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What Parents Need to Know About Test Prep

Your child will take more than 100 mandated standardized tests before graduating high school, according to a 2015 study from the Council of the Great City Schools, including many  they can prepare for like the New York State Regents exams, the SAT and ACT.

Test prep can aid performance since these exams follow a specific format and test standard material year after year. Regular study allows students to become familiar with the test structure and timing, and eases anxiety. “The more a student feels prepared, the better they do,” said Laura La Vacca, a test prep instructor at Hofstra Continuing Education.

Standardized tests do not work the same way as classroom tests, explained La Vacca. “These tests are largely practice-based so just by seeing questions multiple times, students perform better.” Plus, test prep offers strategies on how to approach the exams, like how to use time management and the importance of reading directions thoroughly.

“Students often have so much going on—activities, sports, studies—that it is hard for them to focus on studying for these standardized tests,” said Jessica Dease, director of youth programs at Hofstra Continuing Education. “To have this dedicated time to study (in test prep classes) is important.”

Not every test prep class offers the same benefits though. Before enrolling your child, here are some questions you should ask:

  1. Who is teaching the course? What are their credentials? What makes them an expert in their area?
    “Our classes are all taught by New York-certified teachers,” said Dease. “They are very familiar with the curriculum. These are people who are teaching every day who bring that experience with them so they can address any issues test-prep students might have.”
  2. What materials are used in the course? Are they from the test-makers themselves?
    “It’s important to focus on the correct curriculum,” said Dease. “You want relevant review questions and practice tests.”
  3. How many kids are in the course? How much personal attention will your child receive?
    “Large courses aren’t bad per se,” said La Vacca, “but there shouldn’t be 40 kids in the room.” 

Hofstra Continuing Education offers a variety of test prep courses throughout the school year that can help your child succeed on everything from Regents exams to the PSAT, SAT, ACT and the Catholic High School Entrance Exam.