Don’t Believe the Hype: Tests aren’t designed to trick you

Public Enemy - Dont Believe The HypeOver and over I read blogs and hear comments about how evil standardized tests are and how they are designed to “trick,” “fool,” and “trap” test-takers. I say that’s hogwash and poppycock!

It’s the invention of the test prep industry so they can sell you their “miracle cures.” This isn’t to say that all test preparation companies take this line. A few companies, Bell Curves among them, pride themselves on providing test prep that speaks to the knowledge, insights, and strategies needed to conquer the test, rather than play into the notion that these tests are designed to trick test-takers. My gripe with the other, more popular position is that it seems designed to make the test out to be a big scary mysterious unknowable boogie man designed to jump out of the dark and bop the unwary, and thus force test-takers to get help from someone else to defeat the unknown and unknowable. However, if the test is just a test, a test of content, a test of information, a test of factoids presented in a very particular way, then you might be able to prepare on your own. It’s got to be easier to sell a course or tutor if “only SAT experts” have the key to this very special lock.

Don’t believe the hype!

Evaluating Test Preparation Options

This is your last chance; after this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. - Morpheus to Neo from The Matrix

When people say “test prep,” what they mean varies greatly, and it’s usually limited to what they did themselves or what they’ve heard of. As part of this blog, we hope to provide a bit more insight into some of the options for test preparation. Our team has blogged quite a bit about free prep resources (check out our two most popular post on test prep here and here), so it’s high time we devote a little space to the commercial products.

Accessing the Pipeline: How Summer Enrichment Programs Changed My Life

The following post is from Lawrence Watkins’ blog. It’s very insightful.

Last week, CNN aired a special entitled “Black in America – Part 2″ profiling the lives of different African-Americans all around the nation. I watched with anticipation as the CNN crew was profiling an organization in which I am affiliated, Management Leadership for Tomorrow. MLT is a program that helps aspiring minority business school applicants attain their dream of attending a top notch business school. Out of all the underrepresented minorities at Cornell’s business school, well over half went through the rigorous MLT program.

Financial Aid: A Parent’s Refusal to File

Today, I received this disturbing inquiry from one of our non-profit partners and wanted to post the question to help and inform other NPOs, individuals, or organizations who might find themselves in a similar situation. I’ve changed all names to ensure the anonymity of the student and organization.

I am working with an 18 year old young woman who had graduated high school but was unable to attend college this past fall. She was accepted into St. Curves College but had to withdraw from classes because her mother refused to provide financial information

Extreme Makeover: PSAT Edition!

The College Board has redesigned student reports for the PSAT. The new reports have several advantages:

What is the PSAT and why it matters!

With the PSAT on the horizon on October 13th (or 16th), many students are struggling to factor this test (yet, another one!) into their college admissions plans and profile. To help students and parents navigate this stressful period we offer you this insight into the role the PSAT plays.

Let’s start with the basics:

  1. The PSAT is a shorter, slightly easier practice SAT
  2. The PSAT is offered in schools to Juniors and many Sophomores (and even some Freshmen)

Preparing for the SAT: done right and for free

Preparing for the SAT when done correctly and most effectively is a task that can only be accomplished by a parent, educational system, and child working in tandem for the same distant goal over the course of about 17 years. This educational triumvirate is the key to the intellectual development of the child and is the key to true achievement on the SAT and its ilk (PSAT, SAT Subject Tests, ACT, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, etc). This tripod of invested individuals sets the foundation for the ways the child interacts in educational settings and manages the challenges presented by testing. This foundation will do more to determine whether the child scores a 300 or an 800 than any prep course or high-priced tutor.

Starting Test Prep Early: Smartasses are Smart

People often ask me how I became the Sultan of Standardized Tests, the Baron of the Bubble, and the Prince of POE, or they just ask how I got so good at taking tests. It’s taken me a bit but after ruminating on the question I think I’ve arrived at not only an answer but advice that will let others try to develop some of the same talent. The answer I’ve arrived at is “I was a smartass as a kid.” Now I know that sounds crazy but keep reading and I promise it will make sense.

Consider the skills that define a proper smartass:

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