Monday, December 15, 2014

Another SAT Prep Success Story

Time to celebrate another success story at CROSSWALK!

Sure, bragging about our own success may make us appear less than humble. Nevertheless, we take great pride in helping our students and we all celebrate when a student achieves his or her goal.

The latest example is Morgan, a student who worked on SAT prep with one of CROSSWALK's finest tutors, Dan. 

Morgan had a goal to increase her SAT score to improve her chances at attending California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Opisbo. She and Dan started SAT prep sessions last May. After a break in the summer, Dan and Morgan met regularly throughout the fall. 

Morgan's diligence, coupled with Dan's guidance, yielded strong results. This is a direct quote from the mother in an email she sent to Dan:

"I'm super proud to tell you that all her hard work has paid off, as Morgan was accepted Early Decision at Cal Poly! This was her first choice college and all we've been working towards for the past couple years. Thank you for being such an integral part of her success."

But wait, there's more:

"She raised her last SAT by 300 points overall. We appreciate the hard work you put in with Morgan, she truly feels that you were a huge part in her raising her test scores overall. She felt confident in her ability to tackle the tests with an organized plan, and obviously she was prepared and ultimately successful."

Early Decision to the college of her choice? Awesome!

Congratulations, Morgan! On behalf of everyone at CROSSWALK, we wish you continued success.

If you want to be one of CROSSWALK's success story, contact us here to learn about SAT prep, ACT prep and other tutoring options.

Also, read "2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score" by Brooke Higgins to learn how to approach life and the SAT.


Monday, December 1, 2014

ACT & SAT Math: Show What You Know

Math word problems: do you love them or hate them? 

Chances are you hate them. Most students struggle with math problems that contain more words than numbers. Translating sentences into equations is not always the easiest thing to do.  

Despite the challenge, there is no way around word problems. Most of the math questions on the SAT and ACT deal with more words than numbers. Remember, the SAT and ACT are tests designed primarily to test your reading ability, not your math skills

So how do you tackle word problems? How do you sift through the cornucopia of words to drill down to the important math equation? 

The answer is quite simple: use your pencil to draw and show what you know. Often by drawing the information you know, you can create an easy shortcut to the correct answer. 

For example, let's say you are given the following question (taken directly from the College Board website): 

A special lottery is to be held to select the student who will live in the only deluxe room in a dormitory. There are 100 seniors, 150 juniors, and 200 sophomores who applied. Each senior's name is placed in the lottery 3 times; each junior's name, times; and each sophomore's name, time. What is the probability that a senior's name will be chosen?

A) 1/8
B) 2/9
C) 2/7
D) 3/8
E) 1/2

So many words here! But don't freak out. Take it slow and start with your pencil: 

Draw one block to represent 100 seniors, another block to represent 150 juniors and one more block to represent 200 sophomores. Now, you also know that the senior's names are placed in the lottery 3 times. So draw two more blocks next to the senior's block, each identical to the block representing 100 names. Draw two blocks for the juniors, each representing 150 names. Finally, sophomores don't need an extra block. 

Once you have your drawing, now comes the easy part. Probability, you might recall, is nothing more than a fraction. The numerator is the number of desired outcomes and the denominator is the number of total outcomes. By using your blocks, you can see that the total desired outcomes (senior's names) is 3 blocks of 100, or 300. The total outcomes is all of the blocks added together: (3 x 100) + (2 x 150) + 200 = 800. In other words, the probability is 300/800 or 3/8. The correct answer is D. 

Even though this is a hard question according to the College Board, it becomes quite easy when you draw things out. 

When you are faced with math problems that seem to have no solution, start drawing! Getting your pencil to paper will help you organize what you know and guide you towards finding out what you don't know. 

Learn more test prep tips by contacting CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninsula's resource for test prep and tutoring. Also, read 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score by Brooke Higgins for SAT-specific tips. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Why You Don't Need an SAT Tutor

How important is an SAT tutor? Is it necessary to hire someone to get a student prepared for test day?

