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.
Not surprisingly, Stanford University had the highest yield among any National University for fall 2015, according to the data that 295 ranked National Universities submitted to U.S. News in an annual survey. Stanford University boasted a yield of 80.4 percent followed by Harvard University at 79.8 percent.
Here is a list of the top 10 most popular national universities.
Interested in learning more about these colleges? Hillview Prep thought leader Sean Massa recently shared his insights on thoughts on his educational journey at Penn and Yale. You can listen to his views below, and feel free to contact us to consult with him about your application.
1. You are penalized for wrong answers.
On the Middle and Upper Levels, students receive one point for every correct answer, and they lose one-quarter point for each wrong answer for questions with five possible responses. No points are lost for skipping a question. (For this reason, it only makes sense to guess if one or more answers can be eliminated.) There is no penalty for incorrect answers on the Elementary Level. (In this case, guessing is advised.) Guess if you get it down to two possible answers.
2. The language section is strongly inferential.
SSAT is all about strategies. The language section is much more inferential and more answers to choose from than the ISEE and the HSPT. Inference is using both inductive and deducting reasoning to come to an assumption or conclusion. So it comes down to how much of a versatile thinker you are. If you are too abstract, you have to practice being more literal, and vice-versa.
Learn Hillview Prep's method how to approach inferential problems. That is the key to do really well on the SSAT. Use Hillview Prep's Smart Scoring System to diagnose where what you need to be more versatile: how can you use your strengths to conquer your weaknesses.
3. The verbal section is grueling
The section is longer and fast paced. The SSAT includes one 30-minute verbal section, which is composed of 30 synonym questions and 30 analogy questions. Given the time limit and the number of questions, students have approximately 30 seconds to answer each question. There are more choices and again the presentation is inferential.
Contact us to help you prepare well for your SSAT test.
1. The test is fast-paced.
The ISEE is a standardized test administered over a three-hour period. Students have less than a minute to answer most questions, and on some sections they only have half a minute to answer each question.
The reading section is very fast-paced; students are given six minutes in total to read a passage (usually about 60 lines in length) and answer six questions related to the passage. The answers are not always easy to find in the passage; there are many inference questions, which require that students to learn deductive reasoning. Check out Hillview Prep's 'keyword' strategy to differentiate the answer choices.
And, of course, use Hillview Prep's proprietary Smart Scoring System to learn how to pace yourself for the test.
2. Math requires more steps.
The math sections contain problems involving algebra, geometry, probability, metric conversions, fractions, decimals, percents, negative numbers, order of operations, mean, median, mode, averages and square roots. There are a lot of word problems that combine require multiple steps to solve making them quite challenging.
Learn Hillview Prep's method of consolidation to help you solve these challenging problems.
4. Essays are a challenge!
The essay portion of the test can be challenging for many students. The most important thing is writing the evidence to support your thesis. It is all about validation. In addition, students need to be careful with grammar, spelling, sentence structure and transitions between paragraphs. This is all very challenging to do in 30 minutes with a topic they have just been given.
Learn outlining and step by step sequential thinking skills to write excellent essays from our mentors here at Hillview Prep. Contact us to help you prepare well for your ISEE test.
You put in the hard work and have the grades and SAT/ACT scores to get into your dream college. So do tens of thousands of students from all over the world! How do you stand out?
The admission committee decisions and their processes are not in your control. You cannot change them. But you can stand out and influence them by using your personal statement to shine and demonstrate the value you will bring to the college.
The key word is 'value'. It is not about your awesome grades and scores. That is a given and is used to filter out candidates. You have to figure out ways to stand out and get in. One way is take the subject SAT and demonstrate your interest in your field (assuming you know that). Another way is to write a great personal statement. We suggest you do both.
How do you communicate your value?
You have to pass three tests
You have to show: 1) what is unique to you, 2) what is important to the college, and 3) that your claims are defensible.
And when you have something that’s unique to you, important to the customer (the college) and defensible, you have a Power Position – a value proposition that actually communicates real value to the prospect. And that is how you can stand out.
But how do you do that? Here are some pointers.
