LogicPrep Introduces Proctored Computer-Based Testing for International Students

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As you've probably heard, the September ACT will be going digital for all international students. Here at LogicPrep, we're ready!

Our team has been working like crazy getting our own computer-based testing interface up and running, and we are so excited to be able to offer this unique simulated testing environment for our international students. There isn't much opportunity for computer-based practice elsewhere, and we're proud to pioneer this testing format to help our students be just as prepared as ever for the official ACT. I actually just finished taking one of the computer-based tests myself (as part of our proofreading process), and phew! -- it is quite a different challenge to take a four-hour test on a computer screen, even when the content is exactly the same.

It's by no means an insurmountable challenge, though -- this new format will just require practice to get used to. Which is precisely why we've put so much effort into developing this computer-based testing interface and developing it quickly. We've paid especially close attention to the format that the ACT has announced and made sure to include all the important details to which students will have to adapt. And by launching this past weekend, we're giving our students four full weekends of computer-based practice testing to train before the September ACT.

So, LP international students, what are you waiting for?  Let's get to work!

 Students taking the first digital ACT at LogicPrep São Paulo

Students taking the first digital ACT at LogicPrep São Paulo

Please be sure to read these reminders if you plan to come in for a practice digital ACT:

When possible, please bring your own laptop (and charger!) to your proctored session. We have a limited number of computers available in each of our offices, and those that we have will be offered to students without computers of their own on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you show up to a proctored test session without a computer and all of the desktops at the office are already taken, we will offer you a paper test to take, but we will be unable to accommodate you for the computer-based simulation. Also, don’t forget your charger -- the four hour ACT is a long test for a laptop to make it through!

Please make sure to sign up for your practice test session in advance. Many of you already do this, either during your lessons with your instructors or by responding to the signup emails you receive each Wednesday. Now that we’re offering computer-based tests, it’s all the more important that you sign up in advance so that we’re able to prepare the unique code that will allow you access the test assigned for that day.

Please arrive on time (read: early) for your practice test sessions. This is important not only so that you get the full time on your test session, but also so that you don’t disrupt the other students taking a test alongside you.

As always, let us know if you have any questions -- and we look forward to seeing you in the office soon!

How to Spend Your Summer: Consider Volunteering Your Time

During the long, lazy days of summer, it’s so tempting to simply relax and unwind after a busy year in school. However, you will have already read many of the posts on this blog encouraging you to make good use of this time, to read, to experience new things, travel and experience new cultures… Here’s another suggestion: volunteer your time to a non-profit organization. As well as helping the organization, this can benefit you in many ways: valuable experience for your resumé, a sense of community, well-being, and purpose, new connections, and friends.

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I have been volunteering my time from home for some years translating for non-profit organizations. However, earlier this year, I decided to fulfill a promise I had been making. I used to live in France and now, back in the UK, I like to spend my vacations across the small pond that we call the English Channel, getting my fix of French cheese! Each time I travel, I am aware of the refugees that are stuck in the port town of Calais and I have often said to myself that I will go there and do something to make a difference to these people’s lives, however small. This promise was hard to fulfill: there were family commitments, work, life took over. After seeing so much in the news about the desperate people who travel to the region to escape war, persecution and uncertain political situations in their own countries, finally, I decided that I just had to take action.

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I booked a few days off work and began my research. I discovered many non-profits working in Calais, supporting the refugees and accepting short-term volunteers. I posted in my local refugee help group on social media and within a couple of hours had managed to contact a group locally who were sending volunteers each weekend for the whole month. I found a woman who had booked the same dates as me and was looking for someone to take along, so I could just fit in with her plans – amazing, what a coincidence!

I decided to reach out to the community to see if I could bring donations of items that were needed. It was still cold, so I put out a call for hats, gloves and scarves, to my nearby and online friends as well as local churches. The generous response was overwhelming and I ended up taking 8 sacks of donations.

