Monday, December 16, 2013

The Twelve Days of Test Prep

In a perfect world, you spend at least six months preparing for the SAT or ACT. After all, test-taking is a skill that can be learned, like playing the guitar. And any skill can be perfected over time.

Unfortunately, not everyone has time. Too often I field calls from families looking for test prep one or two weeks before the test. It's not an ideal situation, but there are several things one can do just weeks before the SAT or ACT. 

Above all, don't stress. With only two weeks to the test, stressing or cramming will actually hurt your score. 

Instead, and in light of the holiday season, try the Twelve Days of Test Prep: 

Note: these twelve days assume you already have access to a reputable study guide like this one here for the SAT or this one here for the ACT.

12 Days Before the Test: Take a full-length practice test. Time yourself and follow the the directions just like you would have to do on test day.

11 Days Before the Test: Score your test. Calculate your Raw Score for the test. Be sure to follow the guidelines in the test guide to do your calculation. Then, use the scale provided in the test guide to determine your Scaled Score. Also, see if you can determine any patterns in your answers, like you struggle with algebra questions or passage-based reading. Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses will be key on test day: score points quickly and accurately in areas of strength, skip or give yourself extra time in areas of weakness. 

10 Days Before the Test: Prepare a Game Plan. The first step in your Game Plan is figuring out the score you need to achieve. Compare your score from the previous day with the score of accepted students to the school(s) of your choice. Once you know how much you need to improve, you can figure out a Game Plan of how many more correct answers and how many fewer incorrect answers you need per section. For example, if you need to score 100 points more in the SAT math section, this could mean that you only need ten more correct answers and four less incorrect answers in the total math section of 54 problems. For both tests, your Game Plan really takes shape when you manage correct answers versus incorrect answers. The second step to developing a Game Plan is to leverage your knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses from the previous day's exercise. With these three data points (the score you need, which questions to answer quickly and which questions to avoid) you have the foundation of a solid Game Plan. 

9 Days Before the Test: Practice your Game Plan on one section. Use the study guide for another practice test. Score your section, analyze it and adjust your Game Plan as needed. Keep in mind: avoid stressing or cramming by doing only one section of the test: like just the math portion on the ACT or just the critical reading sections of SAT. Keep in simple. 

8 Days Before the Test: Same as the previous day, but with another section.

7 Days Before the Test: Same as the previous day, but with another section. By today, you should have completed all of the multiple choice sections of the SAT practice test.

6 Days Before the Test: Complete the ACT practice test and perform the same score analysis as other days. If you are prepping for the SAT, write and essay on this day and see if you can get your English teacher or a tutor to read it and score it. Learn how to increase your score on your essay. 

5 Days Before the Test: If you are taking the ACT with the writing, write and essay. As with the SAT essay, get this one scored and see how to improve upon the score. 

4 Days Before the Test: At this point, it is time to slow down on the studying and reduce any stress. You could try and memorize some vocab words, but go slowly and certainly don't exert yourself. The most important muscle to build at this point is your confidence.

3 Days Before the Test: Check in with your Game Plan. Review how many correct answers you need and how many incorrect ones still keep you in line for the score you want. Revisit the two practice tests to see if there are problems that you might want to avoid on test day. For example, if you struggled on

2 Days Before the Test: Remind yourself that you are ready and prepared for test day. Think about the test as a game or a puzzle that you will master with your Game Plan. Mentally prepare yourself with positive visions of you scoring points quickly and easily. Above all else, gets lots of rest and eat right. 

1 Day Before the Test: Get lots of rest and eat well. Make test day stress free by printing your admission ticket, getting your picture identification, pencil, calculator, snack/water all ready for tomorrow. Ideally you wake up on test day and seamlessly get to the test center with little stress and plenty of time to think more positive thoughts. 

While test day is not Christmas Day, hopefully the twelve steps above will get you ready and prepared for the big day. Sure, there is a lot more you could have done, but by following the above steps you will undoubtedly have a good plan on how to maximize your score. 

And here's hoping that Santa treats you nicely with a robust score! 

