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Test Prep SanityHow to help your child excel on standardized tests without driving each other crazy

Test Prep Sanity

Test Prep Sanity: How to help your child excel on standardized tests without driving each other crazy. Elie Venezky Copyright 2012 Copyright Holder ISBN: 978-1-937445-38-6 ISBN DIGITAL: 978-1-937445-39-3 Library of Congress Control Number: 2012949643 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. The information in this book is provided for informational purposes. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for any physical, psychological, emotional, financial, or commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential or other damages caused or allegedly caused, directly or indirectly, by the use of the information in this book. The author and publisher specifically disclaim any liability incurred from the use or application of the contents of this book. Published by Bush Street Press 237 Kearny Street, #174 San Francisco, CA 94108 www.BushStreetPress.com Cover by Zoe Lonergan Printed in the United States of America

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Test Prep Sanity

I would like to thank a number of people for helping me with this work: my mother, for her unwavering support and constructive honesty; Phil Cohen, for his additions and wisdom; Michael Yacavone, for his feedback and support; Caroline Brokaw Tucker, Micah Kelber, Amy Klein, Alex Wenger and Leslie Schnur, for their edits; and Nathan Otto, for the idea of turning my blog into a book.

This book is dedicated to the memory of my father, who knew all this stuff and more.

3 Acknowledgements

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Test Prep Sanity

Table of ContentsForeword Anxiety My Philosophy You, the Parent 7 8 8 9

Your Child

Your Attitude 10 Why does my attitude matter? ......................................................................................10 How do I change my attitude? ......................................................................................11 How should I view the test? ...........................................................................................12 Why are test scores important? .....................................................................................13 How important are test scores? .....................................................................................13 Why should I ignore other parents? ..............................................................................13 When should I disagree with my childs guidance counselor?......................................14 Your Emotions 16 How can I avoid stress? .................................................................................................16 What can I do if Im already stressed or angry? ..........................................................16 How can I control my emotions?...................................................................................17 Your Interactions with Your Child 18 Why wont my child listen to me about the test? .........................................................18 How should I talk about the test with my child? ..........................................................18 Am I accidentally discouraging my child from studying? ............................................18 Why should I make a schedule? ....................................................................................19 How should I deal with complaining?...........................................................................19 Why must I occasionally compromise? .........................................................................20 What if my child just wont do his work? .....................................................................21 Summary 23 Framing the Test 25 General rules ..................................................................................................................25 How to frame mistakes ..................................................................................................27 How to frame poor early results ....................................................................................28 How to frame studying ..................................................................................................28 The myth of multi-tasking .............................................................................................29 A final note on framing the test ....................................................................................29 Your Childs Attitude 30 Why is attitude important? ...........................................................................................30 What should I do if my child has a poor attitude about the test? ...............................30 Why should my child ignore her friends? .....................................................................31 Why doesnt my child care about the test? ....................................................................31

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The Tests

How to Help 32 How can I help my child succeed on his test? ...............................................................32 What are some online resources? ..................................................................................33 How does food affect preparation? ................................................................................34 How does sleep affect preparation? ...............................................................................34 What can I do if my child wont study? .......................................................................35 Should I reward my child for studying? ........................................................................35 If my child is struggling, why cant I tell him hes just not a good test-taker? ..............36 Summary 37 Methodology 39 How do standardized tests differ from school exams?..................................................40 Why dont study and practice help as much as they should? .......................................46 Registration 47 The SAT 48 The ACT 51 Should My Child Take the SAT or the ACT? 53 The PSAT 54 SAT Subject Tests 55 The ISEE 56 The SSAT 58 The SHSAT 60 Summary 62

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Test Prep

An Overview 64 Whats the best way to prepare? ...................................................................................64 How should I structure tutoring? ..................................................................................64 Why are mock exams important? ................................................................................65 When should we start tutoring? ....................................................................................66 What should my child study? ........................................................................................66 How should my child study?..........................................................................................66 Dealing with Test Anxiety 69 How does test anxiety affect my child? .........................................................................69 How do I deal with test anxiety? ...................................................................................69 Thats great . . . but how do I do that? ..........................................................................70 Hypnosis?! Wont I end up clucking like a chicken? .....................................................70 Whats NLP? .................................................................................................................71 What? .............................................................................................................................72 Ive heard NLP is pseudoscience and has been disproved by therapists. .....................72 What else can help with test anxiety? ...........................................................................72

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Test Day

Hire a Tutor 74 What does a great tutor offer? .......................................................................................74 Finding the Right Tutor 75 Three costly misconceptions about tutoring .......................................................75 Five mistakes to avoid when hiring a tutor ..................................................................75 Three rip-offs to avoid ...................................................................................................76 Five questions to ask before hiring a test prep company ..............................................77 Four steps to choosing the right tutor............................................................................77 Summary 79 The Month Before 81 Two Weeks Before 81 What should my child do? .............................................................................................81 What should I do? .........................................................................................................81 Should I tell her shes going to do well? .........................................................................81 What if my child explodes or says she doesnt want to take the test? ...........................82 A Week Before 82 The Night Before 82 What do I do? ................................................................................................................82 Should my child study? ..................................................................................................82 Should she go to bed early?....................................................................