Author Archives: Mike Bergin

Of all the academic choices a student entering eight grade or high school must make, math course selection exerts the most influence on future choices. Some of the biggest considerations include the following questions: What should drive math course selection? How do grade level, accelerated, and gifted tracks differ? Can students change tracks in high school? What are the implications of math course selection for SAT and ACT scores? Should advanced math students choose calculus or statistics? What should a student, parent, or counselor consider when weighing the options? To clarify the process of choosing high school math courses strategically. I spoke to author and math expert Richard Corn. Richard Corn has helped hundreds of middle school and high school students with their studies in mathematics and with preparation for standardized tests. When students complained about the quality of the prep books sold by big box publishers, Richard decided to…

Read more

Are you feeling crushed under the burden of unreasonable expectations, fretting because your test scores reveal flaws in a previously pristine academic career? You’re not the only one: millions of honor students over the years have struggled to reconcile the sometimes canyon-like chasm between their high school grades and their SAT & ACT scores. Why don’t perfect students earn perfect scores? When we think about SAT & ACT scores, we need to get comfortable with big numbers. After all, these tests are the ultimate expressions of the concept of grading on a curve. More people sit for the SAT or ACT in a given year, for example, than ever auditioned for American Idol even at the height of its popularity. If you can recall scene after scene of hopeful stars filling stadiums and crowding streets for a shot at fame, you’d need to multiply those crowds by a factor of…

Read more

From September to June, high schoolers can count on an opportunity to take at least one of the two big college admissions tests every month. Some months, however, offer ambitious test takers shots at both the SAT and ACT. Sitting for both exams in rapid succession can be a better idea than you’d think, especially in December. What makes December such a good month to take the SAT and ACT? For one thing, the tests fall early in a month that gets busier as it progresses. The SAT is traditionally administered on the first Saturday of December, followed by the ACT the next weekend. This means students can finish both tests before the first holiday parties of the season. December also deserves strong consideration for testing because the timing meets the needs of both high school juniors and seniors at this point in the academic year: SENIORS who haven’t yet…

Read more

One of the central tenets of standardized testing is that every test taker takes a test the same way. Any aspect of exam administration from timing to breaks to even the instructions a proctor shares before starting the clock should be predetermined and implemented at all testing locations. This level of attention to detail permits fair comparison of scores from tests administered across a multitude of test sites and dates. In essence, everything possible about a standardized test must be standardized. So what happens when a proctor deviates from the script? One of my colleagues, whose state and district shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, shared the following legitimate complaints: I am LIVID. I just found out from my own daughter that the proctors at three ACT test sites/schools she has used in the last year have… not given a break because they poll the kids, who just want…

Read more

One of the great conundrums of human history has surely been how to motivate teens to do what society wants them to do rather than what they themselves want to do. Your average high schooler may happily spend marathon sessions practicing sports, playing games, or just scrolling through social media but still balk at ten minutes of homework or chores. Unsurprisingly, researchers have been delving the depths of student motivation for decades, exploring a variety of angles across age groups and cultures. Some of the findings aren’t that surprising either, though others seem rather unexpected. An overview of the current research encompassing over 144 studies and more than 79,000 students has been published as Pathways to Student Motivation: A Meta-Analysis of Antecedents of Autonomous and Controlled Motivations, and the key takeaways of this meta-analysis are powerful: Students’ self-determined motivation (acting out of interest, curiosity, and abiding values) is associated with…

Read more

Far too often, we evaluate math ability in high schoolers solely on the basis of grades and level of math learned. A more accurate assessment of a student’s potential on challenging math tasks–including those posed on tests like the SAT and ACT–should consider mathematical maturity. For clarity on the link between mathematical maturity and test success, I turned to author and test prep professional Dr. Steve Warner. Dr. Steve Warner, Ph.D has two decades of experience in general math tutoring and tutoring for standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, and AP Calculus exams. He has tutored students both individually and in group settings. In February 2010, Dr. Warner released his first SAT prep book The 32 Most Effective SAT Math Strategies, and in 2012 founded Get 800 Test Prep. Since then Dr. Warner has written books for the SAT, ACT, SAT Math Subject Tests, AP Calculus exams,…

Read more

12/661