Author Archives: Mike Bergin

Like most test prep professionals, I’ve become a relentless proponent of perfect practice, meaning the kind of practice that drives the highest levels of success. My friend and colleague Brett Etheridge of Dominate Test Prep shares the same commitment to perfect practice, which comes out in a detailed discussion we had on his podcast: Proven Principles of Perfect Practice with Mike Bergin Among other things, we covered the following fundamentals of practice: The 4 Steps of Deliberate Practice; The distinction between “studying” and “practice” and the role that each should play in your test preparation The danger of taking too many practice tests; How often you should take practice tests, and things you should do to ensure that they replicate the actual test-day experience; Why some students perform worse on the real exam than on their practice tests, and what you can do to ensure that doesn’t happen for you;…

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Considering how many changes and questions the college admissions process holds for the high school graduating class of 2022, there is tremendous benefit to checking in on a regular basis to assess facts and dispel rumors. To that end, it was my great pleasure to join Eric Domroes and Karina Anderson from the Mendon HS Counseling Department for an interactive discussion with district 11th graders and parents about the current state of college testing admissions. What will you learn in this video? How are colleges considering test scores for the HS class of 2022? What does test optional really mean and who do these policies benefit? How does selectivity influence the necessity of test scores? What are the most recent changes to the SAT and ACT? How can a student determine which test to take? When should students plan to take the SAT and/or ACT? When and how should students…

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In February 2021, NASA landed its FIFTH rover on Mars in a mind-boggling and flawless demonstration of precision, planning, and execution. That human beings could, amidst all of the current chaos and madness of life on Earth, keep their eyes on an exceedingly distant prize to accomplish such a remarkable feat should be encouraging–even inspiring–to anyone pursuing tough goals. 1. Grades and scores are not the goals. I’ve worked with enough dedicated students to know the allure of a concrete numerical marker of ability. No sooner does a test taker break 1300 on the SAT than he or she begins targeting 1400. Academic achievement may be expressed quantitatively, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. What matters much more is the knowledge that is behind those grades or scores, as well as how a student was transformed along the way. When I see a high ACT score, I see…

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All exams, with the exception of those administered by medical professionals, presuppose some level of background knowledge or experience. Score data lacks meaning without the context of the test takers themselves. The same standard applies to test prep, in that knowing where a student begins not only explains prior results but also future paths and potential outcomes. If you are about to embark on an odyssey of exam preparation, whether through self-prep or with an expert, ask yourself a few pointed questions as you begin… and answer carefully! How familiar are you with the exam you are preparing for? REASON: Familiarity with test content, structure, and timing represents the low-hanging fruit of score improvement. Those who retake a standardized test often score higher simply because they have more experience and insight into what to expect. However, that trend won’t hold for further retakes without additional practice and coaching. How much…

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“Exercise in repeatedly recalling a thing strengthens the memory.”   Do you despise testing? Perhaps you’d feel more open to the tremendous value of testing if you knew that one of humanity’s great philosophers and scientists fully endorsed the practice. Aristole saw the connection between repeatedly recalling a thing (testing) and remembering a thing (learning). The testing effect, as it is called, powers academic performance in a way that mere reading never can. All those students who adopt reading and rereading texts as their primary study strategy miss out on the educational impact of active recall of targeted information. Psychologists Henry L. Roediger III and Jeffrey D. Karpicke contributed much to our understanding of the testing effect in their review of a century of research into learning. They also conducted their own insightful research into the subject. Considering that the title of their findings was Test-Enhanced Learning: Taking Memory Tests…

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Life throws all kinds of tests at us, the ones we feel ready for as well as the ones we’d rather avoid. Sometimes we can choose our challenges, and sometimes they choose us. More often than we’re willing to admit, the biggest and most fearsome tests turn out to be the ones that change our lives for the better. When Deepak Chopra said, “Obstacles are opportunities in disguise,” he may well have been talking about entrance exams. Many schools and academic programs in the U.S. and around the world use entrance exams as part of their admissions process, not as barriers to entry so much as screens to ensure that extraordinary opportunities accrue to extraordinary applicants. My friend and colleague David Blobaum of Summit Prep sought extraordinary opportunities when he was in high school. To reach his goals, he had to pass all kinds of tests of tenacity, intrinsic motivation,…

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