On arriving in France, I was nervous going to the warehouse that would soon be my place of work with the organisation Help Refugees. I need not have worried, I was met by a group of friendly, dedicated volunteers and staff, part of a community where everyone is accepted and respected, whatever their background or identity. During morning briefing, I learned more about the situation in Calais and how, sadly, the authorities were hostile towards refugees sleeping rough and also towards volunteers distributing food. I was then taken on a tour and discovered that I would spend the first part of my stay working in the warehouse, sorting blankets and sleeping bags that had been donated by the public. We had a huge sense of satisfaction when we had organised the area and made an inventory of all the items.

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The next day, I helped out with the organisation Refugee Community Kitchen. These amazing people cook hearty vegan curries for around 1000 refugees each day, as well as for the volunteers. The kitchen was an upbeat place to work; I prepped veg, washed up and prepared the portions for distribution while chatting to the other volunteers. It was interesting to hear their stories: many recent graduates who were taking a year out, a doctor who had given up her only free weekend in months to fly down from Scotland, an American who had already been volunteering in Greece, people from all backgrounds, all united in the common cause of helping people who had lost so much.

I left feeling that I had only made a minor contribution, but had gained so much: I saw a great deal of kindness and dedication and my faith was restored in humanity. I will be going back later this month to take some more donations and check in with how things are going.

I only gave a weekend, but it was a life-changing experience. I urge you to find something that you can be passionate about and give your time to. It doesn’t need to be a big commitment, even if it’s just for a few days over the remaining weeks of summer, you can make a difference and I guarantee that you will also benefit from what you choose to do.

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Seniors: How to Prep for College App Season

Dear Seniors,

With the blink of an eye, it’s somehow already August -- and before we can blink twice more, November 1 will be around the corner!

And we all know why November 1 matters.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as we tumble towards this important date:

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Draft up your college essay(s)

Once your school year starts up again, you’ll have homework, athletics, and other extracurriculars demanding much of your time. That’s why it’s a good idea to aim to return to school with a solid Common Application essay draft -- and at least a few Early Decision/Early Action supplements -- ready to go. We encourage you to research the universities on your list in depth so you can craft thoughtful, school-specific supplemental essays. This will make it super easy for admission officers to imagine you thriving on their campus (and hopefully welcome you into the incoming class!)

 

Consider creating a resume

While many of your favorites, most time-consuming extracurricular activities will likely be included in your Common App list already, you may want to share additional activities that have mattered to you. The “additional information” section of your Common App is a perfect place to include these, and it’s a good idea to format each one with organized bullet points -- just like you would a resume.

 

Put together a portfolio

In addition to your intellectual curiosity, heart of gold, and impact in your communities, universities also love to learn about your artistic talents and passions. Have you invested a lot of time in a specific artistic discipline? If so, you may want to consider submitting an Art Supplement. Be sure to plan ahead, as each school that accepts this supplement may have different requirements -- and sometimes different (earlier) deadlines -- for students who want their portfolios reviewed with their whole application.

 

Follow up with your recommenders

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You’ve heard me say it many times by now, but I’ll say it again -- your recommendation letters can have a huge impact on your overall application. Many of you have just returned from fulfilling summers with exciting new academic and extracurricular experiences. Don’t forget to check in with your recommenders, ask them how they are doing, share any new information with them, and confirm that they have everything they need to write you a positively glowing letter.

 

Don’t forget about standardized testing

You thought I’d never mention it, right? Sorry :) October is typically the last standardized test that counts in time for Early Action/Decision applications, so be sure to register if you’d feel more confident taking it one last time. Remember: in addition to submitting your applications, you’ll also be responsible for releasing your standardized testing record to each university.

 

Gear up for interviews

Once you’ve submitted your application, some schools may contact you for interviews, which are most often used as another data point in a holistic review of your application. For some schools, interviews are optional, while for others, they are mandatory. Either way, you’ll want to carve out some time to prepare for these with articulate responses about your favorite academic subjects and teachers, leadership impact, curiosities about the university, and stories about other important experiences that have shaped you into who you are today.

 

Maintain academic excellence

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Remember, senior year grades matter, so now is not the time to let “Senioritis” kick in! Early applications will include grades from your first quarter, and Regular Decision applications will request midyear reports from your counselors. If you’re deferred in the Early round, it’s possible that admission officers want to see your full first semester grades from senior year, so keep up (or even improve!) your academic performance.

