Chariot Learning Blog

I recently had the good fortune of being invited to take an official ACT in my own home by computer. As a lifelong student of standardized testing, I’m never going to turn down the opportunity to learn something new while challenging my skills. And now that I’ve taken the test, the educator in me demands that I share my insights on this new twist on an old test. What did I learn by taking the ACT on computer? 1. I still got it! While performing at a high level obviously matters to me, I have nothing but professional pride on the line. Elite performance can be difficult to achieve without a real incentive, and I already have my college degree, thank you. Apparently, though, I can still turn it on when needed 😉 2. Testing on a computer takes longer. I spoke at length with ACT Senior Director of Research…

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One reason I love hosting the Tests and the Rest podcast is because I meet so many smart and interesting educators, then learn from them. That’s why interviewing counselor Emily Kircher-Morris on the topic of college admissions for twice-exceptional students was such a treat. Once Emily explained what twice-exceptional or 2E meant, I realized how many 2E learners I’d met and worked with in the past. So you should listen to that podcast episode and learn as well! Another reason love hosting the Tests and the Rest podcast is that meeting these remarkable professionals often sparks further collaboration. Emily happens to be the host of the Mind Matters Podcast, which features discussions with leaders in the fields of psychology, education, and beyond, with an emphasis on gifted/talented and twice-exceptional children and adults. Imagine how flattered I was when she invited me and my Tests and the Rest co-host Amy Seeley…

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After over 25 years of trying to explain what complex standardized instruments like the SAT or ACT are meant to test, I still find the general explanation of “math, verbal, and test taking skills” woefully inadequate. Just as frustrating is the disconnect between the way these skills are tests in school as opposed to the exams themselves. Why is SAT math, for example, so different from school math, even though the discrete subject matter overlaps entirely? A recent comment from deep thinker Shane Parrish of Farnam Street helped me wrap my head around why the conventional view of what is tested fails to describe how multifarious and sophisticated those skills are: We tend to think of meta skills as the skill. For example, we default to thinking that reading is a skill. But there is really no skill called reading. Reading is the meta-skill that results when you alloy other…

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In May 2020, in the midst of the most bizarre semester American college students have known in generations, the regents of the University of California voted to phase out the SAT and ACT tests as a requirement for admission across all nine of its undergraduate campuses. They took this step much further than other schools, who chose to allow test optional admissions for the high school class of 2021 due to inconsistent testing opportunities. UC adopted a position of two years of test optional followed by two years of test blind despite the findings of its own task force that said that test scores were often a better indicator of college success than grades. In doing so, they overrode the unanimous vote of faculty to keep SAT and ACT scores as part of a holistic admissions process. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Too bad New York might follow the same ill-advised…

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While most people focus on the big numbers on the ACT score report–section scores and Composite–there’s more to learn by digging deeper. ACT included three reporting categories each for English, reading, and science, as well as eight reporting categories for mathematics. These subscores provide more granular insight into test performance by sorting test questions into smaller categories that can be used to evaluate relative strength in specific subject areas. Why don’t we spend much time on ACT Reporting Categories? Basically, these subscores are worthless from an admissions perspective; colleges don’t care about them. However, Reporting Categories have value in terms of identifying key skills test takers should master for ACT success. In this, ACT Reading Reporting Categories can be particularly helpful. The ACT Reporting Category Interpretation Guide provides valuable insight into all of the subscores on the test. The Reading Reporting Categories fall into three large proficiencies: KEY IDEAS AND…

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Nobody has more credibility about achieving success than wildly successful people. Knowing how to get to the top of the mountain is one thing, but summiting that peak again and again until your smiling visage is carved into it is quite another. Why else would a conversation about what it takes to be great between the King of All Media and one of the greatest comedians of all time is worth repeating on a site about learning and performance. Apparently, Howard Stern recently interviewed Jerry Seinfeld, and the conversation turned to work ethic. Howard started talking about how hard he worked everyday to make a living in radio: Howard Stern: “I thought, you know, it is possible to will yourself, maybe not to be the greatest in the world but to certainly get what you want.” Jerry Seinfeld: “I’m going to adjust your perspective a little bit. That was no…

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