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.
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.
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.
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.
Whether or not you’ll qualify for need-based aid is pretty much outside of your control. There are many factors, like your parents' income, competition, diversity policies of the college, etc.
You should however definitely file a FAFSA form. Worst case, you will get an 'unsubsidized loan', which means your loan is not interest free during your time in college, but at least you have something.
You have much more control over getting private scholarships and merit-based aid offered by colleges themselves. The real power lies in how you perform on standardized tests and, of course, your GPA. But just how valuable is your GPA and test scores when it comes to winning scholarships?
A new year usually means making New Year's resolutions, but you didn't do so well on your ACT or SAT score last year. You are disappointed and perhaps frustrated, if you put your best effort out there. Unless you earned a perfect or near perfect score on the ACT or SAT last time, you will benefit from a fresh approach to test prep this year.
You may be tempted to jump right in and hit the books. Stop! A more helpful way is to take a short break from studying to relax and rethink your strategy.
Never stop planning.
Planning for the future starts the day you step on your high school campus. Which classes should I take? Which skills do I need to improve to be successful in school? Should I start writing/updating my resume? When do I take the PSAT/SAT/ACT/SATII/AP etc? There are steps we can take every month of our high school career to position ourselves to meet our highest goals after high school.
Your ideal SAT or ACT study method may turn out to be a combination of styles.
In this series of blog posts, we will focus on different learning styles and how Hillview Prep adapts teaching methods to the learning style and multiple intelligences.