MA Ed
Education & Reading Specialist
Chicago

Test Prep

I offer preparation on a variety of standardized tests. These include High School entrance exams for selective enrolment, private schools, and the Archdiocese schools; the ISEE; and the ACT.

I begin with a pre-test to help identify student’s strengths and weaknesses as well as their approach to test taking. I help students develop a strategic approach to taking tests. This approach will help them on any test. These include: interpreting test questions, having a plan of attack to answering questions, learning which questions to give the most time to and which ones to skip, budgeting time, and remaining calm and focused. In addition to these general skills, I help students to tackle the specific tests that they will be taking.

Taking tests can be stressful for students. Many times the tests are high-stakes. They may determine if a student can attend the high school of his or her choice, get into college, or even just pass Biology class. Many students develop testing anxiety. This is when students “blank out” or “freeze up” during a test. They may have done well on all of their assignments, understood all of the material, but when it comes down to test time, they felt like they just can’t apply what they know. What causes testing anxiety?

From Teen’s Health:

All anxiety is a reaction to anticipating something stressful. Like other anxiety reactions, test anxiety affects the body and the mind. When you’re under stress, your body releases the hormone adrenaline, which prepares it for danger (you may hear this referred to as the “fight or flight” reaction). That’s what causes the physical symptoms, such as sweating, a pounding heart, and rapid breathing. These sensations might be mild or intense.

Focusing on the bad things that could happen also fuels test anxiety. For example, someone worrying about doing poorly might think thoughts like, “What if I forget everything I know?” or “What if the test is too hard?” Too many thoughts like these leave no mental space for thinking about the test questions. People with test anxiety can also feel stressed out by their physical reaction and think things like “What if I throw up?” or “Oh no, my hands are shaking.”

Just like other types of anxiety, test anxiety can create a vicious circle: The more a person focuses on the bad things that could happen, the stronger the feeling of anxiety becomes. This makes the person feel worse and, because his or her head is full of distracting thoughts and fears, it can increase the possibility that the person will do worse on the test.

So, what can we do about it? I incorporate a variety of strategies, including positive visualization imagery, relaxation methods, stress management techniques, thought restructuring, and even yoga poses.