Tuesday, April 26, 2011

5 Things I Bet You Didn't Know About the SAT

We thought it'd be fun to throw out a little SAT trivia as students get closer to the final two tests of the school year (5/7 & 6/4).  Here goes...

1.  An Army Brat
In its original form, the test (then known as the "Army Alpha") appeared in 1901 as an IQ test commissioned by the US Army.  It was first administered to college applicants in 1926.  By the end of the 1930s, the SAT was used as a scholarship test for all Ivy League schools.  

2. Time's Up!
The original test required students to complete 315 questions in 97 minutes in the following areas: definitions, classification, artificial language, antonyms, analogies, logical inference, and paragraph reading, number series and arithmetical problems.  That's about 30 seconds per question.  Yikes! 

3.  What's in a Name?
"SAT" initially stood for "Scholastic Achievement Test"; in 1941, the name was changed to "Scholastic Aptitude Test."  Today, its full name is "SAT Reasoning Test."  And guess, what?!  "SAT" doesn't stand for anything...it's just "SAT." 

4.  Classified Information
Before 1958, only high schools and colleges were able to view students’ scores--not the students themselves. 

5.  A Civil Right
In the early 1960s, College Board officials began visiting testing centers to make sure that all students were being tested under equal conditions. If a school district refused to desegregate, the test center was closed and the tests were given at a local military base. 

Learn how to A-C-E the SAT at www.InnovativeTestPrep.com!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

This Month's Teachable Moment: Number vs. Amount/Fewer vs. Less

“Number” vs. “Amount” and “Fewer” vs. “Less”:   Use "number" and "fewer" when you are referring to things that can be counted individually like "students" and "books."   Use "amount" and "less" when you are referring to things that can’t be counted one-by-one like "time" and "money." NOTE that you if you counted increments (things that can be counted one-by-one) of time and money , you would use different words like, "hours," "minutes," "dollars," "coins," etc.

Example:   "Each classroom has the same amount /number of students." The correct answer is "number" since "students" can be counted individually.

Example: "I asked the waiter for less/fewer ice in my drink."  The correct answer is "less" since "ice"cannot be counted individually. NOTE: if the sentence read, "I asked the waiter for less/fewer ice cubes in my drink," the correct answer would be "fewer" since "ice cubes" can be counted individually.

Now, go TEACH it!

Friday, February 11, 2011

This Month's Teachable Moment

Mental Mall Math:  When the kids want the cash, make sure they can do the math!

ExampleWhat is the sale price of a $250.00 North Face jacket that is discounted by 30%?

A quick way to find the answer is to first calculate 10% of $250.00. In math, "of" means "multiply." To multiply $250.00 by 10%, just move the decimal one place to the left to get $25. Note that you can calculate 10% of ANY number by following the same procedure.

Next, multiply $25 x 3 (look at this as 10% x 3=30%) to get $75. Finally, subtract $75 from $250 to get $175, which is the sale price of the North Face jacket.

Now, go TEACH it!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Get your middle school student ready for college...RIGHT NOW

We work with students in grades 2-12 (and beyond), and trust me, it's never too early to start preparing them for college.  Washington Post writer, Jay Matthews, offers "8 subtle ways to prepare middle schoolers for college" below.  To read the entire article, including full descriptions and anecdotes that accompany each tip, click here.

1. Notice what they enjoy doing, and help them do more of it.
2. Make sure your child knows that B’s are fine in middle school and that fun is important.
3. Enroll them in Algebra I in the eighth grade.
4. Insist they develop some practical housework skills.
5. Flavor family trips with a bit of college atmosphere.
6. Encourage children who are curious about the world to take a foreign language.
8. Do everything you can to encourage reading.

[Source: washingtonpost.com]

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How far away is our "Sputnik" moment? Well, it depends...

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama underscored the importance of  American innovation as the first step in "winning our future."   "What we can do--what America does better than anyone else," he stated, "is spark the creativity and imagination of our people.  We’re the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook.  In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives.  It is how we make our living."   This moment in time, he declared, is "our generation's 'Sputnik' moment."

