Six Things To Do During the Coronavirus Shutdown

Students across the country are out of school for the next few weeks–the shutdown could last all the way until the summer.  While many students may be tempted to increase their video gaming and snapchatting, this downtime presents a golden opportunity to make independent progress on long-term academic and extracurricular goals.   Here are six ways to make that happen:

1.  Prepare for the modified AP Exams.  The College Board will offer at-home AP tests that are 45 minutes long and consist of only free response questions.  You will be able to take the tests in a way convenient for you: on a phone, tablet, computer, or even by hand.  Colleges will accept the results from the exam just as they have in years past.  Get ready for the AP exams by doing self-study and practicing for free response questions.  The College Board will provide updates here:  https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/coronavirus-updates .

2.  Build your online portfolio.  You can submit additional materials with your college application to showcase your unique talents.  Among the types of materials you can submit: recordings of music, videos of debate and theatrical performances, short stories you have written, art pieces, and samples of films you have made.  Take advantage of this down time to work on independent projects that you have not had time to focus on with the hustle and bustle of high school.

3.  Get ready for the June SAT and June ACT.   There is a national SAT test date on June 6th and a national ACT test date on June 13th.  There will be additional test dates throughout the summer and fall.  This is an excellent time to do test preparation work like practice tests, content review, and online tutoring.

4.  Earn college credit through independent study and examination.  Is there a college course you have always wanted to take, but have never had the time?  Humanities, world history, religion, astronomy, or statistics?  You can study independently and earn college credit on websites like https://study.com/  .

5.  Read some good books!  Students often complain that they never have time to read for fun; now you have plenty of time to work through that reading list.  Online books are freely available on library websites like https://www.columbuslibrary.org/ .  If you are wondering what types of books might be helpful to read in order to improve your reading comprehension for standardized tests, here is suggested list:

https://bwseducationconsulting.com/docs/ACT_SAT_Recommended_Reading_List.pdf .

6.  Get started on your college application essays.  Over 900 colleges accept the Common Application, and they have already announced what the common application essay prompts will be:  https://www.commonapp.org/apply/essay-prompts .  The fall of the senior year is extremely busy with college applications, school, and extracurriculars.  If you can get a head start on your college essays now, that will take a major task off of your plate.

We at BWS stand at the ready to help you with your independent work.  We have tutors available to meet you online to help with the SAT and ACT, college essay preparation, and AP exam review.  Please register to work with us at:

https://bwseducationconsulting.mypaysimple.com/s/bws-education-consulting-tutoring-registration .

 

 

 

Updates to the ACT

On October 8th, 2019, the ACT put out a press release announcing some big changes that they’re planning to implement in 2020. These three impactful changes have to do with how the test is proctored and how scores are reported. These changes may greatly alter the test taking and college application process for students who choose to focus on the ACT.

The first major change that the ACT is making is likely geared toward make the test more competitive with the SAT. The number of students who took the SAT last year hit an all time high, and the ACT is probably looking to gain back some of that market share. Historically, many colleges have allowed super scoring on the SAT while significantly fewer have allowed super scoring on the ACT. The ACT is trying to bridge that  gap for students.

Super scoring is the process by which colleges only look at the best scores for each section over multiple test dates. For example, if your best English score was on a test in June but your best math score was on a test in July, super scoring policies allow you to build a new score with your best from each. The press release makes it sounds like the ACT will now be doing this in house. Whereas previously you would have to pay to send all your tests in to the colleges who would then build your super score (and see your lower scores), it seems that the ACT will now do that for you. As long as they don’t charge a fee for this service this will likely save students a fair amount of money in score reporting fees. In addition, more colleges will likely accept super scoring for the ACT. Keep in mind that the rising tide lifts all boats. ACT scores for all students may increase with this new policy. While we aren’t sure on the details of the policy yet, it should be a time, stress, and money saver.

The second big change is probably the one that students will like the most. The ACT has announced that they will allow students to retake individual portions of the test. While details aren’t out yet on how this would work, this is a big change from the previous policy that forced students to retake the entire test even if they only wanted to improve one section score. Policy details will impact this greatly. They may only allow students to retake one portion, or have other restrictions. However, this is still a huge boon for several reasons: it will hopefully allow students to focus only on where they think needs improvement, it will give students who get worn out taking a three to four hour test the opportunity to break the test up into manageable portions, and it will allow students to take tests without less testing anxiety since their entire score won’t be dependent on one day’s work.

