5 Things You Need to Know Before Taking the ACT Science Section

The ACT Science section can be an intimidating section of the test. It’s structure and what it covers are a mystery to a lot of people, and can seem odd when one first takes it. However, a few basic pointers will do a good job in introducing you to the test and will put you on a path to bring your score to its full potential.

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It’s not rocket science

Is science not your ‘thing’? Not a problem! That doesn’t mean you cannot get a great score on the science section of the ACT. The science section is more a test of your abilities to read, interpret, and break down graphs and tables. General science knowledge definitely helps, but even if science is your thing, you are guaranteed to run into material that might look unfamiliar. Have no fear! Almost all questions for each passage can be answered without background knowledge of the topic presented. You do not have to be a top science student to get a great score.

Graphs and tables are your friends

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While general science knowledge might not be so important, one thing that you will definitely have to be good at is interpreting graphs and tables. A really big part of the science section involves interpreting data. Questions will ask you to find data points on graphs, hypothesize potential results based on trends, and combine tables to find different solutions. Understanding how to read and break down graphs and tables is one of the main skills of the science section.

Don’t sweat the fine print

Does all of that text in each science passage seem a bit daunting? The good news is that you can get away with mostly skimming these passages. One only needs to get the gist of what the experiment is doing before concentrating on the information that is on graphs or tables. Reading each science passage through all the way is an easy and silly way to lose valuable time on the test.

Timing, timing, timing

Much like the rest of the ACT test, the science test is all about timing. 35 minutes to answer 40 questions means that you have to make your way through the science section at a brisk pace in order to make it all the way to its end. Understanding your own personal timing patterns, and allocating time strategically are essential in order to get through all questions in the section.

Do not stress!

The most important pointer for all sections of the test. Unnecessary stress can affect anyone, especially after three hours into a long test, and it will make your brain work a lot slower. Work at a good pace and do not let the test get to your head. After all your hard work and preparation it's important to not let worries get the best of you and affect your performance, especially when you’re so close to the finish line!

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The science section can be difficult, but it is not impossible to break! If you apply these simple strategies you are sure to already start improving your science score on the ACT.

College Tour: Williams College

This summer, Eli & Murilo are taking time to tour your favorite colleges. Follow along for their insights into the various colleges -- what they're like and what it takes to get in! 

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Why is this school awesome?

The focus is completely about you as an undergraduate student. You are taught by some of the best professors in the country (not TAs!) who aren’t distracted with research or graduate students. Located on a picturesque yet modern campus in Massachusetts, it doesn’t look more like a college campus than this.

Favorite spot on campus:

The art museum - they have an unbelievable collection of artwork spanning a wide variety of types of art.

4 words to describe the campus/location:

Very small town, quaint, Massachusetts, green

The “typical student” is:

Driven, self-assured, creative, artistic, & ambitious.

 Eli poses in the common area

Eli poses in the common area

International perspective:

Only 8% of students are from outside the US, the lack of nearby airports make it difficult to get to from far away, and the tiny area of Williamstown can be a surprise. For International Students, you really need to love the place to make the trip each time, but the good news is there is a lot to love about Williams.

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Special programs/offerings applicants should consider:

Williams offers a special “Tutorial” class, something that only Oxford does as well. Students are put in pairs by a professor and respond to each other's critiques of a series of readings. It prepares students to thoughtfully think and respond on the spot, and students are graded as pairs - not how one does picking apart their partner’s arguments.

Tips for the application process:

Challenge yourself academically. They’re accepting the same students as Harvard/Yale/Princeton. Over 90% of their class is in the top 10% of their graduating class so make sure to push yourself in the classroom and tell a compelling story on your application!

Fun Facts:

Every October, they have a tradition called Mountain Day. During this surprise day, which the president of the school will announce at random, all academic-related things are canceled and the entire student body heads outside to enjoy the day!

 Freshman dorms

Freshman dorms

Why choose Williams?