 

And even after Nov 1…

Just because you hit “submit” doesn’t mean you can forget about your application altogether. Be sure to check your inbox for confirmation about your application. Most schools will send you a link to a portal to track your application status. If you notice that any part of your application is missing, it’s your responsibility to make sure the school receives it promptly. Schools cannot review your application or share admission decisions with you without receiving your complete application.
 

Whew! This may seem like a lot to keep in mind in a short period of time. Luckily, the whole team at LogicPrep is here to help you succeed and put forward the best version of yourselves. No matter what, we know you’ll get into schools where you will thrive, not just as scholars, but as human beings ready to make an impact wherever you ultimately land. Don’t forget that we are your biggest fans!

College Tours: Amherst 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?

Similar to Williams (both schools are always mentioned in the same breath), the entire focus is on you as an undergraduate. Located in a medium-sized area, it is also surrounded by four other colleges that give students the resources of a much larger school while still in a small setting.

 

Favorite spot on campus?

Memorial Hill. There is a stone with the names of the alumni who lost their lives fighting in WWI and II overlooking Memorial Field and the Holyoke Range with the mountains in the background. 

 

5 words to describe the campus/location?

New England, brick, bucolic, green, & vibrant.

 Statue of Robert Frost on campus

Statue of Robert Frost on campus

The “typical student” is... 

Competitive, athletic, preppy, driven and diverse.

 

Special programs/offerings applicants should consider?

Amherst is part of the 5 College Consortium where students are able to take classes at any of the following schools in the area: Smith, Mount Holyoke, U Mass Amherst, and Hampshire. Similar to the Claremont schools, this gives students access to a larger population of students and classes but within their smaller setting of Amherst’s campus. Amherst is also one of the few need-blind colleges for international students.

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Inside one of the dorm halls

Tips for the application process?

Similar to Williams (just don’t mention that W name around Amherst’s campus), they are accepting the same students as a lot of the Ivys so be sure to challenge yourself academically and put your best foot forward on the application. They aren’t taking nearly as many students as some other schools in Early Decision so while you will still get a boost there in terms of your application chances, it won’t be quite as significant as some other places.

 

Fun Fact?

Start working on your choreography because there is a lip sync battle each year where the winner gets to take the top spot in room draw!

 A dorm room at Amherst

A dorm room at Amherst

Why choose Amherst?

You want an academically challenging education, focused on you as an undergraduate, at one of the best schools in the country. You have the resources of a much larger school already on campus, then surrounding it with thousands of other students at nearby schools gives it the feeling of a much larger place - the best of both worlds.

My Biggest Regret in College & How You Can Avoid the Same Mistake

Ah, summer. The sunny skies, the green green grass. Beach time if you're lucky, study time if you're ... well, study time. Period.

Some of you are heading back to high school in the fall for another year, inching (or, from your parents' perspectives, hurtling) toward the Great Launch to College. And some of you are making the Great Launch even as we speak, preparing to enter a brand new world, surrounded by exciting new people and exciting new opportunities. Either way, in the short term or the (not very) long term, you are looking toward a time of choices -- what to learn, whom to hang out with -- and in many cases, it will be hard to make a truly wrong choice. You're going to learn a lot, no matter what you do, and learning is the whole point, and the joy.

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I have exactly one regret about my choices in college. In order to fulfill a curriculum requirement one semester, I was choosing between two science classes: one, a notoriously EASY course in electrical engineering, where the main assignment was to create a rudimentary website by the end of the course; the other, a notoriously HARD class on the physics and acoustics of musical instruments. Now, I'm a musician, and I love everything having to do with music. The acoustics class looked so intriguing ... but I thought to myself, "Do I really want to do hard calculus problems again? Wouldn't I enjoy myself more if I gave myself a break and coasted through the semester this time?" And so, like many others, I chose the website class ... and it nags at me to this day. 

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Sound waves from Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

I got nothing from that easy class. (Well, I guess I got a lousy website, but even that is long gone.) But I still think about what it might have been like to explore the science of how music, my life's greatest passion, is actually physically made. I look at a rock band, or an orchestra, and think, "I could have learned how all those magical things are happening. How the strings vibrate the air, how the overtones color the sounds of the oboe and the electric guitar, how changing the length of the air column in the flute changes the pitch ..." But I didn't. I ... I chose the road MORE traveled by ... and that has made, if not all the difference, at least enough difference that I still look back at where those roads diverged.