Learn more SAT study tips by reading 2400 SCORES available at Amazon. Contact CROSSWALK to learn more about the SAT/ACT prep as well as academic tutoring in all subjects. CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for tutoring and test prep. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Study Skill that May Save Your Life

There is no question that in order to maximize your academic performance, you need to master your study skills. Note taking, organization and memorization are all skills necessary to prepare for exams, projects and the day-to-day grind of school.

While these study skills are certainly practical, there is only one study skill that could save your life: curiosity

Wait a second, how can curiosity save your life?  

Let's answer that by first pointing out that curiosity gets a bad rap. "Curiosity killed the cat" is a famous proverb that would seem to warn people against curiosity. Even Curious George, while adorable, gets into hot water every time he explores his curious side. So curiosity is dangerous, right? 

Wrong. Curiosity could very well save your life

Consider Dr. Sanjay Gupta's advice on how to keep one's mind sharp as one ages. He claims that staying sharp as you age means "to train your brain constantly to do new things." Dr. Gupta additionally cites diet and exercise as other major factors to stay sharp as you age but the point is clear: to avoid losing your brain's functions as you age, stay curious and engage your brain.

Larry King, the iconic radio and television host for over half a century, seems to support Gupta's point in a recent interview with Esquire magazine. King claims that the secret to his "success is brevity. Sincerity. And above all else, curiosity." 

King and Gupta might agree: curiosity isn't so much what kills the cat, it is what keeps it alive! 

In your studying, be sure to engage your curiosity. There is no doubt that many of your assignments will be boring and routine. So instead of dreading these assignments, train your brain to do things in a new way. Get curious with the assignment and dig a bit deeper than the teacher expects. Repeat the question "why" in your mind and see if you can uncover the answer on your own.

Your studying, and your life, may depend on your curiosity

Learn more about study skills and academic preparation from CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for academic tutoring and test prep.

Learn how to approach the SAT with some basic life skills by reading 2400 SCORES by Brooke Higgins now available on Amazon. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Do-It-Yourself SAT and ACT Prep

While private tutoring and group classes can lead to improved scores on the SAT or ACT, not everyone has the time for a group class or the money for private tutoring. 

Luckily, test prep is not rocket science. As long as a student is motivated and dedicated, she or he can prepare for both the SAT and ACT on his or her own. Even better, it won't take inordinate time and/or money to get ready on your own. 

Here are six steps to ACT and SAT prep for all you Do-It-Yourselfers:

1) Buy a Reputable Test Prep Guide Book: I generally recommend the Official SAT Study Guide for SAT prep and the Real ACT Prep Guide because these books are produced by the test writers. Better to use a guide that matches the test as much as possible. 

2) Take a Practice Test: Take just one of the several practice tests found in your study guide (there are 10 in the SAT book and five in the ACT book). 

3) Score Your Practice Test: Based on the scoring systems detailed in the guide books, figure out your Raw score. Note that the SAT is scored differently than the ACT. Be sure to read the scoring guidelines detailed in your book to understand how to calculate your Raw Score. Each guide book will also give you an estimated conversion table so you can figure out your Scaled Score. The Scaled Score is a maximum of 800 on the SAT and a maximum of 36 on the ACT. Understanding the scoring for both tests is an important step towards understanding how to improve your score. After all, it is simply a numbers game

4) Analyze Your Results: Find out what areas present challenges to you and what areas were relatively easy. For example, maybe Math is a challenge while English was easy on the ACT. Or even more detailed, maybe the Algebra problems on the SAT were easy but the Geometry problems were hard. Knowing your areas of strengths will enable you to score points quickly and accurately on test day. Along those lines, understanding your weaknesses will allow you to study up on those areas that need some extra time. 

5) Devise a Game Plan to Maximize Your Score: Each student should have their own personal Game Plan for test day. For some students, this might include strategies for each question type. Other students will want to figure out which questions to guess on or skip altogether. Your Game Plan should entail ways to address your weaknesses. Ultimately, every Game Plan should address the scoring system (see Step #3) and ways to manage both strengths and weaknesses (see Step #4).