This is the gold standard for liberal arts schools. They’ll push you to explore areas outside of your comfort zone, opening up new ideas and paths that you never thought of before. Being in a small town puts the emphasis on what is happening on campus - even more of a reflection of the focus on you as an undergraduate student! Plus, the colors are pretty cool too.
 

How the Internet Impacts Our Ability to Learn

Access to information is not an issue in our digital world anymore. We rely on the internet to find whatever data we need to solve our everyday problems, and we also count on the knowledge held by our digital interpersonal connections.

As a result, instead of memorizing and retaining information, we store it online, where we can easily and quickly access it.

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Researchers at UC Santa Cruz and the University of Illinois think that the easy access to information via the Internet is changing our ability to learn, recall, and solve problems using our brains. The more we rely on the Internet for one type of information, they add, the more we are likely to continue using technology to gather new information in the future.

Many people (consciously or subconsciously)believe that finding answers to common questions is much quicker when using the internet than using memory, which is exactly why we are becoming more dependent on technology to collect information, to store it, and retrieve it.

So how exactly is the Internet affecting the way we learn?

  • The internet has become our external hard drive so that we don't need to remember information-- we just look for it online. This can be illustrated by a study done by Science Magazine, where students were asked to type in pieces of trivia. Depending on their group, they were told that their information would either be erased or saved. The group that was told their data would be saved were less likely to remember. This study indicates that people have lower rates of recall when they can expect to be able to access information in the future.
  • The internet is impacting our focus, as we hardly give tasks our full attention anymore. As a result of multitasking and multi-screening, in order to be considered relevant by our brain, all learning experiences and communication need to be objective, practical, and impactful.
  • Children are learning differently, since "rote memorization is no longer a necessary part of education" according to ReadWrite. In order to have the knowledge and the skills to succeed in a fast-changing world, people need to develop the ability to navigate the sea of information and find what they need to solve real problems, instead of memorizing it.

With so much information within reach, our main challenge is to get better at determining what's relevant and reliable from what's not, and with practice, our brains are getting better at this task every day.

College Tour: Skidmore College

This summer, Eli & Murilo are taking time to tour your favorite colleges. Follow along for their insights into the various colleges -- what they're like and what it takes to get in! 

Why is this school awesome?

Located in charming Saratoga Springs, Skidmore is a “liberal” liberal arts school. It’s able to be artsy while offering a solid business program preparing students for life after college.

Favorite spot on campus? 

Ladd Concert Hall. You can just wander into concerts happening throughout the year!

Ladd Concert Hall

4 words to describe the campus & location?

CHARMING, GREEN, BIKE FRIENDLY, LOTS OF SCULPTURES.

The “typical student” is...

Adventurous, outdoorsy, passionate about art in some form, & curious.

Eli shows us the Skidmore Community Garden

International perspective? 

11% of the students are International, and the school is located right next to Albany airport. 3 hours away from NYC, Boston, and Montreal. Perfect college town with tons of music festivals, arts shows, and of course, horse racing.

Special programs/offerings applicants should consider?

Business and art are both in their top 5 majors, just going to show how students are interested in both at the same time! Plus, you don’t have to be an art major to be able to go out for any performances or be in any music groups!

Tips for the application process? 

They really look for demonstrated interest - this can help you here more than you realize! They offer interviews to students after May 1st of your Junior year, so be sure to take advantage of that as well.

Fun Facts? 

They host a party called “Beatlemore” in honor of the Beatles featuring a number of student and faculty Beatles cover bands. 

Why choose Skidmore?

Their flexible curriculum allows you to pursue what you’re interested in as well as what you’re passionate about, without sacrificing either. It is the perfect blend of a small liberal arts school surrounded by a picturesque town. 

 Who wants to be Murilo's roommate?

Who wants to be Murilo's roommate?

Even More Information on International Computer-Based ACT

NEWSFLASH: We now know more about the Computer-Based ACT, which will be the only form of ACT administration offered internationally beginning this September.

