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The Case Against Test Prep

Don’t worry. You’re reading this correctly.

This may sound like an asinine post coming from the owner of an online test prep company, but you need to hear the truth.

There are 3 categories of students listed below. Identify which one your son/daughter is (and be honest with yourself!)

Self-motivated: this is the student who pushes himself/herself harder than anyone else can. Give them free resources and they’re on their way. Valedictorians, college-bound athletes, academic scholarship recipients live here. Chances are putting additional pressure on them would cause burnout. A group class initially with some friends might jumpstart the process, but this type of student takes initiative and responsibility for her/her results consistently.

Lazy/Procrastinator: you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink. Test prep tutoring includes accountability, but if you choose to tune it out it may be a waste of your time. The tutor doesn’t take the test, the student does. A tutor can give you all the resources and training possible, but at the end of the day it’s the student who does (or doesn’t) do the work and lives with the results. That’s why we put such an emphasis on finding the right tutor match for your son/daughter. If they are motivated because they actually like their tutor, they’ll work harder. If not, save your money.

Everything in between: the two archetypes mentioned above tend to lie on the ends of the spectrum so chances are your son/daughter is somewhere in between. There are enough free resources out there, but the reason why test prep companies exist is the same reason why personal trainers are employed at gyms. Left unsupervised and lacking accountability usually produces poor results for high school students. Also scoring well on the SAT/ACT isn’t purely math and English comprehension, it’s about demystifying the test both by eliminating wrong answers and identifying patterns of questions immediately. The messenger matters as much as the message in this case hence why we hire mostly tutors in their 20’s and 30’s for their relational advantage.

Overall the stigma of hiring a tutor has shifted from being a luxury to a necessity for having an edge in the college admissions process. Investing a couple of thousands of dollars in test prep seems like a lot, but knowing the average 4 year public university costs $40,000 and the average 4 year private university costs $140,000 it’s only 1% – 5% of the amount.

All high school athletes have a coach, so why not hire a private tutor to boost your chances of getting into your dream school? 

Why Study Habits Beat Study Goals

When it comes to preparing for the SAT or ACT there’s a goal score and dream school in mind.

With any goal in order to maximize your chances of attaining them breaking it into smaller pieces is crucial to your success.

Did you know that creating good study habits for test prep is more important than the goal you set?

Here’s why:

Take for example, your fitness goal is losing 20 pounds. Setting a weekly goal of weight loss is typical, but the results fluctuate based on a number of different factors. The better method is to set the habit of going to the gym for 45 minutes 3 – 5 times per week. The time it takes to lose 20 pounds may differ than your timeline, but focusing on the habit will get you to our goal eventually.

As for test prep, the higher the score or more prestigious the university closing the gap to a perfect score becomes harder.

If you plan on studying 2 1/2 hours per week until the test date it’s unrealistic to find that chunk of time during the week on top of your regular homework.

Instead why not set the habit of spending 30 minutes daily for test prep reviewing the problems you got incorrect on the practice test

Daily test prep influences the timeline in which you feel ready to score well on the test. If you start this process now, chances are you’ll have a choice as to which test date to sign up for in the future.

Think of good study habits as a means to your end goal.

Rather than apply more pressure to yourself, stick to creating good study habits and you’ll relieve some test anxiety.

When preparing for the SAT or ACT set good study habits from the start. It’s the foundation that sets you up for reaching your academic goals.

Battling Test Anxiety: Watch The Clock

One of the most overlooked strategies to beating the SAT/ACT is pacing.

For example the ACT moves faster than the SAT, yet what really matters is knowing how much time to allow for each section prior to test day.

Most students tend to favor the Math or English section over the other so factor in completing the easier problems first then leave extra time to re-check your answers.

Since there isn’t any penalty for guessing incorrectly, there’s no reason to leave any answers blank.

You also don’t need to go chronologically in order especially if you can instantly identify what type of problem you’re solving.

The reality is: when are you ever going to take a 4-hour test in your high school career?

If you don’t take practice tests as part of your preparation to build your endurance, mentally you’ll fold on test day.

Most of the time anxiety stems from the unknown, so that’s why our tutors help demystify the test so you know what to expect.

Being prepared is the best strategy you can have to achieve an optimal score and time management can be the foundation on which to build on.

Raising Student Athletes

Whether your teenager is playing a sport competitively or not in high school, this post is still for you.

Athletes have coaches that cannot perform for them, but provide guidance and instruction.

Good managers gives you the tools and resources to do your job better in the workplace.

Teachers help you in the classroom, but today’s student benefits much more from customized, individualized learning.

The amount of free resources including You Tube videos that can literally teach you any subject are endless.

But similar to a gym that has all the equipment to getting in shape, it takes an extremely motivated person to study on their own.

Whether it’s the SAT, ACT or an academic subject you’re preparing for each person learns differently and at their own pace.

Sports accepts the idea of a coach to help you, but in academics it’s no different.

The content isn’t as important as the way it’s taught.

Investing in a tutor isn’t limited to the test you’re studying for. Students find the strategies to battle anxiety for test taking are universal.

Getting accepted into your desired college is normally the goal, but don’t stop there.

Even the most successful business people and athletes continue to get help to perform at a higher level.

Being held accountable, staying motivated and challenging your mindset are all benefits from working with a tutor. In fact when the chemistry is strong, tutors becomes mentors that push you forward in life.

As a parent you want that edge for your son/daughter.

That’s our goal too.

Creating A Sales Free Process

A few months ago I attended a Hubspot event on Inbound Marketing. One of the topics they discussed was creating a “sales-free process” for your customers.

Online stores like Amazon, Nike.com & Carvana allow you purchase goods without ever speaking to salesperson. In the service industry this seems impossible, but it’s not.

While watching an episode of Shark Tank the idea hit me: model it around an online dating site.

Our differentiator is matchmaking. We pair the right tutor with your child’s personality and learning style.

Online dating sites start with creating an online profile and once there is a fit you are contacted to act.

That’s it.

This Google Form will change the game for us.

It allows parents to answer the same questions I would ask on a phone consultation, but on their own terms. After receiving their responses I can choose the tutor that fits best with their needs. Next, a free 30 minute video meet and greet is set up with the tutor, student and parent to test chemistry.

Now the first time I speak with the parent it’s to see how the introductory session went. We construct a program and get started from there.

From the outside this may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Companies are always searching for ways to engage customers without feeling the pressure of being sold to. Offering our student profile form does just  that.