Test-Prep Made Easy (Really): The Stimulus Effect Expands Student-Centered Test-Prep Services through May and June 2012

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It’s that time of year. The sun shines a little brighter. The birds chirp a little louder. And, students squirm a little bit more. Yeah, it seems nothing puts more of a chill in the light, spring air than anxiety over the SATs, GREs, state tests, and other standardized exams. But, maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. From what these students say, The Stimulus Effect’s test-prep tutoring can actually make standardized tests (get ready for this) fun.

The best thing was they made it cool...It'll sound weird, but I think I'll actually have fun taking the test.

It’s that knot in the stomach. It’s the sweaty palms. It’s that abject feeling of fear. Is it a scary movie? Is it a haunting nightmare? Not quite, but some might say pretty close—it’s standardized tests. Amid the relaxing breezes and warm sunshine of spring, many students around the country are horribly anxious about the SATs, GREs, state exams, and other standardized tests that in large part determine students’ future course. But, through expanding its customized, online, and in-person tutoring services through May and June, The Stimulus Effect’s students won’t feel daunted by the tests; they’ll actually feel confident.

“It was the most nerve-wracking time for me,” says Zach, a high-school senior in Bergen County, NJ who first took the SATs last May. “It’s just that so much is based on how you do on it. But after a few sessions, it wasn’t so scary. I knew I could do great…I raised my score almost 100 points.” Lindsay--a young marketing professional in Boston, MA--echoed Zach’s sentiments. “Not only is there so much pressure attached to the tests to begin with, but it's also the questions and format…It can make anyone feel stupid, and I did horribly my first time. I knew I needed help. Through the sessions my tutor would identify keywords and give me tips about navigating passages and doing calculations efficiently. I increased my score by over 60 points.” “The best thing was they made it cool. My tutor made funny little stories for paragraphs and rhymes for the math problems. It made it seem easy…I felt confident after,” says Beverly, a 9th-grader in New York, NY who received tutoring for the state tests through The Stimulus Effect. “It’ll sound weird, but I think I’ll actually have fun taking the test.”

It seems that a formatted program that is tailored to not only strengthening fundamental skills, but also engaging students and taking the “mysticism” out of standardized tests is what has helped The Stimulus Effect guide students to excellence. “Of course these tests are challenging; but, they are designed for students to be able to show off their understanding and knowledge. Essentially, the questions cover areas that they already know. On top of that, the answers are already there. What does that mean? For comprehension, the answers simply lie in critical phrases and sentences in the passage. For math, the questions hint at which formulas and methods need to be used. Even for writing, referring back to the prompts and discussing relevant topics with which one is familiar facilitates the process. Essentially, our services are designed to take the mystery out of exams.” These are some other aspects of The Stimulus Effect’s test-prep tutoring:

  •     Decoding problems and passages so students can arrive at answers efficiently
  •     Customized exercises aimed at helping students overcome skill gaps
  •     Comprehensive review across prep guides and textbooks for maximum exposure
  •      Frequent assessments and progress updates to ensure achievement of goals
  •     Tailored independent exercises between sessions to boost confidence

Along with these benefits, The Stimulus Effect offers tutoring before and after school, on weekends, and even during vacations to provide students with the help they need at times that are convenient.

Have these services worked for a variety of students? “We work with students who have significantly underperformed on these tests, and also those who need a little edge to be accepted into the schools or programs of their choice,” Ms. Phenyo says. “With SAT scores, our average increase in math is about 65 points and for verbal it’s about 60 points (please see the featured graph). We’re working each day—by providing even more rigorous exercises, and offering students opportunities to work more independently from the beginning of the program—to make those averages higher.”

The SATs and other standardized tests still inspire fear for many (even years after taking them). But, with The Stimulus Effect’s services, summer doesn’t have to be the only thing students look forward to.

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Arziki Phenyo
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