Start by Knowing Your Child

The most efficient way to improve test scores, whether it’s ACT, SAT orPARCC is to step back and really know your child.

You probably won’t hear test prep tutors say, “All the strategies and practice in the world won’t help if you don’t know how your child learns.” But it’s true.

If your child’s scores don’t match your reasonable expectations, it’s likely that there’s something in his test-taking approach that is holding him back. More often than not, he can’t articulate it and your tutor won’t figure out by observing.

The traditional approach to improve test scores is (1) identify the types of problems with the most mistakes, (2) re-teach the skills that should have been learned in school and (3) give lots of practice problems.

Here’s the rub. There’s no reason to believe that the SAT tutor is going to be any better at teaching the same skill a child never learned in school. Also, keep in mind that test creators spend a lot of time making sure the actual test does NOT mirror widely available practice problems.

A Better Way to Improve Test Scores

Recent technological advances now make it easier and affordable to understand every child’s learning strengths and obstacles. Your child can now take a one hour at home test and efficiently measure how he learns best including his ability to focus, memorize, reason, and pace himself.

Technology advances typically outpace school adoption, so more than likely your school isn’t yet measuring these skills. That doesn’t mean you can’t.

Once you have the accurate cognitive assessment data on how your child learns best, bring that to your tutor. Ask the tutor to provide a handful of strategies that will work best rather than going through workbook pages that lack any specificity to your child’s individualized needs. You can be reasonably certain you will see a significant improvement with less effort. The insight you get will be useful for learning, not just standardized test taking.

Of course, feel free to skip the tutor, and take advantage of Mindprint’s free strategies.

Nancy Weinstein is the founder and CEO of Mindprint Learning, a personalized learning solution that helps parents and educators better understand each child’s unique personal profile of learning strengths and needs.