6) Practice: After you set up your Game Plan, take a practice test to evaluate the success of your Game Plan. Repeat all of the steps after each practice test and see if you are moving your score. If you are not seeing any improvement, analyze your results again and see where you can score more. 

Above all, remember that in order to get better at anything, it takes some work. You have to be willing to put in some time if you want to see results. You may not need a 12-week course and you may not have to spend thousands of dollars. But if you want to maximize your score, you need to put in some effort. Do nothing and nothing will happen. 

Find more useful study tips by reading 2400 SCORES by Brooke W. Higgins now available for your tablet at Amazon. Or contact CROSSWALK today. CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for tutoring in all academic subjects, ACT/SAT Boot Camps and private ACT, SAT or PSAT preparation. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Real Truth Behind SAT & ACT Test Prep Guarantees

"Higher Score Guaranteed or Your Money Back" is what one famously large test prep center advertises. Another offers that a student's "composite score will increase by 300 points ore more" when you use their particular resource.

Hogwash. Total hogwash.

First of all, as some would claim, test prep companies rig the tests.

Here is how they do it: On the first day of a course at a prep center, you are given a diagnostic. Instead of a realistic test, test prep centers create diagnostic tests more difficult than the actual SAT. So when you get your score on the diagnostic test, you will score very low. And when you take the real SAT, presumably after the course, the test would be much easier and you would thus score higher.

Sneaky, right?

Fortunately, not all companies engage in this practice. In fact, CROSSWALK uses tests directly from the Official SAT Study Guide for all assessments. This allows for a consistent measurement to track performance.

The second reason this test prep center guarantees are bogus is that none of those test centers can predict what kind of mental mindset a student will have on test day. A student's mental mindset and attitude is the most important determinant of student performance.

Where your head is on test day is what really will drive your score. If you are rested, focused and prepared, you will score well. On the other hand, if you are stressed, frazzled or negative, your score will suffer.

For this reason, CROSSWALK will never make a guarantee of a higher score. We simply cannot control a student's mindset on test day. Let's say a student goes out to a party the night before the test and gets no sleep. Or the student gets in a fight with a boyfriend or girlfriend before test day. These situations would greatly impact a student's performance and are beyond CROSSWALK's control.

What we will guarantee is that if a student practices and follows the strategies outlined in our Boot Camps or with our private tutors, the student will be more confident, comfortable and knowledgeable about how to achieve a higher score. And if that student puts in the work to master a personalized game plan, which would include making sure his or her mindset is primed for performance, a score will go up.

It's no secret and there is nothing sneaky about it: if you put in the time, results will happen. Guaranteed.

Learn top SAT strategies for a stress-free testing experience by reading 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT® and Boost Your Score by Brooke Higgins available at Amazon.

Contact CROSSWALK to learn more about ACT/SAT Boot Camps, private tutoring and more ways to learn.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

SAT Score #1000: The Farther You Go, The Harder It Gets

TRUE or FALSEhard questions on the SAT are worth more points than easy questions.

Before I give you the answer, please be sure to understand that test questions on each SAT section are usually organized from the easiest to the hardest. In other words, the first question of a section should be easy while the last question should be hard. Not every section follows this formula exactly, but in general, most sections start easier and build towards harder questions. 

Now, back to the TRUE/FALSE statement. The statement that "hard questions on the SAT are worth more points than easy questions" is entirely FALSE! Scoring on the SAT is not based on question difficulty. You score the same amount of points on an easy question as you do on a hard question. 

So strategically speaking, score points quickly and accurately on the easy questions. As for the hard questions, you can choose to skip them altogether or give yourself some extra time to solve them.

Further, for easy questions in the beginning of a section, the answer should be very obvious without any tricks or traps. However, on harder questions, the obvious answers are usually tricks. So if you are at the end of a section and you are rushing to finish, the answer that looks quick and easy is probably a trap. Be wary because the further you go, the harder it becomes. 

Learn more SAT Scores by reading 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT® and Boost Your Score by Brooke Higgins available at Amazon. 

