standardized test prep toolsYour college-bound teen doubtless will have to take a barrage of standardized tests as part of the admissions process. You want him to excel. You want to give him the tools to do so. What will he need?

Review Courses

“You must practice because you must become test-comfortable,” says Roz Silverstein, a retired guidance counselor with a 30-year track record. But that doesn’t mean every student has to take a commercial test-prep course. Every student is different, she explains.

“My son said, ‘If I don’t take a course, I won’t discipline myself to practice,’ but my daughter said, ‘Why take a course? I’ll do practice tests and familiarize myself with the format.’”

A course, Silverstein says, “can teach you what you don’t know and focuses on nuances of how to take the test.”

If your child opts for the do-it-yourself route, make sure she takes practice tests timed like the actual tests. Grade the tests, noting areas where she went wrong. Doing so, Silverstein says, will help her identify what she doesn’t know so she can learn it.

Two courses to look into: Kaplan Test Prep and Princeton Review.

Old-School Reading

When it comes to standardized tests, Silverstein says, it’s all about comprehending the material. “The core of what’s important is reading and clarifying errors,” she explains. So she suggests that parents encourage their children to read—the actual original material. “Cliffs Notes have taken away that diligence and ability to follow and respond to the threads of a story,” she says. 

A great test-specific book:  How to Write a Killer SAT Essay in 25 Minutes or Less (Tom Clements; Hit ’Em Up Publishing; $19.95)

Six crucial online resources to prepare students for the SAT, ACT, and more—>


Digital Resources

Many online platforms can help your student prepare for the SAT, ACT, and more.


The Knewton Adaptive Learning Platform customizes standardized educational content to meet the unique needs of each student. Knewton analyzes learning materials based on thousands of data points—including concepts, structure, difficulty level, and media format—and uses sophisticated algorithms to piece together the perfect bundle of content for each student, constantly.


Online courses feature content from world-renowned publishers, interactive study tools, detailed diagnostic reports, innovative social collaboration features, and free mobile access. BenchPrep courses cover hundreds of review modules, flashcards, practice questions, videos, tutorials, quizzes, and practice tests. Its courses are available on the Web, and on the iPhone, Android, and iPad. Cross-platform technology enables students to switch among the devices.

College Board

For SAT prep, why not go to the source? The company that produces the SAT, The College Board, offers free practice features and others for which there’s a charge. Its free, full-length practice test gets scored immediately, and there are additional free sample practice questions. Your teen can enroll in an “Official SAT Question a Day” email service (also free). Its study guide with DVD is $31.99; the online course, with 10 tests, 18 interactive lessons, and personalized essay scoring, is $69.95.

More trusted digital resources for test prep—>



Its solutions target the high-school age curriculum, including math, science, SAT, ACT, and AP subjects. Some of its products are free, and some are paid. For instance, Brightstorm Math and Brightstorm Science videos are free and cover every topic in Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Precalculus, Trigonometry, Calculus, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Its paid products include tools like Math Homework Checker and test prep programs for the SAT, ACT, and several AP courses. There also are practice quizzes, downloadable materials, full-length practice exams, and more.


An adaptive, personalized learning program for the GMAT, SAT, ACT, GRE, and other tests, Grockit lets students study online any time of day, from anywhere there’s Internet access. It predicts their score based on their answers and tracks their performance and improvements, projecting accurate score improvements. A three-day free trial is available.


Founded by two Princeton grads, ePrep helps students of all ability levels. Its “test-grade-review” methodology and a proprietary online, video-based delivery platform make connecting with an expert affordable and possible, anytime and from virtually anywhere in the world.

In the press to succeed, don’t forget to give your child some breathing room. Stress and anxiety are the enemies of “test comfort.” Setting aside time for relaxing—whether through athletics, a favorite hobby, or socializing—is as crucial to test prep as studying and practicing. Those relaxation techniques will put your child in a better frame of mind on test days.

What other tools has your teen found useful in preparing for the SATs or other college entrance exams?