Truth be told, you don't need to hire an SAT tutor. There is a lot you can do by yourself. Even better, the DIY method is easier than ever with free SAT prep available from Khan Academy.

I've long been a proponent of the free resources available at Khan Academy, but after digging through the free SAT materials that are available on their site, I am more convinced that all students can do their own SAT prep.

The latest resources are boosted by a partnership with the College Board, the makers of the SAT. Perhaps the most useful tool is the full-length SAT practice test available to download. Also helpful are the numerous tutorial videos for math, reading and writing.

Per the video of Khan Academy founder Sal Khan and College Board CEO David Coleman, this free resource exists to disprove the theory that SAT preparation requires expensive courses and tutors. Performing well on the test requires diligence, attention to detail and practice. With the resources from Khan, anyone can do that, not just those families that can afford private tutoring.

Now, just in case a student needs to navigate these materials with a seasoned professional, a good tutor can certainly offer great assistance. Tutors, while not totally necessary, can offer tremendous support and guided practice. A tutor can inspire, motivate and point students in the right direction.

If you need a tutor, whether you live on the Monterey Peninsula or can Skype from anywhere, CROSSWALK should be your first stop.

But if the DIY approach is more your speed, check out Khan Academy and don't forget to read 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

If ACT and SAT Scores Were GPAs

One of the first activities I like to do with my ACT and SAT students is to begin with the end in mind. In other words, before we do any test prep, we research the SAT and ACT scores for the schools the student is considering. Armed with the knowledge of what score a student needs, the real preparation begins.

Understanding what score you need on the ACT and SAT is the most important step in your preparation. Once you know the score you need, you can figure out how many questions you need to answer correctly and how many you can get wrong, skip or guess (note: even if you skip questions on the ACT, be sure to get an answer in the bubbles as there is no punishment for wrong answers).

This activity really demystifies things for students. Most students quickly learn that they don't need a perfect score on the test to get into the school of their choice. In fact, the score many students need is actually quite achievable.

Take Trevor for example. Trevor is interested in attending the University of Puget Sound. In our first session, we got onto the school's website and found out that most students that get accepted by the university score an 1800 or so on the SAT and a 27 on the ACT.

What boggled Trevor's mind is what the score would mean in terms of a GPA. An 1800 on the SAT expressed as a percentage would mean a 75% (1800/2400). Scoring a 27 on the ACT, when expressed as a percentage, means Trevor would also need a 75% (27/36) to get into the school of his choice.

In other words, Trevor needs to get a C on both tests. That's right, a C! Trevor is a normally a B+/A- student. When we went through the simple exercise of expressing his goal test score in terms of a percentage or in terms of a GPA, a big smile crossed his face.

"You don't need an A on this test," I told him. "You just need a C!"

This little nugget made the test preparation experience more enjoyable for Trevor. It was our first chance to get his attitude in the right mindset to let his aptitude shine.

No stress for Trevor. Just a clear direction and a focused approach to accomplish an achievable goal.

Try it for yourself: if the ACT or SAT were scored like your GPA, what would you need to get? A C average? B average? Something totally doable? I would like to think so.

Learn more SAT test preparation tips by reading 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score. Contact CROSSWALK here for personal test preparation on the Monterey Peninsula or for Skype sessions on your time and schedule.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How to Keep Up with CROSSWALK

October is already here? Unbelievable! The school year is already moving too fast. 

Good thing it is easy to keep up with CROSSWALK. No matter how fast the school year is going, we make it pretty simple to find out the latest and greatest in the world of tutoring and test prep on the Monterey Peninsula.

The easiest way to keep up with CROSSWALK is to follow our blog. Visit the CROSSWALK website homepage and on the right hand side of the screen you will see a "SUBSCRIBE" button. Input your email and all of our biweekly blog posts will be delivered directly to your inbox.

You can also keep up with CROSSWALK by liking our Facebook page. Blog posts, interesting educational articles and other content is posted there regularly. 

