By Kelley Syarto
Testing season is right around the corner for children across Virginia as they get ready to take the dreaded Standards of Learning Tests, commonly referred to as the SOLs. And though the SOLs, and other standardized tests like it, are simply a way to measure student learning—rather than a measure of self-worth or future success—children, parents, and teachers all experience anxiety during the testing process.
Unfortunately, test anxiety often doesn’t end with high school graduation. While many institutions of higher learning are dropping requirements for the SAT or ACT, most colleges and universities still determine admission based on these tests’ scores. Likewise, acceptance into graduate programs is often conditioned on tests such as the GRE, GMAT, MCAT, and LSAT. And many occupations require tests for licensure or certification, such as the PRAXIS for teachers, the 473 Postal Exam, real estate licensing exams, and the ASVAB for U.S. Army soldiers.
Prep, prep, prep!
So, how to get over test anxiety? The first, and most important, step is preparation. And this is where we can help! Prince William Public Libraries have test preparation materials in the physical collection as well as great resources online in the Digital Library.
For school-age children taking the SOLs, we have subject guides that allow your child to work on areas in need of help. Two book series—Support Coach and Ladders to Success 2—target reading and math. We also have SOL study guides for most SOL tests, including: reading and math, grades three through eight; science and writing, grades five and eight; Virginia and U.S. history, grade 8; as well as high school science (biology, chemistry, and earth science) and history (world history and geography, both pre-1500 A.D. and 1500 A.D. to the present). Each guide contains strategies for studying and test-taking and two practice tests with answers and explanations to help your child feel more confident on test day. Also, you can access additional content at the publisher’s website by visiting the URL located in the back of the book.
In fact, we have print copies of most test preparation guides—including college admissions, occupational exams, and many more—from trusted names, such as Kaplan, Barron’s, Peterson’s, and The Princeton Review. We even have preparation kits for the U.S. Citizenship test.
Using your library card on our Digital Library, you have access to two great resources in our Digital Library: the Testing and Education Reference Center and the Learning Express Library.
The Testing and Education Reference Center is “powered by Peterson’s.” Peterson’s is a well-known publisher of test preparation guides, as well as guides to two- and four-year colleges, graduate schools, grants and scholarships, and many other higher education and occupational guides. This is where the Testing and Education Reference Center shines. It has study guides and test preparation materials, including practice tests, for all major standardized exams. But it also includes a very robust college search function, with the ability to narrow choices based on the importance of factors such as campus life, academics, and more. You can also search for nursing programs, distance learning programs, and scholarships. You will even find guides to assist you in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
An advantage of the Learning Express Library is that it has skills improvement sections for people of all ages. This site is divided into centers, including Career Preparation, High School Equivalency, College Admissions Test Preparation, School, Adult Core Skills, and Recursos Para Hispanohablantes. The School Center has practice tests for math and reading comprehension at the Elementary, Middle School, and High School levels. Additionally, the Middle School and High School levels include writing and grammar, vocabulary, social studies, technology, high school science, and geography. Resources for Spanish speakers includes practice to improve reading, writing, speaking, and grammar, along with preparation for the U.S. Citizenship Exam. The Learning Express Library contains too much information to describe here, so we encourage you to explore the numerous study guides; practice tests for all major standardized exams; and advice for career tools such as resume writing, interviewing, and interning.
To locate both resources, just look for Test Prep in our Digital Library at pwcgov.org/library.
Finally, if all you really need to prepare for that upcoming test is a quiet place to study, we have that too! Chinn Park, Haymarket Gainesville, and Montclair libraries all have group study rooms available for reserving online at pwcgov.org/library.
We hope to see you soon at the library!