You've been there.
Seated at a desk, staring intently at a reading comprehension test with dread thumping in your heart and beads of sweat dotting your lip.
Were you going to be reading about the midnight ride of Paul Revere? Vegetation in the Appalacian Mountains? Pottery-making in the 1600's? Or a different compilation of banal trivia you'd never really heard about before?
What was the test designed to measure? According to the proctor (and the endless sea of test designers) the test, where you read a passage of goop and answer some multiple-choice questions related to that goop, was going to determine how well you could read.
The problem is, that's just not true.
The reading theory was tested in 1988. A study was conducted on a group of seventh and eighth graders. They were subdivided into two groups: those who could read well, and those who couldn't. The kids were then divided again according to their level of baseball knowledge, and were given a reading passage about baseball. Guess what? The weak readers with high baseball knowledge outperformed the strong readers with low baseball knowledge.
Content is everything.
If the standardized tests were changed to reflect common content knowledge in the classrooms, we might get an accurate representation of what a student can actually encode. It doesn't make sense to base a child's reading comprehension on passages that are completely foreign. Sure, they need to read new things, learn about new ideas, understand new concepts, but a standardized test is not the place to introduce new stuff.
Ask yourself this: How well would you score on a reading comprehension test that focused on molecular biology? Or scenes of modernity in modern theater? Or locating nontrivial zeros of the Riemann zeta function in advanced math?
Exactly. So why should we test our kids the same way?
Speaking of Reading Comprehension:
- Reading Comp Worksheet 9: Legend of Sleepy Hollow
- Reading Comp Worksheet 10: 4th of July
- Reading Comp Worksheet 11: Sun Yat-Sen
The College Board announced today that big changes are coming for the SAT in 2016. What's new? Here's a list:
- The SAT essay will be optional, like it is on the ACT.
- The new SAT will not penalize for wrong answers as it currently does.
- Obscure vocabulary words are now off the exam altogether and will be replaced with vocabulary words often used in college.
- The scoring system will go from its current 2400 back to 1600. Half of those points will come from math and the other half from a new section titled, "Evidence-Based Reading and Writing." This new section will include passages from science and social sciences.
- The exam will be available on both the computer and on paper.
- Calculators will only be allowed on part of the Math section.
So, what's with the changes? College Board president, David Coleman, wants to make the tests more accessible and more aligned with the curriculum of today's schools. He says that College Board has reworked the test so that more test prep will not necessarily mean a better score. In fact, College Board aims to level the playing field altogether by offering free online practice tests and instructional videos, so money isn't a condition for being well-prepared for the exam.
Worried that your current test prep is out of date? Don't be...yet. Students graduating this year and next will not be affected as the new SAT will not available until the spring of 2016.
As a general rule, you know who you are. You find out in kindergarten that you're the fastest at the numbers worksheets. Or really, really good at hopscotch. You find out that you're still on the first page when others are finished with their books and deduce that you're a perfectionist. Or a slow reader. Or not reading at all. By your entrance into first grade, you kinda know who you are academically. You've compared yourself to others in your class and have figured out your strengths and weaknesses. Sure, people can change, but as far as academics go, you kind of tend to be the same person throughout your educational career unless something dramatic happens to push you forward or hold you back.
As it turns out, people are aware of their strengths and weaknesses on into adulthood. The GRE paints a really clear picture of people's ability to pinpoint their strengths. How? Check out the GRE scores by Intended Major, updated with the latest statistics.
The people headed into Mathematics, for instance, are rocking the Quantitative section on the GRE. The Philosophers are scoring high on Verbal Reasoning. The English majors are good at Analytical Writing. It just works out that the majors people are choosing tend to go along with their strengths, which is a good thing because if the potential Physics majors were scoring in the 130s in Quantitative Reasoning, you'd have to wonder.
Check out the statistics and see if you're as self-aware as the students who tested as recently as last year.
What's coming up this week in test dates? Here are the registration deadlines, test administrations, score release dates and more!
Week: March 2 - 8
Wednesday, March 5
- LSAT scores available via Internet for the February 8 and 10 exams
- LSAT Registration FAQs
Friday, March 7
- Regular registration ends for the April 12 ACT exam
Saturday, March 8
For one, the content is typically dry.
And you're being timed.
And it's filled with tough vocabulary.
To be fair to the test-makers out there, you do need to know how to read and understand difficult material in your college courses and in most of your future jobs. (Completely unjust, I know.)
So, how do you make it easier? One way is by learning how to understand that tough vocabulary in context from these cute little items called context clues. Cool bonuses from acquiring this skill:
- You don't have to memorize the dictionary.
- You don't have to plan too far ahead.
- You don't have to carry flashcards around in your back pocket, and thus, subject yourself to Jessie from 5th period's inane conversation about the best place to buy 3 x 5's.
See? Win-win. Learn how to understand vocab in context and give yourself a leg-up on that next reading comprehension test.
Here's your test prep tasty tidbit of the week. Eat 'em up!
Test Prep Tasty Tidbit: Sleep Instead of Cramming
Cramming will not help you on the LSAT. Or the ACT . Or the SAT. Or the GRE. Or the...you get my point. Don't make the mistake of studying instead of sleeping. According to psychologist and sleep expert David F. Dinges, Ph.D., "a sleep-deprived person may [...] start to experience apathy, slowed speech and flattened emotional responses, impaired memory and an inability to be novel or multitask." Do you want your memory to be impaired on the day when your memory should be working full bore? Probably not. Sleep is your ticket to mental acuity, and cramming will not help on a reasoning test, anyway. You're wasting your time.
Hey guys! ETS has tabulated all of their GRE scores for last year (August 2012 - April 2013) and they've released the statistics. Are you interested in finding out how people from your state are scoring on the GRE? Here are some fun facts before you plunge into the scores:
- California testers came out in droves! More testers sat for the GRE in California than in any other state. North Dakota had the fewest number of testers.
- The highest Verbal Reasoning average came from testers in D.C. The lowest? Mississippi.
Want to see more? Here's the latest GRE score data by state. See how you fared compared to others living in your neck of the woods.
More GRE Info:
For many high school students, studying for the writing portion of a standardized test like the ACT can be likened to getting their neck skin caught in a zipper - decidedly uncool and typically painful.
But if you know what you're actually studying for, the process can be a little less ouch-inducing.
Behold a few ACT Writing Sample Prompts.
Read through them, and choose one that doesn't make you want to throw yourself off a balcony. Then, scratch out an essay per the instructions, and consider yourself a little more prepared.
Sure, it's not the most daring way to spend a Saturday night, but if you only have a few weeks before you sit down in a cramped desk and pencil out an answer to one of life's mysterious questions during the ACT Writing Test, then I advise you to practice, my young friend.
You will thank me.
Spring break is coming up for many of you out there. So, how do you keep your kid's brain sharp when school isn't in session? First, let me just tell you that it's very important to give your kid some down time. He or she has been busy at school, and spring break is a great time to let loose a little bit.
Until they start telling you they're bored.
When that day comes (and you know it will), here are some easy ways to keep your kid's brain humming during those lazy days.
Check your College Board accounts, girls and guys. SAT scores are in!
Wondering how you fared? Sure, you'll see your percentiles listed, but how did you do when you compare yourself to others in your state? Or others of your gender?
Check out the average national SAT scores for 2013 (the most recent statistics) which includes scores by gender, ethnicity, household income and more! There's also a link for 2013 SAT scores by state, too.