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Five Essential Components for Success on the ACTScreen Shot 2015-11-30 at 10.29.02 AM

A

Attitude - Success requires a positive attitude.  Think, “If it can be done, I can do it!”.  You need to really WANT to do well and you must squash the ANT (Automatic Negative Thinking) Eliminate all negative thinking during prep and during the actual test.  There is no room or time for negative self-talk during the ACT.  

Application - Work through retired ACT questions and take retired ACT practice tests before sitting for the real test. Understand the correct answer to every question you miss as question types repeat themselves on standardized tests.

C

Content - Fully understand the content that is being tested

Commitment - Make the test a priority.  Commit yourself to dedicated preparation and focusing on areas of weakness.

T

Time - Finding time for quality test preparation is usually the biggest challenge in the life of high school students today. ACT success requires quality focused preparation time:dedicated work on content and retired ACT questions, timed full length practice tests, time put into reading and studies. Testing time is tight on the ACT.  You must work at a fast pace. Pace increases when you know what to expect on the test and have confidence solving similar questions - practice questions from retired tests.  Pace increases with practice under timed conditions - time yourself when taking practice tests and working on practice test sections.  Read this post for suggestions specific to increasing reading speed.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

Improve Reading Speed and Comprehension for the ACT

Read to SucceedReading is a learned skill that builds upon itself. Reading often is the best way to improve comprehension and reading speed. Reading connects people places and times. It builds on personal experiences and learned knowledge.

A reader can improve reading comprehension by:

  • Selecting reading material of interest.
  • Reading with purpose - reading title page/ copyright and introduction and connecting time and place if given - getting any background available
  • Focusing - shuting out negative thinking and distractions
  • Looking up new vocabulary and concepts as they come up

A reader can improve reading speed by:

  1. Understanding that Speed Reading is basically more focused reading.  The best way to increase reading speed is to read often with focus and concentration.  Continued practice is key.
  2. Gently trying to read faster than comfortable.
  3. Grouping Words
  4. Trying out these free apps/software programs:  

Acceleread App - use the free version of this app for an introduction to the process of and skills needed for speed reading.

Spreeder:  a free online speed reading software where you can copy your own text and practice reading it with custom speed and grouping (set speed and grouping preference in “settings” under the passage) - I have no experience with the paid version of this program.  I think the free version should be fine for practicing. Copy and paste portions of  these Newspapers and Magazines The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Scientific American, The Atlantic Monthly, or The New Yorker into Spreeder and read them for speed and comprehension.  While reading, determine the purpose, main point and tone of each article. . (You may eventually want to copy and paste the article you select into Spreeder to practice reading it at the speed needed for the ACT.)  A reading speed of at least 300 wpm is needed to get through the ACT.  This reading speed is also important to get through the large amount of reading that is required in college.

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, EDNavigators LLC

C or T?

BlankI heard the question "C or T?" at Ashley Merryman's Keynote Address at the IECA Conference earlier this month.  The more I thought about this question, the more relevant it became.  This simple question can be applied to many aspects of life, including standardized testing and the college process. C stands for Challenge and T stands for Threat.  These words can be applied to the way we approach almost anything in our lives.  The word we choose to follow has a proven impact on our performance.

Is the task at hand a challenge or is it a threat?

  • If it is a challenge, the energy exerted is positive.  The task is approached with excitement.
  • If it is a threat, the energy exerted is negative.  This negative energy can lead to mistakes and panic.

Whether you are sitting for a test, auditioning for a play, applying or interviewing for a job, school or college, playing an important game or match, or walking on stage for a presentation, think CHALLENGE, not threat.

Sandy Aprahamian EDNavigators LLC

An Important Word to Remember When Leaving for (or sending your child off to) College

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Last week I participated in a webinar presented by Harlan Cohen, author of The Naked Roommate.  In his presentation, Cohen reminded us that the transition to college WILL BE UNCOMFORTABLE.  As counselors, parents, and teachers, we tell our students and children how lucky they are to get to go to college - that they are headed off to the best four years of their life - that they will be among people just like them - that they will have the opportunity to learn interesting material - that top-notch facilities will be at their fingertips…  Our students and children know that - BUT it doesn’t change the fact that UNCOMFORTABLE can not be avoided. UNCOMFORTABLE comes with the territory of change and newness.

Navigating the UNCOMFORTABLE in the college transition is an important hurdle.  The skills students learn and use in this transition go into their toolkit for the future.  The fact is, we are faced with uncomfortable situations throughout life.

I felt the freshman uncomfortable feeling just this week when I attend the IECA  (Independent Educational Consultants Association) conference in Orlando, Florida.  At the happiest place on earth, amongst people whom I knew I had a lot in common with, presented with a candy shop full of information and learning opportunities, I felt uncomfortable.

Business travel uncomfortable parallels college freshman uncomfortable in many ways.  I entered a new and exciting environment, which I chose, but where I did not know the lay of the land or a single person.  I had no safety net to turn to, no wing-man by my side, no familiar paths or comforts.  I had to pull out my toolkit and manage the uncomfortable.  I’m thankful that I had this experience because it reminded what my students feel when they head off for freshman year. As a counselor and parent, it's easy to forget.

