Services: Standardized Tests
The most effective standardized test preparation starts with a diagnostic exam, which we can now provide fully online through our custom-built online mock test platform or at our mock test center in midtown Manhattan.
Once students’ strengths and weaknesses have been identified as part of a holistic test analysis, we use a unique, three-phase approach to standardized test preparation that our data show consistently and reliably improves student performance by multiple standard deviations.
In phase 1, we shore up students’ familiarity with exam content using Competitive Edge’s proprietary preparation materials, the Packets of Knowledge. Both in-session work and homework come primarily from the Packets, which contain hundreds of short verbal, reading, and quantitative questions designed to drill the foundational concepts underpinning every problem on the exam in question. Each component of a test is deconstructed into concrete terms and reduced to a set of teachable and tractable ideas.
In phase 2, we work on techniques and strategies that are derived from the latest findings in educational psychology. Rather than focusing on specific mistakes, we teach our students principles of reasoning through difficult or unfamiliar topics that can be applied to any standardized test question (and beyond!).
Once our students have digested the strategies and material from phase 1 and phase 2, emphasis shifts to building confidence in execution in phase 3. We increase the number of assigned practice tests and introduce the pressure of mock testing, a critical tool for optimizing standardized test scores. Mock testing is offered fully online through a timed system which simulates the pressure of a real exam, ensures that students have exactly the correct time allocation, forces students to move to the next session when time elapses, and provides the same breaks a real administration includes. Within 24 hours, students and families receive detailed feedback, including percentiles for percentile-based exams calculated by a proprietary algorithm developed using actual official test scores. Our system can accommodate extended time and multi-day testing and is designed to emulate the at-home systems already in use for official ISEE and SSAT testing.
Once conditions permit, Competitive Edge’s testing center will once again allow students to take proctored, full-length tests in an unfamiliar testing facility with a group of fellow students, recreating an actual standardized test environment. In the meantime, we can arrange an individual or small-group administration for students who wish to take an in-person paper exam in a safe, COVID-appropriate setting.
We recommend a minimum of three mock tests before an official exam to ensure that students feel completely confident in applying newly acquired strategies under pressured and stressful conditions. Internalizing the techniques of phases 1 and 2 ensures that our students use these principles consistently and to optimal advantage on test day.
Like any other discipline, the mastery of standardized exams requires hard work, commitment, and practice. Consequently, students should expect weekly homework designed so that they can rehearse and solidify their new skills. Competitive Edge tutors are sensitive to the complications of students’ academic and extra-curricular schedules, however, and plan assignments accordingly.
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Proprietary Standardized Testing Materials:3>
Standardized Test Study Packets
Each Competitive Edge proprietary Packet of Knowledge is the product of a meticulous review of every shred of material circulated by the test writers. The Packets contain hundreds of short mathematical and verbal questions that drill the foundational concepts necessary to solve every problem on the exam in question.
They contain not only test-like multiple choice examples but hundreds of simulated exam questions that have been stripped of multiple-choice, forcing students to rely on a deep understanding of the question itself to produce the correct answer.
Once they’ve mastered the underlying concept at hand, students begin working on multiple-choice strategy and real questions from official material from the test writers. In short, our system ensures that students will be armed with all of the skills necessary to answer any question and uniquely strives to encourage active thinking about the material rather than mere backwards analysis from answer choices.