Test Prep Guide: EF and LD Test Prep Strategy

Note: The following should be understood as the advice of test prep tutors gleaned from experience rather than that of a professional learning specialist. It is open to modification.

Should students with EF issues or LDs approach the prep process differently?

While every student should approach the test differently from one another, students with executive function issues in particular will benefit from a coach who provides clear guidance not only with problem types but the process itself. Weekly calendars, monthly guidelines, and historical score tracking can be helpful for all students, but they will be invaluable for students with EF issues who may feel lost in the process and need to be reminded of how far they’ve come — as well as how far they need to go. It is essential to find a tutor who doesn’t see their role as simply teaching and assigning work.

For many students with EF issues and LDs, sessions twice a week will prove particularly helpful to ensure close oversight, particularly when students are struggling to follow the methods in their homework that they learned during sessions. Finally, these students should ensure that they have extra time accommodations in place; Forum has a dedicated guide to this process available upon request.

How should students with EF issues and LDs approach the test itself?

So many students aim for perfect scores and mastery of all the material that it is important to remind many students this doesn’t need to be their goal. To reach a benchmark score, students may employ a “punting strategy,” in which they first mark the problems they know and then use their time to complete and check these (while ignoring harder problems) in order to get a certain number right.

What are the particular challenges of test prep for students with LDs?

Needless to say, students who have struggled academically will struggle in similar ways on tests; students with non-verbal LDs will likely find geometry questions as challenging on the tests as in school. Nevertheless, the tests differ from academic material in two important ways that can have significant impact for students with LDs.

First, the tests are largely retention tests of over 60 problem types, far more than students are likely to encounter on a given test in school; although few may be as difficult as questions in school, students with long-term memory issues will need constant drilling to keep their concepts “fresh” and ensure they don’t become exhausted over the course of five hours.

Second, students with working memory issues may be tempted to underline and circle the many facts and figures presented on the test when they often benefit from the opposite strategy: skimming to focus on the questions and necessary information rather than the entirety of content presented to them.