Tips from a San Diego Test Prep Tutor: The Lowdown on Standardized Testing

Standardized testing has been part of our educational system for generations. Nearly every parent took a stab at the SAT years ago and remembers the stress that it produced. However, today’s educational system offers a lot more standardized tests and it’s not limited to college prep students. Students will start with tests in elementary school and continue on each spring until they reach the 10th grade. At this point they start the college prep years, which will include an amalgam of tests for AP exams, the ACT, and SAT (including subject tests). Parents want to know why there are so many tests and how this will affect their children. Having a better understanding of current testing can help both parents and students determine how to proceed.


1- Elementary school testing

Students generally don’t have test anxiety right away but may develop it over time. If they become overly worried about their current tests, it may affect their ability to successfully take more important tests later on. In a sense, testing at this level is meant to judge the school as a whole and the effectiveness of educational methods. At this point, the results of the tests will help parents know if their child is in line with national standards (that is if they are allowed to see their child’s scores).

2 – Middle school testing

At this point in the testing game parents are encouraged to talk to their children about the importance of certain exams. For instance, middle school students may be able to qualify for honors programs, scholarship money, or other useful things that can make their K-12 experience easier. However, colleges will never see grades or test scores from Grades 6-8. On the other hand, a middle school student’s current performance may be a potential indicator of their performance on more important tests in high school.

3 – High school/college prep testing

This is where standardized exams become very important. Although most colleges only look at tests and grades from the 10th -12th grades, some schools will look at the 9th grade as well. Some scholarships are available to help students through high school or offer money for college later on. Once students start taking AP courses, they will definitely want to hone in on current test prep techniques to ensure an entire year of a challenging course is put to good use. Once they add in the ACT, the SAT, and SAT Subject tests, students may spend one Saturday a month on average taking a very important exam.

4 – Helping students with test prep

One way students can conquer test prep is to think of it as a separate subject. English test prep is different from English literature and math test prep is different from algebra. Although students will need to fully understand the concepts in their classes, the ability to ace a multiple choice test is an entirely different subject. This is a situation where practice makes perfect. Students can either work with a test prep tutor, take practice tests out of a study booklet, or work with their classroom teacher to learn techniques (READ: “ACT Tips From a Private Irvine ACT Tutor”).

5 – Preventing test prep anxiety

Although some of these exams can be a make it or break it situation, it’s important that students don’t develop undue stress issues that might last long past the end of high school. One way to prevent test prep anxiety is to start practicing early. Students who have an entire year to take (and possibly retake) the SAT are less likely to become overwhelmed. Alternately, if they didn’t start studying for their SAT, or any standardized exam, until six weeks prior to their test date, they are more likely to become overly stressed and are less likely to master all of the techniques (READ: “Super Foods and Testing”).

Testing is a major part of a student’s academic career. Make sure your child gets the scores he/she deserve with the help of a private San Diego test prep tutor. Call us today for more information.

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