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Some of you may remember from my April post that the ACT will officially be entirely computer-based at all international test administrations beginning this September.

Some of you may also remember that there were a number of questions still unanswered at that point -- what the testing interface would look like, whether the timing would be the same, what testing centers will be available, etc. -- and that you could expect more updates released by the ACT (and delivered by yours truly) coming sometime in June/July.

And so, here we are!  The ACT has recently released a more detailed picture about what exactly the Computer-Based Testing (CBT) will look like, which answers quite a few of the questions that we were left with in April:

What will the testing interface look like?

Generally, the testing window will be split into two parts -- the passages will appear on the left side of the screen, and the questions will appear on the right.

Although you won’t be able to write on the screen (meaning that some of your strategies will have to change), you will get scratch paper to work on, and there are some neat tools on the testing interface that will help you adjust to the CBT format (see the ACT’s infographic below).

Among the features that caught my attention:

  • The Test Timer in the upper right-hand corner is a built-in way for you to ensure that your pacing is on track within each section.
  • The Navigation Bar allows you to see how many questions you have left in the section, to flag questions to come back to and to see which sections you’ve flagged.
  • The Highlighter allows you to highlight words and phrases in the passages. I’m super excited that you have the ability to do this, especially for the Reading section, and I think it will make the transition to the CBT format much easier.
  • The Line Reader allows you to zero in on a specific block of text (or figure), which could be a really helpful tool to help you avoid getting distracted from unnecessary or unrelated information.
  • If you’ve ever had a Reading lesson with me, you know that one of my favorite strategies is to “answer the questions in your own words first, then look for the choice that best matches.”  The Answer Masker allows you to mask the answer choices and then reveal them one at a time, so you can do just that!
  • Or… if you’re trying to use the process of elimination on a question, the Answer Eliminator allows you to keep track of the answers that you don’t like.

Will the timing be the same?

Yep!  The same timing that you’ve been practicing all along will still apply.

What about the Writing section?

This is actually one of the sections that I think will be easier with the CBT format.  You’ll now get a text field that does not have a spell-check function but that does give you the ability to copy and paste.  This will allow you to plan out the skeleton of your essay, then elaborate on each point, and then even decide to switch the order of your points if you wish (not to mention, allow you to type instead of writing by hand, which is much faster for most of us!).

What testing centers will be available on what dates?

We have this question half-answered so far:

The 2018-2019 International Test Dates have been released (see below, or check out the ACT's website).  You may notice that there is now a February test offered internationally (there didn’t used to be!) and that both Friday and Saturday are offered for each of the testing windows.  The ACT also reports that “for each of the two days within a testing window, there will be morning and afternoon sessions offered,” which could potentially give you more opportunities to make a test work with your schedule (and your body clock).

However, registration hasn’t opened yet, so there’s still no information available about where the tests will be offered.  Because of the increased technical requirements for test centers under the CBT format, we expect that seats might be limited.  My personal recommendation? Sign up for a text or email alert on the ACT's website to be the first to know when the September test registration opens, and then sign up as soon as possible to ensure that you get a seat in your preferred location.

Still have more questions?

Check out our original "Digital ACT" post - there’s a lot more information there.  And if you have any dúvidas that haven’t yet been addressed, reach out to your instructors and Academic Advisors.  They’ll help you come up with some CBT-specific strategies for the new testing format and make sure that you’re well prepared come September!

Your Transition from High School to College

Most of your life as a student is preparing for something -- preparing for a test, preparing for college, preparing for a sports competition. You spend hours and hours studying, practicing, and creating expectations for how it’s going to be when you reach the goal you are pursuing.

Sometimes, however, when you finally achieve your goal, you find that it's not quite what you expected. It’s not so uncommon to dislike the life you had been fighting for, or at the very least to
struggle with the transition once you get there. It's actually very common for college students,
even ones who get into their dream schools, to feel this way at the beginning of their freshman
year. They may think: “but it’s all that I've ever wanted” or, “it took me so much time and energy
to accomplish this.” If this happens to you, stay calm -- it’s not the end of the world.

