Tagged: Harvard

SAT Subject Tests: What You Need To Know

As the clock ticks down to the end of junior  year, students are scheduling and prepping for standardized tests.  Most will choose the SAT or the ACT and take the AP exams for the courses they complete this year.

As of March 2018 only 7 colleges require SAT Subject tests: Cornell (some departments), CalTech, Harvey Mudd, Harvard, MIT, svMcGill (or the ACT), and Webb Institute.

Fourteen more recommend subject tests: Georgetown wants to see 3 tests; the others, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Lafayette, Northwestern, Penn, Princeton, Rice and Yale, University of Delaware (strongly recommend for Honors), University of Georgia suggest 2. “Recommended” should be read as ‘required”

Check with each university for specifics on which ones are preferred.

SAT 2, or subject tests are aligned with the material covered in a high school curriculum.  Unless specified, colleges don’t care which tests are submitted.  Engineering programs are likely to expect to see  either Math 1 or Math 2 and Physics.

The tests offered are Math 1 (SAT math); Math 2 (pre-calc)

Biology with emphasis on Ecology or Molecular Biology; Chemistry and Physics

US or World History

Literature adds poetry and drama to the SAT literature questions

Languages.  Many native speakers take these tests; not being a native speaker doesn’t impact the scores significantly.  Test prep is suggested.

Each test is one hour and a max of 3 may be taken on the same day.  Register for one test to save your seat.  On the day of the exam you can choose which exams to take and in which order.  You may take fewer or more than you registered for.

Subject tests are offered on all test dates except March.  The Language with Listening is ONLY offered in November.  The multiple choice test is as highly valued as the test with  listening.

Scoring     Tests are scaled 200-800 and also by percentile.  Math exams have many testers score 800 so the highest percentile coordinated with the top score is around 80th percentile.  Good news is that you can miss 4-5 questions and still receive your 800; a 750 or better can be reached with 8-9 incorrect answers.

You will find 5 answer choices and there is a quarter point penalty for guessing.

Score Choice     You are permitted to take the same test more than once and can choose which scores to send unless a college requires all scores.

Accommodations that you have for the SAT apply to subject tests as well.

If you want to confer on which tests to take and when to take them, lets talk! stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679






Stanford and Harvard Team Up To Teach Success Skills

Meet Mojo, the monster Stanford and Harvard are using to teach your kids “growth mindset” and empathy. Uncollege 10/2016

Mojo is a monster with a problem. He used to like school, but then math got hard, and Mojo decided he was not smart enough. School became less fun, and Mojo wanted to make a run for it.

But he didn’t, because Mojo was designed by ClassDojo, a Silicon Valley edtech start up, and a team of researchers from Stanford University to teach kids things like the importance of a “growth mindset” (the belief that effort matters more than raw IQ) and empathy. Because an empathetic monster who knows the importance of effort does not walk away from tough situations.

In January, ClassDojo released a five-part video series of animated children-593313_640shorts on growth mindset which it created with Stanford Perts, a group of education researchers who try to get effective learning techniques into the classroom (a process which is far harder than it should be). The series has been viewed 15 million times, or by one of every four kids in an American classroom.

Kids meet Dojo, an animated Pixar-like monster, who get frustrated because he doesn’t understand the math he’s working on and feels stupid. Katie, his monster friend, encourages him not to give up. “Anyone can be smart, you just have to work at it,” she explains. Mojo’s having none of it, insisting you are either smart or not smart. Katie persists with her troubled friend: “It’s not ridiculous, it’s SCIENCE.” And Katie goes on to explain neuroscience to Mojo, in first-grade vocabulary.

“This video did more for my kids than any video they have ever watched,” said Cindy Price, an elementary school teacher in Delaware. After her first graders watched the first of the videos in the series, she heard then saying things like “Mojo’s like me” or “Remember Mojo? He didn’t give up and he got it.” (Price is not on Dojo’s payroll, though it suggested her as an interviewee.)

The growth-mindset series was such a hit that ClassDojo then teamed up with Harvard to do a series on empathy, a skill Price says is in very short supply in her students these days. “It’s a topic I’ve been wanting to teach for a long time, I just didn’t know how,” she said in a press release. Working with the Making Caring Common Project at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, the animated shorts, which will come with discussion guides, focus on the importance of considering other people’s points of view.
girls-524239_640“We chose to focus on empathy because empathy is the basis of sturdy, gratifying relationships and strong, inclusive communities,” said Richard Weissbourd, director of the Making Caring Common project. Empathy is also the basis for a sense of justice—which, he noted, appears to be in short supply these days.