Contact CROSSWALK to schedule private tutoring or sign up for our One Day SAT or ACT Boot Camps. CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for ACT/SAT Boot Camps, private tutoring for test prep and private tutoring for academic subjects. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

How SAT & ACT Prep is Like Training for a Marathon

What do you do the night before a Biology exam? More than likely, you stay up late to cram a bunch of content into your brain. 

OK, so what does a marathon runner do the night before a big race? Do you think she stays up late to cram in a bunch of last minute training? 

Of course not. 

You can cram for a Biology exam because you only need to recall the content for a short period of time. 

You can't cram for a marathon because you would actually harm your body. 

Same goes for the SAT and ACT. Think of them as the marathons of tests. 

Consider that both the SAT and the ACT, are not content-based tests. They are more about context. To perform well on context-based tests, your brain needs to be rested, focused and clear in order to think critically and solve problems. Cramming the night before will only hurt your ability to perform at an optimum level. 

Furthermore, the SAT and the ACT are long tests. Sitting for the SAT and ACT requires 3-4 hours of intense focus. Focus for the SAT and ACT is developed over time. To be comfortable in a long test, you need to practice taking the test for long periods of time. 

Finally, remember that a marathon runner doesn't just show up on race day without undergoing some kind of training program. And the more a runner is dedicated to a training program, the more success will ensue. 

So train hard and long for both the SAT and ACT. When there is a week left for the test, like the marathon runner, taper your training. Reduce your studying, get lots of rest the week and do whatever your brain and body need to get into optimal performance mode for test day. 

Learn more by reading 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score by Brooke Higgins now available on Amazon. 

And contact CROSSWALK for information on private tutoring, test prep and SAT/ACT Boot Camps on the Monterey Peninsula. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013


SAT Test Prep guides are everywhere. It seems that just about every book publisher has a guidebook bigger than most telephone books. Full of pages and pages of problems, these books can be overwhelming for many students. 

Wouldn't a more condensed approach be easier to digest? Or one that you can take with you wherever you go on your tablet? 

Good news: there is one such resource that exists. It's called 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT® and Boost Your Score. Best of all, I wrote it! 

I have worked on this e-book for over two years. The advice contained in this book is a compilation of my most recommended SAT prep approaches. 

The basic idea of the book is how to apply life lessons to SAT test preparation. Learn how to Begin with the End in Mind, why Attitude is Greater than Aptitude, how Context  is More Important than Content and much more. Understand why you Save Dessert for Last, why You Don't Need to Do Everything and other helpful strategies. If you read nothing else, but sure to master the Numbers Game! 

Full of stories from my decade of tutoring SAT, ACT and GMAT, this book is a valuable resource for anyone about to tackle  the SAT. While the book is intended for students, both parents and educators will find practical, useful and easily implementable SAT strategies one and before test day. 

Check it out on Amazon right here. It might be the best $3.99 you spend on test preparation! 

As always, feel free to contact CROSSWALK to learn how we can help you get ready for the SAT or ACT. CROSSWALK also offers tutoring in all academic subjects. CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for test prep, Boot Camps and tutoring. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

3 Ways to Refuel a Drained Brain

Alarms, homework, and close-toed shoes. Yes, summer is officially over. 

One of the drawbacks of a relaxing summer is the brain drain that occurs after months of limited academic activity. An idle brain over the summer makes for a sluggish start to the school year. 

So how do you recharge and refuel a drained brain? How can you jump into the school year focused and ready to learn? 

If your brain is drained after a summer of lethargy, here are three ways to get your brain alert, active and ahead of your peers: 

1) Read Ahead: 

Most courses follow a syllabus or a text book. If you know what is coming, read ahead and get ahead. I spent part of my summer tutoring a rising fourth grader who had missed a lot of school in third grade. Instead of reviewing what he missed in third grade, we studied what he will learn in fourth grade. When his class starts to learn about the California Missions this coming year, he will already be comfortable with the material. A little sneaky perhaps, but get comfortable with material before it is assigned. And no worries if you don't fully understand everything you read ahead. Even coming up with questions about upcoming material will recharge a drained brain. 