As I navigated the uncomfortable this week, these were some tools I used - the same tools I recommend for students transitioning into college.

Tools to Navigate the UNCOMFORTABLE

Have the Right  Attitude:

  • Feel confident in the decision you made to attend this particular school.
  • Plan to succeed there.
  • Expect it to be uncomfortable at first and plan to step out of your comfort zone.

Practice Self-care:  Do what you need to maintain your personal balance.

  • Exercise daily
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Find quiet safe places to retreat when time alone is needed.
  • Be there to learn about what interests you. Do not feel pressure to get good grades right off the bat.  Interest in soaking up as much knowledge as possible, makes grades came naturally.

Practice Controlled Caution:

  • Before going out think about possible scenarios and have a plan... it takes time to learn who you can trust in a new environment - the one person you can truly trust is yourself. Remain in control of your decisions.

Make Connections and Initiate Conversations:

  • Introduce yourself and make connections - other people are feeling uncomfortable too.
  • Attend ice breakers and freshman activities.
  • Take advantage of the programs offered to acclimate.
  • Join a small group where you will be among people who share your interests (sports team, band, chorus, prayer group, action committee, poetry club, service organization, book club…there are many groups and clubs )

Know yourself - Be yourself - Expect the Unexpected - Be Patient - Remember, it WILL be UNCOMFORTABLE at first.

As a follow-up to this article, the IECA Conference was a huge success.  I learned a lot and made great new friends.  I will be sharing my new knowledge with you in future posts.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators

WILL THE NEW SAT BE EASIER?

New SAT - Graduation CapToday the College Board released more information about and sample questions for the New SAT. While all of the details are not yet released, my gut reaction to the New SAT is positive.  The New SAT looks like it will address the skills necessary for and relevant to college success.

As a test-prep tutor and educational consultant, I am frequently asked to compare and give educated insight into the SAT and the ACT.  A few common questions and answers pertaining to the ACT, the SAT and the New SAT are below.

Will the New SAT be easier than the current SAT?

The buzz amongst high school students is that the new SAT will be easier than the current SAT.  In one way, that is true.  By removing the wrong answer penalty students do not have to worry about whether or not to guess.  Other than that, absolutely not.  This test will be difficult for students who are not prepared.

  • The essay is significantly more involved than the current SAT essay.
  • The reading section will require the student to identify both the correct answer AND why it is correct.
  • The math will include more involved word problems.
  • Interpretation of science charts and tables will now be included.

Is the New SAT more like the ACT?

Yes, because it is now more achievement based like the ACT.

No, because the format and structure of the two tests differ significantly.

  1. The ACT essay, like the current SAT essay is a persuasive essay. The New SAT essay will require critical reading, analysis of a persuasive essay and analytical writing.
  2. The New SAT has a "no calculator" section.  The ACT allows calculators for the entire math section.
  3. The New SAT will measure understanding and interpretation of social studies and history.  The ACT includes these subjects but does not include their measure in the test results.
  4. The New SAT will integrate science into the reading, writing, math sections. The ACT has a separate science section

What do I like about the New SAT?

  1. It will include more critical reading, something that I believe is essential to success in college.
  2. It will incorporate real life scenarios in math, making it more relevant to life situations.
  3. There will be a significant focus on algebra and its application - the foundations of higher level math.
  4. No calculator will be allowed for portions of the test. I have found that today's teens rely too much on the calculator.
  5. Vocabulary tests will be more relevant.  Student will analyze the words used and how they affect meaning. - No more memorizing words that will most likely never be used again after the test.
  6. Science, history and social studies are integrated into the test and knowledge of these subjects is reflected in the score results.

I will post more details about the New SAT as they become available.

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, Independent Educational Consultant, EDNavigators

 

Chances of Success: For Standardized Testing, College Admissions and Life

chances of successAttitude matters. If you think you can, you can.

In standardized testing, in college admissions and in everything you desire to do in life -

Squash the ANT (Automatic Negative Thinking)

Sandy Aprahamian - Owner, Independent Educational Consultant - EdNavigators

A Relaxed Brain Learns. A Relaxed Brain Functions.

IMG_6450A relaxed brain learns.  A relaxed brain functions.  Worry, fear and panic freeze the brain. Students need to learn how to relax their brain. A relaxed brain during a test is able to think and process the questions.  A brain in panic freezes.  Students need to learn how to turn off the negative thinking that sneaks in and leads to panic.  They need to learn how to relax their brain.

Some methods of quieting the panic and relaxing include:

  • listening to music
  • playing an instrument
  • taking a walk outside
  • any form exercising
  • running
  • looking at the ocean
  • spending time alone
  • spending time with a person who calms you
  • reading specific texts
  • writing (putting your worries onto paper exits them from your head)
  • breathing slowly
  • meditation

What method works for you?  Once you figure it out, incorporate it into your testing strategy.  Give yourself enough time to spare before the test so that you can prepare yourself to take the test with a relaxed brain.

Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Independent Educational Consultant, EdNavigators