Chariot Learning Blog

“Are the kids allowed to use sound blocking ear plugs during the SAT?” This question popped up recently in one of the many Facebook groups devoted to college admissions questions. The general understanding is that earplugs are absolutely forbidden on the tests, although my friend and colleague Pranoy Mohapatra shared the more pragmatic response: “Technically no… although it’s a rule many proctors are unaware of.” While I certainly agree that many proctors tend to be unaware of many important rules during these high stakes tests, the issue of earplugs is less familiar, so I did a little research. Interestingly, neither the current SAT Test Day Checklist nor ACT Test Day Checklist explicitly prohibits earplugs. The initial question may raise another one, mainly, “Why should earplugs be prohibited in the first place?” Obviously, maintaining focus without being distracted by noise should improve concentration and performance on test day. However, any potential…

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“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” This quote, unironically attributed to Christopher Columbus, says as much about education as it does exploration. The path of learning entails all kinds of challenges, particularly if you want a piece of paper that proudly proclaims what you learned and where you learned it. This is to say, the more prestigious a degree from a particular school, the more obstacles and distractions an applicant will need to prevail over simply for admissions. This fundamental truth applies to both undergraduate and graduate studies alike. Obviously, we talk a LOT about the SAT & ACT around here. These two standardized entrance exams may be taken more than any others in the U.S. but they hardly stand alone as necessary steps to specific academic programs. Most graduate programs–particularly those at the most prestigious schools–require entrance exams…

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Very few people love taking tests, just as only a special handful look forward to crisis and conflict. The day you are tested–in whatever way that concept is meaningful to you–is the day you must shake off doubt and distractions, marshal your energy and focus, and rise to the occasion. Luckily, in normal times, those days are few and far between. These are not normal times. For teens hoping to take the SAT or ACT, nearly every Saturday from now through early November (along with various Sunday and school day options) features a test. More generally, the start of another academic year under the same conditions that ravaged the last one presents at least the potential for daily trials and tribulations. How do you not just get by but bring your best when every day feels like test day? Consider the words of the great American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson:…

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Too many times, our well-meaning attempts to listen to our teens result in failed one-sided snippets of conversation. Parents and teens tire of the same old questions: “How are you?” (fine) “How was your day” (ok please leave me alone) “What’s new?” (…please just get off my back already!) Teens, unfortunately, don’t come with instruction manuals. But I’ll tell you one thing–teens are new to adulting, which, when you think back, is even more daunting. While some teens discover their life passion from early on, some need help to begin forming their life’s passions, goals, and mission. Parents can help their teen, not by asking her to choose a college major or career path, but by first learning more about her developing personal mission. In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, Sean Covey says, “Life is a mission, not a career. A career is a profession, a…

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Test preparation, at its noble core, seems almost too simple: if you prepare for a test, you will do better on the test. Yet sometimes even the most obvious connection escapes some people! Fortunately, the impact of exceptional preparation on achievement, success, and even luck has been well-documented throughout the ages. If you’re not sure you should be preparing for the next challenge ahead, read and be inspired… Success is where preparation and opportunity meet. — Bobby Unser Be prepared, work hard, and hope for a little luck. Recognize that the harder you work and the better prepared you are, the more luck you might have. — Ed Bradley The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today. — Elbert Hubbard There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. — Colin Powell Spectacular achievement is always…

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“We all had to stand in line for about 20 minutes because we had to agree to statements regarding our health and COVID, which stunk. Then we were all divided into rooms with no more than 9 kids at a time. Nothing too crazy but it was definitely different!” “The testing center was very disorganized, and we had to wait for over an hour to even go to the testing room. They made us wear masks throughout the exam which was a little annoying.” These actual statements from actual students who took the actual SAT on August 29 should be taken as both precautionary warnings and signs of hope. What is the warning? The test makers and site supervisors are committed to enforcing health and safety measures for SAT and ACT administrations. Expect the following on test day: — All students and staff must wear masks or protective face coverings…

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