Author Archives: Mike Bergin

We’ve all changed during the COVID-19 era. Lives, organizations, and entire industries have transformed, some for the better and others, unfortunately, for the worse. Few sectors of society have been impacted as dramatically as education. Both K-12 and higher ed have been a veritable roller coaster of remote learning for students, families, educators, and administrators. These have been days we will not soon forget! Yet, not every change should be rolled back once we’ve beaten back the virus, as this singular moment has helped accelerate trends that were already gaining traction. In the sphere of education and admissions, for example, remote learning and virtual campus tours have become normalized in a way that will add tremendous convenience and access to everyone who values those qualities. College admissions testing has changed as well, as cancelled, socially-distanced, and even pop-up tests made taking the SAT and ACT more stressful than ever. No…

Read more

When discussing strategies for multiple-choice grammar questions recently–something totally normal people do all the time, I’m sure–I found myself surprised by how much one of my most respected friends in education and I differed on how useful “listening” for an error is. Continued debate proved inconclusive, so we brought the question to our big brain colleagues in Test Prep Tribe: “How many of you advocate that students “use their ears” to identify grammar errors in ACT English or SAT Writing and Language?” Unsurprisingly, the test prep community at large is split, at least as far as blanket statements about any particular approach go. However, the lively discussion around the issue helped formulate some nuanced rules about trusting your ear when solving grammar questions: In English, what sounds wrong is wrong… usually. Standardized exams like the SAT and ACT tend to test grammar through underlined portions of larger texts that may…

Read more

A classic challenge all military forces must grapple with revolves around the concept of a volunteer army. Those who volunteer for service usually arrive with desired levels of motivation and aptitude. They serve with greater enthusiasm and tend to stick around longer. However, volunteers aren’t always easy to find, particularly during troubled times. When nations require service through a draft coupled with penalties for those who refuse, the size of their standing armies increase as quickly as the general competence and morale of the force goes down. Nobody likes to be forced to serve. As anyone who’s ever demanded a child to clean his or her room can attest, we can compel participation, but excellent results won’t necessarily follow. Imagine the roster of your favorite sports team was filled not by athletes who competed their entire lives for the opportunity to play, but rather by a collection of conscripts unable…

Read more

The recent seismic shift in education has taught us the power of intensive online classes focusing on specific aspects of testing and learning. Obviously, our SAT/ACT classes and tutoring programs provide comprehensive preparation for the tests. But some reading, grammar, and math topics can stand further review, especially in creative and focused ways. We’ve designed the series for January to address the most important, influential, and interesting topics for current, former, and new students alike with a big focus on MATH. Start your year strong trying a few! January 17, 2-3pm EST – TI-83/84 Calculator Clinic for the SAT & ACT (Kaeti Stoss) January 17, 3-4pm EST – TI-Nspire Calculator Clinic for the SAT & ACT (Kaeti Stoss) January 24, 2-4pm EST – Advanced ACT Math (Kaeti Stoss) January 28, 6-7pm EST – Overcoming Test Anxiety (Mike Bergin) January 31, 2-3pm EST – Making SAT & ACT Math Flashcards (Kaeti…

Read more

Is calming down really the best way to achieve peak performance? Alison Wood Brooks, Ph.D. doesn’t think so: Individuals often feel anxious in anticipation of tasks such as speaking in public or meeting with a boss. I find that an overwhelming majority of people believe trying to calm down is the best way to cope with pre-performance anxiety. However, across several studies involving karaoke singing, public speaking, and math performance, I investigate an alternative strategy: reappraising anxiety as excitement. The studies Brooks refers to suggest that getting excited rather than relaxed is a more effective way to reduce performance anxiety. In one experiment that many high school students can relate to, 188 participants were given difficult math problems after they read “try to get excited” or “try to remain calm.” As a comparison, a control group didn’t read any statement. Participants in the excited group scored 8 percent higher on…

Read more

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, one of the cornerstones of any business library, introduced a concept for stretch goals that has eclipsed the work itself in terms of enduring fame. In the book, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras discussed the BHAG–Big Hairy Audacious Goal–as a a powerful way to stimulate progress: “A BHAG is clear and compelling, needing little explanation; people get it right away. Think of the NASA moon mission of the 1960s. The best BHAGs require both building for the long term AND exuding a relentless sense of urgency: What do we need to do today, with monomaniacal focus, and tomorrow, and the next day, to defy the probabilities and ultimately achieve our BHAG?” The authors focused on big, hairy, audacious goals for titans of industry and unicorn entrepreneurs, but not all moon shots need be driven by a profit motive. Anyone can set a…

Read more

6/614