Since I have been working with high school students for the last 15 years, I have kept in touch with a reasonable number who have had to take tests for graduate school and/or their professional certifications.
My favorite calls come from students who tell me that they “hated standardized tests” until they came to our SAT class. Now they feel they can tackle any type of test.
Parents often say: “don’t feel bad, you are just not good at tests.” Many often add – a well meaning but completely unrealistic comment – “don’t worry, it doesn’t matter that much.” The latter part is not even worth commenting upon because it is a delusional statement. Unrelated to the SATs-ACTs, high stakes tests – such as finals – become a bigger part of one’s academic career as they move into the latter stages of high school and the most important part – by a significant degree – in college and beyond. Tests do matter a lot. Wishing that wasn’t the case won’t help your child.
As for being a “bad test taker”, I immediately tell the student-child, “you are untrained test-taker”. After I train you, you will be a better test taker. Having trained at this point several thousand Connecticut students in the SAT-ACT, I can say with certainty that this is true for most every student who goes through one of our test prep programs.
The strange thing is that parents often understand that other disciplines require training to become “good”. Most every one of those young soccer players, ballerinas, violinists was once “bad”. Those that are now “good” received proper training, were taught how to practice correctly, and then practiced/played a great deal.
It turns out the same is true for the SATs.