Thousands of intelligent students seize up during standardized test season. They're the ones in the back of the gymnasium, frantically writing to the last minute and choking under the pressure of an egg timer. I am that student.
Perhaps test anxiety doesn't come from the actual questions sitting in front of us, but rather the fact that these standardized test scores can be life altering. These scores affect our admittance to the right schools, our ability to gain scholarships and our ability to qualify for certain types of aid. The weight of these tests had many of us prematurely self-destructing, and honestly, it doesn't get any easier as we get older.
Want to do an MBA or law degree? Your qualifying test scores could mean the difference between a great life transition and a mediocre one. Below is a list of test prep resources. If you're spending your summer prepping, these might just help you gain the confidence you need to come out on top.
1. Watermelon Express: NYC-based Watermelon Express is a learning company that claims to have helped 10,000 members with its mobile, desktop and web applications. The company provides students with detailed performance analysis, projected scores, online forums and customized review pages. Mobile applications are currently available on the iPhone, Blackberry and Android and separate study sets for the GRE, LSAT, SAT, GMAT, MCAT are priced reasonably at $20 each.
2. Grockit: Grockit prepares students for the SAT, ACT, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT and GRE. This service emphasizes the group learning experience and students invite friends from Yahoo, Gmail and Plaxo to join in the site's games. This is particularly useful for the SATs when large groups of peers are likely to be studying together. The service offers a point system for tests and games, and displays student scoring in terms of community testing percentiles. Additional features include real time chat and the ability to find online tutors. Tutorial rates range from zero to $20 per hour. Grockit is free for the first 35 questions or $40 per year for unlimited access to questions, diagnostic tests and scheduled group games.
3. Brightstorm: Brightstorm focuses on preparing teens for the SAT, ACT and AP-level high school courses. This tool is particularly useful for visual learners because programs offer hours of video courses, strategies and practice exams. What's interesting about this preparation tool is that while it provides knowledge-based tests and quizzes, it also teaches students strategies to make educated guesses. For example, in one video the instructor says, "On the ACT English, the shortest answer is correct a third of the time." Brightstorm packages are priced at $99 per test and a 1-800 line is available for questions.
4. EPrep: EPrep also prepares students for the SAT, ACT, PSAT and high school subjects using video instructions. Students complete practice tests in a timed environment, receive grades and review test answers via video tutorials. EPrep offers a free 7 day trial period and packages generally range in price between $69-$249. This service takes a more conventional classroom-style approach to teaching so it's better for those that excel in this type of environment. For those that prefer a more interactive experience, Watermelon Express and Grockit might be a better fit.
5. Prep Me: Prep Me is a learning environment for students interested in taking the PSAT, ACT and SAT. This service offers an initial diagnostic test and then builds a personalized study schedule for students. Similar to other programs, students can chat with tutors, take practice quizzes and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. The service is currently expanding to offer GMAT, MCAT and LSAT testing and is priced between $300-$700. That being said, the company boasts an average 305 point increase on the SAT for grade 11 students. The company is currently offering premium services for free to students in the state of Maine.
6. Knewton: Knewton is another program that adapts a study plan for students. The company specializes in GMAT, GRE, SAT and LSAT testing and matches videos and lessons to a students "learning arc". Students can interact via a live on-demand video classroom and the company offers results or a money back guarantee. Courses are priced at $890 for 15 teaching sessions and more than 45 classroom hours. While this is a particularly high price tag for testing services, if a couple hundred dollars is the cost of qualifying for a scholarship, perhaps the service is worth it.