School is back in session, and at ETP, our students are gearing up for the ISEE, SAT, and ACT.  Training for all of these tests is similar – the first part is devoted to learning the best strategies to get one’s best score. But now, with the countdown closing in, we’re moving on and having our students practice using real tests from the past.

This is the DO part of the Chinese saying, “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.” We’re always talking about the best way to take a test, showing students the tactics that will get them through the questions quickly and earn the most points possible.

But in this DO section, our students actually get in and do the problems. They practice taking the test as a test, rather than if it were just classwork or a homework assignment.

The assumption most students make – and at one time we did too – is that you can simply apply knowledge you’ve gained in school, and the test will reflect all you’ve learned. But tests don’t work that way. Try to get through a test by sitting patiently and working out every detail.  Unless you’re some combination of James Joyce and Einstein, you probably won’t answer many questions.

You can read all the books on skiing or dancing that you want to, but until you strap on your skis or your dance shoes, and start building that muscle memory, you probably won’t have much success. “Do” long enough, and your body will start skiing or dancing itself. Get in the habit of taking a test as a test should be taken, and the questions start looking a lot easier.

We delight in seeing our students break the habit of tackling questions as if they’re in school, and learning the habits that apply uniquely to test taking.