So what I'm saying is: when it comes to the choices between the hard and the easy, remember to push yourself. Don't just float down the river; choose the course where there are rapids to navigate, because the rapids are thrilling and exhilarating, and even if you come out exhausted and bedraggled on the other side, you will remember it with joy and pride.

And you know what else? It's never too late to pick the challenge. We live in a world where we can go back and find those textbooks on musical instruments, and learn what we never pushed ourselves to learn back then. So I think I'm gonna go do that ... gonna head down the rapids I steered myself away from so long ago. See you on the other side.

International ACT Registration Now Open!

Calling all LP International Students!

Registration for the 2018-2019 ACT tests is now open. As we mentioned in our earlier articles (here and here) about the new computer-based ACT, you’ll want to sign up AS SOON AS POSSIBLE for these tests. Because there are fewer test centers (for example, there are only two in Rio and two in São Paulo) and potentially fewer seats per testing center, it is likely that these test centers will fill up quickly. We highly recommend that you sign up early (aka now) to ensure that you are able to reserve a seat at your preferred testing center.

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A couple of things to note:

You will need to set up a new MyACT account to register for the upcoming computer-based tests (even if you’ve taken the ACT before). For all international tests going forward, the ACT will use this new and separate system for test registration and score release. Eventually, they’ll likely merge the two systems for international students, but for now, all ACT scores before August 2018 will be accessible through the US System, and all non-US registrations and scores after August 2018 will be accessible only through the MyACT (International) System.

To create an account, register, and to find more information, just follow this link to the ACT’s Non-US student registration page. After you create an account, the registration process is pretty straightforward and user-friendly, but if you need any help, just ask one of our admin team members to assist you.

Any questions? As always, reach out to us and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Why the Diagnostic Process is Crucial to the Test Prep Process

The diagnostic process is the first step for everyone in what is a very long road. Why do we do this? It is extremely important for the student, the family and our staff to understand where we are starting from on both the SAT and ACT; knowing what you're up against is half the battle. Sometimes knowing what you don't want to do in your test prep is just as important as figuring out what to do, and we want all of our families to understand all of their options in totality before making a decision together. After we complete the diagnostic process, we can prepare a game plan for each student that addresses their specific needs.

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A question I get asked all the time now is why take the SAT during the diagnostic process. While it is true that most students will end up taking the ACT because of the wealth of practice material that is available for the ACT, we want all of our students to have an understanding of both options. It also brings clarity for the entire process. While it doesn't happen often, we don't want a student to change strategy and tests midway through their test prep. Creating a unified goal for us to work towards is crucial to set at the beginning of the process. As mentioned earlier, if I have a student take a diagnostic SAT and they come back to me and say, "I never want to see another SAT again," that tells me everything I need to know.

Another key component in the diagnostic process that sets us apart, is the ability to meet with different instructors and pick whom you would like to work with. While all of our instructors are incredibly talented and bright, they all bring different personalities and teaching styles. Finding the right fit for each student is paramount to success.

At the end of the process, we want to empower our students to be in control of their test prep. This is an important process that allows for a lot of growth and we want to foster that growth.

In the words of our late founder, Jesse Kolber, "don't be the sage on the stage, be the guide on the side."

College Tour: Dartmouth 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?

Dartmouth has it all. Located in scenic New Hampshire, the school is surrounded by stunning mountains (and their own ski area) along with the small town of Hanover. Students have access to tremendous amounts of opportunities to go hiking, camping, and skiing - in fact a good amount of the social life incorporates those adventures. On campus, there are no shortage of opportunities. Although named Dartmouth College, they do have four graduate schools on campus, giving students outlets and resources to pursue research and higher level studies right away. The school has beautiful facilities and students are assigned to one house that they live in all four years (don’t worry, there are multiple buildings per house). For a school that encourages you to explore the nature around you while providing top notch academics, take a look at Dartmouth.

 

Favorite spot on campus?