Ironically, the President's declaration was made just days after Education Week published an article about how poorly US students performed on the science National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  NAEP is also known as "the nation's report card."   The report revealed that  most students are not performing at a level deemed "proficient" in science and that 12th graders posted the weakest scores compared with their elementary and middle-level peers.   In fact, forty percent of  twelfth graders scored below basic.  Yes, the same twelfth graders who we send to college, with the hope that they will be capable of creating "the next best thing."

It is impossible to move forward and backward at the same time.  Something has to give.  The sweeping advancements we want made in laboratories will not occur if we don't make sweeping advancements in classrooms first.  If not, the conversation will make a drastic shift from "how" we compete to "if" we can compete while the rest of the world passes us by.

The President went on to say, "Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success.  But if we want to win the future– if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas– then we also have to win the race to educate our kids. Think about it.  Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school education.  And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school.  The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations.  America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree.  And so the question is whether all of us –as citizens, and as parents –are willing to do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed."

Well said, Mr. President.   Count me in.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Students are more likely to retake the SAT if their score ends with '90'

High school students are more likely to retake the SAT if they score just below a round number, such as 1290 v. 1300 (~2090 v. 2100 on the new SAT), than if they score just above it. That's the conclusion of a study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, which found that round numbers are strong motivators. 

In theory, this makes sense--if you got a 690 in math, why not go for the extra 10 just to say that you scored in the 700s?  In practice, however, sometimes it can be very difficult for a student who's so close to actually get there when they retake the test.  Believe it or not, in many cases, it's much easier to help get a 100-point increase for a student who's just starting out than a 10-point increase for a student who has already done 6-8 weeks of hard core prep + the real SAT.  This is because most students peak after a certain point (yes, even though each test is different) and once they do, even an increase as small as 10 points can turn into a never-ending quest.  Ironically, the study found that, in the end, the extra 10 points don't really matter--students who scored 1390 (on the old SAT) were just as likely to be accepted by admissions officers as students who scored 1400.  Go figure?!  Check out the entire article here

[Source:  Phys.org.com]

Monday, January 17, 2011

A 10-minute Solution for Test Anxiety?

There may be good news in store for those of you who can relate to the sweating, hurried breaths, blanking out and gnawing angst of test anxiety.  University of Chicago researchers found that students who spend 10 minutes before an exam writing about their thoughts and feelings can free up brainpower previously occupied by testing worries and do their best work.  If you have the time before an exam, I think that it's at least worth a try.   Check out the full article here.  To read more about what test anxiety is and other ways to overcome it, click here.

[Source: Education Week]
[Source:  Education.com]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

SAT Subject Tests No Longer Required at University of California Schools

The University of California (UC) system recently changed its admissions requirements for students applying this fall and beyond.  One of the most notable changes is that students are no longer required to take two SAT Subject Tests--one-hour exams in various subjects (e.g., upper level math, literature, sciences, foreign language) that many competitive schools require as part of the admissions process. Students are, however, encouraged to submit their scores if they want to demonstrate mastery of a particular subject;  if they are applying  for a competitive major and their preferred campus recommends certain subject tests; or, if they want to use Subject Tests to satisfy "college-preparatory" course requirements.

Here's my take on it:  if you are applying to a competitive UC school, take the Subject Tests.  Even though they are not "technically" required and not everyone will fall into the "encouraged to take" category, many students vying for slots at places like Berkeley and UCLA still have to take the tests for other top-tier schools and will likely submit their scores to everyone (UC schools included).  Hey, I would (just saying:-).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This Month's Teachable Moment

How do you know when to use "I" vs. "me"?
Many people incorrectly assume that "I" is always correct because it sounds "proper." Not true! The simple way to determine which to use when there are other people in a sentence is to take out the other people and see which makes more sense between I" or "me." 

Example:  My mother took my sister and me/I to the store.

Take out "my sister" and you're left with "My mother took me to the store" or  "My mother took I to the store."  In this sentence the "me" makes more sense. Of course there is a more technical way to explain this, but we've found that this way is much easier to remember!

Now, go TEACH it!