Category Archives: Academics

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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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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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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To say that I hated math growing up would be like saying that the sun is hot. I despised math. I dreaded math class every single school day from the ages of 8 to 18. There are 180 school days in a year, and assuming each class lasts an hour, that’s 180 hours per year. Over a period of 10 years, I spent 1800 hours, not even counting homework, wishing I was doing anything else but math. But, I just sat down and did math, if only to drive home a point. And, it was kind of fun. I crunched the numbers and figured out how much time I spent hating math, and realized I don’t actually hate it anymore. What changed? It turns out that math isn’t boring; math classes are–or at least were in my case. I couldn’t tell you why, but math is the one subject that…

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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…

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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,…

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