Course Spotlight: 5 Modernized Test Prep Features to Help Students Succeed
Each year, millions of students worldwide prepare to take one of the biggest tests of their lives: a higher education admissions exam. Depending on the country and university, an admissions exam can be a prerequisite for attending college, graduating from high school, or receiving academic scholarships. Traditionally, students have spent hours poring over prep books or cramming with a tutor – but now admissions prep is going digital.
In our feature series on digital learning for different course types, we look at how a platform like BenchPrep can make the admissions prep experience more engaging and effective for tomorrow’s co-eds.
Why is it so important for students to prepare thoroughly for these tests?
Admissions tests help determine the trajectory of a person’s education and, ultimately, their career. In the U.S., people who hold college degrees earn an average of $1 million more over their lifetimes than those who only have a high school education. Acing the admissions exam is the first step toward getting into college, earning a degree, and finding a personally and financially rewarding job.
It’s important for students to perform well the first time they take these exams, because:
- Testing opportunities are limited. Admissions exams are typically given just a few times a year, if that. Learners who do poorly on the test may not have another chance to take it for months, delaying their educational plans.
- Testing is expensive. Exam fees are often costly, so the fewer times a learner needs to take a test, the better.
- Time is money. Exam and prep fees aren’t the only cost associated with admissions tests. Preparing for the exam multiple times forces students to put their education on hold, creating an opportunity cost for them while their fellow students advance.
How have learners traditionally prepared for admissions tests?
Admissions test prep has traditionally been available in these formats:
- Prep books with instructional content and practice exams
- Open education resources, like Khan Academy or Quizlet
- Classroom courses (both in person and online)
- Private tutoring
- Website study resources from the company administering the exam
In addition to teaching learners about admissions exam content, these prep courses can offer crucial strategies for navigating the exam more efficiently. Traditional prep resources present several challenges to today’s learners, however. Classes and private tutoring can be out of reach financially for low-income learners, creating an uneven playing field at test time. For students used to instant access to information and tools on their phones, textbooks or even online worksheets and books can also be inconvenient and difficult to digest.
How can a digital approach enhance the admissions test prep experience?
As the only comprehensive learner success platform, BenchPrep helps admissions testing organizations modernize the prep experience to meet modern learner needs. Our solution combines personalized learning with on-demand access, enabling BenchPrep partners like ACT to deliver a more effective, engaging prep experience.
The results are undeniable: ACT found that students who used its BenchPrep-powered prep course extensively scored 32 percent higher on the ACT exam than those who didn’t. Students also give the ACT Online Prep program high marks, ranking it as the most engaging ACT prep course available.
When building admissions test prep courses on the BenchPrep platform, we recommend focusing on both the test content and structure. In addition to providing instructional materials, our admissions prep courses are heavy on assessments and offer plenty of tips to help students improve their exam score.
BenchPrep’s admissions prep courses go beyond traditional learning management system capabilities and include all of the following features to create a fully comprehensive learning ecosystem for learners:
- Customized study plans. The study plan organizes all educational content into bite-sized lessons, while omnichannel accessibility allows students to study whenever they have a few minutes and still make progress toward their goal. As they move through the course, students can see their predicted exam score and areas where they need to focus their time. Students can choose from a standard plan or an adaptive plan, which organizes the course based on each learner’s individual strengths and weaknesses.
- Mock exams. To help students prepare for the big day, prep courses feature simulated exams that mimic the scoring, timing, structure and topic weighting of the actual admissions test. The timed conditions help students learn how to work efficiently: Which questions can they answer right away? Which ones should they devote more time to, or even skip? Armed with that information, students can go into the exam more confident and ready to perform.
- Actionable data. Robust data capabilities show each student how they’re performing throughout the course. By understanding their own strengths and weaknesses, students can spend their time wisely, both during their prep and the exam itself. For areas where students aren’t as confident, BenchPrep offers remedial content to fill in the gaps.
- Fun and games. Leaderboards, badges, and knowledge points introduce an element of friendly competition to keep students engaged. Our admissions prep courses come with seven games to make memorizing flashcards and completing practice questions feel less like a chore. At any point, a user can take a break and play a game – and still be learning.
- Learning goes social. Since so many students are typically preparing for these exams at the same time, BenchPrep gives them a way to connect and collaborate. Students can ask questions or share tips in private or community groups, helping to build confidence and readiness for the big day.