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Tutoring and test prep: What parents of teens need to know

Back-to-school time is already here, and for high school students, that means more than just returning to campus.

Fall is the time when many aspiring college students take the SAT or the ACT, in addition to loading up their class schedule with Advanced Placement (AP) courses. With so much pressure on students to do well, does your child need academic support?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in October 2011, 68.3 percent of 2011 high school graduates were enrolled in colleges or universities. Of these students, 91.9 percent were full-time students. With the majority of high school students moving on to college, the competition for admission is tougher than ever. Giving your child academic assistance through tutoring or test prep may be that last little push that assures he or she will receive college acceptance letters.

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Know when to step in

How do you know when your child may need extra help? Revolution Prep, an educational software and services provider, has compiled a list of ten student behaviors that may indicate a need for academic assistance.

  1. She’s doing everything right, but still doesn’t understand the material or concepts.
  2. She wants to keep her GPA high, even when taking AP classes.
  3. No matter how much she crams for tests, the results aren’t as good as they should be.
  4. She seems motivated to score better on tests and quizzes.
  5. Your child is so busy with sports, band, and other extracurriculars, she can’t find time to do her schoolwork.
  6. There is parental pressure to perform better.
  7. Your child has AP testing anxiety and wants to achieve the highest score possible.
  8. She has trouble concentrating in class or on homework.
  9. Your child feels confused in the classroom, and even when the teacher explains things and your child still doesn’t understand.
  10. She needs to score well on the SAT or ACT to get into her first choice school, but didn’t make the minimum score on her PSAT or practice tests.

“Most parents don’t know that a student needs help until they show up with a poor grade on their first exam or assignment,” according to Ramit Varma, co-founder of Revolution Prep. “However, there are ways to figure out much earlier if a student will likely need additional academic support.” Varma suggests that parents focus on three points to determine whether their child will struggle in a specific class.


Some teachers are known to be harder graders, and others may assign a heavier homework load.


As students take on tougher academics and their extracurricular activities get busier, keeping up with schoolwork may become more difficult.

Past history

If a student has struggled in a subject in the past, it is likely that they may need more support in future classes in the same subject.

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Who should be taking AP courses?

Many parents may encourage their students to take AP courses in high school to help them get into the college of their choice, butt are AP courses something that every high school student should attempt? Many students think that taking AP courses is only for the most highly-academic students.

“While AP courses are typically quite challenging, they certainly aren’t only for the most highly-academic students,” says Varma. “Students of all levels can choose to take these courses to challenge themselves to learn college-level content, and get early exposure to what college courses are like.” With the highly academic coursework students will experience in an AP course, it is essential that parents stay on top of how their child is doing in order to help them succeed.

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Bottom line

By asking your child questions about their classwork and staying involved, you can help them get the assistance they need to succeed in high school and beyond.

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