Chariot Learning Blog

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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“Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.” At least that’s what project management exam prep expert Cornelius Fichtner says. While we may disagree in terms of degree, I fully support the idea that planning and action must always go together, especially in test prep. That’s why, when Punam Saxena of edu-Me invited me to speak about any topic related to the SAT & ACT on her splendid podcast, I chose to focus on planning. As Punam herself says, creating a schedule and ensuring that your child is efficient with their time is critical for maintaining sanity and doing well on the test. Are you interesting in a big picture overview of when teens should take the SAT or ACT? How about getting into the nitty-gritty details? When is the best time to take the ACT or SAT? When is the best time to prepare for these tests?…

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We’ve all changed during the COVID-19 era. Lives, organizations, and entire industries have transformed, some for the better and others, unfortunately, for the worse. Few sectors of society have been impacted as dramatically as education. Both K-12 and higher ed have been a veritable roller coaster of remote learning for students, families, educators, and administrators. These have been days we will not soon forget! Yet, not every change should be rolled back once we’ve beaten back the virus, as this singular moment has helped accelerate trends that were already gaining traction. In the sphere of education and admissions, for example, remote learning and virtual campus tours have become normalized in a way that will add tremendous convenience and access to everyone who values those qualities. College admissions testing has changed as well, as cancelled, socially-distanced, and even pop-up tests made taking the SAT and ACT more stressful than ever. No…

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When discussing strategies for multiple-choice grammar questions recently–something totally normal people do all the time, I’m sure–I found myself surprised by how much one of my most respected friends in education and I differed on how useful “listening” for an error is. Continued debate proved inconclusive, so we brought the question to our big brain colleagues in Test Prep Tribe: “How many of you advocate that students “use their ears” to identify grammar errors in ACT English or SAT Writing and Language?” Unsurprisingly, the test prep community at large is split, at least as far as blanket statements about any particular approach go. However, the lively discussion around the issue helped formulate some nuanced rules about trusting your ear when solving grammar questions: In English, what sounds wrong is wrong… usually. Standardized exams like the SAT and ACT tend to test grammar through underlined portions of larger texts that may…

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A classic challenge all military forces must grapple with revolves around the concept of a volunteer army. Those who volunteer for service usually arrive with desired levels of motivation and aptitude. They serve with greater enthusiasm and tend to stick around longer. However, volunteers aren’t always easy to find, particularly during troubled times. When nations require service through a draft coupled with penalties for those who refuse, the size of their standing armies increase as quickly as the general competence and morale of the force goes down. Nobody likes to be forced to serve. As anyone who’s ever demanded a child to clean his or her room can attest, we can compel participation, but excellent results won’t necessarily follow. Imagine the roster of your favorite sports team was filled not by athletes who competed their entire lives for the opportunity to play, but rather by a collection of conscripts unable…

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Have you ever heard of the United States Naval Academy? Most people know it as Annapolis, since it’s located in Annapolis, Maryland, or USNA for short. It’s also, like most U.S. military academies, one of the most competitive schools in the country. For anyone interested in applying to the Naval Academy, we asked our colleagues at Gain Service Academy Admission to share some insightful tips: How to Prepare Early in your High School Career The general theme here is to make sure you challenge yourself! The Naval Academy core courses are challenging. Taking challenging classes during high school will help you prepare for USNA’s academic rigor. Start early! If you have a choice to take Advanced Placement or IB classes, do so. Focus on being in the top 20% of your high school class academically, at least. Get involved in your community and take on leadership opportunities. Find activities you…

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