But wait, there's more! You can follow me personally on Twitter @brookewhiggins or post a review of CROSSWALK on our Yelp page. In fact, the first one to post a review on Yelp can qualify to win a free CROSSWALK t-shirt. How is that for incentive! 

And when in doubt, contact CROSSWALK via our contact page right here

Yes, things are moving fast but we can keep you up to speed when you subscribe to our blog, like us on Facebook or otherwise keep in touch. 

Remember, CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for ACT/SAT Boot Camps, test prep and tutoring. 

Read 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score right here

Friday, September 5, 2014

FREE and FAST Prep for the ACT

With the ACT just around the corner, some students are in stress mode. How can you prepare for the test with only a week to go? What can you do on the cheap? 

The bad news is that test prep takes some time. If you really want to move your score, you need to put in several weeks if not months. Test-taking is like any skill: the more time you have to practice, the better you can get. 

However, not everyone has the benefit of time. Especially those that will take the test in about a week. Further, not everyone can afford to hire a private tutor. 

So what can you do? 

First, don't stress. Stress out and watch your score plummet. Stress is your number one enemy. So take a deep breath and get into the mindset that test day is a fun challenge. Tests are just puzzles to solve, riddles to figure out or games to play. 

Now that you have the right mindset, download the free "Preparing for the ACT" right here. This is a free study guide that includes a full length practice test. 

Use this guide and do the following: 

  • Read everything cover to cover
  • Read the directions for each section so that you don't have to waste time on test day doing the same
  • Try some of the practice questions
  • Make note of how much time you have per section and how much time you have per question

All told, this should take about two or three hours. Doing more than that with a week left before the test will only stress you out. (Bad idea because remember, stress is the enemy.)

Reviewing the free study guide with only a week before a test is not the ideal plan, but it can help a lot. Again, the ideal scenario is when you have lots of time to prepare. Nevertheless, you can gain a good understanding of test strategy and content by reviewing the "Preparing for the ACT" study guide. It's fast, and more importantly, FREE! 

Learn more ACT and SAT study tips by contacting CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for private tutoring, test prep and SAT/ACT Boot Camps. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How Long Do You Prep for ACT and SAT?

The next ACT test is scheduled for September 13th. Undoubtedly, I will field a call from a parent or student looking for test prep help on September 10th. 

Same goes for the SAT. With the next test scheduled for October 11th, someone will frantically call me October 8th trying to schedule some test prep. 

Here is how the calls usually go: 

Parent: Can we schedule some tutoring before Saturday's test?
Me: We can definitely schedule some tutoring, but I doubt that it will do much good. 
Parent: What do you mean?
Me: Test-taking is a skill that takes time. It is hard to learn a new skill overnight.
Parent: Oh (awkward pause follows) 

The moral of the story is that learning to improve your SAT or ACT score is like learning a new skill. Standardized test-taking is not a skill frequently practiced in schools. Most tests in school require you to memorize content and spit it out the next day. But the SAT is not a content-based test. Even the ACT relies less on content memorization and more on problem-solving. 

And since you don't frequently practice the skills to manage contextual problem-solving in school, you must put in the requisite practice time in order to get better. 

All told, getting better at the ACT and SAT takes time. Lots of time. You can't do it in one week and you probably can't even do it in one month. 

The CROSSWALK students that move their scores the most work on it for months at a time. Ideally, you have all of junior year to hone your craft. Spending a year to learn a new skill should be a realistic goal. 

So avoid the frantic call days before the test. Put together a study plan that covers at least three months. Even better, plan on prepping for a whole year. 

This doesn't mean you need to meet with a tutor for a whole year. There are plenty of things you can do on your own. 

But the most important thing is to schedule the time. When time is on your side, you can vastly improve your score. 

Learn more SAT and ACT study tips by contacting Brooke Higgins and CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for test prep and academic tutoring. Brooke Higgins is the founder and lead instructor at CROSSWALK as well as the author of 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good & Bad News About SAT Smartphone Vocabulary Apps

Lamentably, flashcards are now passé.

