Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Another Review of Testing Mom

I'm trying to address 2 important issues about testing mom.   #1 Why do I get so many negative comments about this website and #2 should you spend the time and money.

I'll take the issue about complaints because it is easier.  Testing Mom uses a subscription model with automatic recharge (according to the complainees).  There is also a price differential between testing season and the off season.  

When I used it, I ;prepaid a whole year in the offseason.   That solved both of the problems above.   Testingmom advertises 20,000 questions.  A child isn't going to get through 20,000 questions in a month.

The second issue is whether or not to buy it.  Let's walk through a decision tree.

Step 1 - Will You Use It
First, will you use it?  Can you and your 4 or 5 year old sit through 20 to 30 minutes of a complicated work sheet?  Does he do most of it on his own?  Will he do this 4 or 5 times a week?   Or are you a wreck during this process?

One complaint I hear frequently is "I bought testingmom, but we barely used it."  Why don't you try something like ixl.com - do harder material and do it 20 minutes a day.  You can use the ixl.com site for free up to 10 or so questions per day.  If this works, then you've passed Step 1. By the way, doing super hard material on ixl.com is not incompatible with test prep.  (ixl.com provides a few questions each day for free.) If you like ixl.com, you can come back to it after the test and buy a subscription.

Step 2 - Will it Work
It didn't occur to me that testingmom might be incompatible with my test prep goals until I spent six months practicing with a 2 foot high stack of testingmom test questions.  By that point, we were probably in the 90-95 percentile range.  This might be good enough for some people, but we needed to get into the 99.8% range or higher.

My neighbor recently got their child into the same school as my son without begging me for advice weekly. I'm personally offended.  I talked to them 2 years ago, when we were right in the middle of test prep hell and that's probably all I talked about, so I gave them the 60 minute version when I noted that there son was precocious.   They home schooled him for Kindergarten, advanced on reading by about 2 or 3 years, advanced in math at least a year.  That was it.

I hear from a lot of parents who just read a lot to their child - and encouraged their child to learn to read at a young age.  They did nothing else.  That's exactly what we did (with lots of test prep as an insurance policy).

What I've discovered the hard way is that 1 good question that takes 20 minutes of really thought and exploration is good test prep, and 100 questions that your child can zip through and get mostly correct is really bad test prep.

I think of testingmom as the first semester of test prep.   A few months before the test, we switched to ridiculously hard oddball brain teasers that I found in a variety of places.   I expected about 50% correct.  If you are subscribing to testingmom a month before the test, cover the intro material and skip right to the really hard questions related to the test you are going to take.  You will find these on the site, just not 20,000 of them.

Again, this has turned out to be a weasley recommendation that is not a definitive yes or no.  


  1. Hello - my little one will take NNAT in about a year and COGAT in two years. I know little about these tests and wondering where to start and not sure when would be a good time to start studying. This summer should I start with COGAT books (because this is much more difficult and takes longer to prep??) or NNAT testingmom perhaps?

    1. I recommend that you start right away with Building Thinking Skills and lots of reading. You have plenty of time, so feel free to do a year of math as well. If you study COGAT, do some every 6 months - the time delay helps learning. I don't have any recommendations for the NNAT, but there are lots of books out there because it's hard to copyright the material. Testingmom might not be suitable because it's a monthly subscription.

    2. Thank you. Extremely helpful.