Archive for February, 2010

SAT Preparation: Helpful Reminders for the Upcoming SAT & ACT

The March SAT (3/13/10) and April ACT (4/10/10) are fast-approaching, and the Vocab Videos team wanted to offer you a few reminders for the home stretch:

  • Remember to Register! If you haven’t already, be sure to register for your upcoming test! Sign up for the SAT by following the instructions at CollegeBoard.com. If you’ve missed the February 10th registration deadline, there’s still time; late registration for the March SAT is available through 2/18/10 (mail) and 2/24/10 (phone/online). Sign up here for the ACT. The registration deadline is 3/5/10 and while we don’t recommend you wait, the late registration deadline is 3/19/10.
  • Stay on top of your game: Just because the end is near (for some of you) doesn’t mean it’s time to slow down or give up–stay on top of your test-prep game! These last few weeks are important and there’s still room for improvement. Continue to put in your best effort with your tutors, brush up on your vocabulary*, and stay committed to doing your best.
  • Keep taking practice tests: Taking SAT practice tests could very well be your best form of review for the real SAT. The more familiar you are with the SAT, the more comfortable you’ll be come the actual test date. Knowing what to expect in terms of content, question type, and your time management ability, will greatly improve your test-time mentality. Check out this free SAT practice test available through the College Board.
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Taking the upcoming SAT or ACT? There's still time! Continue to stay committed to your SAT prep.

GOOD LUCK ON YOUR UPCOMING TEST!

*Don’t forget: learning SAT vocabulary words is one sure way to improve your SAT reading score up to 150 points! With vocabulary, you either know it or you don’t, and on the SAT vocabulary knowledge is a must. Learn it the fun & effective way with Vocab Videos, and be sure to check out the new Vocab Videos trailer!

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College Admissions: Tips for the College Interview

Like we’ve said before, SAT preparation is far from the only aspect of the college admissions process. There’s your personal statement or college essay, your activities resume, your GPA and the classes in which you’re enrolled, and the potential college interview.

If the opportunity presents itself for you to have an interview with a representative from a college that you’ve applied to or an alum from that college, we encourage you to take it. If you’re not offered a college interview, be sure to call up the school to see if it’s possible to request one. While the college essay gives you a chance to be more than a set of numbers and allows you to tell your story, the college interview puts a face to your application—literally!

We’re sure most of these next few items are understood, but here are a few reminders for interview (college or otherwise) etiquette:

  1. Appropriate dress is essential.

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    What not to do on a college interview...

  2. Be courteous and respectful.
  3. No gum chewing.
  4. Avoid the “Umms” and “Likes”

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Obvious items aside, the most important piece of advice that we can give to you is to be yourself. This is your chance to show an admissions officer who you are, to tell them about your interests, goals, and hopes for your academic future and beyond.  But as wonderful as you may be, some preparation should go into getting ready for your college interview.

We would recommend that you have some general answers ready to go for some possible questions that college interviewers may be asking you. A few might include:

  • Can you tell me a little about yourself? (*Yes, it’s a broad question, so be sure to highlight something special.)
  • Why have you selected this particular college? (*If you’re seeking admission to a college, you should 100% be able to answer this!)
  • In what academic areas are you interested?
  • In what extracurricular activities have you been involved? (*Talk about the one that’s proven most meaningful for you.)
  • What sets you apart as an individual and applicant?
  • What books or articles have you read in the last year that have meaning to you? (*Even if it wasn’t in the last year, be able to talk about something you’ve read that has impacted you.)
  • Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?

We’re not saying to write out long answers to the above questions so that you’re ready to recite them verbatim. Instead,  simply have some talking points prepared for these kinds of general questions. And here’s the good news: THERE’S NO “RIGHT” OR “WRONG” ANSWERS! These aren’t trick questions; for the most part, they’re about you! It’s not so much a matter of whether you will get stumped or not, it’s a matter of whether you remember to highlight the things you wish to get across about yourself.

But guess what—your college interviewer is also helping you to determine whether this college is the right place for you, so you should certainly take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions. There is a lot of information to be gained on both sides during a college interview. In a way, you are interviewing the college as much as they are interviewing you. The following are a few suggestions for possible questions you may want answered by a college representative:

  • What is the average class size and are there seminars and honors classes available?
  • When do you select a major?
  • How many courses are required and is there much room for self-selection of coursework?
  • How is faculty available to students beyond the classroom?
  • Is there a writing center?
  • How diverse is the student body?
  • Is it a “suitcase” school where the majority of students go home on the weekend rather than dorm?
  • Are there study abroad programs available? What countries may I visit?
  • What internship opportunities are available for my field of study?

Of course, these are only our suggestions. Choosing what college to attend is a BIG decision. We’d encourage you to ask any questions you would like answered about your potential future school.

Finally, one more piece of advice: Be sure to remember your interviewer’s name! Because after the interview, we suggest that you write a thank-you note. But don’t overdo it—it doesn’t need to be an overly sweet, lengthy letter. Keep it brief and sincere; it can’t hurt.

So though the importance of an interview will vary from college to college, we say, take advantage of the chance to put a face to your application when you can. It’s your opportunity to shine, and to ask meaningful questions about your potential college.

