Chess Versus the Threat of College Prep

By Alycia Steelman, Founder of Ascension Educational Services

The looming threat of “college prep” can feel foggy without the proper guidance through the process. Meetings with guidance counselors, teachers, and tutors relate an often shifting timeline of practice tests, interviews, essay writing and recommendations. This process can be both intellectually and emotionally overwhelming for students. Where do you begin?

The strategies utilized in a chess game can demonstrate the critical thinking necessary for success in standardized testing. Many psychological studies find that students who participated in chess tournaments saw substantial percentage increases in their math and reading scores beyond students who did not participate in chess tournaments (Poston, D. I., & Vandenkieboom, K. K). Critical thinking skills utilized in developing new chess moves can be applied to answering test questions. The timed element of chess also prepares students to solve problems within a limited time frame during a testing period. Chess tournaments can build students’ confidence in their problem solving abilities. Practicing chess familiarizes students with the experience of concentrating within a given time frame. Embracing the chess gameplay environment will prepare students to tackle test-taking with a focused, calm mindset– thus yielding higher test results.

Chess is one of the most inclusive spaces for students to participate in an activity valued by college admissions boards. Many elements of the college process can be limited by socioeconomic barriers. Developing strong chess gameplay can be an accessible space for students to hone critical thinking skills necessary for the college admissions process without the expenses that other sports or activities often create. College admissions counselors value chess participation as an activity because of the game’s previously mentioned associations with critical thinking and creative development. Participating in a chess club can be one of the most accessible ways for students to stand out on a college application.

If your student is starting to face that pre-college stress, maybe offer a game of chess to clear their head! Premier Chess and Ascension Educational Services can help you continue on that pre-college path. Ascension’s Test Preparation and Admissions Specialists devote their time to helping students hone the same critical thinking and creative problem solving skills utilized in a game of chess. Ascension prioritizes building a passion for learning as a base for positive results.

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