Teaching social and emotional learning—also known as character, or non-cognitive skills—is increasingly part of curricula around the world. Research has shown its importance (pdf) in creating successful students and closing achievement gaps. California, controversially, will start testing for character skills this fall.

But teachers also face tougher academic standards for their students, leaving them with less time to do all the things they might want to do in a classroom. Schools are also notoriously bureaucratic. That’s why researchers are teaming up with tech companies to find ways to get content into classrooms faster, and in ways that kids will relate to.

“Social and emotional learning is a vast, complex territory—it’s much of what it means to be human,” said Weissbourd. “Teachers need many different strategies to develop in children a wide array of social and emotional capacities,” including videos.

The first empathy video will be available Oct. 2 (here’s a trailer) to coincide with anti-bullying month, with two more videos released after that.

What other soft skills do you need to succeed in college and beyond?Lets talk: 610-212-6679 or stephanie@accessguidance.com


Three Truths About Harvard

John Harvard
John Harvard

The most frequently asked question about higher education is “How can I get into Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford?” Here are Three Truths about top universities that you should consider before setting your sights on one of the giants.

Truth#1 The professors upon whom the reputation of these institutions is built and continues to grow are known for developing new knowledge and wisdom rather than their classroom performance. Primarily, they teach graduate students and rarely interact with undergrads. Most teach because it is required of them to keep the funds for research and publication flowing. While some professors are born to share what they know in a classroom, many aren’t as good at teaching as your high school math teacher; others resent the time they are forced to spend away from their real passion.

Truth #2 Employers are interested in how you will serve the mission of the company and improve the bottom line. Candidates show that by the quality of their internships and the work they have produced for their internship hosts. Having a degree from a prestigious university may get you a first interview but the name of the granting institution alone isn’t going to get you beyond first base. After your first job, with very few exceptions, employers or hiring managers aren’t going to care where your degree comes from: they only want to see your accomplishments in previous positions.

Truth #3 If you really, really, really, want a degree from a top tier university, do your undergraduate work anywhere you can succeed, stretch yourself, acquire good training, find opportunities and create networks. Apply to Harvard, et al, for your terminal degree* where you will have access to fine minds and collaboration with renowned professors. Many of the graduate schools of the universities on your wish list don’t admit their own undergrads, preferring to bring in different perspectives among the graduate school students. A terminal degree from Harvard or Stanford is far more impressive and the effect lasts a whole lot longer than a BA or BS from either one.

*A terminal degree is the highest degree awarded in a field of study or practice.  JD in law; PsyD or PhD in psychology; PhD in biology; MD or DO in medicine, are examples.


Are you wondering which universities excel in teaching undergraduates in your field?  Text or call Stephanie 610-212-6679.


This article also appeared on LinkedIn Pulse 5/13/16

In Praise of Non-Ivy Universities and Colleges

I write this for all college bound students in any grade but especially for those who are waiting to hear their fate from the colleges to which you have applied.

Many of you have worked for years to achieve the statistics that certain prestigious colleges expect.  Others have carefully created a yellow brick road to much desired outcome that begins with college admission.

College is not a destination, its a tool.

The name of the institution you attend will not determine your future.  You do that by what you accomplish and what you learn.  At the bottom of this post is a link to Frank Bruni’s article, How to Survive the College Admissions Madness.

Many  of you will not get into your first choice but will lead successful, fulfilled lives anyway.

“For every person whose contentment comes from faithfully executing a predetermined script, there are at least 10 if not 100 who had to rearrange the pages and play a part they hadn’t expected to, in a theater they hadn’t envisioned. Besides, life is defined by setbacks, and success is determined by the ability to rebound from them. And there’s no single juncture, no one crossroads, on which everything hinges.”

Bruni looked up the CEOs of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies.  Only one attended an Ivy League or Tier 1 university as an undergraduate.

“{T]he nature of a student’s college experience — the work that he or she puts into it, the self-examination that’s undertaken, the resourcefulness that’s honed — matters more than the name of the institution attended.”

Seniors, I wish you the best of luck in your acceptances and in your college career.  May you have the good fortune to attend a university that  will stimulate you and push you to succeed.

College is a tool.  Juniors and younger, I hope that you will appreciate the value of knowing how to make the most of its benefits.  Consider the cost in terms of debt as well as your self-worth when building a list of colleges to apply to.  Most students end up in the right place even if it isn’t where they thought they were going.

Here’s what Bruni has to say: