If you’re considering going back to school later in life, you’re not alone. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 1/3 of students attending college full-time are considered “adult” students, meaning that they’re older than 35. Like many older students, however, it’s probably been a while since you have taken a class – and if the college you’re enrolling in requires placement testing to determine your skill level, you may be worried that your knowledge isn't up to par. To help you brush up on your skills, consider these tactics.
Seek Campus Help
Before you take your college placement test, talk to the folks at your college. Chances are, your college provides a learning center or resources that will help you prepare for your placement test. Many colleges recognize the challenges that can come with attending college as an adult and, as such, provide resources for older students.
Complete Practice Test
Before you undergo the “real thing,” consider taking a practice test first. Sample placement tests will help you discover where your strong and weak points are, and they can easily be found online with a simple Internet search. For example, reading, writing and math sample tests can be found online through the University of Maryland and a sample writing placement test can be located through Rose State College.
Take Free Open Source Classes
If it’s been several decades since you’ve completed an algebraic equation or written an essay, consider enrolling in an open source course. Open source courses are virtual non-college credit courses, typically offered by major universities for free. For example, top-name schools like MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Yale all offer open source courses on a variety of mathematical topics. Likewise, professors from schools such as Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford provide open source English and writing courses. Some open sources courses require registration and enrollment, while others are accessible via YouTube or Apple’s iTunesU.
Find a Tutor
If you’d prefer human contact to virtual learning, consider hiring a tutor to help you through the finer points of placement testing. Both private tutors and tutoring centers can provide you with help when it comes to standardized testing. Try asking your chosen school to recommend a tutor or direct you to its campus tutoring center. If you have school-age children, you could also ask one of their teachers for a tutoring recommendation. Your child’s teacher may know of someone who teaches at the high school level who can help you prepare for your test – or she may offer to help you herself!
Jennifer Brozak earned her state teaching certificate in Secondary English and Communications from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., and her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Pittsburgh. A former high school English teacher, Jennifer enjoys writing articles about parenting and education and has contributed to Reader's Digest, Mamapedia, Shmoop and more.