You are not the only one to have second thoughts about the new place you are in and the people
you live with. The teachers may not be so friendly or helpful, and college is a totally different
environment that can be very intimidating.

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My tips to get through this phase (yes, it can be just a phase) are:

  • Talk to your peers. You may not think it, but there will be a lot of people feeling the same way as you.
  • Don’t isolate. You have to give it a chance in order to enjoy the brand new world that college is, so try to participate in activities and to integrate into a group that you identify with.
  • Get help from your home support system. This can be friends in the same situation as you, your parents or siblings (sometimes the distance can make people even closer), or even an LP instructor.
  • Seek professional help. Sometimes it’s easier to talk about your feelings with someone outside of your circle.
  • Enjoy the journey. This is a unique lifetime experience that will change you and shape your future as a person and professionally, so be sure to enjoy and take advantage of all the lessons learned.

And then, if you continue to feel that you don’t belong to the place after you give every shot, it’s ok to change your mind and try something else -- another school, city, or even another county. We don’t always hit the mark at the very first try; what’s important is to overcome and figure out what’s best for you and what will make you happy.

Good luck and enjoy college!

LogicPrep's List of Top 10 Commencement Speeches 2018

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We've once again made a list of our favorite college commencement speeches this year, and we hope that you gain some inspiration from these wise words. Enjoy!

 

Abby Wambach at Barnard University

• Here’s something the best athletes understand, but seems like a hard concept for non-athletes to grasp. Non-athletes don’t know what to do with the gift of failure. So they hide it, pretend it never happened, reject it outright—and they end up wasting it. Listen: Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it's something to be POWERED by. Failure is the highest octane fuel your life can run on. You gotta learn to make failure your fuel.
 
• Here’s what’s important. You are allowed to be disappointed when it feels like life’s benched you. What you aren’t allowed to do is miss your opportunity to lead from the bench.
• Because the most important thing I've learned is that what you do will never define you. Who you are always will.

Chadwick Boseman at Howard University

• When you are deciding on next steps, next jobs, next careers, further education, you should rather find purpose than a job or a career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you need to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.
 
• I don’t know what your future is, but if you are willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that’s ultimately proven to have more victory, more glory, then you will not regret it. This is your time.

Chance the Rapper at Dillard University

• We have to erase the fear and stigma behind eclipsing our heroes... We have a responsibility to be not as good as them or live up to their example but surpass them. Even when it seems scary we have to overcome that fear and be greater than our role models. 
• The highest form of respect that we can pay to the people who came before us is to be better than them… To simply copy them would be an insult to their sacrifice… You do a disservice trying to live up to your ancestors, you have to outlive them. 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Harvard University

• At no time has it felt as urgent as now that we must protect and value the truth.
• It is hard to tell ourselves the truth about our failures, our fragilities, our uncertainties. It is hard to tell ourselves that maybe we haven’t done the best that we can. It is hard to tell ourselves the truth of our emotions, that maybe what we feel is hurt rather than anger, that maybe it is time to close the chapter of a relationship and walk away, and yet, when we do, we are the better off for it.
• Be courageous enough to say "I don’t know."

Hillary Clinton at Yale University

• Personal resilience is important, but it’s not the only form of resilience we need right now. We also need community resilience. We need to try to see the world through the eyes of people very different from ourselves and to return to rational debate; to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable.
• To try to see the world through the eyes of people very different from ourselves and to return to rational debate, to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable, to try to recapture a sense of community and common humanity.

Jim Cramer at Bucknell University

• My defeat had yielded to victory. First lesson: it's OK to fail, but it is not OK to quit. You have more strength within you, both physical and mental, than you know, but use it more wisely than I did, please.
• Your classmates are your safety net, these warm souls of the Class of 2018 surrounding you, those who shared classes, or dorms or sororities, or fraternities or service work or clubs and teams with you. Remember there your stumble is just a pothole in the road for your seated neighbors to help you fill.

