Help Students Create Achievable Test Prep Goals

Baby Steps

At the start of a new year, setting goals is all the rage. There are resolutions, social media fads (I’m looking at you, #oneword2018), and big dreams for how people will dramatically transform their lives for the better. While there is a poetic nobility to the effort, statistically speaking, these goals often fall flat.

The same can be said for students’ test prep ambitions. Students can say they hope to excel, but how many test takers actually have a feasible and actionable path for getting there? One of the most crucial jobs of a test prep professional (and in turn, an SAT or ACT test prep curriculum) is to ensure that students can both set and achieve realistic growth goals.

The importance of goal setting

Whether we reach them or not, goals matter. They provide purpose and help set plans in motion for change. They can propel us forward when we would otherwise remain stagnant.

When it comes to preparing for the SAT and ACT, goals are instrumental in giving students a clear target for their efforts. By establishing objectives based upon students’ demonstrated needs, test prep professionals can focus student efforts where they can be most productive.

However, without said guidance, a student could put in more hours of preparation than any other test-taker, but still come up short on the score report.

Ultimately, a test prep program that is not tied to some degree of personalized student goal setting isn't worth its weight compared to its competitors that are.

Target incremental improvements

Setting goals is one thing, but attaining them I another. For one of the most effective strategies in achieving goals, look no further than the American cinematic classic, What about Bob?

While the movie clearly takes a tongue-n-cheek approach to self-help, it's not entirely devoid of truth. Rather than getting overwhelmed by large, far-off objectives, it turns out that smaller, baby steps can be the “stepping-stones to larger change.”

Creating these reachable, incremental goals sets students up to experience success and to do so more often. This snowball-effect of little victory after little victory provides much more forward momentum than a single, long-term goal in isolation. With shorter-term, formative goals, it becomes easier for both tutors and students to make adjustments and corrections along the way to ensure the long-term goals can be met.

Taken further, a pattern of achieving growth objectives can help students make test prep a habit rather than merely an academic chore. Students can build upon increasingly regular successes and internalize their drive to learn as a matter of routine. A series of practice problems or a practice test that was once perceived as glorified homework is recast as a necessary vehicle for self-improvement.

It falls to test prep professionals to provide both the structures and support to make this possible.

Use data to assess and steer progress

When test prep professionals use data to direct their instruction, potentially goal-threatening trends can be identified and corrected quickly.

Setbacks are bound to happen: people get sick, emergencies pop up, sessions are missed. Rather than allowing these unexpected events to derail a student’s growth goals, rely on data and targeted effort to get things back on track.

Using an ACT or SAT test prep curriculum, like the offerings available from Clear Choice prep, makes this simple. Students engage with questions, examples, and content tailored to their own learning goals. Complicated concepts are broken down into key steps with on-demand video solutions and student-helps so that momentum is always moving forward – both during and between sessions.

To see all that the 100% custom-branded Clear Choice Prep program has to offer, schedule a quick tour and experience first-hand how a personalized, growth-focused approach can transform your business's test preparation efforts.

Schedule a Demo

The combination of differentiation, personalization, and data-driven pedagogy keeps students engaged and on track towards their goals. In the end, clients are more satisfied with their test prep experiences and your company can continue growing towards its own goals.

What role does goal-setting play in your test prep curriculum? Share your advice with our readers in the comments below!

Matt McCorkle