1-DAY VERSUS 2-DAY VERSUS PRIVATE TESTING Which one is best for you and for your child?
Often times, a parent knows the student is doing well, and simply wants to "get the test over with" and is not really concerned with the test score, especially if their student is already performing above-average work. For them, getting an "accurate" test score is not a goal, because they do not feel they need this feedback. For these parents, and for students who work well at long stretches of time, the 1-day test is a good choice.
Other parents want their student's test score to be as accurate as possible. For these parents, the 2-day test will ensure a more accurate score, particularly if your student works a bit slower and does not like to focus for long periods of time.
Standardized Achievement Tests were never developed to give in one 3-hour stretch of time. There are 6 subtests, each of which were typically normed to students nationwide by giving one section per day. Therefore, when home school students take the test in one day, they are already at a disadvantage and are imposing a higher standard on themselves than was intended to be placed by the test developers.
For a large percentage of the home school population, this does not represent a concern. These are the students who are confident, work at above average pace, and are accurate, quick thinkers. They are also students who do well with few errors from day to day. For them, the "disadvantage" of taking the test in one 3-hour block is hardly noticeable and might be lowered by a mere 5 points at the maximum.
Other students who work slower, and tire a bit faster, could get a test score which is lowered more by fatigue. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing if a student's lower score is the result of fatigue or the result of truly not knowing the answer to the test item. The best way to "know" this is simply to remove the "fatigue factor" and give the test in shorter segments.
It is usually impractical to give 6 sub tests on 6 different days! What we can do, however, is split the session into 2 days, along with breaks, which removes the fatigue factor as much as is practical. If your student has attention difficulties, tires easily, or is easily frustrated, a 2-day test would yield more accurate results.
If your student needs to read things aloud or with subvocalizing (mumbling) is unable to do work quietly and independently, performs better when reading aloud, is highly distractible by other students who are quietly working, or has extreme test anxiety, then a private test session would be more conducive to his/her needs. If your student is functioning below grade level, a private test might be better so s/he does not have the emotional impact of sitting through a 20-minute segment staring blankly at the page, while they watch their same-aged peers managing quite successfully.
If your student is unable to read pages and pages of material successfully in a short amount of time, then a private test is recommended. Students who read at an extremely labored pace will rarely be able to perform the intended task of comprehending the entire test segment, and then reading 20 questions with 4 optional answers to choose from. These students forget the 1st answer choice before they even finish reading all choices. For these students, there are alternative decisions which can be made in the testing session which cannot be made in a group session, and parents can play an active role in making those decisions as the student progresses through the test.