Yes, I said parents. Because let's face it, standardized test prep and test taking will stress the entire household, even the parents.
Nancy Berk, author of "College Bound and Gagged" describes it like this:
"Standardized testing can turn your life upside down. In the college-bound process, standardized testing runs at the top when it comes to parent and student stress."
It's no secret among parents that the test causes most of us to shake in our boots. We shake because we know the importance that test scores will play in admissions and even scholarships.
Related: Should you spend money on test prep?
Knowing this, you can do some things to alleviate the stress and assure that both you and your student emerge from the process unscathed.
- Know your student
Is your student a visual or auditory learner? Do they struggle with ADHD or ADD? Have they struggled with math, or are grammar and vocabulary difficult for them to master? Once you know these answers, you can guide them in pursuing the best test prep tailored to their learning styles; and guide them toward the right test (SAT or ACT).
- Talk to your teen about the test and ascertain if they need some help
Most students will admit they need some sort of test prep tutoring. Ask them which type would work best for them: classes, individual tutoring, or online prep that can be tailored to their schedule.
- Don't nag or pressure
If you have an apathetic student, nagging and pressure won't help. Actually, nagging and pressure rarely work with teens. Look for ways to help and encourage without nagging: such as helping them set aside some time daily to study, working with them on vocabulary or keeping a calendar to stay on top of test deadlines.
- Don't take control
Purchasing every SAT test prep available, signing them up for test prep, and even sending them to the classes will have little effect if your student is not motivated to learn. SAT tutors all tell stories of the students who attend their sessions and were only there because their parents "forced" them to go.
- When all else fails, look at test optional schools
Some students just aren't motivated to study for the standardized tests. If their scores are less than stellar, consider test optional schools. There is some debate about the trueness of the words "test optional"; but the simple fact is your student won't need impressive SAT scores to apply.
If your house has become a war zone over standardized tests take a step back and evaluate your role in the conflict. Take the pressure off your student, have a calm conversation and ask if they feel overwhelmed.
Once your student expresses the need for help with SAT or ACT preparation, Parents Countdown to College Coach in a partnership with eKnowledge is donating free test prep programs valued at $200 (with a small licensing fee of $17.55). They have numerous study options available and it might just be the ticket to big peace back into your family and assure your student takes the test with confidence.
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