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The International Society for Technology in Education talks Vocab Videos

Check out what ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education) has to say about Vocab Videos! Read it here.

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SAT Preparation: 6 Myths About the SAT

Whether we like it or not, the SAT plays an extremely significant role in getting students accepted into college. Because of its magnitude, people are going to talk about the SAT, but not everything people say is going to be true. Below are a few myths commonly associated with the big test:

  1. Different SAT test dates vary in difficulty: This one gets thrown out there all the time. Many students are convinced that one testing date may offer a more difficult SAT than the next testing date. Some students, for instance, believe that all the geniuses come out to take the SAT in January and March, and steer clear because of a potentially skewed curve. There is no truth to this notion; there is no link between SAT testing date and test difficulty.
  2. The SAT is a good indication of how I will do in college: False, or shall we say, not necessarily. The SAT is not an indicator of how well you will do in college. There can be excellent students who are just not the best standardized test-takers. What the SATs reflect is how good you are at taking the test, and how long you’ve spent preparing. But there continues to be a great amount of weight placed on the SAT in the world of college admissions, so get preparing!
  3. You can’t really improve your critical reading score: You can improve your SAT critical reading score–significantly. The surest way to do so is by expanding your vocabulary. In fact, improving your SAT vocabulary can increase your SAT critical reading score up to 150 points, as a large part of the reading section is vocabulary-dependent. Sentence completions and reading comprehension depend upon your understanding of words in questions, answers, and passages.
  4. The math on the SAT is very complex: By the time you’re taking the SAT, you will have already learned most of what’s being tested on the math portion of the test. The math section of the SAT is largely based on 9th grade math–ratios and percents, some geometry, and algebra concepts like factoring, functions, and quadratic equations. So, start reviewing to get these concepts fresh in your mind again. There’s also a few tricks to beat the clock. Because you’re given answer choices, on appropriate questions instead of setting up an algebraic equation and solving for variables, you can plug-in answer choices to test them against what the question‘s asking.
  5. Colleges don’t look at the writing section: So it’s the newest addition to the SAT test, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter!  This myth started when students began hearing that colleges weren’t counting the writing section as much as math and reading. We say be on the safe side and get yourself as strong in the writing section as possible. Still not convinced? At least check in about this with each one of the schools you’re applying to.
  6. Taking the test more than once looks bad on your college application: Wrong again. Most students re-test, and there‘s nothing wrong with it. If you’re not happy with your scores, taking the SAT again is a great option. You should know, however, that the scores won’t magically increase. In fact, because the SAT aims to test intelligence, and students don’t typically become more “intelligent” from one test to another, re-testing typically allows for a very mediocre score improvement . So from one test to the next, we’d recommend an increase in SAT preparation. Studying vocabulary is a good idea because it’s one thing you can definitely improve. With words, you either know them or you don’t, and on the SAT knowing them pays off.

Preparing for the SAT? Don't believe everything you hear.

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SAT Preparation: 5 Commandments for the Final Stretch

You have spent your entire high school careers studying, taking tests and writing essays all in the hope of getting into that dream school.   And yet there are still SATs to take and scores to improve.  Before you throw up your hands in frustration, break down and cry into your pillow, or decide that being a 6th year senior is actually a cool idea, here are 5 essential things you can do to increase your chances of nailing a top score this fall. 

5 COMMANDMENTS FOR THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

  1. Keep Studying – Hope alone will not raise your SAT score any more than it will win you the lottery.*  Students who take practice tests, study vocabulary, and refine techniques are much more likely to see higher scores than those who are simply hoping to sit next to the smart kid and cheat.
  2. Don’t Stress – Adding pressure to an SAT only hurts your problem solving abilities.  Taking a test in the fall is no more stressful than one in the spring, and to be honest, you are now a little older and little wiser (hopefully).  Many of my students have hit their top scores in October, November and December precisely because they went in stress-free.  If they got more points great.  If not, well, they had already submitted their scores and no one would ever know about this last attempt.**
  3. dont_stop_believing_stop_sign1– Many students think they have little chance of scoring higher on a 2nd or 3rd SAT attempt.  True some students don’t improve, but even just the confidence that comes with experience can have an impact.  You are taking the test again for a reason, so if you don’t believe in yourself what’s the point?
  4. Don’t Cheat – As the pressure builds, students sometimes feel the urge to find any advantage they can – even if it’s dishonest.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CHEAT ON THE SAT.  It’s just not worth it.  You have spent years building an academic profile and thinking that a few stolen answers will be the difference between acceptance and rejection is ridiculous.  Colleges see your scores in a range anyway and if you get caught you aren’t getting in anywhere.  You don’t want to live in your parents’ basement for the next few years. 
  5. Get a Grip on Reality – Taking the SAT may seem overwhelming at times, but it’s just a bunch of English and math questions with some bubbling thrown in.  True, bubbling can be hard and the reading passages may not be your idea of a good time, but it’s just a test.  Colleges look at the whole picture, and you should too. 

* If you have already won the lottery you are definitely luckier than the rest of us so I hope your test bursts into flames to balance out the universe. 

** Score Choice for the SAT functions differently for particular colleges so always check on collegeboard.com for details.  In some cases there is an ethical way to avoid sending a final score even to schools who want all scores.

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