You are told if you are smart, you will get good grades and do really well on standardized tests. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Just because a student is smart, it does not mean she will end up with good grades. Yesterday, we had a meeting with concerned parents and their talented and smart daughter, who was barely getting by in school. She was doing well, and then suddenly her grades fell. Her parents were concerned brought her to Hillview Prep to provide her with academic and test prep support. Her father kept on insisting that his daughter is smart. We did not disagree, as after talking to her we could tell that she is a typical smart and talented girl, who has too many things on her hand. She is active both in academics and in sports, and says she is not a good test-taker, but does all her homework. She said she does not like math and is not good at it, but loves science.
Usually, when someone is good in science, they are good in math too. The problem is that students often do not know their learning style and skills they need to do well in academics and in tests. They just do things intuitively. They haven't learnt that one can be good in any subject. It all depends on learning good methods of learning. Do you know how to take control of your academic abilities? Do you know how to learn effectively?
Well, if you are smart, why are you not good at taking tests? Test taking is fundamentally a skill, just like any other skill.
“So I didn’t understand why so many of them were enrolled in the optional SAT prep section of our summer program. Why would such impressive high achievers spend their summer nights storming through a massive SAT book? Many of them already took weekend SAT prep courses back home. Did they just think it was fun to time one another on practice sets?”
A story in the New York Times talks about a student from a modest background wondering why his rich co-students were taking summer SAT prep classes.
His family and friends from home thought it was weird that he went to “school” during his summers. His fellow students saw it otherwise; they saw summer academic programs as normal and enjoyable. They approached studying for the SAT with a near-professional intensity that was alien to him.
“I realized that they didn’t just want to score exceptionally well on the SAT. They were gunning for a score on the Preliminary SAT exams that would put them in the top percentile of students in the United States and make them National Merit Scholars in the fall.”
The majority of low- and middle-income 11th graders he knew didn’t even sit for the preliminary exams. Most took the SAT cold. Few were privy to the upper-middle-class secret: To get into elite colleges, one must train for standardized tests with the intensity of an athlete.
Yes, train with the intensity of an athlete. How do you do that?
We started with students hurdled in a French classroom with a TV and lots of French words and pictures from France. The room was in a trailer, away from the main building. It faced the large field.
The students knew why they were there. They were there not to learn French but for an after school HSPT class. The students were seventh graders and even a sixth grader.
For over fifty years, academic high schools nationwide have used High School Placement Test (HSPT®) to assist with admissions, scholarship selection, and curriculum placement. The HSPT is a standardized, timed test required of every 8th grade student applying to attend a Catholic high school. It contains five sections. The first two sections measure verbal and quantitative ability. The next three sections include questions related to reading comprehension, mathematics, and the components of written language. The HSPT questions are designed to test students at their curriculum level.
Hillview Prep was invited by Carden Academy to teach HSPT to a select group of students. Carden Academy of Almaden is a co-educational, non-sectarian, independent private elementary and middle school.
You need to get at least a 32 on the ACT to get into a top school.
Often we see that some very smart kids are unable to break the barrier of 32 on the ACT and fail to get near perfect scores.
Why do smart kids fail to break the barrier? In "Patterns of Underachievement in Gifted Students", Carolyn Coil, discusses three patterns of underachievement by smart kids:
1) Does well in early grades, then underachieves more as they get older
2) Sporadic up-and-down pattern
3) No effort to go beyond the minimum
The causes of underachievement can be many. We highlight a few below.
1. Not Being Prepared
Some smart students have poor discipline and do things last minute. They are smart so they can study last minute and still do well. However, in test prep, you cannot get away with it. Poor discipline leads to poor habits which affects your scores. For example, such students make a lot of silly errors because they rush through the questions. Remember, many questions are not difficult, but if you make an error the scantron will be unforgiving. It does not know whether you know the concept or not. It only sees you bubble that you have marked. Why lose points on concepts you know really well? So prepare well.
2. Poor Strategies
We suggest not to take the ACT or the SAT in spring because your school load is quite heavy, especially if you are taking APs. Ideally, take the test in the Fall and do test-prep in the Summer. We would be happy to assist with your test preparation. Just let us know. :-)
3. Lack of Test Taking Abilities
If you are not a good test taker, chances are you have not developed your test-taking abilities. Test taking is no different than learning swimming or tennis. It is the same thing. There are certain principles and strategies that you need to learn to do well on tests. Many students do not have a well rounded approach and have no consistency.
ISEE or SSAT? That is the question!
Though both tests are accepted by most private, non-parochial schools, they are different in many ways.
An overview of differences:
Below are more details on the differences between the ISEE and the SSAT.
Are You Doing Things Differently On Test Days?