Call me old-school, but in my day I spent a lot of time writing vocabulary words on one side of an index card and their definitions on the other side. I would tote around stacks of cards to class, the library and home. 

Nowadays, it is all about using your smartphone to study. And why not? Smartphones are portable, easy to use, and fun. A good smartphone app for learning SAT vocabulary can mean no more lugging around flashcards all over the place.

The good news is that there are many very useful SAT Vocabulary apps, some of which are free. The bad news is that few of them mirror the context vs. content approach crucial to the SAT. 

First the good news: with so many useful apps available for both iPhones and Androids, students have many portable vocabulary-building options. While I have explored several, including SAT Vocabulary by Du Nguyen and Virtual SAT Tutor by Ivy Standard, my favorite is SAT Vocabulary by Magoosh

Magoosh offers several test prep applications that all share the same clean layout and easy-to-use interface. The SAT Vocabulary app offers different levels of study: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. Each level cycles through a series of words that you define by multiple choice. If you get a word wrong, or don't know it, the words will cycle back several times until you master the definition through repetition. Most importantly, you can track your progress. 

Despite the multitude of smartphone apps, there is bad news: none of the apps I researched provide vocabulary questions in context like those found on the SAT. The Sentence Completion questions on the SAT don't simply task students with defining a word or uncovering the definition via multiple choice. Instead, they are presented with a sentence that has a blank or two blanks. Based on the information in the sentence, students must figure out the missing vocabulary words(s). 

Since none of the apps I found offer this style of questioning, something is definitely missing. Even Magoosh, which ultimately provides the vocabulary words in a sentence, does not display this contextual information until after you answer the question. 

All in all, there is good news for SAT preparation on the go: many apps will help build vocabulary. The bad news is that few capture the context-based questions that students need to practice for the test. 

If you know of any helpful apps, particularly ones that leverage the context-based approach, by all means contact me and let me know or simply post a comment to this blog. 

For more SAT tips, read 2400 SCORES by Brooke Higgins available at Amazon. Contact Brooke Higgins and CROSSWALK to schedule your private tutoring or Boot Camp for SAT, ACT and more. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How to Sleep Your Way to a Better SAT Score

Stress kills on the SAT. 

My students hear me wax poetic that stressed brains do not learn as well as unstressed brains. In fact, one of my first lessons with my students demonstrates that attitude is more important than aptitude. Simply put, a student's aptitude cannot shine when the student's attitude is negative, tired, unfocused or stressed. 

While many of my conclusions are based in scientific research and years of instruction, I was recently blown away by a study about sleep and the SAT. 

According to authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in the book NurtureShock, teens need to sleep longer in the morning than adults. Scientifically, an adolescent brain continues to release melatonin--a hormone that regulates sleep--until well after dawn. Adults, on the other hand, slow their release of melatonin as the sun rises. For this reason, teens shouldn't be forced to wake up as early as adults. 

Bronson and Merryman cite a study done in a high school in Edina, MN. Testing the idea that teens should sleep longer in the morning, the high school changed its start time from 7:25 to 8:30 giving teens an extra hour of sleep. 

In the year prior to the change, the top 10% of Edina's students averaged a math score of 683 and a verbal score of 605. A year after the change, the top 10% averaged a 739 on math and a 761 on verbal. In other words, math scores went up 56 points and verbal scores went up 156 points. Furthermore, the study also concluded that these students were more motivated and less depressed after the change. 

Astounding, no? By simply allowing teens to sleep longer, and letting their hormones do what they are supposed to do, test scores shot up and kid's lives improved. 

So maybe letting Junior sleep a bit longer in the morning is actually a good thing?

Learn more SAT test-taking tips by reading 2400 SCORES" 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score by Brooke Higgins. Contact CROSSWALK today to learn about SAT/ACT Boot Camps, private tutoring and other ways to improve your academic standing. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Take Note: Laptop or Not?