2) Do Extra Work

Doing extra work sounds dreadful, right? Fear not. You only need to do enough extra work to get your summer brain refocused. For example, if your teacher assigns just the odd math problems, do the even ones as well until you achieve mastery of the subject. Once your extra work is no longer challenging, move onto to other pursuits. Be sure you do a little extra in the beginning of the year. Not only will you get ahead of your peers, you will also practice problems and questions that may appear on a test. 

3) Make Connections:

An excellent way to recharge a brain, and keep a brain working optimally, is to continually make connections. Making connections means taking one topic and relating it to another topic. For example, connect a history lesson to literature you are reading. Or connect your chemistry homework to an everyday situation. The deeper the connections you make, the more active your brain becomes. If you can weave what you have learned into what you are learning, your brain will be a tapestry of profound knowledge. 

Combat the intellectual fatigue brought on by summer by reading ahead, doing extra work and making connections. Your brain will thank you. 

Learn more ways to refuel a drained brain and get ahead in class with tutoring from CROSSWALK, Monterey's local resource for tutoring, test prep and SAT/ACT Boot Camps. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

SAT vs ACT: Which is Better?

A recent article in the New York Times lays out a great case of why more students are taking both the ACT and the SAT. Check it out here.

The SAT vs ACT debate is a frequent topic of conversation with my students and their families. Many families want to know: which test is better, the ACT or the SAT?

Nowadays, colleges will accept either score.

So the bottom line, I tell my students, is to figure out which test is better for that particular student. As the New York Times article describes, some students prefer the more straightforward and predictable layout of the ACT, while others like the gaming, scoring and shorter sections on the SAT.

Take both and see which one yields a better score. Once you figure that out, focus test prep for only one test. Assuming the college of choice will accept either score, a student would be wise to ignore one test and strictly focus on the preparation for the other. Guide books, private tutoring or other instruction can be an excellent way to boost test scores.

Also remember that some colleges don't even look at test scores (click here for a list of schools that do not emphasize SAT or ACT scores in their admission process).

Maximize your test prep by focusing on one test. Contact CROSSWALK to learn more about our private tutoring, Boot Camps and academic tutoring on the Monterey Peninsula.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New SAT and ACT Boot Camp Dates Added!

Wait a second, do SAT or ACT Boot Camps really work?

Maybe this mother from Pebble Beach will convince you:

"After the CROSSWALK SAT Boot Camp, our son understood the ins and outs of SAT testing. He learned when to leave an answer blank, got a great picture of the entire scoring system, and practiced the techniques of eliminating wrong answers. His test scores improved immensely as did his confidence level. This is efficient learning at its best!"

OK, that is just one mom, but there are plenty of satisfied CROSSWALK clients that learn key strategies and test content for both the SAT and the ACT. 

The one-day SAT or ACT Boot Camp is not for every learner. In fact, don't expect to know everything after just one boot camp. But you will have all the tools to get the job done. Students understand test content, prepare a personalized game plan to get the desired score and learn key activities to hone skills. 

Best of all, a ton of new Boot Camp dates have been added for fall 2013 and winter 2014. Check the calendar at CROSSWALK for details. 

CROSSWALK Educational Services offers private tutoring in all academic subjects, personalized SAT and ACT Prep as well as small group ACT/SAT Boot Camps. Contact us today to learn more. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Superscoring the SAT and the ACT

Superscoring is the practice of taking the highest subscore from individual test sections to combine them into one superscore. A superscore would thus cherry pick the best subscores across multiple test dates in order to come up with one, more impressive superscore.

For example, let's say you take the SAT in the spring and score a 610 on the Math, a 630 on Critical Reading and a 540 on Writing for a total composite score of 1780. In an attempt to improve your score, you decide to take the test again the fall. On your second sitting, you score a 570 on the Math, a 640 on the Critical Reading and a 570 on the Writing. Again, your composite score is a 1780. However, your superscore is actually an 1820. 

