Why Test-Specific Prep Courses Don’t Work

There are dozens of standardized tests and hundreds of preparation courses offered for those specific tests. These test specific prep courses serve their limited purpose, but their purpose and function are limited to providing the test taker with proper content focus.  Their purpose and function is NOT intended to teach the student how to properly prepare for the test, mentally and physically, or how to actually take the multiple choice test itself. 

Content focus is important, so taking one of these courses is critical to understanding what you should be focusing on in studying for the exam.  In fact, Attacking the Standarized Exam educates the reader on precisely how to select the best preparation course for the student’s particular test. However, understanding content alone is insufficient in a student’s quest to maximize performance on the test itself.

By analogy, showing a student what material he/she should study without also teaching that student how to actually prepare for and take the multiple choice test itself, is like showing someone a swimming destination and route and then throwing them into the water without swimming lessons.

Attacking the Standardized Exam takes the focus provided by the test-specific preparatory course and gives it meaning, teaching the student how to effectively apply it.

Armed with mental toughness and a systematized study methodology, pretest stress vaporizes. Equipped with a crystal clear understanding of how to properly dissect multiple choice questions and identify the correct answer in the fastest and most accurate way, results in the best possible score. That is why Attacking the Standardized Exam is so critically important to the process.     



Can your Teenager test to job success?

FirefigherWhat do military personnel, nurses, real estate agents, police officers, engineers, attorneys, builders, paramedics, electricians, fire fighters, stock brokers and college students all have in common?

Like nearly ever skilled job, profession or school, you must be able to pass one or more multiple choice tests to be admitted.

Unless your son or daughter plans on living in a cave for the rest of their life, he or she will never avoid the necessity of taking and passing multiple choice tests. Most children struggle with multiple choice tests.

Between kindergarten and high school graduation, children are bombarded routinely with multiple choice exams. These tests have cleverly worded questions with several “potentially correct” answers, and are drafted by test preparers whose sole mission is to get your kid to fail or do poorly.

Paramedics administering CPRIf a child fails to master the ability to take and perform well on standardized tests, he or  she will set professional goals for themselves commensurate with that ability. Of course the opposite is also true: does anyone actually believe that high school students that aspire to be doctors and lawyers just coincidentally happen to be A students because they perform well on multiple choice tests and that C and D students that do not perform well on tests rarely have those same goals and dreams?

When parents fail to ensure their children are given every opportunity available to become good test takers, they rob them of unlimited career opportunities and they limit their children’s abilities to reach their goals and dreams.

Unfortunately there is no high school or college course called “Multiple Choice Test Taking 101″.  Attacking the Standardized Exam fills that void for teenagers looking to hone that skill.


Self Esteem, a Function of Test Taking Ability

Happiness in life generally is about feeling good about ourselves.

We typically feel good about ourselves when we achieve success, no matter how that is measured. Like it or not, winners usually have high self esteem and losers usually have low self esteem.

When you lose, you feel bad. When you have low self esteem it becomes easy to continue to lose and the vicious circle begins.

Confident studentsWhen our children reach their dreams and goals, their self esteem is high. For most children, goals include going to the college of their choice and pursing the career of their dreams. Inevitably there is one thing standing between your children and these goals and that is test taking ability.

For example, if your son or daughter wants to be a doctor, he or she will only reach that goal if they score well enough on their high school and college aptitude tests to get into a good college, and then score well enough on their college and MEDCAT exams to get into Medical School. Regardless of how smart and talented they are, and no matter how much Mom and Dad love them, if they cannot score well on multiple choice exams, they will fail and their self esteem will suffer.

Unfortunately, every child is taught ”topics” in school but the one thing that neither parents nor the educational system teaches them is a systematic approach for successfully preparing, taking and scoring high on multiple choice exams.  Attacking the Standardized Exam fills that critical gap.


Don’t take an exam – beat it!

The Marine Corps trains you to be tough, but you learn early on that mental toughness is actually far more important than physical toughness.

I remember the first time I really took a close look at the US Marines who had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. My expectation was that these individuals would have all been champion athletes and street fighters.

I was surprised to learn that, in fact, the majority of those guys were just regular people who shared one exceptional set of abilities.

When confronted with a very difficult and stressful situation, they were able to focus, be decisive and disciplined, and then use those very skills to accomplish the impossible.

Focus, discipline, and decisiveness are not inbred. They are learned traits and skill sets. They are also the very same skill sets that help you properly study for, take, and pass multiple-choice exams. The intent of Attacking the Standardized Exam is to help you embrace the concepts and develop those skills. If you truly believe you will pass the exam and you have properly prepared for the exam (which means far more than just studying for it), you will pass the exam.

See Chapter 2 in the book for steps on how to:

  • Develop confidence
  • Eliminate fear
  • Embrace determinism
  • Develop discipline and decisiveness

Hazard a guess

When guessing an answer on an important multiple choice test, guessing answer “A” is just about as bad as leaving it blank. In fact, on most multiple choice tests, the likelihood of A being the right answer out of options A, B, C or D is far less than 25%.


Attacking the Standardized Exam

I have spent the better part of the last 53 years taking more than a thousand multiple choice tests.

As a teenager, I struggled through high school. Armed with an average IQ and some fairly significant learning disabilities, I barely graduating with a 1.4 grade point average. However, I was smart enough to figure out early on that achieving success in academics has far more to do with the ability to master multiple choice tests than raw intellect.

From there I began a 35 year study on the art and science of passing, mastering and scoring high on multiple choice tests.

Despite a very substandard high school GPA, I scored high enough on the SAT and the ACT to be accepted to the University of Michigan, one of the top academic institutions in the country. Upon graduation from college, I accepted a commission as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

As a Marine Officer, I completed dozens of military and civilian schools, including a Masters Degree from Boston University, and a Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Detroit School of Law. In fact, I earned a full ride military scholarship to law school based primarily on the fact I scored so highly on the Law School Aptitude Test (98th percentile).

Upon completion of law school, I passed the Michigan Bar exam on the first attempt, scoring 149 points on the multistate (the multiple choice portion of the exam), which was one question away from automatic passage (at 150 they examiners do not need to grade the essay portion). I have also taken and applied many of the Marine Corps concepts of discipline and mental toughness to the art of preparing for, taking, and passing multiple choice tests.

Resigning my commission and leaving the Marine Corps in 1990, I continued both my education as well as honing my test taking skills. I currently hold 12 professional licenses and 5 professional designations, which required me to pass several comprehensive and difficult multiple choice examinations. I have also attended dozens of professional test preparation courses. From those courses I have “cherry picked” all of the valuable lessons and test taking tips and have included those in this book.

One of the professional licenses I hold is a paramedic license. As a paramedic I have gained a much greater understanding of the anatomy and physiology of test taking. Test taking is all about the central nervous system, which of course includes the brain. However, as I explain in this book, it is clear that the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems have as much to do with passing and failing multiple choice tests as does the brain. Accordingly, I have also applied many of those principals in this book.