Saturday, May 24, 2014

Review of Testing Mom

This is my 3rd or 4th in my ongoing reviews of test prep material.  I'm generally focused on tests like the OLSAT and the COGAT.   I have a suspicion that the Naglieri or NNAT is more like the OLSAT in terms of test prepabbility, but I didn't dissect it.  To jump to my full list of recommendations, see my permanent page on the right.

Testingmom.com
I think I'm the only test prep blog that is not on the payroll of testingmom.com and the only objective one.

With 25,000 test questions, Testing Mom is the 500 pound gorilla for test prep (even though she's a petite little woman in person).

Her Story
My favorite part of Testing Mom is the story.  A mom has a kid who doesn't measure up, spends time with him every day on Cognitive Skills building activities (aka test prep), and puts him into a GAT program with an adequate mental tool set and presumably an understanding that success requires hard work and dedication.

My Story
I signed up for a year of testingmom.com in the summer of 2011.   My 3.25 year old son was about 12 months from his test date.  I was on the fence with material buying decisions and just starting this blog.  So I went online and bought everything I could find, including 12 months of testingmom.com.  At the time, this was $240.00.   (I just checked today and it's less.  I think it gets more expensive as testing season approaches.)

I spent a lot of time going through the practice tests, creating a testingmom.com curriculum and assigning a few questions to my son every night.  I kept a wall chart to track progress.  Testing Mom issues an email each day with practice questions, about 1/2 for aptitude and 1/2 for critical thinking.

During this time we also did lots of other things like reading, a math workbook and other material.  But we did lots of Testing Mom questions, including almost everything COGAT and OLSAT related on the site, and some things that were not.   We did everything all the way through the 3rd grade level.  At age 3.25, he struggle a bit, but by age 4 he would generally get everything correct without trying.   Much of the other test prep material I purchased I set aside for the following year, but testingmom.com we focused on.

We only got a 99.4% on the OLSAT and no seat in the GAT program.  Curse you testingmom.com!  Just kidding, of course.  Curse me for signing him up for the test too early.

When we took the COGAT like test at age 5 (the next year), I didn't use testingmom.com, and our 99.3% was good enough for a seat.

Testing Mom Con's
Let's start with the negatives.
  1. There are 25,000 questions.   You will be lucky if your child can do 1,500 in a year, and that's only if you are insane like me.  If you work on the wrong material, he won't learn well, and you're not an expert on the test.
  2. The material is too easy.  If the material was at the 99.8% level, which I needed, Testing Mom would lose most of her customers.  I did find quite a bit of material that was harder, but it was a small subset of the 25,000 questions.  Maybe this solves my complaint #1.
  3. While the testingmom.com material for the OLSAT will train your child for this test, it is unlikely in my opinion that the material for the COGAT will produce the cognitive skills that the COGAT test is looking for.  (Test scores generally drop dramatically from the OLSAT for K to the COGAT for 1st grade, and I think it's because the former is much easier to prep for).  
Testing Mom Pro's
These are the positives:
  1. Until the end of test prep season, I generally found material at my child's level, even if I had to go up 2 or 3 grades to get it.
  2. I don't think test prep is a good way to learn vocabulary, but Testing Mom makes a good effort.   Here's where 25,000 questions come in handy.
  3. The critical thinking questions on the email take time, and my impatient son and his impatient father just wanted to get the 5 or 10 questions out of the way each day.   I think the email might be as valuable as the test questions, and if I did this over again, we'd spend more time with the email.
My Recommendation
The best way to use testingmom.com is to sign up well in advance at a lower price and sample most of it.   It works best with tests that are easy to prep for at the younger grades, like the OLSAT (and I'm going to say the NNAT even though we didn't take it).  I don't think it works well for the COGAT and there are other alternatives.

I think I'm giving testingmom.com 2 or 3 forks, although I've never given out forks before and don't know what the scale is. There are plenty of books available to do a more careful job that don't involve a computer, which you can find here.

30 comments:

  1. Testing mom has no proven value and does not help your child be smart.

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    1. I agree that Testing Mom doesn't help your child be smart. That was my experience. But, on the other hand, it doesn't hurt either and it won't make your child dumber. It might help with question formats.

