A couple of months ago, I got a phone call from a father who was interested in having me tutor his daughter for Critical Reading. She was solidly in the 600s, he said, but should be scoring in the 700s and could use a couple of new strategies. We chatted for a bit, and then he commented that he was sure that his daughter would do better on the real test — didn’t people always do better on the real thing, with all that adrenaline flowing? “Well, no,” I said. “Not necessarily. Sometimes they do. But just as often they don’t. Usually their scores are pretty much in line with those from their practice tests.”
Apparently he didn’t like that response since I never heard from him again.
I realize that it’s become a cliché to define insanity as the act of doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, but that notwithstanding, the saying does contain a hefty dose of truth — especially when it comes to standardized testing, accent on the “standardized” part. (more…)