Options abundant for test preparation

By Meghan O'Kelly

With the beginning of a new school year, many students are taking action in pursuit of their future plans. For some, this means taking the respective admissions exam for their post-undergraduate school applications.

The University Testing Center, 610 E. John St., administers many of these exams, including the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

In order to prepare, some students elect to take classroom or online test preparation courses, work with a private tutor or purchase books. Kaplan Test Preparation, 616 E. Green St., provides students with all of these resources.

Mary Ann Sanchez is area director of the Champaign and West Lafayette, Ind., Kaplan centers. Many students struggle with self-discipline when it comes to preparing for exams, she said.

“The biggest reason is that the course will give you the structure you’re looking for,” Sanchez said. “We’re going to help you with reducing the test anxiety that students normally get from the exam.”

She explained that Kaplan’s Higher Score Guarantee for its classroom and private tutoring services demonstrates the company’s confidence in its practices.

“If a student doesn’t feel ready to take the exam, we say, ‘Go ahead and prepare with us for the next test date, and sit in on the class for free,'” Sanchez said. She added that the guarantee applies to students only if they had good attendance and completed the assigned homework in their initial course.

Collin Delaney, graduate assistant in LAS, advises pre-law students. He said that self-study is a realistic option for students that do not want to front the thousands of dollars for private test preparation help.

“It’s very much training your brain to think logically,” he said, explaining that the LSAT is unique because it is subjective and analytical. “Theoretically, if you study on your own like you would in the class, you’ll statistically do the same.”

The Princeton Review is another campus option for students who choose to pay for test preparation help. According to the Princeton Review Web site, class sizes are limited and texts and materials are included in the initial class cost. The Princeton Review also guarantees that students will be satisfied with their score.

Soojae Lee, junior in LAS, will begin her weekly Kaplan MCAT review course at the end of the month and plans to take the test next summer. She considered buying books to prepare but followed the advice of friends and signed up for the class last month.

“I heard it helps a lot, and I need help with the chemistry,” Lee said. “There are some things I can’t study on my own.”

Abbie Broga, director of the Testing Center, encourages students to sign up early, especially for the GRE.

“As staff in the testing center, we have no knowledge of the content of the exam, nor are we able to talk to students about the content,” she said, explaining that the University doesn’t offer test preparation services and only proctors the exams. “I think students come in hoping to do well, and I think for the most part they do.”