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  2. Any recs for a good site/program to help practice/prep for the CogAT? Thx!

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  3. Sorry, I had to do this all on my own. A practice book or 2 will help to prepare your child for the format, which is somewhat useful. I can't imagine a consultant taking a child from the 65% to 99%, and as far as I can tell, none of them know what Cognitive Skills are or how to teach them. But a parent can.

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  4. I signed up for the free questions and couldn't see them due to promotional video being played over the questions. Customer service never responded to my email asking for help resolving this. Lastly, soon after I signed up I received junk mail for SAT prep (for my preschooler?!) - NOT OK that they sold my address!!

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  5. Horrible experience

    I signed up for 1 month's subscription at higher price since i just wanted it for a month and the bastards auto renewed membership at that high price. Sent me receipt only for the first subscription and not for any auto renewals. When asked for refund they directed me to see the fine print on agreement that it will be auto renewed. Bad experience

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  6. Same thing happen with me as well. They charged me for almost three years and i just subscribed for 1 month. No email notice that they were charging me every month. I cancelled on their website and their website never sent any email on my cancellation and they argued that i never cancelled and they didn't refund all my money. I went to BBB but not much help from them either. This is a typical class action law suite type case for cheating customers.

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  7. Same thing happened to us. They auto renewed and re-charged after one year from the first purchase. When we called to cancel and get re-fund, the rep said she didn't have the authority to refund, and she said the manager will call us back. But never got a call from the manager. We called again, nobody answered. Called again, the rep let me hold forever when she heard I wanted to cancel and get refund. Called again, finally got someone to talk. But we were told we cannot get refund, and they said we can keep this account open for the second child to use for certain period (the remaining months of this year) when my second child is old enough to use the materials, which will be five years from now. This is really absurd. I think if we agree to do so, they will have the excuse to continue charging us without our permission for another five years or even longer. I called my credit card company to file a dispute. The bastard was very tough and still refused to refund. So the resolution for the dispute was negative. I called my credit card company again to dispute again over the resolution of the first dispute. I was told by the credit card company that we don't need to contact the vendor any more, but they will suspense the charge and we don't have to pay it. So I would suggest to work with your credit card companies and let them know this bastard vendor.

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  8. similar experience here, stay away from them. The faq on their website stated that we can cancel the membership anytime. We wanted to try the free questions, but the link never worked. So, thought we can try for a month and cancel the membership. They charged close to $107.88 for year. We hardly used their site for 2 weeks and asked them to cancel the membership. We were under the impression that they will take the one month's fee and return the remaining. Now, they are stating that our membership is good for one year and no word on their refund yet.

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  9. similar experience here, stay away from them. The faq on their website stated that we can cancel the membership anytime. We wanted to try the free questions, but the link never worked. So, thought we can try for a month and cancel the membership. They charged close to $107.88 for year. We hardly used their site for 2 weeks and asked them to cancel the membership. We were under the impression that they will take the one month's fee and return the remaining. Now, they are stating that our membership is good for one year and no word on their refund yet.

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  10. Same thing happen to us. No notice or reminder and was charged $95.88!!!! Ugh! Send an email and left a message asking them to reverse the charge!!!

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  11. Yes, as with many of the other listed victims listed, above. I just found out they are charging me monthly after an attempt to cancel. I have threatened to contact my Credit Card company,

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  12. Add my name to the list and law suit. They did the same thing to me. I signed up for 1 month, and 1 month only, at the higher price...they continued to charge me. I do read the fine print on things, but this auto-renew feature I did not see, as it is hidden in the "terms and conditions" scroll down page. Very poor sales tactics. Added to that, the questions are repetitive; we spent about 5 hours on the site and then we were done. I encourage anyone to STAY AWAY. Ironically I work in a consultative role in the education system with families; I will be vocally sharing my displeasure of this site to many individuals.

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  13. Just to echo what everyone else has pointed out, TestingMom is an autorenewal scam. If you read their Better Business Bureau profile they are piling up complaints about this practice and have hired a lawyer to produce BS responses to legitimate complaints, instead of just improving (and being more honest about) their customer service.