Yes, everyone talks about passion, but how do you show that? One way is to reveal something new about yourself. Whether it’s how a mentor helped you realize your potential, or an event that’s shaped who you are today, write about something with substance that adds a new dimension to your application. Another is strong interest in a field. Maybe, you love collecting beanie babies, and you have a large collection enough to fill a room!
Tell a Story
Philip Pullman once said: “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
Think about it: You see politicians create a “story” for their campaign, and focus a lot of their efforts speaking with the public in crafting and standing by these stories. One of the worst things you can do is bore the admission officer. Make yourself memorable by telling a story about something distinctive from a creative or different angle. With this advice, your personal statement will be the highlight of your application. And that is what you want to stand out.
Admission committees don't have much time to read. Use certain keywords to highlight what you are communicating. Help your reader along. Make your passion and story grab the attention admissions officer, and then make your keywords literally jump off the page and highlight the value you bring to the college and defend your claims.
Need help to write your essay? Contact us and we will be happy to help you write a personal statement that will get you into your dream school. Of course, you will have to have the right GPA and test scores, and we can help with that as well. Remember, the magic numbers are 3.5 and 30!
Noticing that nearly 150,000 edX learners (in 2014) were high school students, edX announced its high school initiative addressing the crucial need of college readiness gap.
Studies show that nearly 60 percent of first-year U.S. college students are unprepared for postsecondary studies. This readiness gap between college eligibility and preparedness is costly not only to students, but also to families and institutions.
MOOCs are offering courses from top high schools, secondary schools and universities to help students prepare for Advanced Placement (AP®) Exams and CLEP® Exams, as well as introductory-level courses to help you get ahead of the game. Examples are edX specially designed courses and FutureLearn's special collection of courses targeted to help students prepare for university.
How can MOOCs help you?
1. Prepare for AP exams
There over 35 Advanced Placement (AP) exams that high-schoolers can take to gain college credit. Getting AP college credit can save a lot of money and possibly shorten time to graduation.
2. Feel for potential schools
Which school is a great fit for me? Students do not know and cannot know for sure without getting a feel for the school. Often, even visiting a school does not give students a sense of how professors teach and what it is like to learn there. MOOC classes can help you get a feel for professors, the learning environment and quality of classes. Remember though that it is usually the best professors who teach online, and many professors do not like to teach, so don't assume that the MOOC experience is applicable to every class. However, it will give a feel for differences between schools, their support for educations, etc.
3. Exploring majors
What major should I pick? Many students have no clue and an estimated 80% end up changing their major. Explore classes and see what sparks your interest. Do it right from your house by taking some MOOC classes.
4. College application
Another advantage of taking MOOC classes is to show your passion and commitment in your personal statement. You can even get certificates to show your commitment and academic ability.
5. Content and mastery
What courses should you take? We suggest to address two key issues: content and mastery.
For content, we recommend taking classes to refine your writing and language skill, getting ahead in computer science, refreshing your math knowledge, and training your brain to think critically. There are many MOOC courses available to address the above.
For mastery, we recommend 1:1 tutoring. Did you know that Mark Zuckerberg had a computer science tutor at age 11? At Hillview Prep, we can help you with your AP and CLEP exams. We can also speed up your learning MOOC classes. The MOOC classes can give you a good structure to follow and our tutors can help you master the material. Contact us and let us know how we can help you get ahead in college.
Many families find themselves too wealthy to qualify for financial aid, but are too strapped to pay out-of-pocket for college education. This is how federal financial aid works since it is needs based. So what to do? What are your options?
Well, first don't rush and empty your retirement savings or emergency funds (if you have any). Protect what you have. Your child can always take out an unsubsidized student loan. Did you know that Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students and there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need? Read more about it here.
Nevertheless, if you still want to help pay for your child’s tuition, the standard advice calls for two options: Get a student loan for parents or tap your home’s equity, if you have any.
Option 1a: TAKE OUT A FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN FOR PARENTS
You may be surprised to learn that you can borrow money for your children's college with a federal direct PLUS loan. If you or your child have already filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), you can apply for a PLUS loan on StudentLoans.gov.
