Do you have a bad habit of circling the right answer, then changing it?!

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We see it all the time in test taking, and it can be so frustrating: why would we change the answer if we actually knew it?!  Here’s why this happens – and being aware of it now will enable this habit to fade away. Unbeknownst to our conscious brains, our unconscious brains are constantly processing information and solving problems for us. Unconscious processing is why we have “gut instincts” that are unerringly accurate sometimes, or why we leave the house …

An ACT Science Student’s Shocking Results

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Today I have shocking ACT Science results that a student of mine has gotten recently – and she’s gotten them by doing something very counterintuitive. In the 7 weeks we worked together, she raised her practice score by 13 points. When students learn to slow down while working on a question, their overall test taking gets faster; they let themselves actually make sense of the question at their own pace, so they become more accurate. Paradoxically, they also get quicker! …

“Test Optional”: Do the SAT and ACT Still Matter?

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By Jim Treadway Since 53 colleges have gone “test-optional” during the quarantine, parents are asking if (and students are insisting!) the tests no longer matter. This post will give the low-down on what “test optional” really means – the forces behind it that aren’t being mentioned in media reporting on the SAT and ACT – and which type of student (probably you) the SAT and ACT will matter more than ever to. First:  What is the Real Story Behind “Test-Optional”? …

Why the ACT is The Better Test to Take

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By Jim Treadway I cringe a little when a parent tells me their teen has chosen to take the SAT instead of the ACT.  In this article I’ll explain why nine times out of ten, the ACT is the better test to take. 1. ACT English and Reading Passages are more interesting than SAT Passages.   They aren’t fast fiction, but ACT Passages can be charming, interesting, even profound. There’s an ACT Reading Passage about a mother coexisting with her teenage …

Own Your IRs, Own the SAT

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Test prep is challenging – longer, harder, and slower than everyone wants it to be. For it to work, you have to give it your all, and that requires positivity, persistence, and confidence. But students undermine themselves at so many turns by attaching to disempowering meanings produced by their brains. Learning the model of “IRs” can change that – having effects that go far beyond raising your test scores.

The Better Approach to SAT + ACT Tutoring: One Section at a Time

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There’s a major reason why your SAT or ACT tutoring might not be working. Most tutors teach the tests by showing students each Section (Math, English, etc.) and then working on all of the Sections simultaneously, week by week. Progress dribbles in, and preparing for the tests starts to feel like indefinite toil. Parents and students wonder: “do we just work at this forever?” “When does it stop?” “Will we ever get the score we’re hoping for?” At Growth Wise, …

4 Tendencies Every Parent and Tutor Should Know

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Gretchen Rubin’s recent book The Four Tendencies spells out four inborn personality types that every parent and teacher should know when dealing with teens and kids:  how do we react to expectations, both those of ourselves and those of others’. Tendency 1:  Upholders. Upholders live up to expectations, both their own and others’.  They execute on their bosses’ orders and adhere to strict exercise and diet routines for themselves.  Motivation is rarely a challenge for Upholders, and they struggle to see why others …

Your PSAT Score Can Win You College Scholarships

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Scoring in the top 3% of all PSAT testtakers can earn you a sizable college scholarship Each October, 1.5 million Juniors take the PSAT. In early September of senior year, the top 1% or so of PSAT scorers (16,000) are awarded “National Merit Semifinalists” and are invited to submit an application for Finalist awards (similar to college applications:  essay, recommendations, transcript, list of outside activities and leadership roles). Meanwhile, in late September, the top 50,000 scorers (roughly 97th percentile and above) …

College Essays: Admissions Wants to Feel You

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Why do we love our favorite movies? Why do we play the same song on repeat, over and over? Because they make us feel something. Think about a special relationship you have in your life: how does it make you feel, in your body, right now? “Interoception” is a still-poorly-known skill: the ability to sense or feel what is happening in your body. I think of my friend Ross – his ready jokes, his smile and intelligence, how kind and …