You see, some schools will take the 610 you scored in Math from the first test and add that to the best Critical Reading and the best Writing score regardless of test date. Thus, your superscore is more impressive than your composite score.

Same goes for the ACT. Some schools will select your best score in each section (Math, Reading, Science, Writing) and average those best scores all together for one ACT superscore. 

Now, the rub is that not all schools follow this method. Schools undoubtedly want applicants with the best scores, thus making acceptance more competitive. However, some schools have not adopted the superscore policy. 

For a list of schools and their superscore policy regarding the SAT, check out this list produced by the College Board. As for the ACT, this list is about as reliable as it gets. 

The moral of the story is to check the school(s) that are interesting to you. Find out their policy and you can adjust your test strategies as such. 

If you have any questions, contact CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninusla's local resource for test prep, private tutoring and ACT/SAT Boot Camps. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Profitable Fundraising to Boost Test Scores

Here is a novel fundraising idea for local clubs and schools: a One-Day SAT or ACT Boot Camp hosted by CROSSWALK.

First, about the Boot Camps:

Over the last five years, the One-Day Boot Camp is CROSSWALK's most popular offering. It's quick, affordable and yields proven results.

Now, about the fundraising:

CROSSWALK will present a One-Day SAT or ACT Boot Camp for the high schoolers in your club. All students will receive a discounted price for the camp, and more importantly, your organization will receive 20% of all proceeds! And, the more students in your organization, the more funds your group will raise.

Further, since many clubs and schools have wacky schedules, I will work around your schedule. You pick the time that is best for you. You can even pick the place!

Best of all, your students would receive key test-taking tips to boost their test  scores.

It's a no risk, high reward, win-win fundraising program. If you are interested in learning more, contact CROSSWALK.

CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula local's resource for test prep, Boot Camps and other academic tutoring.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

10 Things to Do to Prepare for the SAT and ACT

My thanks to all who attended the free "10 Things to Do this Summer to Prepare for the SAT and ACT" workshop last week. It was a great evening full of some very useful information. 

In case you missed it, I prepared a very brief (by very, I mean no more than five minutes!) overview of the workshop. Have a gander at the following video and feel free to contact me with any questions. 

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

CROSSWALK is Monterey Peninsula's local resource for test prep and academic tutoring. Boot Camps, Summer Camps and private tutoring are just a few of the test prep options offered. Subscribe to this blog right from CROSSWALK's home page or contact CROSSWALK to learn more. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

FREE Workshop: "10 Things to Do This Summer to Prepare for the ACT & SAT"

Wondering how to prepare for the ACT and SAT this summer? Well, here is your first step!

Attend "10 Things to Do This Summer to Prepare for the ACT and SAT" for FREE

That's right! This free workshop is for parents and students alike. You will discover excellent study tips, approaches to test preparation and more. Brooke Higgins, founder and lead Test Prep Instructor at CROSSWALK, will show you how to take full advantage of the summer months to maximize your success. All of this, for free! 

Here are the details:

When: June 6th from 6:00-7:30pm

Where: Classroom #MG100 on the campus of the Monterey Institute of International Studies. This classroom is located in the McGowan building on the corner of Franklin and Pacific in downtown Monterey. Park on the street or any MIIS-designated lot. 

How: spaces are limited so contact CROSSWALK today to reserve your spot. You can email, leave a message on the website or call 831-70-TUTOR today to request your spot. 

CROSSWALK is Monterey Peninsula's local resource for academic tutoring and test prep. Since 2002, CROSSWALK has worked with local schools and college counselors alike. Make CROSSWALK your next step for test preparation and academic success.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Worst Month to Take the SAT or ACT

When is the best time to take the SAT or the ACT? Is there a month when the test is easier? Or--gasp--harder?

The truth of the matter is that test versions are not easier or harder by the month. In other words, there is neither a month for an easy test nor a month for a hard test. 

The SAT and the ACT are standardized tests that colleges use to compare results across a number of months. For example, the score Student A receives on the December test should be equitably compared with the score Student B receives on the June test. If there were a difference between test versions, then colleges would not be able to compare scores on tests taken in different months.

