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Test Preparation
 
The public school schedules are now punctuated by the annual "high-stakes" standardized tests mandated by the No Child Left Behind Law.† These tests have focused alot attention on children's real progress.† The smart long-term strategy for parents†is to focus on building fundamental academic skills using a variety of schooling and supplementary tools such as online learning.† Additionally, parents should be "clever" and provide their children with every advantage including some "test prep">
 
Be Clever - Test Prep Does Help

Test-taking is a skill which can be taught which will help, to some degree, improve scores. While learning test-taking skills are not a substitute for a solid education, it†is now an important part of education.†Test prep should†give students a structured environment in which to practice and grow familiar with the tests. The more familiar†a child is with† with the tests †and the styles of questions, the lesson time† will be wasted understanding the questions and† the more confident†the student†will feel. Even the companies that administer the tests admit that practice and familiarity can lead to higher scores so test prep isn't going to hurt.† Some of the simple advice (eg†"Before you do the reading on a reading comprehension question, read the questions that you are required to answer so that you know what you are looking for"†) will significantly simplify some parts of the test.
 
Of course, a test prep course, whether online or in a classroom, will not be able to teach you any of the fundamental skills and knowledge that you should have acquired over the course of your education.
 
Standardized test preparation comes in many forms and price ranges. Some say you can improve your scores only slightly, others claim test prep can substantially raise your results.†† There are many options when it comes to test preparation. The option that's best for you depends on the child's preferred learning style, the budget available, and the child's needs.

Online Options

Several companies offer test preparation services online. Taking a tutorial online allows you to do the work at your own pace anytime of the day and from the convenience of home, which requires discipline and good study habits. Qualified teachers teach the courses much like real classes with "lectures," sample questions, overviews and feedback. You will have the opportunity to take numerous practice tests and will be able to check your answers. The fees for these courses can run anywhere from $200-$400, but they often include such extras as study guides and software that you can continue to use after the course has ended.

Classroom Courses

There are a number of companies (Kaplan, Princeton Review, Sylvan, The College Board and ACT) that offer "live" courses in addition to print and electronic test preparation aids. Courses range from one-day seminars to weekly classes over a three-month period. Your instructor will walk you through the entire test giving tips and explanations. You will also take many practice tests that will help you observe your strengths and weaknesses. The costs of these classes can be expensive, anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Course providers pride themselves on delivering results, so if you have the time and money classroom test prep may be for you.

Coaches and Tutors

Sometimes students do better in a one-on-one situation. If you are easily distracted by a classroom environment or can't seem to find the time for an online course, a private tutor or coach may be the answer. The goal is the same as with an online or classroom course, but a private tutor or coach will be able to tailor the sessions to your individual learning needs. As you might expect, this type of test preparation is not cheap. Private tutors and coaches can cost thousands of dollars. While this might not be practical for everyone, it's what some students need to do well on the tests.

Books and Software

At every bookstore you will find test preparation books that offer test-taking strategies and tips, as well as sample tests with answers. These guides are great for students who have limited computer access or who are more comfortable with printed materials. Most cost under $50. In addition to books, there are computer programs that will give you most of the same information as the books but will offer more practice tests. These items offer a good source of prep material. Both the College Board and the ACT offer their own books and software.

 

 
 
Time4Learning
Building Online Language Arts & Math Skills†
 
Compass Learning Odyssey [tm] for home use, elementary & middle school programs.  Fun, useful, practical online learning thru Time4Learning.
 

 
 
 

 
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Review of Time4Learning
 
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