Standardized testing is an essential and inescapable fact of academic life.

Unfortunately, many students receive artificially low scores that give an unfairly negative impression of their academic abilities – not because they aren't capable students – but because they don't know how to correctly approach the task of taking a standardized test. Most of these students, without realizing it, make simple strategic errors that can have a disastrous effect on their test scores and, as a result, on the educational opportunities made available to them.

Fortunately, it's possible, in a relatively short period of time, to learn the ropes of standardized test taking. Students can be taught to adopt simple, powerfully effective test taking strategies and train skills that allow them to optimize performance on standardized tests. This "strategic approach" enables students to make the most of the knowledge they already have, and can mean the difference between disappointing scores and real success on assessments like the ACT, SAT, PSAT, SSAT, etc.

Borland Educational Test Strategy Workshops are complete courses, packed with dynamite test taking info, materials, tips, tricks, strategies, exercises, and assignments to help students blast through test taking barriers and achieve outstanding scores.

For example, did you know that

  • Choosing to work on fewer hard questions – and then slowing down – makes each section of the typical standardized test shorter, easier, less stressful, and more productive for nearly every student?
  • Guessing is usually a good idea – but should be done differently on math questions than on verbal questions?
  • The hardest math questions can be among the easiest to guess correctly?
  • Points can be earned on analogy and synonym questions without knowing the words?
  • Learning to fill in bubbles the smart way can significantly improve one’s score?

These are just a few of the many tricks of the trade that students learn to apply in Borland Educational Test Strategy Workshops.

Other highlights include

  • How and why standardized tests differ from ordinary tests and demand a radically different test taking approach and focus in short-term preparation
  • Key general test taking tips and strategies, including: "Choose Your Battles," "Two Pass Approach," "Marking System," "Process of Elimination," and the critical importance of understanding how your test is scored
  • When and how to guess: the role of intuition, "Gut Guessing," using a "Guessing Machine," and knowing when not to guess
  • Specific strategies for handling typical standardized test math questions
  • A simple "Plan B" that enables average students to answer many of the toughest math questions with ease
  • Math that Matters: easy-to-learn speed techniques for estimation, percents, fast fractiots, and mental calculation
  • Effective strategies for attacking sentence completion, reading, writing, synonym, and analogy questions
  • A simple exercise that can improve reading comprehension scores in less than 10 minutes a day, and helpful suggestions for slower readers
  • The many benefits of long-term prep for standardized tests, and how to best profit
  • The best off-the-shelf test prep books and guides to use

But with so many other test taking programs, private teachers, and test prep books from which to choose, why should you go with Chris Borland and Borland Educational?

Powerful, Effective Approach

Success on “provide the answer” tests, the kind students take routinely in school, depends almost entirely on subject knowledge and very little on strategy. However, high scores on “pick the answer” tests (like the ACT, SAT, SSAT, etc.) depend in roughly equal amounts on subject knowledge and test taking acumen.

While little or nothing can be done to meaningfully improve one’s command of mathematics or the English language in just several hours, a lot can be done in the same short time to learn powerful test taking techniques and strategies that can dramatically increase standardized test scores.

Of course, mastery of test content is required to maximize scores on standardized tests, and long-term work focused on filling knowledge gaps is highly recommended.

However, many test courses, private teachers, and workbooks take a mostly content-based approach to short-term test prep, attempting to rapidly boost scores by quickly improving students' underlying math and verbal skills. While "drill and kill" cramming may make students feel better prepared for the test, it cannot and does not take the place of diligent, disciplined academic preparation year after year in school. Instead of becoming more able to achieve a high score, students often develop false confidence and are disappointed in the results.

By contrast, the strategic approach to standardized test taking is designed to enable students to make the utmost of the math, verbal, and writing skills they’ve already acquired in school and offers a far better chance of markedly improved performance in the short term. Teaching students to adopt the strategic approach is the best way to quickly and dramatically increase standardized test scores, and this is the entire purpose of Borland Educational Test Strategy Workshops.

Unique, Specialized Materials

Students get access to an immense library of official standardized tests, specialized notes and strategy outlines, study sheets and practice exercises, worksheets and tracking forms, lists and appendices, along with other proprietary Borland Educational resources.

Individualized Programs

Each student is unique and comes to the table with a different set of test taking strengths and weaknesses. Every Borland Educational Test Strategy Workshop is customized to meet the particular needs of individual students.

LOTS of Test Taking Practice, Practice, Practice!

Practice with official tests is key, and each student enrolled takes numerous mini-tests and full-length practice tests. Students are taught to record and interpret test results, critique each performance, analyze errors, and keep and review specialized lists and notes of things they can do to improve.

Experienced, Professional Instructor

Chris Borland is a well-known and respected professional academic coach and test prep specialist, the longest-practicing professional tutor in the greater San Francisco Bay Area (since 1978). As a career private educator for more than 45 years, Chris has conducted more than 25,000 instructional sessions for over 1,500 private students, and has taught hundreds of courses in standardized test preparation for schools, student groups, and individuals in the Bay Area and elsewhere.

Flexible, Customized Scheduling

Test strategy workshops typically comprise 6-12 hours of instruction divided into several 90-minute segments, and are offered to individuals and groups of all sizes. Specific days and hours can be flexibly arranged around school hours, family schedules, and vacations. Sessions are held at students’ homes or online via Zoom.

Better Value

Although similar courses offer far less, they can cost much more.


Comments like these have come from parents and students about the benefits of participating in Borland Educational Test Strategy Workshops:

“I met with Chris for five sessions and my mindset, problem-solving skills, and comfort level with the SAT increased tenfold. I was accepted into my top schools, including several Ivy League universities.”

"My daughter met with Chris only a few times before taking the SAT Math Subject Test, Level 2 … and achieved her goal, a perfect 800."

"… her ACT score increased from a 30 on her practice test to a 34 on her first real ACT.

“Our son ... was having a tough time with the SSAT, continuing to score in the 50th percentile range despite months of workbooks, online course study etc. After only seven sessions with Chris, he scored in the 94th percentile! In reading comp alone he went from 45th to 97th!"

“I finally got an SAT score that I could send to colleges. I wish I never even had wasted my time with Ivy West and Kaplan.”

“Our son’s SSAT score improved 44 percentile points. He was accepted into his dream school, Thacher.”

“With Chris’s help, I was able to achieve a higher SAT score than I originally thought was possible."

"Our daughter scored beyond her goal on the ACT, in her first attempt.”

“Now, years later, the same standardized test-taking skills that Chris taught me for the PSAT and SAT are helping me immensely in my LSAT prep.”

"Chris Borland guided my daughter toward a new confidence about her capacity to achieve … realized in her SAT scores which jumped hundreds of points.”

“You did great with Kelsey … as reflected in her Stanford 9 testing. Her score for Total Math went from the 23rd percentile to the 66th percentile. Math procedures went from the 32nd percentile to the 80th.”

“Jade's SSAT score increased 50 percentile points.”

“I really liked the strategies and all the practice tests we took. They helped me a lot.”

"Worth the investment!"

Borland Educational offers schools, groups, and families an excellent value.

And ... It's FUN!

We all learn best when we’re having fun. Courses are conducted in a light and entertaining way, and the enjoyment of all involved is a top priority. Students are excited to discover how much they can do to raise their own test scores, and the primary goal is to make the courses fun and interesting, as well as informative and transformative, for each one.

Contact Chris here to schedule a Borland Educational Test Strategy Workshop for your student, student group, school, or organization.