So don't believe anyone that claims to know that a test in one month will be easier, or harder, than a test in another month. 

However, there is a worst month to take the test. 

The worst month to take the test is the month in which the student is too distracted to focus on testing and stress-free preparation. The worst month is the month in which school work, extracurricular activities and other commitments are so encompassing that there is no time to focus on getting the attitude ready for an aptitude test

For many students, the worst month to take the test is June. May and June can be so full of activities that stress levels run high. Consider what many students have on their plate as the school year ends: final exams, prom, performances, graduation-related activities, sports championships, summer job hunting, etc. With so much on one's plate, how can someone get ready for the test?

The June test is not harder. But the months of May and June can be more stressful than other months which can make the June test more challenging. 

Take the SAT or ACT when there is the least amount of stress in your life. Since there is no month in which the test will be easier, pick a month when you are free of major distractions. 

Learn more about CROSSWALK's SAT and ACT Boot Camp here. CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula's resource for ACT and SAT prep and academic tutoring in all subjects. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

SAT Score: Begin With the End in Mind

The first step towards SAT success has very little to do with the test itself. Before you do anything, you need to decide what score you want on the SAT.

Wait a second: decide your score before the test? Don’t you want to perform as well as possible?

Yes, you want to do as well as you can. However, unless you need a 2400 to get into Harvard, you only need to achieve a score that gets you into the school(s) of your choice. In other words, your end is the SAT score that will give you the best chance to get accepted by your selected college(s).

Chances are that you have never considered this kind of approach with a normal school test. Usually you want to score as close to a 100% as possible.

Not so on the SAT. Students can both pursue and achieve ends that are far from perfect and still get into their schools of choice. Consider the following: according to UCLA’s website, the average SAT score for “admitted incoming freshmen” is “between 1760 and 2140.” If the SAT were scored on a 100% scale, that means some students are getting into UCLA with as low as a 73% on the SAT (1760/2400=.7333). Get a 73% on a school test and you barely pass with a C. Get a 73% on the SAT and you can get into UCLA.

Crazy, right? A C represents an average score in school but a good score on the SAT. And while you may never strive for a C in school, it could very well be a good goal on the SAT.

So let’s get back to your end and, much like Steven Covey's Habits of Highly Successful People, you should begin with the end in mind.   

To begin with the end in mind, first figure out your end. Your end is the college you would like to attend. Pick three schools: a dream school that might be out of your reach, a realistic school that is possible and a back up in case things go sideways. Now, figure out what SAT score you need to get into the three schools.

This SAT score is your goal that will get you to your end

Now, when you prepare for and take the test, you don't need to answer every question correctly. You simply need to create the right combination of correct answers, incorrect answers and omitted answers in order to achieve your goal score. Pretty simple, right? It all starts with the end in mind.

Learn more about the SAT and ACT with private tutoring, One-Day Boot Camps or Summer Camps from CROSSWALK right here on the Monterey Peninsula. Contact us to learn more. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SAT Truth: It's a Reading Test

Let’s face it: the SAT is reading test. While there are three sections (Math, Writing and Critical Reading), the truth is that the SAT primarily assesses your ability to read

Remember, the SAT is designed to predict your college performance. Most college classes require lots of reading, hence the focus of reading on the SAT.

Consider the following: there are 170 total questions on the SAT (not including the Essay question) of which there are 67 Critical Reading questions, 54 Math questions and 49 Writing questions. So which section has the most questions? Critical Reading

But let's dig deeper: of the 67 questions on Critical Reading, 48 of them are Passage-Based Reading questions. In other words, 48 point-scoring opportunities out of 170 total opportunities assess your reading comprehension. Put differently, almost 30% of the entire test assesses your ability to read a passage and comprehend it. 

But wait, there’s more. Even the Math and Writing questions require you to both read and comprehend. In fact, many students fail to correctly answer certain questions correctly simply because they do not read and comprehend the question. 

For example, try this problem:

If x + 1 = 3, what is 2x? 

