So, let me lay out for you some basics that will help making this important decision easier and ultimately improve your teen’s chances to get those higher scores when he or she sits in that testing room:
• Programs that charge far more than Breakthrough Test Prep have students spend a majority of time in repetitive practice testing. They merely go through SAT or ACT tests and provide the answers. What’s the deal with that? They may explain how to do a math problem, but if they approach it from a purely mathematical standpoint, students often run out of time to complete the exam. An effective program needs to primarily focus on the teaching of foundational critical reading and problem solving skills as well as what I like to call the mindset piece.
• Establishing mindset means having your teen create what I call personal intention. All exams measure the same level of knowledge and same skill sets. To be successful, your student must understand that the SAT/ACT are not so much exams of what you know, but how you deal with what you know. Other test prep programs do not typically recognize this core aspect of these exams.
• SPEED, COMPREHENSION, FOCUS – remember those words! Unlike other test prep programs. Breakthrough Test Prep teaches critical skills that not only help a student score higher but also help later in life: how to read for the main idea, learn and remember vocabulary, skim and read in word groups . . . this is creating a mindset for success. But this requires changing approach, attitude and behavior. Otherwise, significant improvement in the SAT or ACT will be elusive at best.
• When it comes to critical reading, test prep programs that ignore foundational skills (such as the use of prefixes or root mnemonics) don’t do your teen any favors. Understanding WHY words mean what they do is critical if your teen is to make efficient use of his or her time and make more accurate, educated guesses (on the SAT).
• HOMEWORK – the dreaded word, but critical to success. Courses will assign homework, but do they demand that students take personal responsibility for their success? Daily practice helps ensure that better reading and thinking skills are transformed into habit. Ensuring that success can come from a very simple technique: Students sign a DAILY assignment sheet where they make a commitment to themselves to carve out 20-60 study minutes a day: “If I complete the daily assignments, my expect my scores to improve.” Taking personal responsibility is the foundation for achieving those desired higher scores.
• Don’t settle for test prep programs that minimize the critical role that ANXIETY plays in blocking progress. If a student typically does well in school (including exams) but not on standardized tests, he or she can be taught techniques to manage nervousness. EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) or meditation have proven effective.
• I believe the best way to learn anything, and a key to success, is through an individualized one-on-one setting. In any group program, one third could learn ‘in a closet with a book’ and do just fine, with another third it depends on mood and focus, and the last third are there with friends. Kind of a crap shoot. If your student is adamant and refuses tutoring, and the group approach works, wonderful. If not, I’ll still be here!
• The MESSENGER is critical. All the best coaching in the world won’t amount to much if there is no connection. With more than 30 years in test prep education, I have a record of establishing rapport and connection with students, many of whom end up thanking me years after our sessions.
• Tutoring is more expensive than any group program, for obvious reasons. In the Washington, DC area hourly costs can reach $400/hour or more, considerably higher than Breakthrough Test Prep. Know this – higher cost does not necessarily equal greater quality. My method and objective is simple – I charge what I believe is fair given all that my students receive in return.
• Ultimately, avoid enrolling your teen into a program just because so many of your friends or her friends are going. (NOTE: Through the years that I have been doing test prep, I have seen the ‘prep course of the moment’ come and go, almost like a fad.) That said, now that you are armed with the necessary information about what a QUALITY test prep program must offer you CAN make the best choice for your teen!
So does BreakThrough sound like the best program for your child? Now that you have this information, you have the knowledge to ask the right questions when you check out other prep programs. Do that first, and I know you’ll be getting back to us
I do look forward to our connecting!
I also invite you to schedule your complimentary 45 minute Test Prep Strategy Session at our center.