As high schoolers become immersed in the harrowing process of improving their SAT and ACT scores, parents often are full of questions and concerns. One specific question many parents have is simply this: how can I, as a parent, help my child achieve success on the SAT and ACT?
As a parent, you might sometimes feel helpless. Ultimately, your child has to be the one to work hard and put many hours of concentration into the test prep process. You can, however, have a significant impact on how successful your child is. One important way parents can help our students succeed is to stay positive and offer supportive commentary about your child’s progress.
During Chariot Learning’s test prep process, we work on many things simultaneously: teaching your child math, grammar, or vocabulary information he or she might not know or remember, training your child to put specific strategies into action on the test sections, spot-treating areas your child needs extra practice with, and coaching your child as he or she becomes familiar with the test and his or her own areas of strength and weakness. One thing we are doing that is crucial to success on these exams is building confidence. A student gains confidence as she becomes more and more familiar with the highly specific way the test questions operate, and as she learns what her own best pace and strategies are for dealing with the particularities of the exams. Progress comes in many forms, and doesn’t always manifest as immediate score increases.
In fact, I think it is actually a good thing when a student does slightly worse on their first practice test than they expected to do. Am I crazy? Why would we be happy about lower scores on the first practice test? One huge reason is that it means that each question a student does not get right is a golden opportunity to catch the errors a student is making, and process how and why those errors are happening. One of the most important things we do in test prep is to work on preventing the student from ever making the same mistakes again. Our goal is to equip the student with a keen awareness of how to prevent the mistakes they made before, so that their accuracy improves and, ultimately, they earn their best scores on the tests. That process is a long, hard road and requires a student to make a lot of mistakes, so they can make a lot of gains.
So, how can a parent help? Stay positive. Don’t condemn your child for getting a lower score on their first practice test. Score fluctuations are completely normal and expected during the test prep process, and the first practice test is supposed to be a place to start, in terms of targeting questions a student got wrong. Largely, the score on the first practice test doesn’t matter, other than as a starting line to grow from. What we care more about is the crucial process of dissecting the reasons behind each error the student made, so that the student is more equipped to succeed on a similar question on a future test.
If you start to get caught up in worrying about the scores, remember that, during the test prep process, wrong questions are opportunities for growth. The more questions the student gets wrong on preliminary practice tests, the more opportunities we have for improvement. So stay motivated and help your teen stay motivated.
It is completely normal for you to have concerns about how your child is doing. You should feel free to ask your child’s teacher any questions you might have about your child’s progress. The key is to avoid communicating doubt or negativity when talking with your child about her progress. Rest assured that your child’s teacher will specifically tell you if something isn’t going well with your child’s work.
Trust the experts, as we very much want your child to succeed on these tests. We also have the experience, knowledge, and teaching expertise to actually help your child achieve that coveted success! As a parent, you can do your part by staying positive and expressing support. Feel free to cheer on your child as she works her tail off preparing for these exams! We are working toward increased confidence, and your positive words will go a long way to helping your child feel like she can master the tests and earn her best scores. Your child is in good hands with Chariot Learning, and as long as she puts in the work and effort, feels good about her rapport with our teachers, and follows our program–and gets enough sleep—she will achieve success.