By Piyali C.
I heaved a sigh of relief as I parked my car. I think you will agree, finding parking in a high school parking lot on a Back to School Night is a sheer stroke of luck. I did a mental check as I walked towards the high school carrying my bag of library goodies. Did I have all that I needed? Howard County Library System’s tablecloth? Check. HCLS pens to give out as gifts? Check. Brochures with library information? Check. Little giveaways with the library logo? Check. I was ready. With a deep breath and a bright smile, I entered the high school. I was going to represent HCLS in one of our local high school’s Back to School Nights, to inform the community about how we supplement students’ academic pursuits by providing free databases for research. It’s a fond memory and one I hope to experience again soon.
I was ready! National History Day research? No problem: we have curated a whole set of databases for that endeavor. Having trouble finding primary sources? We can help. You need a last minute resource for the paper due next day? We can tell you where to find it. The magic lies in your library card and your PIN number. Once you have that, the world is your oyster. If you do not have a library card, never fear. You can sign up for a temporary card to access our databases right away. To create a temporary library card, click here.
As I set up the table and spread out library goodies along the hall of the high school, I was approached by a harried parent, “Can you tell me where Room 113 is?” After being asked directions to rooms three times in a row, I armed myself with a map of the school and, like a very efficient human GPS, directed people to their desired classrooms. After the initial chaos settled down, I turned the full force of my winning smile on an unsuspecting parent with her reluctant teen and told her I was from the library. Would she be interested in hearing about how her student can take practice SAT exams on library database for free? That was it! I had said the magic words, “practice SAT.” After that, I never looked back.
Parents swarmed around me as teens looked on, bored. I explained our databases for homework help – LearningExpress Library and Testing & Education Reference Center – with glee. Physical copies of SAT prep books fly off of the branch shelves. But with LearningExpress Library, you will never have to wait!
Even without being at school in person, I still want to tell you about all the amazing ways the library can help prepare teens for standardized testing. It is always a good idea to start at the beginning: How to find these magical databases. First, click on to our website: http://hclibrary.org/
On the top right hand corner you will find the option, “How do I…” Hover over it.
You will see some options, and the sixth one from the top will be “Get Homework Assistance.” Click on it.
If you scroll down through the databases, the fourth one is LearningExpress Library. You will need your library card and PIN number to access the database.
LearningExpress Library provides interactive online practice tests in a variety of academic and career-related areas. These include advanced placement tests, GED tests, college entrance exams (ACT and SAT), and job-related qualification tests in areas such as nursing, the military, real estate, and a variety of public safety fields.
Right under LearningExpress Library is Testing & Education Reference Center.
Testing & Education Reference Center offers practice question sets for grades 6-12 in math, science, reading, and writing, as well as practice AP exams and private school admissions tests for high school students. Prepare for college with test prep eBooks for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT, and use the scholarship and college search tools to help select a college. Study for and practice taking graduate school entrance exams, occupational exams, the TOEFL, and the U.S. Citizenship test.
Now that I have written about my favorite databases for students, I invite you to explore them, familiarize yourselves, and take the tests. Get out your library card, type your PIN, and voilà, you are ready to take on those standardized tests because you have practiced hard on our free databases. Good luck! And remember, we are here to help you succeed every step of the way – even while practicing social distancing and online learning.
Piyali is an instructor and research specialist at HCLS Miller Branch, where she co-facilitates both Global Reads and Strictly Historical Fiction.