While many agree that technology moves slowly in education--consider how little most classrooms have changed in the past century--some technology zooms. 

For example, the laptop. Now more than ever, students rely on laptops to write, access information and collaborate. Most importantly, students take notes in class knowing they can type faster than they can write. 

However, a new study suggests that taking notes on a laptop may not be the best way to comprehend and retain information. Instead, pen and paper help students remember better than a laptop. 

It seems that the act of writing things down helps cognition

Read the entire article here. 

So don't use a laptop to take notes in class? Maybe those old classrooms had it all figured out in the first place. 

Learn more study habits with tutoring from CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for private tutoring and SAT/ACT Prep. Read "2400 Scores: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score" by Brooke Higgins. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What Will You Read This Summer?

Summer is fast approaching. Amazing how fast this school year came and went. 

With vacation around the corner, what will you be reading this summer? 

My students quickly learn that the SAT and the ACT are nothing more than reading tests. Don't be misled by science or math sections. While the content may deal with science and math, these sections force you to analyze text, interpret information or translate words into an equation. In other words, they are just reading tests. 

So what is the best way to get ready for a reading test? That's right, READ! Read, read, read and then read some more. 

You don't have to take my word for it. I always say that active reading prepares your brain for success on the SAT and ACT, but a recent piece in the New York Times reminds us that reading will also touch your heart, spirit and soul

So with only weeks to go before summer starts, start now by figuring out what books you want to read over the next several months. The beauty of summer is that you can read whatever you want! Seriously! With no set assignments, there is no limit to what you can read. Obviously, the more challenging the reading, the more you may expand your vocabulary. But don't let that deter you from grabbing any fun novel and diving in. 

Lose yourself in a book. Lose yourself in several books. Reading will not only help you get ready for the SAT and ACT, it will touch your soul will in ways that you cannot even imagine. 

Learn more study tips by contacting CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for test prep and private tutoring. Read 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score by Brooke Higgins available for your e-reader at Amazon. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to Make Time for SAT/ACT Prep

Spring might be the busiest time of year for students. At this point in the year, students have lot on their plate what with upcoming final exams, team sport commitments, and end-of-year celebrations like prom or graduation. What's worse, the warmer weather can prove to be a major distraction.  

With all of this going on, how can you possible have time for SAT or ACT Prep? 

One option is to avoid taking the SAT or ACT in the spring. Trying to cram in a test at a busy time of the year can be a recipe for disaster. For this reason, the spring months might be the worst months to take the test

However, it is possible to squeeze it all in with a little diligence and discipline

A diligent student will make test prep part of the normal routine. Making things a routine is a life skill that will help test preparation, as detailed in Score #1500 of 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score. Just like brushing your teeth, the more test prep becomes part of your regular routine, the easier it is to manage. 

While diligence will help you build a routine, you also need discipline to maintain it. One way to stay disciplined, is to save your dessert for last. Saving your dessert for last is another life skill detailed in 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score. The idea is that you delay the gratification of dessert until you eat all of your vegetables. In other words, postpone any fun things until after you finish your test prep. Doing test prep first and giving yourself a reward after will make you more productive and could make the fun things even more enjoyable. 

This is a crazy time of year. Finding time to prep for the SAT or ACT can be a challenge, but with some diligence to follow a routine and some discipline to delay gratification, you can squeeze it all in even during busy times.

Learn more about preparing for the ACT and SAT by contacting CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for private tutoring, test prep and ACT/SAT Boot Camps. Read 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score by Brooke Higgins for more tips to get ready for test day. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The More Things Change...

Just when you thought you had prepared all you could for the SAT, they had to go ahead and change it up on you. 

But don't fret. The new changes to the SAT announced by the College Board won't be put into effect until the spring of 2016. 

And truth be told, many of the changes to the SAT are not too drastic. It seems that the College Board simply wants to align its assessment closer to the work done in both high schools and colleges. 

