The Importance of AP Exams
The majority of people know what an Advanced Placement (AP) course is, but many do not realize the true importance of taking these higher level classes, as well as the AP Exams. There are many benefits of taking AP classes, including but not limited to: the increased rigor of your overall course load which colleges take into consideration during the application process, an added 0.5 onto your letter grade which counts towards your HOPE GPA (for example, if you make a “B” in an AP class, it counts as a 3.5 instead of a 3.0), and an extra ten points on your net grade point average which class rank is based off of. However, the biggest reason to take an AP class is to succeed on the corresponding AP test in May and receive college credit for the class.
The AP exams are scored on a 1-5 scale; generally 10% of people get 5’s, 20% of people get 4’s, 20% of people get 3’s, and the remaining 50% receive either a 1 or a 2. The College Board, the organization that creates the tests each year, designs the exams and scoring system in an effort to only give approximately half of the people that take the test college credit, which at most universities is a 3 or higher.. However, if you have a good work ethic in the course throughout the year and then study heavily prior to the test, a 3 or higher is definitely attainable.
If you pace yourself with AP classes starting freshman year, it is very possible to come out of high school as a sophomore in college – which would save anywhere between $5,000 to $40,000 depending on the university. A suggested AP course schedule to complete this task is as follows: one AP class freshman year, two sophomore year, 3-4 junior year, and 2-4 senior year. Each exam that you score well on gives you anywhere from 3-6 credit hours – keep in mind a full year of college consists of 30 hours. So this means that to complete a full year from AP exams requires passing about 7-9 of these tests. Although you do have to pay to take the exam – about $95 per test – that is a heck of a lot better than paying thousands for the first year in college.
Study Tips for Midterms and Finals
As midterms/finals approach, both students and teachers become very stressed. It seems that the only thing on anyone’s mind is how much work they have ahead of them, yet how little time to do the work there is. Because of this, students tend to shut down to the pressure and give up. They tell themselves they’ll pick their grades up next year and let whatever happens, happen. This is the wrong mindset.
Despite how it may seem, finals do not have to be all that stressful if you have the right approach. If you start with these simple tips and tricks, finals will not be as bad as everyone makes them out to be.
- Start by reviewing the topics you have covered throughout the year and make some notes on your weak areas that way you can come back to them.
- Based on your weak areas, make your own personalized study guide.
- Be sure to write down any questions you come across on a separate piece of paper so you can ask the teachers quick and concise questions as their time is just as limited as their students!
- Be sure to go in for any tutoring sessions available to you! More often than not, your teachers will teach during these final/midterm tutoring sessions to the very material on the test itself.
- Be sure to start the studying process early. As the time gets closer to finals you do NOT want to be overwhelmed studying for 4-6 finals at a time.
- Get together with some friends and study together. Often, any questions you have one of your friends may be able to help you with and vice versa.
- Possibly one of the most important, take breaks! Do not overload yourself with too much information at once. Every hour or so watch TV or relax for 15-20 minutes. NO LONGER. If the break is too extensive you will lose focus and desire to return to studying.
- Be sure to stay well-nourished and well-rested. A healthy body and brain will result in better focus and concentration.
- Believe in yourself! You made it this far and as long as you taken the necessary steps in studying for finals, you will do great!
Although this can be a stressful time, make sure you do not become overwhelmed. Even though finals are a large portion of the final grade, worrying will not make anything any better. Make sure you study and prepare to the best of your ability and then there is nothing more to worry about. And after you have test, enjoy your break with friends and family!
When Should I Take the SAT or ACT?
By: Tyler Mathena
The SAT and ACT are daunting for many students. The scores on these two tests (or just one) can determine what colleges you can attend, what scholarships you can apply for, and whether or not you get into the honors program. All of these have the potential to impact your life, for better or worse, so it is best to be well-informed and prepared.
Everyone knows the magnitude of these tests, and a Google search for test taking tips returns over 18 million results. Most people know how, why, and where to take the test, but it is rarely discussed WHEN students should take it.
The reading and grammar concepts on both tests are mostly covered before high school, it is just a matter of recalling all of the rules and vocabulary. The math section, on the other hand, contains information that students learn in high school classes. After taking Geometry and Algebra, you should have learned most of the content, but do not be discouraged if there are questions you can not figure out! Some of these questions require a different approach or way of thinking, which is often where the strategy comes into play.
Even if you have not done all of the math courses to get a perfect score on the math section of the tests, you should still take it. I would recommend taking both tests at least once, starting towards the end of your sophomore year. This way, there is plenty of time to improve if you do not get the score you want the first time. After getting your score back, look over what your weak spots are and do whatever it takes to strengthen those areas. If you take the test again after studying from your previous results and do not improve, it may be wise to start working with a tutor once or twice a week to get to your preferred score.
For most college applications, you should take the ACT and SAT for the last time in September or October of your senior year. Most colleges have an option to submit your application early so that you know if you are accepted or not sooner. Early decision also automatically makes you eligible for certain scholarships at some colleges. The deadlines typically fall in mid-October to early November.
The SAT and ACT are important. These tests can determine what colleges you get into and how much you pay. Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to take them. The best time to take the SAT or ACT is now. You can always retake it, as lower scores do not affect you at all, so get ahead of the game; you won’t regret it.