Mindy Kaling at Dartmouth College

• I was not someone who should have the life I have now, and yet I do. I was sitting in the chair you are literally sitting in right now and I just whispered, “Why not me?” And I kept whispering it for seventeen years; and here I am, someone that this school deemed worthy enough to speak to you at your commencement. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, but especially not yourself. Go conquer the world. Just remember this: Why not you? You made it this far.

Oprah Winfrey at University of Southern California

• The problem is everyone is meeting hysteria with more hysteria, and we just are all becoming hysterical. And it's getting worse. What I've learned in all these years is that we're not supposed to match it or even get locked into resisting or pushing against it. We're supposed to see this moment in time for what it is. We're supposed to see through it and transcend it. That is how you overcome hysteria, and that is how you overcome the sniping at one another, the trolling, the mean spirited partisanship on both sides of the aisle, the divisiveness, the injustices, the out and out hatred. You use it. Use this moment to encourage you to embolden you and to literally push you into the rising of your life.

Ronan Farrow at Loyola Marymount University

• You will face a moment in your career where you have absolutely no idea what to do. Where it will be totally unclear to you what the right thing is for you, for your family, for your community, and I hope that in that moment you’ll be generous with yourself, but trust that inner voice. Because more than ever we need people to be guided by their own senses of principle—and not the whims of a culture that prizes ambition, and sensationalism, and celebrity, and vulgarity, and doing whatever it takes to win.

Tim Cook at Duke University

• Fearlessness means taking the first step, even if you don’t know where it will take you. It means being driven by a higher purpose, rather than by applause. It means knowing that you reveal your character when you stand apart, more than when you stand with the crowd. If you step up, without fear of failure… if you talk and listen to each other, without fear of rejection… if you act with decency and kindness, even when no one is looking, even if it seems small or inconsequential, trust me, the rest will fall into place.

How to Reduce Your Testing Anxiety

What if I told you that you can improve your performance on any test and reduce test-related stress and anxiety in as little as 30 seconds? Fortunately, this is possible and goes by the name of mindfulness. Mindfulness simply refers to the level at which you are present in a given moment. In other words, mindfulness reflects how well your attention is harnessed to experience the world. Studies have shown that those who practice mindfulness exercises can expect marked improvements to their cognitive and physical performance as well as health benefits associated with stress and anxiety reduction. 

Almost every mindfulness exercise contains some sort of meditative element. When you first think about meditation, you might imagine that you need to sit with your legs crossed in a lotus pose isolated on top of a mountain or in the wilderness somewhere. Although that sounds like a great locale for some mindfulness practice, the conditions for meditation aren’t nearly that prohibitive. Mindfulness exercises can be practiced pretty much anywhere and take a wide variety of different forms. 

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Things like going for a walk, eating, and even breathing all fall under the meditative umbrella. The key element is a focus on allocating as much mental bandwidth as possible to the task at hand. If you are going for a walk, try your best to orient your thoughts towards what is happening around you. What colors can you pick out in the world around you? What do you smell and see? How does the ground feel beneath your feet? Allow the stimuli of the outside world to encompass you and override your thoughts about that upcoming test or interview or what notifications you have on your phone. If you can detach from those routine stresses and mental processes for 1 second, 30 seconds, 5 minutes, or an hour and hone in on your current surroundings you will have actively practiced mindfulness.

It doesn’t matter if you are 3 months away from a test, trying to cram information the night before, or even sitting at a desk with the test in front of you. There are definitive benefits to dropping what you are doing, closing your eyes, and taking a few measured breaths. In through the nose, hold, out through the mouth.  Chances are you will feel calmer and be better prepared to tackle the task at hand than you did before you closed your eyes. Not a bad trade-off for 30 seconds of your time.