PROS OF PLUS LOANS
CONS OF PLUS LOANS
OPTION 1b: Get private loans Private lenders also offer parent loans. Going the private route may be best if you have excellent credit. A high credit score may qualify you for a lower interest rate than you’d get with a federal parent loan. However, private loans don’t offer all of the benefits that federal loans do.
OPTION 2: TAP INTO YOUR HOME EQUITY In today's low interest rate environment, it's a great time to use your home equity. There are three ways to unlock your equity:
PROS OF TAPPING HOME EQUITY
CONS OF TAPPING HOME EQUITY
OPTION 3: GET A SCHOLARSHIP
Yes, we didn't tell you, but there is an option 3, and our favorite and what we recommend. Before you go taking out loans or mortgaging your house, have your child apply for scholarships. Check out our scholarship page here.
Also, remember that The FAFSA only covers federal student aid and not the financial aid from colleges and universities themselves. About 400 colleges, organizations and private high schools offer scholarships and grants.
Note that there are schools that offer full-ride scholarships and there are schools that have millions in dollars in aid packages to attract students. For example, University of Alabama has $100M for scholarships!
So apply for scholarships first! Get your GPA, ACT and SAT scores high. Do you know the magic numbers for getting scholarships?
Parents of gifted children are surprised when their kids have homework problems. After all, gifted kids are smart. They learn quickly and things come easier to them. Unfortunately, for some parents, the visions of straight A report cards are replaced by low or poor grades.
It is not unusual for a gifted child to have homework problems. There could be several reasons.
A gifted child with dyslexia, ADHD, or some other learning disability may find it difficult to perform academically. Gifted children are not immune to these disabilities and the effect of such disabilities on their learning is then reflected in their homework, including an avoidance to do it.
Solution: If your child—regardless of whether she has been diagnosed with a learning disability or not—is having homework problems, get help. She will need some Academic Tutoring. Check out our Alpha Scholars program, which is aimed to cultivate the student's mind, regardless of any disability or learning style.
A large number of kids are disorganized. They misplace their assignments, forget to bring books or worksheets home, or forget the due date. Daily planners don’t seem to help these children because they tend to lose, misplace, or forget those as well.
Solution: Help to build their organization skills. Use technology to assist them. Most children have phones and they can track their assignments via their organizer or app on the phone. With our cloud based system, you can track your work on line, from anywhere, at any time and on any device.
Children who are perfectionists are often reluctant to complete their homework because they don’t feel it is good enough. If it doesn’t meet their standards, which tend to be quite high, they can become frustrated. Over time, they may procrastinate in order avoid that frustration.
Solution: Talk to your child that perfectionism is a hidden fear of failure or rejection. If she fails, she can always try again. You can also check out the Alpha Scholars program, which is like the ultimate personal trainer. Just like in sports or fitness training you fail many times in order to succeed, same with academics.
Lack of Challenge
School work is based on the average requirement or the minimum expectations of the grade level. A gifted child will breeze through his work and will find homework and even tests boring. Sometimes they will focus long enough to do the homework and tests, but they will rush through it to get it done and as a result make numerous careless errors.
Solution: At Hillview Prep or Alpha Scholars, your child can come in and work with more challenging problems. He can also access his material via the web or his smartphone.
Lack of Purpose
Some students do not have a clear purpose and are still trying to find one.
Solution: The Alpha Scholars program can help a student discover something she didn't consider before: her purpose and passion and how learning is the tool of fueling them.
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?
3.5 is the first magic number.
A 3.5 GPA doubles your chances of getting scholarships! The U.S. government has been tracking high school student performance in a nationwide study that began in 2009. As of 2013, their findings showed that students who have an unweighted GPA of at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) are twice as likely to win private scholarships as students with a lower GPA, according to Mark Kantrowitz, a student aid expert and publisher of the scholarship search engine Cappex.com.
If you are struggling with your GPA, come talk to us. We can help you improve your GPA. Get to the magic mark of 3.5!
30+ ACT is the second magic number.
