Posted in Online Tutoring

My Secret Strategy For Making A 32 On The ACT – Without Test Prep!

In this blog post I will reveal the secret strategy that I used to make a 32 on the ACT and go to college for free, without any test prep. Are you ready? Here it is:

Learn what is taught in school as you go along.

Let me explain. Students and their parents spend hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on test prep materials, services, and software each year, but the ACT (as well as the SAT) is designed to measure academic achievement in high school. This means that there’s nothing on the test that is not covered by the standard curriculum that all students are required to take. Test prep is only a review, and can’t prepare a student to perform well starting from scratch. The time to begin preparing for the ACT is not a month or even six months before taking the test, but the first day of freshman year, by having a passion for learning, a personal motivation for what you are doing, and by getting help along the way. Learning is fueled by relevance, and without having a sense of purpose and drive, cramming facts and figures is like trying to fill a bottomless bucket.

As an online tutor and academic coach, I help students not only learn the most effective ways to use their talents, but also get in touch with their own sense of passion, motivation, and burning sense of curiosity. If you build a house with a strong foundation, you won’t need to do last-minute repairs. Contact me today to find out how I can help your son or daughter unleash their inner academic rock star.

Posted in Educational Reform, Math

A Mathematician’s Take On Standardized Exams

Theoretically, if a test is designed to measure what a student has learned, then there should be no such thing as “preparing” for the test. This is why I believe that the best “test prep” method is to focus on learning what is taught in school, and ignoring the test itself until the day of. This philosophy may go against the grain of the conventional wisdom perpetuated by test prep companies and anxious parents, but it got me a full-ride scholarship to the college of my choice based on my ACT score, so I know there is something to it.

In general, with the prevalence of test-prep courses, software, and services, what standardized tests really measure is not how effective a student’s overall education has been, but rather how well the student has prepared for the test. This goes to show that sometimes what you focus on doesn’t expand, it actually shrinks.

One of the most common complaints students have about learning math is, “I’ll never use this”, and, when it comes to math as it is usually taught and measured on standardized exams, they are right. Math professor Sanjoy Mahajan writes on the Freakonomics blog about how the math questions on standardized exams are unrealistic, and how they could be written to reflect the ways that people actually use math in real life. I especially enjoyed reading this article because Sanjoy’s methods reflect the ways that I teach students to think about computations: using their brains in natural, intuitive ways, rather than like a fleshy digital calculator.

Posted in Resources

Benchprep Provides Comprehensive Online Test Prep

Benchprep is a comprehensive online test prep resource, providing reading and review materials, practice problems, and entire practice tests for dozens of standardized exams.  Whatever standardized exam you are preparing for, they probably have it, from AP exams, college and graduate school admission exams, and licensing and civil service exams to prep courses on college subjects.  A monthly or lifetime subscription gets you access to your preparation materials on the web or on your smartphone so you can study any time, anywhere.  They also have a blog with dozens of helpful, informative articles.  If you have any standardized exams in your future, or want extra supplementary resources for your college courses, Benchprep is a valuable resource.