How Manchester United Hired

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As I have started to hire and train tutors, whom to hire has become the question to tackle. I’ve been reading former Manchester United Manager Alex Ferguson’s “Leading,” lately, searching for tidbits that can – yes, this is corny – help my leadership of students! Halfway through, Ferguson spells out how he hires coaches.  To drill his insights into my brain (making myelin, students!), I reviewed his criteria here: “When I interview someone, 1.  I want to know how ambitious they are …

Three Strategies Behind Students’ Rising ACT Scores

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1.  Michael Cerro’s “For Love of ACT Science” Workbook 2.  Breathing Techniques 3.  A New Strategy for Reading Passages My students’ ACT Scores have risen 8.2 points on average so far this year – equivalent to about 300 points on the 1600-scale SAT. Last year (the first year I began tracking scores in depth), they rose 6.1 points, or roughly 230 points on the 1600-scale SAT. My highest riser was 13 points, while my lowest has been 4 points (she is taking the test …

April ACT Writing Scores Came Out Today

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April’s ACT Writing Scores are out today, three and a half weeks after the test. My students’ scores are trickling in. As you look yours up, keep in mind: 1.  ACT Writing scores have always been strangely low. Whereas a 95th percentile score on English has typically been a 32, a 95th percentile score on the Essay has been a 27. Moreover, Essay grading seemed to get even harder with the new prompts released this year. In February, the Washington Post published …

Avoid Thinking Too Quickly

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Josh Waitzkin has been blowing my mind lately. A former child chess prodigy, Waitzkin was the real-life inspiration for the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher. Today he is a grown man, and lately I have been reading his fantastic book The Art of Learning:  An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance. I found a fascinating insight from his chess days – about thinking fast, and about thinking slow – which I have been showing my students and relating to their testtaking. Waitzkin writes …

What I Learned from Taking April’s ACT

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I took the ACT yesterday, filing into a nervous classroom in South Brooklyn filled with kids half my age. Every time I take the ACT, I learn new things about how to approach it. Here is what I learned yesterday:   1.  ACT English and Reading seem to be getting easier. As the new SAT evolves to become more like the ACT, the ACT seems to be returning serve, changing itself to be even more like the new SAT.After last month’s …

My Favorite Reading Strategy: Intro, Topic Sentences, and Conclusion

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I have heard of several strategies to approach a Reading Passage: Just read it and answer the questions! Read the questions first, gaining a sense of what they will ask about.  Then read the Passage, and then do the questions. Read the whole Introduction, then the Topic Sentences, then the whole Conclusion.  Then go to the questions and jump back and forth between them an, reading the bits of the passage you need to in order to answer each question. …

With Tests, Take a Growth Mindset

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My most exciting breakthrough in tutoring lately has been teaching my students “Growth” versus “Judger” Mindsets. I have been amazed at how much this has resonated with students. Mindsets have gained popularity in the past couple decades thanks to research by Carol Dweck at Stanford. Dweck says “Judger” Mindset (or “Fixed Mindset,” as some call it) is one that sees talents and situations as unchangeable. It values people not for how well they try, but for how good their results …

The Way You Read ACT Science Questions Is Confusing You – Here’s The Fix

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A couple weeks ago I realized that I was reading ACT Science questions differently than most of my students. My students tended to read the entire question at once… They started to read at “Suppose…” and continued all the way to the end:  “…following energies.” The problem with this approach is that the question has so many unfamiliar “science-y” terms – Mineral 3, MnSiO3, Figures 1 and 2, X-ray spectroscopy, 3 maximum intensity peaks, keV – that when you read …