Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Overcome Test Anxiety

At CROSSWALK, we see a number of students that struggle with test taking. Many bright, articulate and well-rounded students freeze up during test time.

There is something about a test environment that creates nerves and lowers self-confidence.

So if you are struggling with test taking, try some of these techniques to improve your results:

1) Keep the Confidence Up: build yourself up before, during and after the test. Tell yourself you are just as smart, or smarter, than the next student. Often times, test taking is more about your internal confidence than your knowledge. This is most true during standardized tests.
2) Don't Spend Too Much Time on One Question: this obviously depends on the test, but the advice is applicable in a lot of settings. If you cannot develop a good answer quickly, move on to the next question. You can always go back, so score points where you can. Taking too much time will also lower your self-confidence.
3) Stay Calm: part of successful test taking is the ability to stay calm and focused for the entire time. Take deep breaths and eliminate any extraneous thoughts.
4) Make Sure You Are Answering the Question: sounds obvious, but may test takers don't read all of the directions or they don't understand precisely what is being asked. Many teachers want to ensure you know the material, so they will plant traps or tricks to catch people that don't read the directions or understand the question. Take the time to understand exactly what is being asked.
5) Double Check Your Answers: this is the oldest trick in the book, but extremely necessary. When reviewing tests the next day, many students find silly errors or slips that could have easily been avoided if they checked their work. So take the extra time to check your work.

These are just some techniques to overcome test anxiety. Ultimately it comes down to preparation, focus, confidence and practice. Tell yourself you are good test taker, study for the test and practice the good habits listed above and test anxiety will be a thing of the past.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What are the Best SAT Resources?

CROSSWALK has specialized in SAT preparation over the past five years.

Over that time, one question dominates the SAT scene: what is the best way to study for the test?

The answer to that question depends on the student and this or her goals. That said, here are two resources that I always recommend:

1) Kaplan SAT Prep Book/Course: Kaplan has some excellent resources, particularly when it comes to strategy. I've used a lot of their books with other test preparation, like GMAT, and I've found them to be spot on. Their classes are great as well, albeit a bit pricey for some.

2) The Official SAT Guide: this book is produced by the same organization that produces the SAT. I encourage all of my students to take as many of the 10 full-length tests as possible. Time them and score them. Uncover strengths and weaknesses. Knowing these will help prepare future studying and test taking.

As far as other resources, I recommend the College Board website. There are some great tools, like SAT Question of the Day and online courses, that can keep the mind fresh.

One final note: I shy away from anything other than Kaplan or College Board for my SAT prep courses. I've found other study guides to be too easy. If the studying is too easy, students freeze up when they get to the more difficult questions on the actual SAT.

Kaplan provides great strategy, College Board provides great questions. Stick with these two and you should be okay.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Good Tutor Connects the Dots

Most students are bombarded with many learning resources.

Books, websites, teachers, parents, siblings and even other students are all viable tools to faciliate the learning process. But with so many resources, a student can get overwhelmed.

Sometimes the best way to navigate the ocean of information is to utilize someone that can connect all of the dots.

A good tutor will be able to optimize the information flow and connect the dots.

A good tutor will cut through the clutter and determine the most useful and important information.

A good tutor will help the student understand what the best resources are and what resources to avoid.

Usually this process takes time as the tutor learns the student's learning style and capabilities. But even if it takes time, the results should speak for themselves as the student will learn how to study better and how to learn more optimally.

So if you need to connect the educational dots, consider some sessions with a tutor.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

SAT Road Show!

CROSSWALK is taking our SAT Prep course on the road!

Two-day workshop over Labor Day weekend in Auburn, CA.

Contact us to join the show.