    In my case, I did read the fine print ahead of time (partly due to comments here) and know perfectly well that they autorenew so I'll manually cancel my subscription before I get charged again. But I've also sent 3 separate emails through their "Support" link, asking for some very simple information. ZERO response on any of them. All you get from TestingMom is access to their questions, nothing more. Some of those questions are useful, some not so much.

    Bottom line is that TestingMom has some decent material though it's more repetitive than they make it out to be, but they are focused on income generation above all else. My recommendation - buy a one month membership, download and print everything you need, and cancel immediately.

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I was planning to sign-up but after reading the reviews here I'm not sure if I should. Is the cancel process difficult? If I cancel before my membership expires, I should not have a problem, right?

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    2. I would not do it again. I agree with other comments I've read that you can do the same activities with workbooks. Terrible customer service.

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  15. Please do not waste your money. I signup and took their subscription for only one year , I didn't like it. Now they are trying to take money automatically from my credit card/account with out my permission. This is a fraud service

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  16. any other good webssite for COGAT

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    1. I've occasionally posted over the years how bad websites are in this space. No, there are no good websites for COGAT or GAT programs. That's one of the reasons I created my own.

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  17. Testing moms questions are so repetitive. It's like you are doing the same questions again and again. Apart from that, like the reviews here say, they charge you again and again. They will not even send a mail to you that you have been charged. I had bought a 6 months package and I thought Im done I didn't want to renew it but When I opened my credit card statement I realised I have been charged again. How can they use my credit card without prermission and not even bother to send me a mail!! I was so angry and I guess that's how they work. Talk about ethics!!

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  18. we signed-up during the summer to start preparing for the nyc test coming up this fall. overall, there's SO much on this web site it's almost overwhelming. i still haven't gotten through some of the programs because there is so much content. practice questions are challenging for my son and he really does like the questions. he doesn't seem to get bored until after 20 minutes - he's 4 years old so i'm happy he can sit through 20 minutes! i signed up for a full year and seems many people here complain about the auto charges. they have it plastered on the site they auto charge people . it was more than obvious to me. after the year most likely will continue if my son seems to still like it. first we'll see how he does on the NYC gifted test!

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  19. Hi,any suggestions for useful websites to prepare for ccat?

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    1. Sorry, the CCAT is a pre-employment test and my research is for children aged 3 to 10.

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  20. testingmom is not being upfront about the membership renewal, how can they charge me and not bother to send a mail that I’m charged for it! That’s more like cheating!! 99% people don’t read the terms of use, like me and end up paying again and again. It’s nice of them to auto renew our membership, seriously??!! I guess they don’t bother about customer satisfaction coz people who go once wouldn’t go back again, it’s always new parents so why would they be bothered?! They can earn this way once and double by renewing the membership without their permission!! Ethics!!

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  21. testingmom.com is cheating.that lady is very bad attitude.

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  22. Same Experience with their auto-renewal feature. They do not bother to inform their customers that they are being charged year after year. A simple email notification would have helped, if they had the intention to do it the right way. Really disgusted with their service and will not recommend it to anyone I know.

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  23. Subscribing to testingmom.com is like buying bulk subscriptions for many education programs. I was excited to get a good deal to access 2-3 programs my kid likes for the price of one. HOWEVER, there is a catch. If testingmom.com CLAIMS that you do not have activities within 30 days, your account in that program is permanently DELETED. It happened to my kid despite continuous use of the program. Can you imagine how frustrated it is for a child to lose all the hard work for the past two months? To start all over, my child had to repeat what had been practised before. I wish I had subscribed to that program DIRECTLY from the program provider instead of through testing mom.com.

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  24. Christopher LeungMay 4, 2017 at 3:14 PM

    I signed-up for testing mom, used it for the 3 months period, but they automatically renewed my "membership" at like 3 times the price. I called and they refused to refund my money - even though they acknowledged I haven't used the service since some time in February.

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  25. I was going to do this but now I am wary due to the feedback. Thank you other parents for the warnings!!!

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