Using Online Test-Prep Tools

    Free and Fee-based Digital Resources Help Students Succeed

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    Standardized testing is a rite of passage for all students, and it often culminates with the marathon of standardized tests – the SAT. The SAT is a 3-hour long test with an optional 50-minute essay. Most college applicants have to take either the SAT or ACT as part of the admissions process.

    Helping a child prepare for the SAT or ACT can be a daunting experience, but technology has made it easier and sometimes free. That’s good news for students and the adults who love them.

    Start at the Source: College Board

    The College Board not only creates the SAT, it also offers free prep for the SAT. The College Board app works on Apple and Android devices and offers the SAT question of the day related to reading, math, or writing and language. Each question offers hints and explanations. Dedicated students can take one of eight full-length SAT tests or two full-length PSAT tests. Recording answers on the included score sheet allows for instant scoring by taking a photograph. Students receive instant feedback on the test including summaries of their strengths and weaknesses.

    SAT Preparation with Khan Academy 

    Khan Academy worked with the College Board, the makers of the SAT, to create a free, online, SAT-prep class. Before starting on the lessons, Khan Academy asks students to share the results of the SAT and/or PSAT, or to take a few online diagnostic quizzes. The Khan Academy platform analyzes the results and creates a custom learning plan for the students.

    As a student works through the lessons, Khan Academy reviews the data and adjusts the content based on content mastery. Khan Academy gives students the opportunity to build stamina by taking full-length tests and providing detailed feedback on the results. Detailed videos are available to explain concepts and take users from the basics to the advanced. If committing to an entire course is overwhelming, students may watch videos and take quizzes on SAT topics like “circle equations.” Start at khanacademy.org.

    Quizlet: SAT Vocabulary and More

    When I was in high school, I remember creating flashcards of the hundred most common SAT words. The modern flash card is digital and can be done for free using Quizlet to create and take quizzes. Users have control over the design of the quizzes and can choose fill-in-the blank, flash cards, match, or a combination. Quizlet even allows students to play games like Gravity, where a student must give the correct answer to a question before an asteroid destroys the city. Rather than creating something new, simply searching SAT vocabulary in Quizlet results in dozens of quizzes, including some with more than a thousand words. Recently, Quizlet released an app named Quizlet Learn. After inputting what a student needs to learn and by when, the app creates a custom study plan.

    If your student is not quite the SAT-taking age, Quizlet can be used for any topic. My children’s vocabulary books align with existing public Quizlets, so they use the Quizlets to study. When studying for content-heavy quizzes and tests, I encourage my kids to create Quizlets to assess their mastery of the content.

    Instructor-led Online Classes

    Several famous test-prep companies have created online-learning courses led by instructors to offer an alternative to face-to-face classes. The online, instructor-led courses are offered on a fixed schedule, and students have assignments to complete between classes. To supplement the instruction, students can use online tools for practice. Kaplan and Princeton Review even offer full-length tests with proctors.

    The opportunity to prepare online for standardized tests can vary from free to a hefty investment, but the goal is the same – a score increase that will help your students gain admission to the college or university that’s the best fit for them and your family.

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    Shahwar Qureshi
    Shahwar Qureshi is the director of technology at The Steward School where she spends her days enhancing education through the use of technology. When she is not at work, she is searching for adventures of the unconnected variety with her husband and two children.