Without even realizing it, you may be doing things differently on test days than you have been while studying. Anxiety may have taken over and you may be rushing through your test and just panicking. In some cases, you may fall back to your old habits instead of what you learned for test prep. In other cases, you might forget time management and spend too much time on tough problems. And there could be many other ways how you maybe doing things differently—from not eating a good breakfast to not getting a good night's sleep.
In order to succeed on the test day, you will have to rely on your subconscious mind guiding you—the habits that you have built—because of the spontaneity of the test. You have to response to the spontaneity and the surprises of the test. Plus, given time and performance pressure, you are asking too much for your conscious mind to do. It can't and you then fall into your habits.
What can you do?
There are many students who have perfect scores on the SAT. These students come all walks of life and have taken test prep from various places, from the name brands to individual tutors. If you were to choose a test prep course, and there are lots and lots of choices today, which one should you choose? Of course, we will say choose us, but what really differentiates us from the name brands like Kaplan and Princeton and from the many test prep schools out there. In short, why would you work with Hillview Prep?
The short answer is the Smart Scoring System.
The Smart Scoring System is a learning tool. It can identify your academic strengths and weaknesses and understand your learning style. It is the ultimate guide for discovering the most effective methods and strategies that make you learn faster and succeed in less time.
The ACT Science test contains passages on a variety of scientific subjects: biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, etc. According to the Official ACT website: “Advanced knowledge in these subjects is not required, but background knowledge acquired in general, introductory science courses is needed to answer some of the questions. The test emphasizes scientific reasoning skills over recall of scientific content, skill in mathematics, or reading ability.”
We believe that reading comprehension is the key to be successful with ACT science. In addition, we believe that a review of definitions can enhance your ability to do well in the ACT Science portion. Again, we are talking here about background knowledge and not expertise.
Definitions are key in acquiring a sound background knowledge of any subject, and here is a list of concepts that you might encounter on the ACT Science section. Do let us know if you want to learn more about acing the ACT test. With our revolutionary Smart Scoring System, we can help you learn faster, test smarter and score higher on your ACT.
Many students who are preparing for the SAT confuse or do not know definitions. Definitions are critical. They help you understand and differentiate a concept from others. They also help you retain the concept in a simple way. And finally, they help you answer the question on your SAT test.
Here are the most common SAT math definitions that you should become familiar with. You will see these words throughout the SAT math test, and you have to know how to use them.
You are an excellent student. You got good grades, but you bombed the SAT. You are disappointed and still want to go to a top school. What do you do now? Here are some tips.
1. Take the ACT!
This is a no-brainer. If you have not taken the ACT, you must. It will enhance your chances of getting into an Ivy league school. Prepare for the ACT with the Hillview Prep's Smart Scoring System and get a great ACT score. The Smart Scoring Systems can quickly diagnose why you failed to obtain a great SAT score and help you pinpoint your weaknesses. Working with one of our tutors, you can use the Smart Scoring System to lean faster, test smarter and score higher.
According to The Institute for College Access & Success, seven in 10 seniors (68%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt, with an average of $30,100 per borrower. This represents a 4% increase from the average debt of 2014 graduates. Graduate students, for example, have a median debt of $57,600, and 1 in 4 have debts of $99,614 or higher, according to New America, a public policy think tank.
How do you pay off your loan faster?
Often you will get homework that is tedious and frankly plain boring. You don't want to do it. Nobody really does. However, often, you have to do boring drills to achieve mastery. Think of all the athletes who practice routine after routine, many of them just boring, to improve their skills. You have to do the same. Fortunately, there is some help for you. Try these six hacks if you are having difficulty maintaining focus to do your boring homework.
There are usually three categories of students: the anxious, the bored, and the prepared.
Many students are anxious before and during a test. It is very normal and natural. You don't take tests everyday, especially those with high impact on your future. It is almost like the Olympics!
Other teens might wonder about sitting in a seat for four hours answering questions that have no relevance to a teen's life? Boring? Uncool? Unfortunately, welcome to the world of test taking. You have to do take the test in order to get into a great college. During the test, you'll lose interest. Your mind will wander and lose focus. You'll feel tired. What to do?
And then there are the prepared teens, those who have invested or plan to invest in taking test prep courses and lessons and are fully prepared. However, just knowing the content is not good enough. You have to have strategies to maximizing your test taking abilities and efficiency. And even the most prepared will feel some anxiety or nervousness during or before the test. This is all normal. In fact, if you feel something, that means you don't care.
Use these seven tips for teens to maximize your efforts on the ACT and the SAT tests and earn the high scores that colleges want.