How to Get Through the Tough Times with Math
Although math is one of my favorite subjects, and I am now am math tutor, math hasn’t always been easy for me. In fact, math has made me very discouraged. I can remember a time in middle school when I referred to my math class as the torture chamber. I absolutely hated it. I didn’t understand my homework. I struggled to do well on tests. I didn’t understand what was being taught in class. I just wanted to give up, but I got through it. Now, I love math. It is something I do for fun and it excites me.
I bet you are wondering how I went from being that student who hated math to where I am today. I have some tips to help if you are having a hard time with math. These tips are a combination of things I wish I knew and things I did back then that helped me get through the tough times.
- Get help when you need it.
If you don’t understand something, ask your teacher. If you need more help than your teacher can give you, find a tutor. There is nothing wrong with needing more help.
- Remember mistakes are ok.
When you make a mistake it is proof that you are trying. As long as you learn from them, mistakes can be helpful. Take some time to understand your mistakes and remember, always ask questions if you have them.
Math isn’t always going to be easy. When you hit a topic that is hard for you, keep trying until you understand it. Some topics are going to be harder for you to understand than others. Never give up.
If you have been working hard on your homework, and you are getting discouraged, walk away for a little bit. Go eat a snack or do other homework. When you come back your brain will be ready to learn again.
- Tell yourself you can do it.
It is all in your head. If you have convinced yourself you can’t do something, you probably won’t be able to do it. On the other hand, if you have convinced yourself that you are capable and you can accomplish something, it is likely you will accomplish it.
- Grades aren’t everything.
Although grades are a way for teachers to tell you how you did, that is all they do. They don’t make one person better than another person. If you worked hard and gave it everything you’ve got, you should be proud of yourself regardless of your grade.
Your attitude determines a lot in life. If you choose to have a positive attitude, it won’t change your situation, but it will make it more bearable. You can either be happy or miserable, so you might as well choose to be happy and have a positive attitude.
As you can see, these tips don’t just apply to math. They are applicable to any subject you are struggling with. Hang in there, use these tips, and you will make it through. You may even do better than you were expecting!
A Little Gold Star
How many of you parents remember the work you would do for one of those little foil stars? I can remember practicing a song on piano over and over in hopes that it would gain me that tiny little seal of confidence. And when I did earn one, the next week I’d practice twice as hard because I knew I could earn one and had to prove myself once again.
What was it about that star that made me work? It certainly wasn’t it’s monetary value or glamour. It was the pride that came with knowing I could do something. Every other week I accomplished my songs, but that week, I was a star!
Do you know the role your positive words play in your students’, friends’, coworkers’, spouse’s, tutor’s lives? Your role is huge in your child’s education, even if you never look at a piece of homework. Encouraging them to score their best, without berating them over less than stellar grades can make all the difference in the world. I would never be where I am today without my mom telling me how proud she was of my grades, piano playing, crafting, etc. Now I was never good at cleaning my room, so she chose not to focus on that flaw, as she knew I could make it to adulthood with clothes on the floor, but I couldn’t without my education.
As MaThCliX test prep coordinator I spend quite a bit of time encouraging students to use their own abilities. I find so many of the skills a student needs to excel on the ACT and SAT are within them, they just don’t trust their instincts and chances are, someone along the way chose to point out all of their mistakes and not their strengths. I am not at all saying students do not need to know their mistakes or to work on where they struggle (that’s why we’re here!), but the approach is key. A conversation started with confirmation of what is done right, is going to be received a whole lot better than one that begins with everything someone fails. I see students with the same abilities and different confidence levels score drastically different.
I want to close with some tangible ways you can encourage your children, coworkers, peers:
1. Commend good behavior
2. Spend more time with praise than discouragement
3. Work on things like vocabulary together as a family, make it fun, a joke even and laugh together when you use it!
4. Talk about areas of weakness as how you can improve, rather than focusing on it being a poor area
5. Don’t use powerschool only to ground your child, but also as a bragging point
6. Ask your child’s tutor what they did well, so you can discuss
7. Keep in mind, we all have different skills and abilities. If one child isn’t doing what another did, encourage them to do THEIR best and do not compare to others!
Oh the places you will go!
Why is so much emphasis placed on a test you will take on one day of your life? Does the very thought make you want to cry or run away and join the circus? Let’s dive into some information that can hopefully make those cold sweats stop and give your student the confidence he or she needs to accomplish this great task and unlock a world of opportunities for the places to go.
The SAT and ACT tests were designed to give colleges and universities a standard upon which to base their acceptance. With school systems differing as much as pizza toppings, it is essential to have some similar way to test students coming from around the world. Are these tests fair? I could argue on both sides of this for days on end, but the bottom line is, these tests are required.
A high score on one or both exams can be just what is needed to differentiate between two students and get your student into the university of their dreams. To obtain this high score, preparation is the key. If your student has a smart phone, start by downloading an app that allows them to study vocabulary on their own, daily. There are many free apps out there and knowing and using vocabulary is a big component to scoring well on the exam and aiding with the fundamentals for college.
How can MaThCliX help you? MaThCliX offers various individualized plans of attack to help students conquer the world of SAT and ACT preparation. We begin by offering a practice exam, with a full evaluation. The Evaluation includes your student’s specific scores and where they need to focus their time. Recommendations will be made a packages offered that may include independent work, classwork or individual tutoring sessions. As every student learns differently, the plan provided will include what is best for each student and not a generic one size fits all plan.
If you have any questions, please contact me, Katie Boswell. Asking questions does not commit you to anything. I want to help all students achieve their greatest potential and open up the opportunities for the places they can go. [email protected]