Author Archives: Mike Bergin

Any effort we undertake to improve or excel invites both the possibility of failure and a guarantee of struggle to surpass current limits. Don’t give up! What doesn’t challenge us cannot change us, so expect to be tested. Even better, pursue these sometimes painful growth opportunities with enthusiasm and excitement! Norman Vincent Peale may have popularized the power of positive thinking, but you don’t need to read the classics to master their essential lessons. Our words, deeds, and even thoughts determine our direction, so always stay positive.

Every year, new books are released to address the myriad choices, complications, and challenges inherent in today’s college admissions environment. Most of these works, however, are notably nonfiction. Rarely does a story as dramatic or suspenseful as Girls with Bright Futures break through to become part of the college admissions canon. But after the 2019 Operation Varsity Blues bribery scandal, the admissions process–especially at the most selective schools–no longer seems so innocent. Girls with Bright Futures is described as an “irreverent and suspenseful novel exploring the privilege and scandal of an elite Seattle community as a group of mothers become embroiled in college admissions mayhem.” First time authors and long-time friends Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman definitely deliver on the promise of a college admissions thriller about “Three women. Three daughters. And a promise that they’ll each get what they deserve.” I was invited to speak about this fun book…

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The world of education would be so much easier to navigate if all the old tests stayed the same, right? That said, most would agree that positive change means more than passing familiarity. Back in the day, New Yorkers like me never even thought of the ACT, let alone pretests like the PLAN or more recently the ACT Aspire. Today, teens across the Empire State and nation at large toggle freely between the SAT and ACT. Even better, schools have been increasingly taking advantage of the longitudinal assessments attached to those flagship college entrance exams. Hence, the question many parents find themselves asking: “What is the PreACT?” For the sake of comparison, the PreACT plays a similar role as the PSAT in terms of providing a sneak preview into the structure and content of a related admissions test while delivering useful data to students and school districts alike. The PreACT…

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Happy New Year! The fresh slate of a new year inspires most of us to select some (or most) areas in our lives to improve in specific ways. From our position at the intersection of education and performance, we see lots of students looking for better grades and test scores, but, more generally, people aspire to better health, better jobs, better relationships, and better financial situations. Better does not come easy. Becoming better than you were in any dimension of your life may be a worthy goal. Staying better–being able to cast aside bad habits and develop new, more adaptive ones–is another thing entirely. How do we get and stay better in just about anything? Better takes a plan. Better takes time. Better takes practice. Better takes persistence. Better often takes help. Whatever your ambitions this year, we wish you luck in the accomplishment for your dearest goals. Let us…

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The multiple-choice grammar and writing questions on the SAT Writing and Language and ACT English sections present a wide range of mechanical and rhetorical challenges. Test takers have to be as comfortable connecting subjects with predicates and pronouns with antecedents as they do connecting independent and dependent clauses. Even students who master mechanics still need facility with advanced writing concerns like, among other things, organization, unity, and cohesion. Both the SAT Expression of Ideas subscore and ACT Production of Writing Reporting Category establish organization as an imperative aspect of effective written English. Consequently, Organization questions on these tests require students to be able to place any piece of text where it belongs: — a word or phrase in a sentence — a sentence in a paragraph — a paragraph in a passage Most test takers find Organization questions both difficult and time-consuming. While the latter challenge can be overcome with…

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In what is starting to become an annual tradition, I recorded a special parent seminar on testing and admissions for College and Career Night at an awesome local school district. I look forward to the days when convening large groups live and in-person doesn’t feel so fraught with peril, because asynchronous sessions don’t allow for real-time dialog. On the bright side, once an updated informational seminar is recorded, it can be shared infinitely. So enjoy! College Admissions Testing for the HS Classes of 2022 and 2023 Q&A What are the SAT and ACT, why do they matter, and what can and should teens and their families do about them during this dynamic moment in college admissions history? The admissions landscape has seen more change over the last three years than during the three decades before that, so make sure you stay on top of the newest developments: — Will the…

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