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Test Prep Students-1: Before Our First Session, Please

You have educational goals. Next, you have a test to take. It's one of those big milestone tests for admission to college, such as the ACT, SAT, or GRE--or other standardized tests such as the SSAT, ASVAB, GED, or a professional licensing test. You want a tutor who works hard to get you ready.

Help me be that tutor. Do these three things before our first session together.

1. If you have already set a date to take your test, tell me what it is. If you are not that far along yet, tell me the dates you are considering. This will assist me in developing a schedule for our sessions, and, if you'd like, I will suggest a study schedule for you for the time between our meetings.

[PLEASE NOTE: It is far more effective to meet with you once a week for three months than three times per week for one month. Even when you are not studying for your test, your mind is preparing for it. Since your mind is busy in many other ways as well, it makes sense to give yourself ample time to fully absorb your test preparation activities.]

2. Please complete a timed practice test consisting of all the sections we will be working on together. Give me a copy of the test, your answers, and your scores at least two days before our first session. Either scan and email me the pages or let's arrange to hand it off in person. [If you are a minor, this might be a good opportunity for me to meet one or both of your parents as well, a prerequisite for working with me.]

3. Ask yourself what percent of your preparation challenge is test-taking anxiety. Report it to me along with any special or significant symptoms you experience. Then ask at least one other person who knows you well—such as a parent, an older sibling, a savvy younger sibling, or a teacher. Tell me what she or he says or let that individual email comments to you. Then forward them to me. I want to be ready to address your anxiety too, if that’s a significant issue.

With my expertise for your training wheels, you'll be ready to ride solo on test day!

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This blog post was updated and reposted on March 21, 2012.

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