Author Archives: Rowan Thompson

When test scores come back, making sense of it all can be overwhelming. Composite scores, section scores, percentiles—it’s a lot to decipher, and people taking the SAT or ACT for the first time are often surprised by subscores. These tests are broken down into sections, but the sections break down even further into different types of questions. Subscores measure how well you did on each of these types, and they show up on score reports in a couple of different ways: for the SAT, they’re listed at the bottom of the first page, and for the ACT (which calls them Reporting Categories), they’re listed under Detailed Results. The SAT measures seven different subscores: Command of Evidence Words in Context Expression of Ideas Standard English Conventions Heart of Algebra Problem Solving and Data Analysis Passport to Advanced Math On the ACT, each section measures three Reporting Categories. In English: Production of…

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Summer is just around the corner, and for high school students, that means that pretty soon you’ll be getting your summer reading assignments. It doesn’t matter if you’re a natural reader with a full bookshelf—nobody really likes having to slog through a list of “classics” before the fall semester starts up. Reading skills are crucial for teenagers, though, and developing any skill takes practice. Reading regularly can help make even the most difficult novels easier to get through, and as a lifelong bookworm, I’ve got plenty of recommendations. These are titles that I find myself returning to over and over because I actually enjoy them, and some of them might already be on your required reading list anyway. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner. This beautiful work of historical fiction depicts two women’s intertwined lives in Afghanistan through the Afghan-Soviet war and the rise…

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Every student and parent in the U.S. knows that there’s a lot of pressure on kids to be “smart.” In fact, intelligence is very cool right now—Gen Z, or everyone born in the mid-90s or later, is the most educated generation in American history. The hashtag #BookTok on TikTok, where readers share book-related content and bond over their love of reading, has over fifty billion views. Quintessentially geeky games like Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering are more popular now than they’ve ever been. If it’s brains versus brawn, brains are enjoying a winning streak these days. But society tends towards a pretty limited view of what intelligence really means. In our public school system, it’s easy to feel like you’re not smart if you can’t hack homework or ace tests. The SAT and ACT especially are mistaken for intelligence tests, even though they’re definitely not. Being book-smart is…

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It might be hard to understand why the SAT and ACT test students on reading skills. Math is practical for lots of careers, and it’s important to know proper grammar and syntax, but why do standardized tests bother with having you read passages and answer questions about them? As it turns out, strong reading skills matter more than a lot of people realize. A 2020 study by Gallup found that a shocking 54% of adults in the United States can’t read at a sixth-grade level. Over half of American adults would probably have trouble reading A Wrinkle in Time or the Percy Jackson series. If you’re a high school junior or senior who’s had to read hundreds of pages of challenging literature, that might seem incredible, but as someone who was a bookworm from a young age, it’s easy to take for granted how hard reading can be for some…

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If you’ve been a student or educator within the last ten years, you might have taught or learned in a “flipped” classroom, where students study the basics of the material at home and spend their class time in collaborative groups, and teachers serve more as moderators than lecturers. There’s a lot to like about this model, but there’s no denying that it takes a lot of work to pull off. To successfully “flip” a classroom, a teacher usually has to arrange study materials for students to work on at home, like recorded lectures and PowerPoint presentations, and then design lesson plans that encourage critical thinking and teamwork and can be carried out in an hour. It makes sense that teachers want to know before trying it: does any of it actually make a difference? The short answer is, yes. It’s difficult to objectively assess teaching methods, and there isn’t much…

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People who aren’t involved in education might be surprised to learn what an ever-changing field it is. We’re always learning new things about learning, and teachers are always switching up their techniques to find out what works best. One approach to teaching that’s making waves in schools around the country is the “flipped classroom” model, which literally turns traditional teaching methods on their head. Conventional education is based largely on Bloom’s Taxonomy, which you might have seen represented as a pyramid with simple, concrete goals at the bottom and abstract, complex tasks at the very top. Classrooms traditionally devote instructional time to the bottom of the pyramid; that is, relaying basic facts and testing for recall, and leave the critical thinking and formulation of original ideas for students to complete at home. But in 2012, high school chemistry teachers Johnathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams argued that this is completely backwards,…

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