The final change seems to indicate that the ACT is moving to online testing. Whereas previously, the ACT only allowed students to take the test online if they were testing on a in-school test, they will soon have the online option on the national test dates as well. While online testing has its pros and cons as we discussed in our blog here, for some students (especially those who test with certain accommodations or who are on time crunch to get scores back) this will be an enormous help.

Altogether, these are positive changes. Test prep providers like BWS will be able to better tailor content to students who are focusing on just one part of the test, students will be able to get their scores back sooner through online testing, and students will have more control over the tests they take and the scores they send out. While some people feel that standardized tests are outdated and antiquated, the ACT is proving them wrong by continually listening to the needs of the students and adjusting their policies accordingly. Read the full press release on the ACT blog.

College Counseling with BWS

As many of you may have noticed, our blog has been a bit quiet lately. That’s because we have been gearing up to make big changes. We are happy to announce that BWS Education Consulting will now be offering college counseling! College counseling is a service that helps guide students through the process of applying for colleges. From creating a list to making a final decision, a college counselor is there to help. You may be wondering why you would want a counselor besides your school counselor: we can give you more support. Your school counselor is a wonderful resource but quite often you are simply not a priority because he or she has a couple hundred other students. With our private counselor you’ll be one of only a dozen students so you can know that you’ll get the help you need when you need it. Check back soon for the first blog from our new college counselor Michal; she’ll talk about what colleges want to see on your application!

Ten Resources to Help you Ace your School Tests

  1. Online Textbook Resources.  Virtually every major textbook has a companion website, complete with practice quizzes, chapter summaries, and multimedia learning tools.  Strangely, most teachers never have their students use these resources.  Use them yourself!   Try to find the exact companion website for your textbook through Google.  If that fails, try to find a textbook that covers the same topic as your class but which actually has a good companion website that you can use. Here are a couple of great examples:

https://www.mheonline.com/

http://www.thinkcentral.com/index.htm

  1. Khan Academy.  Khan is a wonderful website that has inspired much of what I have created and written.  Especially with Math and Science, Khan can give you in-depth instruction on topics that are giving you difficulty:

http://www.khanacademy.org/

  1. Youtube.   You will find tutorials on virtually any subject – when I taught high school, some of the “philosophy in 30 seconds” videos were remarkable in helping students quickly grasp a difficult concept.  Search for yourself:

https://www.youtube.com/

  1. School Resources.  Your library may have access to fantastic subscription databases and study tools that you can use.  They probably paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for these, so put them to use!  If your school library doesn’t have them, check with your public library.  For an article detailing some of the changes that school libraries have made, please see here:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2012/04/01/high_school_libraries_more_than_just_a_place_to_study_these_days_1333162611/

  1. Past Tests.  Talk to your teacher about using past tests for practice, or try to borrow them from other students (without cheating of course!).  Using these will help you see how the teacher generally asks questions so that you will know how to focus your studying.
  2. Course-notes.org.  They have a great collection of subject notes, particularly for AP exams.  Great to use as a supplement to your textbook:

http://www.course-notes.org/

  1. Powerpoint Search.  There is no need for you to learn from a terrible powerpoint in class – there are PLENTY of powerpoints out there that you can use free of charge.  Simply go to google, type in the term for which you want a powerpoint, and then type in “ filetype:ppt ”.  When I taught high school, I often used this to save time in making lecture notes for my classes.
  2. College Help Sites for their students, (especially with writing).  Many top-notch colleges have compiled outstanding resources for their struggling students, and you can access them for yourself!  Here are two of my favorites:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~writing/materials/student/toc.shtml

  1. Ask students in same class at other schools to share what their teacher has done.  If you are in an Advanced Placement or Honors Course, reach out to your friends in other schools. Those schools may have teachers of the same course you are in is doing a much better job than your teacher.  See what resources, notes, and old tests you can check out from them.
  2. Purchase the teacher editions and AP resources yourself.  As long as you are not cheating by looking at a test bank that you know a teacher is using to generate test questions, I see nothing wrong with supplementing your learning by acquiring the textbook teacher editions and resources for yourself.  If several of your peers are in a similar situation, pool your money and purchase the book together.  You can find the teacher editions for most textbooks on amazon.com.  If you would like access to teacher resources for AP courses, here is where you can find them:

https://store.collegeboard.com/sto/enter.do

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with your friends!  Thanks, Brian Stewart