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Charles, a student of mine, went from scoring a 1620 on SAT practice tests to scoring a 2060. Upon informing his mother of the improvement, his mother said to both Charles and I that the improvement was hard to believe because Charles is not a good test taker. There was no congratulations, no beaming smile of pride at her son's success, no commendation to Charles for working so diligently for three months. While this type of response continues to surprise me, it is actually fairly common for parents to have similar responses. And, while it might be hard to hear, my advice will help your child to achieve on college admissions tests.
My advice: tell your children that they are good test takers. First of all, this is actually the truth. The difference between a good test taker and a "bad" test taker? Confidence. Students achieve the latter in different ways. For some, it is accomplished quite naturally (though many of these "naturals" were probably told at a young age that they were good in school or good at taking tests.) For others, confidence on tests is a struggle. But, it is a battle that can be won through sufficient preparation. The SAT and ACT are scary tests: they seem foreign and difficult, and they have a large impact on a student's life. When a student is prepared, however, these tests instead feel familiar and students have the knowledge and confidence that they can and will do well.
Since infancy, your child has trusted you implicitly to care for them, protect them, tell them about the world, and tell them about themselves. If you tell them that they are a good test taker, they will believe you. If you tell them that they are a bad test taker, they will believe you. Tell them the former, prepare them for the test, and they will go into the test with more confidence and actually become a good test taker.
Photo by Paul Henman
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