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


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]

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!