Forum’s approach to test prep is defined by customization: using our custom technology to target the areas losing the most points, devising a long-term timeline responsive to each student’s cognition, and focusing on the elements that you seldom get from a book. Another way to put that: we believe that great technology can diagnose the issues. But only a great tutor can offer the right prescription.
Tutors serve many key roles in the test prep process. As consultants, they help you set your target and chart a path to achieve it. As personal coaches, they plan and manage a timeline of practice leading up to the exams. As diagnosticians, they continually show you the material that will gain you the most points. As teachers, they enable you to master the exams’ content. As strategists, they help you understand and utilize the exams’ structures and formats to optimize your performance.
In these roles and with our technology, our team can help students master what we call the seven key challenges of test prep:
— Content: the knowledge you need. Working through drills and exercises in books is crucial here—but in many ways, this is the only piece you can get from books.
— Strategy: the methods you need for each question type. In some ways, strategy is most crucial for lower performers, who need to optimize their chances, and high performers, who need to eliminate all error by avoiding traps.
— Self-Awareness: knowing what you know—and don’t. Students who can gauge their own understanding will be able to optimize their chances, anticipate traps, and guard against error.
— Retention: keeping content and strategy fresh. Standardized exams test breadth, not depth. In school, students typically need to know 3-4 topics at a very high level. On standardized tests, they need to retain approaches for 60+ topics.
— Pacing: maintaining focus for 3-5 hours. Normal tests in school are sprints; standardized tests are triathlons. Keeping focused at a steady pace can require a variety of pacing strategies.
— Anxiety: managing the exams as stress tests. Stress can be a powerful tool to keep students alert and engaged, though it often serves the opposite function. Harnessing stress positively is often what makes a great test-taker.
— Planning: setting a longterm timeline. Prepping for a test is like prepping for a race: long-term consistency and continuity is the foundation for results. Good prep often means keeping a timeline that’s as short and intensive as possible.
In general, we recommend 90 minute sessions, followed by 60-90 minutes of homework, at least once a week. Twice a week is often preferable, particularly during summer—but only if students can make a firm commitment to the homework. To start, we recommend taking full diagnostics of all relevant tests—ACT and SAT for college admissions, and ISEE and SSAT for secondary school admissions.