A) 2
B) 3
C) 4
D) 5
E) 6

This should be an easy problem for most students. Solving the equation for x gives you a result of 2. So A is the correct answer, right? Wrong! If you do not read the question entirely, you miss the fact that you need to find the answer to 2x, in other words, 4. Thus, C is the correct answer. 

So even SAT math problems require excellent reading comprehension. Same goes for the writing section. All told, the SAT is primarily a reading test. 

For this reason, the best way to improve your SAT score is to, you guessed it, READ! 

Learn more SAT and ACT tips from CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for private tutoring, SAT or ACT Boot Camps and other test preparation. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

SAT Score: Context > Content

Read a chapter, memorize the terms and regurgitate them on a test. It's content-based learning at its finest and it's standard practice in most schools. 

Much of learning is based on acquiring and retaining new content. For some educators, content is king. Their goal is to stock a student's brain with as much information as possible. 

While learning content is certainly a big part of education, it's not the only part. Sometimes, context is more important than content. To truly learn, one must make connections across content to comprehend the context of a situation. 

It's a skill that the College Board feels predicts college performance and that is why many SAT questions are based on context more than content. 

Take math questions, for instance. Rarely do you find a straightforward Algebra problem like "solve for x." Instead, you have to "solve for x" in the context of a Geometry problem, or a word problem. 

On the reading section, vocabulary questions require more than rote definitions. You have to fill words in the blanks based on clues that the sentence provides. 

In other words, the context of a situation is more important than the content. If this were a math equation it would be: context > content. 

Score more on the SAT by understanding that context, and not content, is king on the SAT. 

Contact CROSSWALK to learn about SAT & ACT Boot Camps, private tutoring and other academic support. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On the SAT: Attitude > Aptitude

Your attitude is more important than your aptitude. 

While this may be applicable in life, it certainly is key for test preparation. Especially on the SAT. 

The power of positive thinking is a foregone conclusion. Think you will do well, and you will. Think you will perform poorly, and you will. 

But a positive attitude is just the start. To succeed on the SAT and other standardized tests, you must possess more than optimism. The SAT requires a focused mindset and a determined test-taking mentality. 

Simply put, the SAT necessitates a unique approach. Memorization and regurgitation are skills that work well in school but not so on the SAT. More than just rehashing content, the SAT questions require a keen focus, a clear understanding of the scoring, and an individual approach that both leverages strengths and compensates for weaknesses.  

Achieving the right attitude for maximum success means ample preparation, stress-free practice, comfort in a testing environment and familiarity with the format. And yes, a little optimism. 

There is no way to avoid the fact that the SAT is an aptitude test. But in order for your aptitude to shine, your attitude needs to be in line on test day. As Zig Ziglar famously put it, "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." 

Get your attitude aligned with the help from CROSSWALK. The Monterey Peninsula's local resource for SAT test prep, CROSSWALK offers Boot Camps and private tutoring to get your attitude in line for success. Contact us today to learn more. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What Can I Do Just Before the SAT?

Here's a frequently asked question: What can I do the last couple of days before the SAT?

First, what not to do: stress. Once you start to stress out, your brain does not work as well. A little stress can be productive as a motivator but it should generally be avoided at all costs. That is why you can't cram for the SAT. And it's also why you probably shouldn't try to take a full-length practice test days before the real test.

Now, what you can do: try an SAT Walkthrough. If you only have days before the test, pick up one practice test in any reputable study guide and walk through the pages. Read the directions and skim the problems. In your mind, review your test-taking strategies and tell yourself how you would tackle each question. Limit yourself to 90 minutes for this activity so as to not create any stress.

In fact, CROSSWALK is now offering SAT Walkthroughs every Wednesday evening before the SAT. Join us as we review tactics, timing, scoring and more. Students new to the SAT and students experienced with the test will benefit from the guided discussion. The next one is scheduled for January 23 at the Stevenson School. Contact CROSSWALK for details.

CROSSWALK is Monterey Peninsula's local resource for test prep, SAT & ACT Boot Camps, private tutoring and academic support. Visit CROSSWALK or contact CROSSWALK today.