Two Questions to Ask about Tomorrow’s ACT Score

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ACT scores come out tomorrow, and you’re nervous. If your score disappoints, feel whatever you feel:  sadness, anger, fear, whatever’s inside.  But after some normal grieving and frustration, you have to actively frame the test in your mind in a way that sets you up to succeed. I teach my students not to judge themselves by their results, but by two questions instead. Results are often out of our control.  You can take the test and have it feel great, yet …

Never-Give-Up Patriots a Model to Struggling SAT and ACT Students

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Last night’s Super Bowl blew me away.  Lady Gaga alone was fantastic, but having edited down my thoughts on how much I liked her performance (let me just say I loved her guttural yell to the crowd before her last song:  ‘Come on! Let’s go!  This is the Super Bowl!  This is what Champions are made of!’  So respectful and aware, honoring the athletes for whom she was performing, when most artists treat their cameo as being purely about their …

When Horses Taught Me How to Tutor

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I spent four days last week at Jen Zoe’s Zenergen Stables in Orlando, a world of green, fresh-air, horses, and constant chatter about personality types, love, life, and childhood. Jen has read every personal growth book you’ve ever heard about, and she has also spent the past decade rescuing horses, four of which match each of the four major temperaments that most personality type systems identify. She uses these horses – Tres, Dante, Pretty Girl, and Bella – as mirrors for her workshop …

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 …