If you haven't read the overview of these SAT changes as originally announced in the New York Times, visit this article. For a more condensed version of the same information, here are the major changes coming in two years:

  • Scoring: the penalty for wrong answers is no longer and the score will be scaled out of 1600 like it was prior to 2005
  • Vocabulary: more emphasis will be placed on the vocabulary used in college courses as opposed to those uncommon albeit famous SAT words like "ascetic"
  • Essay: what was obligatory will now be optional
  • Math: content is streamlined to include linear equations, complex equations, functions, ratios, percents and proportions among others and no calculators will be allowed on the test
  • Reading: passages will include excerpts from famous historic texts, like the Declaration of Independence 
Yes, change is in the air and those in the Class of 2017 and beyond will want to take note. 

Get ready for the SAT and ACT with help from CROSSWALK. Boot Camps, private tutoring and study help are all ways that CROSSWALK can lead you on your path to learning success. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

SAT Prep Success Stories

Walt Whitman is credited with saying, "It you done it, it ain't bragging." 

With that in mind, I share some of our recent success stories at CROSSWALK. Both of these stories deal with SAT prep and both deal with private students at CROSSWALK
Walt Whitman

The first story is about a senior in high school taking the SAT for the last time. After doing little preparation before the first time he took the test, this student scored well on the math and critical reading sections. However, he faltered on the writing and was disappointed in his score of 560. 

After just four laser sessions with specific practice on writing, he raised his score to a 700. This is what the father sent us in an email: 

"He did well on his writing section--he increased his score from a 560 to a 700. Combined his SAT is now in the 2200+ range. He is awaiting answers from colleges. Thanks. Your tutor did well." 

The second story is even more interesting. It is about a young woman who had already started in college but decided to transfer to another school. Tasked with taking the SAT again, she had a goal of increasing her score by 200 points. Making matters more difficult, she only had a couple of weeks to prepare for the exam so she crammed in four private sessions in just one week. 

Despite the challenges, the results were excellent. Her mother called us to share the following: 

"We are so happy. She increased her score by 250 points. You did a great job! Thanks so much. I wish we would have contacted you years ago!" 

So forgive the bragging, but someone has to toot CROSSWALK's horn. And after all, per Mr. Whitman, "if you done it, it ain't bragging." 

Brag about your score increase with private SAT and ACT prep, or an ACT or SAT Boot Camp from CROSSWALK. Contact us today to learn more. 

Download "2400 SCORES" from Amazon and learn 24 life skills to demystify the SAT and boost your score. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

You Are More Than a Test Score

One of my first lessons for my students is that you cannot stress about the SAT or ACT. Stress is not allowed on the test because your life represents more than just a test score. The more you get wrapped up in the score, the more you stress. And the more you stress, the worse you perform. 

Even the latest study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling points out that a student's success in college has little or nothing to with the fact that he or she reported test scores to the university. 

In fact, this study implies that using standardized test scores as a predictor of college performance is not a reliable model. Students that submitted test scores to colleges finished their degrees with a trivial difference in both GPA and graduation rate as compared to students that did not submit test scores. 

Now, it would be premature to think that the sunset is upon the SAT and ACT. These tests remain major factors in the college application process. But since over 800 schools hardly use the ACT or SAT for admission decisions, the writing may be on the wall. 

The best advice, at this point, is to prepare for both the SAT and ACT as if they were games or puzzles to solve. Don't let stress enter the equation. Keep your brain focused, fresh and flexible. Just because you may have to take the test doesn't mean you should stress about it. 

If you remove the stress over achieving a perfect--or near perfect--score, then your performance will soar. 

Learn more test prep tips by reading 2400 Scores or by contacting CROSSWALK. CROSSWALK offers SAT/ACT Boot Camps, private tutoring in person or via Skype and other tools to prepare academically.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Olympics of SAT and ACT Prep

Few things on television deliver goosebumps like the Olympics do. Politics aside, the stories of these elite athletes are as remarkable as their achievements. 

Undoubtedly, Olympic athletes have incredible skill. More importantly, they train hard. 10,000 Hours hard. 

