## Stop Saying “I’m Bad at Math”

Many students become convinced somewhere along the line that they are “bad at math,” or that their brain isn’t wired for math. In some cases it is just a matter of finding the subject uninteresting. But, at its worst, this self-definition can have deep impacts on a student’s ability to achieve. Certainly, skills in all areas differ from person to person—-very few of us are going to win a Fields Medal—-but how much truth is there to the idea that otherwise talented students are inherently “bad at math?” Well, it turns out that the typical student is about as bad at math as they are willing to be. Of course, students vary widely in their math aptitude, including grades in their math courses and scores on their standardized tests. Surely, that implies something about math ability, but research is showing math aptitude may have a lot more to do with…

## ACT Reporting Categories: MATH

Once known as the college entrance exam of choice for strong math students, the ACT has always demanded both broad and deep mastery of math concepts learned from grade school to high school. The SAT may currently hold the crown for the test best suited for math whizzes, but ACT Math is tough and getting tougher. Understanding the new ACT Mathematics Reporting Category provides useful insights into the test maker’s assessment goals for this part of the test. Preparing for Higher Math Of the 60 questions on the ACT Math test, roughly 36 (57-60%) of them evaluate what is considered high school math, spanning the point where students learn to use algebra as a general way of expressing and solving equations to advanced topics in Algebra 2 and Trigonometry: Number & Quantity (7–10%) Students must demonstrate knowledge of real and complex number systems, integers and rational exponents, and vectors and…

## Math Strategies for Standardized Tests

Just about every battery of standardized tests, with the notable exception of the LSAT, includes some math sections. This means that you will either have to deal with math on your big tests or become a lawyer to avoid it! For the non-attorneys out there, math on standardized tests can not only be managed, but mastered. Obviously, you’re not likely to perform well on questions testing math you’ve never learned. In some cases, you may encounter concepts you haven’t yet covered in school, such as when teens taking the SAT or ACT early in junior year see Algebra 2 topics they’ll learn later in the year. But much more common are those instances where you have forgotten math you learned long ago. The SAT & ACT math sections cover basic arithmetic, algebra, and geometry along with increasingly more complex concepts. Even advanced math students struggle to recall the definition of…

## Is the ACT Math Test Getting Harder?

The esteemed creators of the ACT have long been admired for their prudence, rarely seeking the spotlight or attracting animosity the way their competitors at the College Board cannot help but do. Circumspection is the word over at the ACT offices in Iowa City, which means that significant changes in a significant exam often go unannounced. They didn’t tell us in advance when they started included paired passages on every test. They didn’t alert us to the gradual but apparently enduring change to six rather than seven passages on the Science section. And, without telegraphing their intention, they appear to be making the ACT Math Test harder. How can we read the cards held so close to ACT’s proverbial vest? Unfortunately, the bad news is plastered all over The Official ACT Prep Guide, 2016-2017. I would be remiss in hiding my disdain for this book, in which ACT has violated…

## Why SAT Math Problems are So Wordy

In a series investigating various aspects of the SAT, Reuters reported on issues related to excessively wordy math problems, specifically how time-consuming such questions were. Research suggested that traditionally low performing test takers were dramatically disadvantaged by the profusion of text-heavy word problems. The College Board ignored this research when redesigning the SAT Math section, but the president of the College Board recently admitted to this and various other errors. On the topic of SAT Math, David Coleman promised, “We are going to do everything we can to further simplify the mathematics section,” and further added, “Every extra word should go. Complex, distracting situations should go.” But does the future really hold streamlined, easily understood SAT math problems? Probably not. The way math is tested on the SAT and ACT differs dramatically from how math is traditionally tested in school. Conventional math education focuses on teaching specific topics sequentially, then…

## Only a Third of Teens Ready for College

For a growing number of our nation’s teens, the question is never, “Am I ready to go to college?” Rather, they ask, “How soon can I get there?!” But the first question deserves further consideration. Since 2003, the twelfth-grade mathematics and reading assessments from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have been used as an indicator of students’ academic preparedness for college. According to the 2015 data released in The Nation’s Report Card, only 37% of twelfth-graders met the standard for success in mathematics or reading. Even more troubling, the percents of students meeting preparedness standards are down across the board from last year. College readiness is no joke. Students who arrive at school with deficient math, reading, and writing skills face a higher likelihood of struggle and failure. Even the ones who don’t drop out are forced to take remedial no-credit classes, which extends the already pricey proposition…