When you face a major standardized test, the sort of test that could determine whether you get into a good high school, college, or graduate school, or obtain professional certification, you need all the help you can get. Of course, you are going to have to invest personal effort and energy, but assistance exists to help make sure that your time is well spent. Some resources are free, but some of them cost money. Most can be accessed online, but not all.
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The grand-daddy of all test prep resources is the ubiquitous and huge Stanley Kaplan organization; now both a bricks and mortar as well as online operation. Kaplan addresses admissions tests for high school, college, and graduate school, as well as professional licensure preparation in medicine, nursing, allied medical, law, the TOEFL, and real estate IT certification. Their site is:
Interestingly, their teachers do not necessarily have specific teaching experience. However, they require exceptionally high test scores on a major test, proving that they ‘get’ standardized testing, if only intuitively. They also demonstrate, through an audition lecture, that they can keep a class engaged even with killingly boring material. All successful applicants receive proprietary training. They feel confident enough in them to guarantee increased scores on crucial, career-shaping assessments. Many classes are also offered online, and some school districts offer these services to their students at a sizable discount, so check!
There are a plethora of other services competing with Kaplan. The Princeton Review, Barron’s, Peterson, Boston Test Prep, The College Board’s Official SAT Online Course, and Number2.com are all extensively reviewed in a useful article in the online Consumer Webwatch publication. This piece is at www.consumerwebwatch.org/pdfs/satprep.pdf.
The article notes that the Princeton Review course and Kaplan were the easiest to work with for the student testers, but the College Board’s course seemed trustworthy. Nothing online, naturally, will have the immediacy of a flesh and blood classroom. Some services have graphics that tax the refresh rate of older or weaker computers.
The article also points out that more expensive is not necessarily better, and notes that Number2.com is free. This piece also warns about the aggressive and intrusive follow-up marketing that can be irritating and detracts from company credibility.
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A whole bricks and mortar test prep option as Sylvan Learning Center, a tutoring resource geared mostly towards secondary school students. They administer the California Achievement Test, which can highlight the areas in a student’s knowledge and skill requiring further instruction before a major test. Some of their sites offer a one-hour test-taking strategy session that reviews the basics of time management and checking work. This helps focus the mind before a big long test. This is not a cheap option. Their site is:
As another very useful article pointed out, nothing in the way of live or online preparation is going to make up for an inadequate primary and secondary education: http://www.smartmoney.com/borrow/student-loans/10-things-testprep-services-wont-tell-you-1301943701454/#tabs A long history of ignoring everything that teachers say in the classroom at school is also likely to be too much for a course to reverse, no matter how expensive or high tech, or personalized. Although the practice of sending 5th graders to SAT prep classes is probably excessive, keeping up with school work right along is not.
It should also be noted that students with major learning differences need to be sure that they get the full accommodation to which they are entitled, whatever that may involve. This may require some parental advocacy well ahead of time.