Author Archives: Mike Bergin

Often, we focus so much on high stakes tests that we fail to recognize them merely as intermediate steps to a larger goal. The SAT and ACT, for example, matter quite a lot, but mainly only for students striving for their choice of four-year college. And while we sometimes miss the big picture, the test makers always keep that test-to-college connection firmly in view. This, in a nutshell, explains why ACT, Inc. provides ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. The College Readiness Benchmarks are the minimum scores in each section of the ACT associated with a 50% chance of earning a B or better and approximately a 75% chance of earning a C or better in the corresponding college course or courses. ACT English is associated with introductory English Composition classes. The ACT Benchmark for English is a scale score of 18, which is approximately 39th percentile. ACT Math is associated with…

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Working in test prep is often inspiring because so many of our students are striving to surpass their personal bests to redefine what they are capable of achieving. Admissions exams are, by nature, challenging, in the way that all great tests are. The process of studying for a test should instill greater competence and understanding, just as rehearsing music cultivates virtuosity and practicing sports develops athleticism. If you’re feeling challenged, get psyched… that’s where real growth begins!

Reading, as we say over and over and over, is fundamental to learning, understanding, and living well. But maybe the practice would be more popular if enthusiasts weren’t tagged with such insulting monikers. Who wants to be called a bookworm anyway? According to Addison Rizer’s comprehensive History of the Bookworm, this derogatory term dates back to the 16th century: The earliest documented appearance of the word bookworm, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is in 1580: It appears in Three Proper and Witty Familiar Letters, a series of correspondences between scholar Gabriel Harvey and poet Edmund Spenser. One of the men writes of someone reading too much, “A morning bookeworm, an afternoone maltworm.” Back then, the term denoted idleness or vice: “Those who were bookworms were ‘candle-wasters’ and ‘maltworms,’ a reference to being an alcoholic.” Today, most devoted readers enjoy recognition of their erudition, despite being compared to vermin. Interestingly,…

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The best standardized tests are designed to evaluate agreed-upon skills, standards, and proficiencies. Every test taker benefits from an objective assessment about where they place both in relation to specific benchmarks and the rest of their testing cohort. This post is authored and published by the National Test Prep Association and shared here with permission.

Top athletes and singers have coaches. Should you? That was the subheader of a fascinating 2011 article in the New Yorker penned by an enlightened surgeon. Atul Gawande noticed how his surgical skills had plateaued in a predictable, professionally accepted way. While he was coming to terms with this presumably inevitable fact of life, he also experienced how impactful even a single lesson with a tennis pro was in improving his game. Then he connected the dots: “Not long afterward, I watched Rafael Nadal play a tournament match on the Tennis Channel. The camera flashed to his coach, and the obvious struck me as interesting: even Rafael Nadal has a coach. Nearly every élite tennis player in the world does. Professional athletes use coaches to make sure they are as good as they can be. “But doctors don’t. I’d paid to have a kid just out of college look at…

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If you know anything about Chariot Learning, you know that we love practice tests. A quick scan of our Events Calendar reveals one common element for our many, many proctored practice SAT & ACT exams: no matter where we run these tests, they are held in the morning. But why? Because the official SAT and ACT are also administered in the morning. Effective deliberate practice requires conditions as close to the real thing as possible. Just as athletes scrimmage on regulation fields and performers rehearse on the big stage, test takers want to replicate all the elements of an official test. Of course you want to use official test material and set a stopwatch, but even factors like where and when you test impact the quality of your practice. We strive to simulate test day conditions as closely as possible within reason. For example, we administer tests at our office,…

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