It’s been a busy month around my business. I was quoted in two New York Times articles:

Is Your First Grader College Ready?”

This is an article exploring the push to start planning earlier and earlier. To be clear, I do NOT advocate early test prep or college planning. I do want families to start talking about options and encouraging their children to pursue interests at a young age. At my house our 8 and 14 year olds know they will go to college, but the discussion focuses on options and opportunity not the pressure of getting in. Here is the full article.

When to Take the SAT

This article mentions my family’s experience with the Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP) which you can read about here. The article also mentions the PSAT as an appropriate practice for 9th and 10th graders. The full article is here.

Like the other SAT expert quoted in the article, I do not advocate early test prep. Each year I talk families out of hiring me because it is often counterproductive to begin SAT or ACT prep before a student’s junior year.

I’m a fan of the question of the day problems from both SAT and ACT. Those are fine for middle and high school students. But the practice of taking full-length tests, official or not, and attending prep classes, even the short ones offered at school, tends to backfire.

I’ve seen too many students who have burn out on test prep before they come to me. It is hard to make these juniors focus and work. They’ve done it all before, often multiple times. They no longer have the energy or desire to work on the test. They are like the runner who over trains and arrives at the start line for her marathon exhausted. She put so much effort into training, but didn’t save enough energy for the actual race.

Other students don’t find the early exposure to the test comforting. Instead of desensitizing these students to the stresses of test taking, all the early test prep and practice has done is heighten their anxiety. Picture the person who has recently experienced a trauma, like a car crash. Unexpected loud noises may startle this person while everyone else in the room barely notices the noise. The high-stress, high-anxiety test taker is not calmed by the practice experiences; he or she is even more worried at the real test.

 

I hope your spring semester if off to a great start. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to listen to The College Prep Podcast. We’ve had some recent episodes that answer the questions I’m getting every week.

How to Select the Right High School Courses (& Avoid Pitfalls)

How Parents Can Raise Teens Who Manage Time Well with Leslie Josel

Easy Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary for the SAT & ACT

You can find the podcast on iTunes. Of course, I’d love your opinions, so if you have time, please leave us a rating and review.