Tag Archives: college

Does Race Affect Academic Performance?

It does. And so does gender. Exactly how it effects your test scores totally depends on the thoughts floating around in your head, no matter what color it is. In fact, race and gender aren’t really the culprit; for that we have to look to stereotypes.

In the classic study on stereotype threat researchers Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson looked at the performance of African American and White college students. The African American students’ performance on the GRE test varied markedly when they were primed to think of the test in two different ways. When the GRE was presented as a measure of intelligence African American students performed Continue reading Does Race Affect Academic Performance?

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

4 Simple Steps to Beat Procrastination

Motivation done right lets you motor through your to-do list like magic. Try this simple trick from London-based writer, Sidin Vadukut. Pair each chore on your daily to-do list with a short, sweet reward.

You are using a to-do list and a calendar to make short work of your academic tasks, aren’t you? Paper works great, but I’ve recently been playing with Wunderlist 2 and have been pleasantly surprised.

Here’s how it works…

  1. On your to do list add a fun to-do after each and every task.
  2. Assign your tasks (the fun ones and the less fun ones) a time to complete. That will keep you from letting things drag out or from over-scheduling yourself.
  3. Keep your fun to work ratio at about 1:10. For example, if I spend forty-five minutes studying my Econ homework, I might then allow myself five minutes of Smarter Every Day.
  4. Bask in the glory of a fully checked off to-do list.

Let us know your favorite rewards in the comments!

Read Sidin’s full article on fighting procrastination here.

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Should I Invest in a GRE Prep Course?

Taking a prep course is really an ideal first step for most students.  If you’ve never built a house before, it would NOT be smart to go out and start pouring concrete and putting up boards on your own for a couple of months, and only then go talk to an architect/builder to find out exactly how to do things.

You normally start by getting with an architect to plan the building and by talking to a builder who knows something about exactly how to procede with each step of the process.  Taking a prep course is like talking to an experienced builder and architect first.  Although their services can come at a premium, they can help you make sure that none of your time and effort is wasted.  In fact, they will more than pay for themselves!

A GRE prep course can raise a student’s combined score an average of Continue reading Should I Invest in a GRE Prep Course?

The SAT: An Overview

The SAT Reasoning Test (note: NOT the subject specific SAT tests) is used widely by colleges and universities as one of their admissions criteria.  It is also often used as a criterion in awarding scholarships. It is claimed to test students’ abilities in subjects such as reading, writing, and mathematics; subjects that are supposed to predict those students’ college success. It does not, however, do a very good job at this task, even by the admission of the College Board, the company that makes the SAT.

Normally taken by high school juniors and seniors, it’s become a dreaded rite of passage for many high school students around the world.  Let’s take a look at the basic layout of the test.

Given seven times a year in the U.S., and six times a year overseas. the SAT tests three different areas; reading, writing, and math.  Each of these are scored on a 200 to 800 point scale, and people usually talk about a combined score, adding the scores from each section together.  A mid-level score might be 1500, while a perfect score would be 2400.

SAT Sections

The SAT has several different question types including a short essay, five-choice multiple-choice questions, and grid-ins, where the student enters their answer on a number grid.

The Writing Section

The SAT Writing section takes a total of sixty minutes; thirty-five minutes test grammar and word usage in the form of multiple-choice questions.  Students will also be asked to spend twenty-five minutes writing an essay.

More details about this section, including exact question types and examples can be found here.  The writing section is relatively new and many colleges and universities do not even consider it in their admissions.  To find out how your schools of choice handle it, you will have to ask their admission’s counselors directly.

The Reading Section

The critical reading sections of the SAT include two twenty-five minute sections and one twenty minute section.  Question types include sentences with a blank or two blanks in which you must pick the best word or words to go in the blanks.  This mainly tests vocabulary.  There are also short reading passages over which students must answer a series of questions about passage details, structure, main idea, author’s intentions, etc.  These questions mainly test reading comprehension and are the single, hardest section in which to increase your score, mainly because reading comprehension takes months or years to improve significantly.

See more details and examples of these question types here.

The Math Section

The math section of the SAT is also divided between two twenty-five minute sections and one twenty minute section.  While the majority of the questions are five-choice multiple choice questions, there are also grid-in questions (the College Board calls these “student-produced response” questions), where students must fill in their answers.  The math section tests algebra, geometry, graphing, functions, basic statistics, and data-analysis.  American students can expect to have learned everything they might see on the SAT by tenth grade.

Students are allowed to use a calculator, although every question can be answered without one.  To see the specific question types and examples as well as more details on calculator usage look here.

The Unscored Section

Students will also have an additional twenty-five minute section in either critical reading, mathematics, or writing multiple-choice.  This section is used by College Board to try out new questions, and it does not count towards your score.  However, it will not be identified as an experimental section, and you shouldn’t try and guess which section is the unscored section.  Just do your best on all the sections.

College Board claims that this section is used to make sure tests and question types are comparable from test to test and to “insure fairness.”  It also enables them to do some research at your expense.

Test Format

The SAT has a total of 10 sections. The 25-minute essay always comes first, and the final section will always be a 10-minute long, multiple-choice, writing section. Sections two through seven are always 25-minutes each and will alternate between reading, math, and writing in relatively random order. Sections eight and nine are 20-minutes each. In a single SAT administration you and the test-takers next to you may all have different versions of the test with section types (math, reading, writing) in different orders.  There are also two, ten-minute breaks; one after the third test section, and one following the sixth section.

Preparing

It is very important to prepare for the SAT, not only to make it easier for you to get into the college of your choice, but also to put yourself in the best position to get scholarships and fellowships.  Plan on taking it two or even three times.  You can take a free SAT test here.  I’ve also written about my preferred test prep books here, and I’ve written about the advisability of taking a prep course here (although the article is specifically about the GRE test–similar to the SAT but used for graduate school admissions–the principles are much the same.  I’ve also written on the best schedule to prepare for a test such as this (again, it’s written specifically for the GRE, but the principles are identical.)

Free Money!!!

You gotta like that!  Fastweb (owned by Monster, as in Monster.com job search) has been featured in many national and international magazines and is an excellent site for finding college scholarships, grants, and internships for students at any age. It also has great resources on finding colleges, getting loans, writing resumes, and much more.

Initially, you must enter a lot of information (for example; age, address, preferred colleges, GPA, extracurricular activities, etc.) so the site can determine which scholarships are a likely match.  I took about ten minutes to do so and the site returned 55 matching scholarships, essays, and internships. Most were around $1000, but many were much higher!  What a fantastic resource.  Take a look!

FastWeb: Search for Scholarships: Start Now!