image courtesy of TestingTimers.com
Testing Timers recently asked College Parents of America to take a look at their aTest (ACT) and sTest (SAT) pacing/timing watches. Curious to see what some of our trusted friends would say, we accepted.
Note/Disclosure: College Parents of America was not compensated for this review, although Testing Timers did send us a pair of watches for review purposes.
College Parents of America contacted three trusted individuals to help us review the Testing Timers watches. Below are their edited remarks:
Reviewer #1: Student, L., will take the SAT next year.
I used the SAT Testing Timer watch to help with my prep this summer. I found it easy to use and useful for testing full sections. After a while, I got used to the timing of a full section and got a feeling for speeding up or slowing down according to how much time I’d used. I do wish that, for practice purposes, the watch had noise capability as an option for when the section finished instead of just flashing when a section finished. The outside progress bar was helpful, though. And I found it generally helpful in learning my timing.
Depending on how my prep continues to go, I’ll decide on whether or not I need to continue using a watch like this.
Reviewer #2: Recent test-taker, K. Scored in 99th percentile.
I had considered purchasing something like this for the test, but didn’t end up doing it. My reasoning was that, by the time I had realized such products exist, I already had my timing down, which made the product a less attractive purchase. However, after taking a few prep tests using the watch, I do wish that I had had one on test day. It would have taken a bit of the calculation of remaining time in a section out of my head and freed me up to just work. A little bit of stress relief can be helpful, depending on what kind of test-taker you are. (I’m the nervous type). I feel like this watch could have helped me signifcantly in worrying less on the exam.
Reviewer #3: Test proctor and test-prep teacher, D.
I wouldn’t typically recommend the use of these watches for prep purposes, but there are two exceptions to that. First, students who despite using good study techniques cannot master their timing. These students need some help, and that’s okay. This type of product can be a good shortcut for some of them. The second type of student that I see these as helpful for are students who didn’t slot enough study time in to master their timing. These students need a shortcut to know their limits and their pacing; a watch designed for that can be quite helpful.
As a teacher, I recently used this to proctor sections of an exam. It was fairly helpful, although I had to keep looking down at it because I knew it would flash, not make noise (presumably because no noise is allowed on watches used for the exam) when the section finished. It would be a nice option to turn sound on or off (just remember to turn it off on test day!). In addition, a five minute warning capability is a logical addition since ‘5 minutes left’ is a common announcement on test day for all sections of both the ACT and the SAT.
The major theme of our reviews is that the usefulness of the Testing Timers watches depends what type of test-taker you are and where you are in your test preparations. We heard no negative comments about its build, and all felt that it would survive the rigors of a high school student (K., in particular, noted he has a family reputation for being terribly hard on his electronics and the ACT watch came back to us no worse for the wear.). In the end, while not all of our reviewers would necessarily use the watch, all felt that it had its uses in the right situations.
Note: if you decide to purchase one of these watches, be sure to know what is and is not allowed in your particular exam room. This article explains why the aTest (ACT) and sTest (SAT) timers from Testing Timers are built as watches with stopwatch functionality but no noise or vibrate functions–for compliance with test regulations. However, some Amazon reviews noted that their particular test proctors may have incorrectly interpreted the rules on test day. This is something about which consumers need to be aware before making their decision on purchasing and then perhaps to take proactive steps to ensure that their device will be allowed on test day.