Free test prep—is free really “free”?

There are some thing in life that you just have to get guidance about. And one of those (for many) is how to conquer the ACT and SAT tests.

Here is my take on test prep, and I will use an analogy: My hubby could try to fix a broken toilet. He can make a trip to Home Depot and think “Well, I have been around toilets my whole life…how hard can this be?” He talks to a couple of people who work at HD in that section to see what they do to fix the toilet. He sees a neighbor and asks what she thinks– what worked for her. He can tinker and try and watch the videos on YouTube again (because bless his heart, he probably didn’t REALLY watch them the first time). After hours of tinkering and toying, maybe he would fix it. Maybe he would not. Would it last? Maybe. Maybe not. Then, we might have to end up calling a plumber anyway. And, hubby feels extremely frustrated, has wasted materials, and wasted time. I cite this analogy because “been there– done that.”

Many of us have for home repairs, car repairs, cake decorating, work outs, etc. I use this example because people often call me after attempting to do some type of prep on their own. (“I bought my child the test prep book so they could study. I think they did…Oh, wait…the book is still blank” is usually how those calls go) What was free ended up wasting time, materials, and causing students to feel like they can’t improve their scores. Parents buy the books…but students don’t know what to do with them. They watch videos…or at least the video is ON but perhaps they get frustrated because they can’t ask a question. Now, I know these are trying times and many people are furloughed or worried about finances. But before you do anything, be very thoughtful about your plan. Make sure it is not going to cause frustration.

I know I personally have created test prep plans to go with the official RED ACT book. I taught a crash course to my strategies and offered a prep plan for anyone who takes an official released test at home. Many other professionals are offering things to help students who have more free time than ever. I am hopeful that students and parents will take advantage of this offer. I just don’t want anyone to be feel frustrated when help is available.
If we all think outside the box, we can all work together to come up with a plan that is financially viable for everyone…and not frustrating for students.