Seven Myths About Standardized Tests

As your teenager begins to prepare for college they will need to take a standardized test. Most all colleges now require students to take either the SAT or ACT to be admitted. As you prepare your student for these tests you will hear many myths regarding these tests, here are the most common myths from US News and World Report:

Myth 1: Standardized tests are IQ tests.

Knowing the meanings of laconic, loquacious, or lugubrious does not prove you are smart. Nor does knowing how many real roots there are for a quadratic or the rules of logarithms, apostrophes, or parallel structure. Mastery of that information demonstrates knowledge, not intelligence. In her remarkable book Mindset, psychologist Carol Dweck details the benefits of approaching learning with an understanding that intelligence can grow through hard work.

The first step in test preparation, therefore, should be to shift how you view these tests and your potential for success on them. Combine dedicated preparation with the belief that you can (and will!) do well. You will not only perform at your best, but what your “best” can be will also keep increasing.

Myth 2: Taking both tests will double your chances of doing well.

Yes, these tests matter. But so, too, do your grades, activities, family, friends, and, oh yeah, your sanity!

If you are remarkably better at one test, it should become evident pretty quickly after some practice. If it doesn’t, then you are probably like most kids and will do equally well on either. Pick the test you feel more comfortable with and put your efforts into that test.

Myth 3: The ACT is an easier test than the SAT.

The ACT is a different test, not better or easier. In fact, most kids will get similar scores on both. Note though that most doesn’t mean everyone—and might not mean you. For instance, you might do better on the ACT if you are a highly academic student prone to test anxiety (it does not lean on working memory as much as the SAT) or if you’re a fast reader or are comfortable with the more advanced math tested on the ACT (trigonometry, conic sections, and logarithms).

You might do better on the SAT if you are a sharp wiseguy (or wisegirl), since the SAT rewards those who look for “the angle,” or if you have a killer vocabulary and can decipher even the densest text, or if you are a slow reader but can approach a question analytically. It is worth exploring both tests to see if one is better for you… Continue Reading this article on US News and World Report >>

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