What if you trained 10,000 hours for the SAT or ACT? How would you perform? 

I always find it curious when I come across students that call themselves bad test takers. As I talk to these students more, I find out that they play a musical instrument, practice a sport and/or maintain long term personal relationships. Basically, they are skilled in something that has required time, dedication and persistence. 

Test taking is a skill that can be learned through time, dedication and persistence. Even if you think you are a bad test taker

Not every athlete is going to win a medal at Sochi, and not every test taker is going to achieve a perfect score. But those that train hard to master a skill will be rewarded with achievement. 

The Olympians of Sochi are an inspiration to us all. They show us that it takes hard work to overcome obstacles, perfect a skill and accomplish goals. 

Achieve your test taking goals with help from CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninsula's resource for test prep and academic tutoring. Contact CROSSWALK for more information about Boot Camps, Skype sessions and other test prep services. Learn more SAT test prep tips by reading 2400 Scores

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The #1 Reason SAT & ACT Essays Score Low

It's a far too common story: students that frequently score A's on their essays in school come up short on the SAT or ACT. Unfortunately, normally proficient writers can end up scoring lower than expected on test day. 

Why the difference? Why are so many students disappointed in their essay score on the SAT or ACT? 

It's a simple answer: most essays miss the mark because they lack a clear thesis. A clear thesis is the most important element to scoring high on both the SAT and the ACT essay. 

While a clear thesis may be important on a school essay, it is paramount to a good score on the SAT and ACT. Without it, you can score no higher than a five out of a possible six, and in many cases not better than a four. 

Most baffling is how unmistakably easy it is to communicate a clear thesis. Both the SAT and the ACT offer a question in which the writer must pick a side. Test scorers could care less which side you take as long as you take a side. 

Score higher by stating only one side of the argument. Make it patently obvious which side you take. The easy route is to answer the prompt in the positive or the negative, whichever will be the argument you develop in your essay. You don't need a catchy opening as some people might suggest. Just spell out your main point and hit the reader over the head by repeating it throughout the essay. After reading your essay, there should be no mistake as to your perspective on the issue. 

Sounds simple, and it really is. Unfortunately, even the best writers get lost in their own prose. Avoid a low score on your essay by making a clear point and sticking with it. 

Learn more test tips 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 about SAT and ACT Boot Camps, private test prep and academic tutoring for all subjects on the Monterey Peninsula. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

If You Resolve to Get Better Grades, You Must Learn this Study Skill

What is your New Year's resolution? Stay healthy? Make new friends? Get better grades? 

While all three resolutions are common for many teens, only one of them is actually quite easy to do. 

Staying healthy is always a challenge. Maintaining a diet and exercise regimen requires great discipline. 

Making new friends, for some people, can be equally as tough. Breaking out of your comfort zone to go out and meet people is not something that comes naturally for everyone. 

Getting good grades, on the other hand, is a resolution that anyone can tackle. It's really easier than you think if you just think like a teacher.

Think like a teacher? How is that going to help you get better grades? 

First of all, thinking like a teacher means knowing your content so well that you can teach someone else the same content. Having to teach someone else requires that you know everything forward and backward. If you were to approach your next study session with the goal that you need to be able to teach the material, you would have to master the content. If you master the content, then the next test or assessment will be quite easy and your grade would improve. 

Second of all, thinking like a teacher also means putting yourself in your teacher's shoes. Most teachers give fairly rigid instructions for assignments. Not only should you follow those instructions, you should think about what kinds of things your teacher would want to see from you. By following directions and anticipating what the teacher wants, you have the chance to produce something that will impress your teacher. 

Thinking like a teacher is a self-effacing act that requires some diligence. But if you are able to do it successfully, your grades will improve.

Learn more study skills by contacting CROSSWALK. CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for academic tutoring, test prep and ACT/SAT Boot Camps. 

Read 2400 SCORES by Brooke Higgins and learn how to apply life skills to your SAT prep.