If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness or mindfulness exercises, there are a plethora of resources available online. YouTube has tons of guided meditations if you have a little bit of time to invest. Google searches will yield step-by-step instructions for a seemingly endless number of exercises. Alternatively, I’m always available at the front desk here in Armonk to chat!

Jesse Kolber Foundation Launch A Success!

On May 31, 2018, we celebrated the launch of The Jesse Kolber Foundation with an event & silent auction in Armonk, NY. 

We are thrilled to announce that The Jesse Kolber Foundation raised over $80,000 at the event!

Click here to see all photos from the event.

LogicPrep is thrilled to partner with The Jesse Kolber Foundation in honor of the late Founder of LogicPrep. If you were unable to attend the launch event but wish to donate, click here.

Understanding the Role of Demonstrated Interest

It’s June, AP and final exams are in the rear-view mirror, and summer is on the horizon. Time for summer romance! Here’s how it’s going to work—summer is a great time to fall in love with college(s), and what’s more, to show the love. Thought of as a new relationship, it’s easier to understand why it might be in your best interest to do so.

 Murilo demonstrates his interest in NYU Stern!

Murilo demonstrates his interest in NYU Stern!

Think of it this way—during the school year, you’re focused on classes, your GPA, sports, activities, leadership, standardized testing, etc. You’re pursuing your academic and extra-curricular interests and all the while wondering, “will colleges want me?” But increasingly, colleges and universities, even those who do want you, are wondering— “but will you matriculate?” The admission process is its own peculiar courtship, and summer is a great time to reflect on the rituals that can result in proposals (ahem, offers of admission), and to plan accordingly.

One way to express your interest in a particular college of course is to consider applying “early” (action or decision). The proliferation of early admission plans (e.g. Early Action, Restricted Early Action, Early Decision I or II) is one method colleges use to hedge their bets, “we are interested in you, but will you say yes?!” and thereby manipulate “yield” (the percentage of admitted students who matriculate). But sometimes, much earlier in the courtship process, colleges are looking for signs. Even when college admission representatives are circumspect on this topic, you should know that many colleges are tracking your “demonstrated interest”. It’s worth finding out whether your top prospects do so, and if so, summer is a great time to start that relationship.

How will I know?

Sometimes college admission offices or websites are upfront about the extent to which they track interest demonstrated by prospective students throughout the undergraduate admission process. But all colleges and universities disclose this information when they complete The Common Data Set, “a collaborative effort in the higher education community to improve the quality and accuracy of information provided to all in a student’s transition into higher education”. In addition to providing a useful snapshot of enrollment and programming available at a college or university, Section C of the Common Data Set is devoted to First-Time, First-Year (Freshman) Admission Data and Data Element C7 specifically ranks the “Relative importance of each of the following academic and non-academic factors in first-time, first-year, degree-seeking (freshman) admission decisions. At the very end of this data table, schools indicate where “Level of applicant’s interest” (in the institution) ranks in significance on a scale from “Very Important” to “Not Considered.”

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What can I do about it?

Knowing whether your top prospects need reassurance can help you plan your overtures—whether this means prioritizing campus visits or intensifying your responsiveness to electronic communications. Say you’re determined to attend college in the vicinity of Washington D.C. for example, and you’re planning to visit a few schools, trying to determine where you’ll officially attend information sessions and student-led tours. Google a college prospect, e.g. “American University” + “Common Data Set” and typically you’ll land on the Institutional Research portion of a school’s website, where the Common Data Set resides. In this case, a quick search might reveal the following with respect to the significance of “Level of Applicant’s interest.”

If you find that the majority of your top prospects are somewhat…high maintenance when it comes to showing how likely you are to say “yes!” to an offer of admission, you might consider setting up a separate email account strictly for college application purposes so that you can be sure to carefully click, manage, and respond to intense communications coming from schools that track whether you take the time to show your interest.

As in most relationships, it helps to understand what’s important to your intended! When demonstrated interest counts, dare to compare thee (college) to a summer’s day or better yet, ask yourself, “how do I love thee” and let them count the ways….