Baker-Berry Library

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4 words to describe the campus/location? 

Scenic, historic, cold and so pretty!

 

The “typical student” is:

Outdoorsy, preppy, driven, laid back and smart

oInternational perspective?

They’ve recently placed more of an emphasis on recruiting and supporting students from Latin America, Brazil especially. If you are Brazilian (or Latin American) and thinking of Dartmouth, now is the time to apply.

 

Special programs/offerings applicants should consider?

The academic year is set up on four 10 week sections, roughly following the seasons, called the D plan. This allows students to travel and do internships during points in the year where there is less competition for those opportunities.

 

Tips for the application process?

Dartmouth will reach out to students for alumni interviews (ie: students can't schedule or request interviews on their own). If you aren’t able to make it to campus, we recommend taking them up on the opportunity to do an alumni interview. Unlike a number of elite schools, this is looked at by the admissions officer here and can help your application.

Fun Fact? 

Alums are able to come back and audit classes whenever they would like!

 

Why choose Dartmouth?

If you’re a talented student that loves the outdoors, Dartmouth is the perfect place for you! Lots of academic flexibility with the D plan, a very strong sense of community that is fostered by their housing system, and ⅔ of students participating in Greek life makes Dartmouth an incredibly spirited and enthusiastic place.

What Happened with the June SAT?

People are fired up about the June SAT.

When the College Board released SAT scores last week, many students noticed something off: they missed the same number of questions as on previous tests, but their scores were lower. In some cases, students answered more questions correctly only to see their scores go down.

How is this possible? Well, unlike most high school grades, the SAT scores that get reported to colleges are not "raw" scores that directly reflect the percentage of questions answered correctly. Instead, they are “scaled” scores out of 800 in each section. This scaled score is what allows colleges to compare a score that a student received in May in Brazil with a score received in October in Florida, or a score received by an applicant this year with a score received by an applicant last year.

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There are minor variations in difficulty between one test form and another, so the scale used -- commonly called the test's "curve" -- changes slightly from test to test. In one typical test, missing 5 questions across the two math sections might lower a student's score from a "perfect" 800 to a 760. In another, the same number of errors might only lower the score to a 780. The College Board calls this process test equating, and it's based on test statistics, not on individual performance.

This kind of "equating" -- and the frustration it can cause students -- is nothing new. So why are people so upset about the June SAT? Two reasons: First, the curve was the steepest by far since the new SAT was first administered in 2016. According to some students' score reports, missing the same number of questions resulted in scores as many as 90 points lower than in previous test administrations. A gap that large raises alarms: while equating works well between tests with only a slight variation in difficulty, it doesn't work well when some tests are substantially "easier" than others. The frustration over the curve is felt particularly strongly among high-scoring students since a test with a steep curve fails to distinguish meaningfully between content-based errors and a small number of careless mistakes.

Second, four items were removed from the Verbal side of the test (two from the Reading section, and two from the Writing and Language section). The test is designed to be able to provide an accurate score even when some questions are deemed flawed after the fact and removed from consideration; still, having four items removed on top of a steep curve for an "easy" test has left many students feeling like the College Board's June test was simply unfair.

What can be done?

The College Board has released a statement affirming that scores are accurate, so don’t expect any adjustments to the test's scale or scoring. Instead of focusing on this one test, students should remember that standardized testing is a long game. Most of our students take the test multiple times in part because the tests -- as well as individual performance -- can vary from day-to-day. The ultimate goal of testing is to present colleges with a score that reflects your hard work and your abilities, and it's difficult for any one test to indicate more than just your performance on a single day. This is a big part of why many colleges "superscore" the test, taking the highest score from each section across multiple tests. Even rising seniors still have several opportunities to take the test again, including August 25 (registration deadline July 27, late registration deadline August 15), October 6, and November 3.

The June test was unusual -- and with all the outcry, you can be sure the College Board will be working even harder to ensure consistent test difficulty in the future. But under normal circumstances, "equating" makes the tests more fair, not less. If you're well prepared and one test section feels harder than usual on test day, you should expect the curve to reflect that. And if you unexpectedly finish a section earlier than usual, be sure to take that opportunity to double check for careless mistakes.

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.