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Test Anxiety

Parents, think back on your own days in school.  Yes, I know it may be a bit painful to think about.  Remember when you didn’t prepare well enough for a test and went in a bit anxious?  Of course you do!  Even the smartest of students can relate to test day anxiety, particularly when it comes to those dreaded standardized tests.   While many of us parents may have hoped that these pesky standardized tests (ACT, SAT, CogAT, etc.) would have phased out by now.  Quite the contrary!  The illustration below, while intended to be snide, provides some interesting insight…

Like the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”  Our education system, whether we love it or hate it, it’s what we have!  As long as we want our children to go to college, standardized tests are an unfortunate obstacle that all must overcome.  In order for your children to be successful on these highly stressful and painstakingly long tests, there are a couple of myths that need to be debunked:


 1.  Enrolling my child in a  “Test Prep” course a few months before the SAT/ACT  will make all the difference. 


As a parent, if you are concerned about how your child is going to perform a few months before the test, chances are high that such concerns needed to be addressed much sooner.  A child’s academic history is like a vast web of interconnected fibers,  If any of those small fibers are missing or fragile, then this creates a disconnection in that overall web of knowledge.  Those fibers that developed early in the web’s formation are what we like to call the “foundational” skills.  Those foundational skills (fundamentals) are the lifeblood of the learning process, so if any of those are lacking, then there is a breakdown in learning.  Such lapses in learning are what we like to refer to as learning gaps.


The only way to address these gaps is to go back and repair what is missing.  Test Prep companies are great once a student is “gap-free” and at or ahead of his or her designated grade level.  As a matter of fact, we aligned ourselves with Alex Ellison Test Prep because we have a shared vision for filling learning gaps and solidifying lost foundational skills.   We are successful when we can send our students home and never have to set foot in our Naperville or Chicago learning lab.  Our objective is to instill proper learning practices in children, fill the learning gaps, and provide them with 


2.  If my child learns a few valuable techniques, he or she will succeed with the SAT/ACT Test.

While there are test-taking strategies that can help improve SAT or ACT test scores, there is no substitute for a lifetime of accumulated learning.  Knowledge is only useful if it has been retained over the years.  The single most effective pathway to retention is through a fluency-based learning technique.   Consider this the ABCs of learning.  Fluency is about learning everything as well as we know the alphabet.  


In my blog on critical steps to test prep success, I talked about the harms of cramming for tests.  Students are doing this far too often, and it is detrimental to the learning process.  When students learn all their concepts fluently, then they would not have to exert as much energy in test preparation.  When students have a solid foundational core and a strong fluency of knowledge, then more complicated concepts will start to come more naturally.