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College entrance exams such as the SAT don’t have to inspire stress. Students are seeing better results with a mindset that views testing as a chance to learn skills for college.

The world of college admissions gets more competitive every day — leading schools receive enough qualified applicants to fill their classes several times over.

Students are challenged to distinguish themselves in whatever way they can. There’s tremendous pressure to stand out, and standardized tests are one area in which students can shine. Parents and students alike are learning that working with a tutor who emphasizes concrete academic goals helps young people to succeed.

The importance of mindset

Many view admissions tests as the enemy standing between the student and success. But demonizing these tests only generates anxiety that can cause students to shut down. Some tutors respond with “tricks” and “hacks” intended to beat the monster, but such approaches are largely ineffective. Kids and their parents recognize that these techniques have no long-term benefits and often fail to improve one’s score.

Rather than trying to find ways to “beat” the test, the best tutors turn to its academic content and treat it as a valuable learning opportunity. This is the mission of Advantage Testing, a tutoring company that’s been pioneering positive methods of test preparation for over 30 years.

Students undertake a huge shift in mindset when they view test scores not merely as credentials for admission, but as evidence that they are prepared to succeed in college. When students work toward long-term benefits and the satisfaction of academic achievement, they develop the tools to excel.

A different approach

“Over the course of a long-term program, our students and tutors really get to know one another,” says Arun Alagappan, founder of Advantage Testing. “We get a lot done in tutoring sessions. At the same time, we’re having fun, because students learn more effectively when they’re cheerful. The tutor and the student end up being successful partners in a collaborative process.” When students bond with their instructors, they’re more motivated to work hard and do well.

Students see better results — including higher scores — with a long-term, personalized approach that is spread out over a year or more. The greater focus on core material through individualized instruction helps build a strong alliance between student and tutor, a relationship that proves crucial in motivating students over the long haul.

Advantage Testing offers a prime example of how tutors can make test preparation meaningful by teaching long-term habits of discipline and successful study. As a result, students are better prepared to succeed on the tests and in school.

Collaborative achievement

Test preparation builds confidence and real skills, both of which serve students well in college. Long-term preparation yields the best results, so it’s important that parents start planning well before their kids’ test dates. By having a study plan in place early, kids will be better prepared to succeed, both in the admissions process and in college classrooms.

“The beauty of preparing for standardized tests is that you see the evidence of your improvement in rising scores,” says Alagappan. “Students’ test scores go way up because they’re better prepared to do well at college.”

Though getting a higher score is an important goal, there’s a much deeper meaning to a student’s improvement. When the focus is on overall achievement, rather than just the ability to take the ACT or SAT, students develop skills that will provide them with long-term benefits by building confidence and college readiness.

Dash Lunde, [email protected]

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