Author Archives: Patty Camloh

The traditional test prep tutoring session is not going the way of horse and buggy any time soon. In-person, private sessions are still the method of choice for many. But when tutors are locally scarce, when time or distance present their pesky challenges, or when situations beyond our control make meeting in person untenable, why not join the growing number of families who are turning to the digital convenience of tutoring through their online device. How does the live online experience compare to live and in-person? Live video conferencing platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Facetime have improved real-time sound and video interaction, which allow for near-seamless communication. If both student and teacher have strong internet connections, they can chat as they would face to face, with high-tech screen sharing or low-tech white board to supplement the conversation. Screen sharing has become a common feature as well, which allows for…

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It’s no surprise that paying for college is a top tier financial stressor.  A June 2017 Gallup poll finds that, after healthcare costs and making ends meet, “college costs” ties with “low income” as the 3rd and 4th highest financial stressors for families. Sky-high college costs are motivating talented students to seek academic scholarships. The trick is knowing where to look. Years ago, we shared a helpful New York Times list detailing which colleges award the most merit-based aid.  Digging deeper into the listed schools rewards a savvy student with a better idea of how her scores can pay actual dollars in the college marketplace. A look at college websites reveals that colleges vary widely in the way they publicize and award the cash. Most college websites list merit scholarship opportunities under “financial aid” (am I the only one to find this a bit misleading?), describing various “excellence” and “leadership”…

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Consider this a respectful response to our “Ode to the Big Pink Eraser.” I’ve never been a fan of a stand-alone pink eraser. It never stays next to my pencil, for one thing. For another, well, it gets lost a lot, which is essentially the same thing. It’s bulky, too. A fistful of eraser comes in handy at times, but most mistakes are not large enough to merit the blunt-end surface area of Big Pink. But what to do? I’m not meaning to suggest that the stubby nubbin on the pencil end will do the job. Though handy and right-sized for most corrections, everyone knows the tiny cylinder’s useful life is way shorter than the pencil’s. Nothing is worse than a long and lovely pencil with a worn-out, flat eraser. My go-to solution to the woefully inadequate standard-issue pencil-top eraser is (drum roll please) the add-on eraser cap. This roof-shaped…

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To maximize learning, experts are encouraging teachers and students to shift from a fixed mindset, based on a student’s innate talents and strengths, to a growth mindset, focused on strategies to make new brain connections through input from others and learning from mistakes. Carolyn Woo of Purdue University suggests that “IQ and college entrance tests lean toward a fixed mindset, as they employ a snapshot in time as indicators of future potential”. It does not follow, however, that a student’s score must merely be a summary of his fixed assets, therefore unchangeable. Effort is a key to change, but the tests are designed to deny admission to better scores through mere practice. Let’s consider how Carol Dweck’s elements of a growth mindset will unlock better scores. In her book Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, Dweck asserts that seeking help from others, trying new strategies, and capitalizing on setbacks foster…

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How many high school juniors are athletes? Many are, and why shouldn’t they be? Athletics is a fun and social way to stay in shape and let off steam after school. For all the junior scholar-athletes out there, let me draw some analogies from the world of sports to describe the ideal SAT and ACT prep program. NEW TO THE SPORT Doing nothing at all to prepare for the tests is like trying to play a sport before you even know the rules. You arrive out of shape and unable to show off your skills. Students who walk in cold either assume they can’t study for a standardized test (wrong) or are unmotivated to make test prep a priority. Hang on… there’s a much better way! TUTORING AND CLASSES You’ve joined the team! All the instruction, coaching, and playing facilities are available to you. You have a great opportunity to sharpen…

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Of the roughly two million high school students who take the SAT annually, roughly 100,000 reside outside of the United States. In fact, both the SAT and ACT are offered in over 120 countries around the world. An international student who seeks admission to a US college must take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) as well as the SAT or ACT.  So who is coming to the US to study, and why? According to Inkstone, a clearinghouse for Chinese data and trends, only 2% of the ten million Chinese students sitting for the GAOKAO (the grueling 2-day entrance exam, the sole determinant of college admission) will score high enough to gain admission into one of the top Chinese universities.  Other Asian countries, most notably Japan and Korea, have similarly strenuous entrance exams. Students who have the means but not the test scores may opt for an…

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