Your ACT score might be an even better indicator of whether or not you’ll qualify for merit-based financial aid, says Joseph Orsolini, a college aid planning expert based in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
“At many colleges, an ACT score of 30+ is sort of a magic door to maximizing scholarship money,” he tells Teen Vogue.
At the University of Alabama, for example, in-state students are eligible scholarships, valued at $3,500 to $10,470 per year. You’ll need at least a 27 ACT score or 1280-1300 (new SAT) score to have a shot at the lowest award available. But students who have a 30 ACT score are immediately eligible for the most coveted of all academic awards — a full-ride scholarship worth a total of $41,800 over four years.
Some colleges have online calculators to estimate how much merit scholarship you can get based on your SAT, ACT and GPA. Examples: Pace University in New York, Bradley University in Illinois, Arizona State University in Arizona.
Improve your ACT and SAT scores. Make an appointment with us and we will guide you through our Assessment Prescription Method (APM) and our ultimate learning tool, the Smart Scoring System. The Smart Scoring System can identify your academic strengths and weaknesses and help you 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.
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.
1. Take Time Off
Go back to play! Yes, play, but physical play and not video games. That will release stress and improve your mood and health. Don't look at any test prep material.
The new year is when people make resolutions to improve themselves. You should ask yourself, what can you change about yourself or your habits this year?
2. Take Control of your Academic Abilities
Your new approach to test prep should directly address the previous issues you had. Most likely, you do not know that. You might be confused as to why you didn't do so well. Other than doing more practice tests and studying harder, you do not know how to get higher scores, or worse, you believe that this is the best you can do. Nothing can be further from the truth (unless of course you aced the test).
The reason you don't know how to improve your scores is that you do not know your learning style and therefore your cannot take control of your academic abilities. Are you a visual learner? Or a kinesthetic one? Are you a fast reader or a slow one? Do you think abstractly or literally? Talk to our instructors and set up a time to diagnose your learning style. You cannot improve unless you know how.
Find out your strengths and weaknesses and use your strengths to conquer your weaknesses! Make an appointment with us and we will guide you through our Assessment Prescription Method (APM) and our ultimate learning tool, the Smart Scoring System. The Smart Scoring System can identify your academic strengths and weaknesses and help you 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.
So don't dwell in negative emotions or about your previous scores. Take control of your academic abilities with the Hillview Prep system. We guarantee that you will improve your scores or your money back.
The new CEO of College Board, David Coleman, spearheaded a sweeping redesign of America's oldest college entrance exam. His plan was to tie the controversial Common Core with the SAT. In an internal memo, he called it a “beautiful vision.”
What does that mean? What is his beautiful vision? We do not know.
We do know that 2016 was a bad year for College Board. From a major security breach exposing 400 test questions to going ahead with test using leaked questions to knowingly overloading the test with wordy math problems, things were bad for college board.
Plus, President-elect Donald Trump has called the Common Core a “total disaster,” saying education must be controlled locally. Even though the decision to adopt or not to adopt Common Core rests with the states, such strong high-level opposition could determine whether the course charted by Coleman helps or hurts the College Board and the SAT.
In 2012, the ACT overtook the SAT as the most popular college entrance exam in America. Given the turmoil with the SAT, we see ACT gaining more traction. Recently, the ACT launched the preACT, to compete with the PSAT. And the ACT has been the more stable test, so we recommend taking it first, before the SAT.
College board has vast resources, so it is here to stay. According to data from 2015, it had about $77 million in annual profit and $834 million in net assets. The College Board offers test-fee waivers to poor students as well as free test-preparation services through a partnership with Khan Academy, a not-for-profit educational organization. It can get away with fee waivers, free-test prep services and making big errors. But does Coleman's “beautiful vision” of common core and poor judgment regarding tests really benefit, you, the student?
Regardless, you have to take tests to get into the college of your dreams. Do yourself a favor and take both tests, but take the ACT first, to cover your base and not getting pulled into someone else's dream.
Check out Hillview Prep's test prep services for the ACT and the SAT. Visit our “Thought Leaders” page to learn more about their experiences and what it takes to get into the college of YOUR dreams.