Monday, November 2, 2009

Parenting Poll

OK, parents...

Son indicates that he gets anxious when he has to take a test. His grades seem to bear this out in that he gets good marks for homework and projects, but ungood to plusungood marks for quizzes and tests. Son wishes to go to college. He has plans for an advanced degree in the computer field. Specifically what, he doesn't know, but let's cut the high school freshman some slack for that lack of specificity.

Given that the SAT and ACT are still important college entrance requirements, would it be beneficial to have him take one of these tests "cold" this year, with the idea that exposure to the test will make it less scary when it really counts? Or would people suggest that I leave it alone, with the idea that scoring low on the test this time might result in a hit to his motivation and confidence?

I suspect the polling results from the most thoughtful parents will be YMMV.


Angry Professor said...

It is a fact that the more times you take these tests the higher your scores will get.

GDad said...

You are in a position to know. I think I'll set the boy up with some study materials and do a very light prep. Then he can take the test in January, which is the next time he can take it without paying for late registration.

Thank you, Angry Professor Parent.

Anonymous said...

You should be able to get test prep books from your library, complete with sample tests - so he can take some at home, first. Also cheaper and not-on-one's-record than the formal paid tests.

Also worth investigating the "test prep" community in your area.

If his school guidance counselor is good, you might ask for suggestions for alleviating testing anxiety, too.

PC Strobe said...

We have been lucky in that our two children don't seem to suffer from test anxiety, despite the fact that I did in grade school. In fact, my mom was so upset that I kept blowing spelling tests that she went to the teacher and explained that I knew all my spelling words the night before a test, but kept failing them somehow. She figured out that we were doing the spelling test prep orally and the disconnect was in writing the words for tests. The teacher made the spelling tests oral for the class and I started getting As!

Point being, each child is different, and the challenge is to find the underlying roadblock or anxiety and address that. I'm convinced that figuring out the spelling test thing boosted my confidence and gave me incentive to figure out ways to do better in other classes.

pixnlil said...

When I was prepping for the GMAT, I found some nice software that not only walked me through lessons, but had several different tests (some shorter, some full length). Maybe Son would benefit from working his way through some of those sorts of things? It gets him practice taking a test (as many times as he wants) without the pressure of a test administrator or his results being formal.

Bill said...

I think being familiar with the format beforehand would be helpful.
I'm sure that your decision will be doubleplusgood.

Dave said...

I NEVER valued these tests because I got anxious and mad. I performed badly and then wrote them off because I believed they didn't mean anything. I exhibited this behavior as an undergrad too (for GREs). I had publications as an undergrad and just believed the exams were silly. Then I got slammed on my two top grad school choices because of my scores.

I still believe these exams have no inherent value, but, looking back, I think they're critical to get what you want; a horribly important test. I'm going to teach my kid to do what Angry says and make her practice, one of those unfair things to suck up and do.

Sorry for the babbling rantt, it's one of those things I'd do different given another round.