How to choose a review center for college entrance tests (and senior high admission and placement exams)
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Enrolling in a review center offers many benefits for college aspirants hoping to ace their college entrance tests, and for that matter, senior high school placement exams. Once you’ve decided to study for college entrance tests with the help of a review center, the next thing to do is to choose from among the many competing options. I’ve written an overview of the review centers popular among college entrance test takers.
Here are a few factors to consider when choosing a review center:
Reputation and track record
Don’t just choose any review center for its proximity and low fees. Location and cost are important, but not as much as the reputation of the review center. Does the center have proper business registration? You don’t want to deal with fly-by-night operators. Does the review center have an impressive track record of producing successful applicants? Ask around. From your school’s alumni to Facebook groups, there are plenty of folks who can share their personal experiences with the review centers you’re considering.
Qualified and caring teachers
Coaches of reputable review centers are exam top-notchers themselves or have excellent academic records from the country’s best universities. In fact, having alumni from, say, the University of the Philippines, among their coaching roster is a major bragging point for review centers. But don’t be enticed by academic qualifications alone. You’ll want your coaches to understand how important the college entrance test is to you and to treat coaching like a personal mission instead of just something that pays the bills. Caring coaches make sure you understand the lessons and nobody is left behind.
No matter how many reviewers you’ve cracked open or practice tests you’ve taken, it always seems like it’s never enough. That’s where feedback, given in regular intervals, helps. A good review center will give a pre-test or diagnostic test to help identify the learner’s strengths and weaknesses and proceed with the lessons accordingly. Evenly spaced mock or simulated tests are extremely useful when tracking the learner’s progress and correct any gaps in knowledge or skill. Never settle for a review center that doesn’t provide mock or simulated tests.
Updated review materials
Highly regarded review centers have their own review materials that have been prepared by in-house subject matter experts and coaches. These review materials must be periodically updated to reflect any changes in exam coverage, format, or level of difficulty. Additionally, the review materials must be relevant to the test you’re taking. There can be small but significant differences in the college entrance tests of various universities.
For instance, the De La Salle University’s College Admission Test (DCAT) is said to include a question or two pertaining to practical research methods. The Ateneo de Manila’s College Entrance Test (ACET), on the other hand, focuses on the applicant’s English Language and Mathematics competencies and is given under extreme time pressure.
Test-taking tips and tricks
Having an arsenal of test-taking tips and tricks is half the battle. From properly pacing yourself to be able to answer all the questions to choosing the most likely correct option when you have to guess, there are shortcuts and techniques to minimize error and maximize your chances of passing. A good review center can also advice you on effective studying techniques and the importance of taking a break from time to time.
With the availability of online review programs, the location of the review center now matters less than it did before. However, many students prefer face-to-face instruction because in this setting, it’s easier to understand the lesson, stay focused, and ask the coach if there are any doubts than in an online set-up. You shouldn’t have to travel far to go to a well-reputed review center. There are review centers strategically located all over the metro. Choose a review center that’s accessible to public transport and close enough that you don’t reach home too tired to remember what you’ve just reviewed.
Some review centers charge more than others. Although the program fees include the review materials in most review centers, you may be tempted to buy more if you hear others are doing the same. The fear of missing out is strong in review center enrollees. Add the cost of commuting to and from the center (and snacks if you can’t study on an empty stomach) then it all starts to add up. But there are ways to bring down the cost of enrolling in a review center.
If you come from a public school, you may be eligible for a discount. Invite enough number of students to join you and you may get a group discount. Ask about early-bird specials.
Remember that higher fees don’t guarantee quality. Ultimately it’s up to you and how hard you’re willing to work to achieve your goal.