Will studying actually improve my score?
Yes. Over the past decade, I have consistently seen that students who study for the ACT/SAT improve their scores. (Next month, I will share my top tips for improving test scores.)
The belief that test scores cannot be improved through practice reflects a fixed mindset (a term coined by education researcher Carol Dweck). Students with a fixed mindset believe that success is a reflection of innate ability, rather than something that can be achieved through hard work. They are more likely to avoid challenging tasks, because they are afraid of “proving” that they are not smart enough.
“Failure is an important part of your growth and developing resilience. Don’t be afraid to fail.”
Fortunately, a fixed mindset does not have to stay “fixed.” Students can learn to view their learning through a growth mindset lens. Students with a growth mindset believe that test scores can improved through hard work and persistence. They are more likely to persist through challenges, and to see success or failure as a reflection of the level of effort.
What Parents Can Do
How can you, as a parent, instill a growth mindset in your student?
- Encourage effort, instead of praising intelligence. The research on praise shows that it is most helpful/ least harmful when parents give praise that is genuine, specific, and tied to effort. For ideas on how to frame/word praise, check out this feedback tool, created by Carol Dweck’s Mindset Works.
- Ask your student about how they have improved, so they can reflect on their own progress.
- Strategize with your student about how they can improve their test scores. Show confidence that you believe they can excel through hard work and persistence.