test prep strategies

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

The Secret to Effective Time Management on the ACT

ACTThe ACT is a test of content, speed, focus and time management.  Once the content is learned and preparation is complete, the test of time management remains.  A last-minute concern about running out of time on this test can quickly derail all preparation. To manage time during the ACT, I provide my students with an ACT watch.  This gives them the security of knowing that they will be able to pace themselves through the ACT and always know exactly how much time has lapsed and how much time remains in each section.  This video shows how this ACT approved watch works.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

The New Redesigned SAT

David Coleman reported on The Redesigned SAT today.  Below are some highlights. DeliveringOpportunity.org will provide all specifics of the new SAT.  The New SAT will be:

  • Focused and Clear
  • Useful and Open (applicable to work in college and career settings)
  • Based upon what is currently taught in class

The Content of the Redesigned SAT will include Three Sections

1.  Evidence Based Reading and Writing:

  • The exam will showcase students command of evidence rather than picking right answers.
  • Students will be asked to locate the evidence that supports the answers.
  • Students will read and analyze a wide range of texts (Science, Social Studies etc) - This sounds very similar to the current ACT
  • Students will work with narratives  and graphs - students must be data analysts
  • Students will analyze texts.
  • There will be no more sentence completion
  • Vocabulary will be "powerful words" like synthesis and its various meanings

2.  The Essay

  • Assignment will be to analyze the core argument of a text.
  • Directions will be:  As you read the passage in front of you, consider how the author uses evidence, reasoning, and stylistic or persuasive elements to add power to the ideas expressed.
  • Essay will be optional on the SAT (like the current ACT)

3. Math

  • Will focus on three areas:
  1. problem solving and data analysis (ratios, proportions..)
  2. the heart of algebra (linear equations and systems)
  3. passport to advanced math (the math that opens doors of opportunity - calculus will be included)
  • Students will be presented with a scenario to which they will apply the math they have learned.
  • There will be calculator and non calculator sections of the SAT.

Other Facts:

  • America's Founding Documents and Global Conversation will be included on the Redesigned SAT.
  • The new exam will be given spring 2016 It will be offered both through computer and pencil and paper.
  • The new test length will be 3 hours with an optional 50 minute essay
  • The New SAT will return to the 1600 score
  • The essay will be scored separately.
  • The penalty for wrong answers will be removed.
  • April 16 the full blue print for the exams and sample questions of the New SAT will be revealed.
  • Khan Academy will provide FREE test prep.  It will be adaptive.  It will provide customized learning.  Khan Academy has always been a cornerstone of learning at EdNavigators.  As EdNavigators students know, Khan Academy has provided answers to the questions in the College Board Blue Book for a while.  We are thrilled about this new partnership.  We are looking forward to the Khan Academy SAT Prep. Khan Academy SAT prep will be found at:  khanacademy.org/sat

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, Educational Consultant  - EdNavigators

Making Sense of the Testing Options and Requirements for College Applications

HELP-Standardized TestsGone are the days of simply taking the SAT to meet college application requirements. Today, students are presented with a variety of exams, some required, some optional.  These exams include:

  1. SAT (New SAT for class of 2017 and beyond)
  2. ACT
  3. SAT Subject Tests (also known as SAT II Tests)
  4. AP Exams:

(In effort to make this article a manageable length, the above list does not include IB testing or major-specific exams.)

The Basics

  • The majority of four year colleges require applicants to submit scores from the SAT OR the ACT.
  • Some highly selective schools require or strongly recommend that applicants submit scores from two or three SAT Subject Tests.
  • Some schools accept the ACT with Writing in lieu of the SAT and SAT Subject Tests.  For more information on this complicated decision, please read these articles written by Nancy Griesemer who has done extensive research on this topic.

With all of these testing requirements, it is important to create a testing plan in high school.  Freshman year is not too early to plot out the test plan since some tests may be taken then.

Possible Testing Timeline beginning Junior Year

  • SAT OR ACT :  Take one of these tests Two times between January and June (This leaves September/October of Senior Year available as additional test dates if needed.  Ideally, however, all testing is complete by the end of Junior Year - Senior year is very busy with applications and essays.)
  • SAT Subject Tests:  These should be taken May or June of the year the subject is studied
  • AP Exams:  These are given in May of the Year the subject is studied
  • Class of 2017 suggested SAT/ACT prep timeline

EdNavigators recommends the following:

  • Take a full length practice ACT and a full length practice SAT to see which test you prefer.  Prepare for the test you prefer and plan to take the test "for real" at least twice.  *Many students select to take both tests...in this case, two additional test-prep sessions would be required to discuss content and strategy for the test the student did not prep for.  The content covered on the SAT and ACT is very similar (EDNavigators Test Prep Packages are described on this page - Package 2 is to prep for the SAT OR the ACT, Package 2B is to prep for the SAT AND the ACT)
  • Take the SAT Subject Tests and AP tests around the same time because they can test similar information.   It also makes sense to take them right after completing the course.  (If a student takes Honors Biology as a Freshman, he/she should take the test(s) Spring of freshman year.)

If you feel your standardized test scores don't represent your abilities, don't panic. There are also FairTest Schools.  A recent study revealed that students who chose not to submit standardized test scores for entry into college still performed well in college.

For now, however, many colleges do still require standardized test scores.  It is worth the time and effort to make a plan and prepare.

Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Consultant, EdNavigators

Prevent Panic on ACT Test Day

ACT TIPSYou have been working hard and are academically prepared for the ACT.  Don't let last-minute logistics sabotage your confidence.  Below are last-minute tips to prevent test panic and maintain an optimal state of mind for testing. Two days before the test:

  • Print out your admission ticket and read it over.
  • Read and complete the Test Day Checklist
  • Read the Test Day Tips
  • Gather everything you need to bring to the test center.
  • Get directions to the test center.  Plan a test-drive to the test center if you are not familiar with the area.
  • Decide what time you will need to leave your house in order to arrive at the test center a few minutes early.
  • Plan what you will wear to the exam and lay it out. Pick something comfortable.
  • Plan your breakfast for test day and be sure you have the ingredients available.
  • Reviewing the big picture format and timing of the test.

The day before the test:

  • Gather any test items that you were not able to find yesterday.
  • Make sure there is enough gas in your car.
  • Relax - Remind yourself that you ARE prepared for the test. Focus on how much you DO know.
  • Do NOT think about areas you feel you need work on.  Do NOT take extra practice tests.  If negative thoughts slip into your mind, delete them immediately.  Tell yourself you are prepared. Do NOT try to cram in information.
  • Go to the movies or do something that takes your mind off of the test.

Unexpected Scenario 1:  Bad weather and power outages

Unexpected Scenario 2:  Sick on test day

  • Don’t worry.  Colleges do not see that you registered for but missed the test day.  Obviously, is best to take the test when you are healthy. If you are unsure of what to do, is worth a call (319.337.1270) to ACT to explain your situation and discuss your options.

If any other questions come up, go to the testing source, ACT.org.

A relaxed brain performs.  In order to earn your optimal score, take ACT in a comfortable, relaxed and confident state of mind.

Wishing you all the very best on test day.

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