According to Harvard, prior to the start of the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI), fewer than 20,000 students applied for admission. This year, nearly 40,000 students applied to Harvard.
One big reason is the availability of financial aid by the HFAI. According to Sarah C. Donahue, Griffin Director of Financial Aid. “The majority of Harvard students receive need-based aid, and their families pay an average of only $12,000. Students are not required to take out loans.”
Since launching HFAI in 2005, Harvard has awarded nearly $1.6 billion in grants to undergraduates. Over that time, Harvard’s annual financial aid award budget has increased more than 114 percent, from $80 million in 2005 to more than $172 million in 2016.
College admission committees want to know who is getting into their college. It is just like anything else. You want to know who is coming to your house. Right?
GPAs and test scores helps them determine how well you are doing academically and the probability of how well you will do in college, but they also want to get to know you beyond that. They want to learn your character, your interests, like, how you spend your time outside of the classroom, how you would deal with a challenge, etc. They are interested in getting to know your personality and the life experiences you may have had up until this point. They also want to learn why you are interested in going to their college. They want to learn from your teachers or counselors their perspective on who you are as a student and human being. They can’t get all that information from numbers: GPA and test scores.
Admission to top colleges is ultra-competitive. They are many, many qualified students who are applying to top colleges—from all around the world. Colleges do not have spots for all of them. Many students have excellent grades and test scores—some perfect grades and test scores. So they have to use qualitative measures such as essays, projects and letters of recommendations to make distinctions among the many excellent candidates.
In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.
A perfect essay appeals to both systems. Here are two steps to write your perfect college essay.
Why the Power of the Pen can Make You an Invincible Learner
Cognitive neuropsychologists, Audrey van der Meer and Ruud van der Weel, from the renowned Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU), are experts in the field of how technology and learning intersect. They have studied the differences between using a pen and using a keyboard and how it impacts learning and they have some fascinating insights to report.
Does long-hand note-taking using a pen deepens the mind’s ability to retain and process information?
That is the question the researchers asked and carried out a two-month research project with students. Their project aimed to find out whether note taking by typing versus note taking with a pen would bring about differences in brain activity, thereby affecting a student’s ability to learn.
After spending more than seven hours in school, five days a week, most students are given homework. Although homework is viewed by most educators and parents as an essential component of reinforcing what has been taught in the classroom, for most students homework is a chore that often frustrates and angers them.
How can you help your child with homework frustration? Following are some tips. Find out which ones will work for you and your child.
What if you could hack your brain to be brilliant on demand?
Research has found that the surge of brilliance you experience is when high-performance hormones dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin floods your brain.
How do you do that? You just have to ask yourself the following questions.
Responsibility And Timeliness
Clark Brigger, executive director for undergraduate admissions, Penn State University, tells his kids, “Do not wait for the deadline to submit your applications.” Admissions officers see a huge spike in applications when the deadline comes around. That's when the procrastinators send their applications in. It is to your advantage to get ahead of the crowd, according to Brigger.
Think strategically. Thing about the poor admissions officer. She has to read thousands of applications. If you get yours in early, the reader may be more relaxed and in a better mood at that point in the process. You also show that you value their time and are responsible.
In today's fast paced world, we are told to move fast, read fast, do fast. We are supposed to be like superman — fast.
However, reading fast is not necessarily a good thing. It does not benefit your brain and increases stress. According to the Wall Street Journal, a growing movement of 'slow readers' is taking place around the world. Slow reading advocates want to return to the focused reading habits, before Google, smartphones and social media started fracturing our time and attention spans.
There are many benefits to reading slowly and not rush through the text.
1. Microsoft Surface Tablet: The Best Digital Pen & Paper
We use Microsoft's Surface tablet, the closest emulation to a pen and paper. You can take faster notes, share material quickly, and organize more efficiently.
What ever happened to the classic pen and paper? The tactile experience of writing letters.
You can write directly on webpages with the Surface Pen, which is a delight to use. The Surface Pen feels like a real pen. We like the sensors on it and feels like you are using a real palm. It also recognizes your palm, so your palm does not interfere with writing. You can quickly switch between lines and graph paper. Cut and paste is seamless.
How do you determine the popularity of a school? According to US News there is a concept called, 'yield'. The yield is the percentage of students who enroll at the school after being admitted. A higher yield typically indicates a school's popularity and desirability in a student's eyes and is often associated with a "first-choice school," experts say.
“I am absolutely, unequivocally and categorically scared to enter the college admissions process. And chances are that if you are a rising high school senior, you are too. In the increasingly competitive milieu that is college admissions, no college is a “safe school.” Acceptance letters from dream schools couldn’t be more hard found, nor rejection letters more prevalent.”
Following is a list of students' concerns: