kitchen table math, the sequel: 8/25/13 - 9/1/13

Saturday, August 31, 2013

"That said", "in your best light", and "seriously"

My son just got a mailing from MIT that said:

"You shouldn't stress out too much about your scores, because we admit people, not numbers. Seriously. That said, tests are important, and you should prepare for them as best you can. If you take the same test (SAT, ACT, or an SAT Subject Test) multiple times, we will consider the highest score achieved in each section."

"too much"


Then they say this on their web site:

Score Choice

"If you take the same test (SAT, ACT, or an SAT Subject Test) multiple times, we will consider the highest score achieved in each section. We do this in order to consider all applicants in their best light."

"For example, if you take the SAT Reasoning Test in 11th grade and score 750 math, 700 critical reading and 650 writing, and then take the SAT again in 12th grade and score 700 math, 650 critical reading and 700 writing, only your best scores from each sitting (i.e. 750 math, 700 critical reading and 700 writing) are used in our admissions calculations."

"Students are free to use the College Board's Score Choice option and the ACT's option to submit the scores of your choice."

Score Choice only allows one to send in the best scores from one sitting, but it sounds like MIT will supersize individual test scores. Also, the new Common App does not allow you to select Score Choice only for some schools, and many schools want to see all of your numbers. That's moot for MIT because they don't use the Common App.

In any case, I'm getting a mixed signal. My son did very well on his first and only SAT test. He should not bother to take the test again. "Seriously." Will he get kudos for that or should he take it again? He could get 60-90 more points (especially if the scores are supersized) and that would show him in his "best light" when all others are taking the test multiple times.

When admissions officers sit around talking about applications and holistic ideas come out of their mouths, are SAT scores floating around in their heads?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Letter from a friend

I love this letter from Debbie Stier to a friend of hers whose daughter has "started the SAT gauntlet." (Debbie never thinks of SAT prep as a "gauntlet," by the way. Not a gauntlet: that is a first principle of doing SAT prep with your child.)

My favorite part:
Vocabulary is the biggest part of the Critical Reading. The entire reading section (passages included) is a vocabulary based reasoning test; vocab is MORE than just those fill in those blank questions. The more vocab she knows (as in the "I can use it in a sentence and define it for you and tell you the 2nd and third def's" sort of way), the better.

The New York Times is a GREAT way to learn vocab IN CONTEXT. I've been reading the newspaper every morning with Daisy and we get at least 10 words per day that she can't define. We started with a half hour every morning and her mission was to find ONE article that she wanted to read in it's entirety and tell me about it and pick out a few vocab words.

She is now up to an hour and often reads 3-4 full articles and LOVES it.

She asks me vocabulary as we go along and I define the words and she writes them down with a little memory jogger. And as I read the paper next to her and I find words, I ask her the def's and she adds them to her list if she doesn't know them.

I'd say she's up to about 100 words now just from the NY times for the last 5 months.

Then, whenever doing anything (e.g. cleaning the kitchen, driving, etc.), I have her break out "the list" (it's handwritten plus on our phones), and she uses them in sentences and I tweak them for her.

This exercise will help with the speed of the reading passages too. A large part of the challenge in that section is the sophisticated vocabulary. They are college level reading passages (i.e. not what high schoolers are used to reading).

That's why the "as long as they read it doesn't matter WHAT they read" line of thought doesn't stand up in this context.
My other favorite part, from the P.S.:
3) Don't ask her, "Are there any words you don't know?" because she will say "No. I know them all." They all do. After she tells you the 1-2 words she thinks doesn't know, look through the article yourself and ask her words. You'll add another 3-4.

People don't know what they don't know -- especially teenagers.

4) If she rejects this whole idea at fist, ignore. They ALL say they don't want to do "SAT Work" -- especially with a parent. That will change very very quickly.

These are great, too:
Book is out in February!