Wednesday, April 27, 2016

SAT vs ACT: An Excellent Pictograph Comparison

Thanks to the folks at Applerouth for an awesome SAT vs ACT Pictograph (you will need to fill out a form to gain access to the resource). 

No joke, Applerouth's comparison might be the best way to look at the two different tests. 

While there is no mention of the difference between the two essay formats, Applerouth's pictograph is a great way to compare the two different assessments. 

Some key points:
  • There is much more Geometry on the ACT compared to the SAT
  • The SAT tests vocabulary-in-context questions more than the ACT
  • Both tests tackle the grammar and the structure questions in the Writing/English multiple choice sections
When comparing the two tests, students are recommended to do the following:
  • Take practice tests for both the SAT and ACT: Ideally a student can take both tests in an official setting, but students can conduct their own practice test by using a test from a study guide. Be sure to use an official study guide from the makers of the tests so that the test is as realistic as possible. For the SAT, be sure to use one from the most recent study guide book since the format has changed.
  • Compare scores and experiences from both tests: After the practice tests, score the tests and compare the practice test score to the goal score. The goal score is the score a student needs to get into the school of his or her choice. In addition to comparing the scores, also compare the experience of the practice test. Was one test easier? Did one take more time? 
  • Decide: Based on the scores and experiences, focus test prep on one of the tests. You may want to be sure that the colleges will accept either the SAT or the ACT, but most do. Assuming a student can do either the SAT or the ACT, test prep should focus on one test only.
  • Take it Again: After some dedicated prep, take the test again officially. On average, a student will increase their score from the first official sitting to the second. Some students event see a bump on the third sitting. Regardless, be sure to plan to take it again to see those scores increase.
If you need any advice or guidance on SAT vs ACT, be sure to contact CROSSWALK. CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for test prep, tutoring and academic support. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How to Tackle Math Anxiety

True story: I used to be bad at math. 

I always remember being bad at math. During my elementary years, my mother used to torture me over the summers with math workbooks and extra work. It was never fun and I dreaded it. 

Math became a chore and I avoided it at all costs. 

In fact, even into college, I feared math. Through a little-known loophole that likely doesn't exist anymore, I was able to graduate with extra Fine Arts classes instead of Math classes. 

Nothing changed for me until I shifted my mindset about math and my own learning. 

Lucky for me, I had no choice but to shift my mindset when I headed to graduate school. In pursuing my MBA, I took several Math classes that forced me to embrace math. Simultaneously, I launched CROSSWALK as a means to support myself through graduate school and found myself teaching test prep and math skills. 

In both cases, I was lucky enough to be in situations in which I was able to see math strategies, short cuts and connections that I never saw before. All of a sudden, I started to feel good about math. 

Maybe my brain was just ready for math. Or maybe I finally understood that math was not my problem, rather my anxiety about math was

Once I put the anxiety behind me, I found math to be a joy. Confidence erased anxiety. 

Now, when my students tell me, "I'm bad at math," I get to tell them my story. 

I tell them that the reason they are bad at math is that they have anxiety over it. For most students, anxiety is the heart of the issue, not ability. The key becomes how to tackle the anxiety. 

So how do you tackle the anxiety? Two ways: early and often. 

First, start early with fun ways to do math. Lucky for kiddos nowadays, there are many fun games and apps that can help. No more boring workbooks that my mom used to force on me. Bedtime Math is one such resource. Typically geared towards early learners, Bedtime Math can be fun for all ages. I even like to do some of the problems! Apps like Bedtime Math have proven to reduce anxiety around math. Start kiddos on these types of activities early and confidence can build. 

Second, make math a routine part of everyday activities. Repetition goes a long way in learning. Look for opportunities to frequently insert math-related topics into your everyday routine. Even just counting or pattern-recognition activities on the way to school can be fun. Or incorporate some math questions into your cooking, gardening, chores, etc. Count calories, chart times of television shows or otherwise take the normal, everyday activities and turn them into math questions. 

As you build confidence through fun math activities early and often, anxiety will melt away. It took me several decades to defrost my own math anxiety. If you can tackle your own anxiety soon, it won't take you that long.

For more learning ideas and ways to prepare for the ACT, SAT, SSAT, PSAT or other standardized tests, contact CROSSWALK