told by his prep tutor he was scoring 30.
There is a way to prep for these tests to selectively get a high score. The College Board recently released statistics showing that the fact that the Khan Academy has free prep tutorials has increased the overall scores across the board, globally, for the SAT by something like 15 points. To some this seems ridiculously low, but considering for the past decade, both the SAT and ACT tests’ scores have had year after year of declines, this is outstandingly good news. Why have scores dropped year after year for the past decade? It is a complex question with many variables, but the largest single contributor to the score decline in the US, is, economic loss. The US has not rebounded in many areas of the country…there are entire states which have not even made it back to the levels in 2009. Many middle class parents to tide themselves over from 2009 through 2014 had to sell off investments, leverage homes, etc. So coming up with a couple thousand or more for scores to go up a few points was not part of the budget. Parents were more willing to risk that the colleges as a whole would be getting lower scores, in general. In some cases this was true. In others, not so much, and the higher scores were still coming in, maybe from other countries. So it has been another consequence of the global economic recession.
Now can I go in and start teaching teachers and help large groups of middle class students? Not really, as my service is particularly catered to the individual and those with specific issues. But is there a way for those students who are seriously motivated to help themselves? YES! Resoundingly yes. I am going to start a series of blogs now about how to start yourself on a plan to improve your own test scores yourself.
Every week, FOR FREE TO THE STUDENT, one particular section and one particular method or strategy will be discussed. I will put a list of preferred books and so forth out. The books are not cheap!! However, many libraries stock these books, so you can actually go to a library if you are tight on cash and cannot afford $300 on books. Or if you are able to spend some money…consider this: an average class that has some kind of point improvement guarantee is about $2000 in the US…$300 is a lot less! So this FREE DIY class is for basically good students, who are willing to apply themselves with discipline and consistency, over the course of this summer.
If this is something than people are enjoying, I will consider making these into videos or podcasts that will be available in perpetuity or until the tests are changed again!
So look for Lesson One: Reading….how to minimize wrongs, take advantage of time, and raise your overall reading correct vs wrong simply by strategy, next week. My goal is to have the test strategies covered and some good tips for accelerating what you can do to improve overall efficacy and skills for the August 26 SAT and the September 9 ACT.