Tuesday 11 November 2014

What Are the Big Changes to the ACT?

Changes are coming to the ACT in 2015. The ACT is the leading college readiness assessment in the United States. The College Board, administrators of the SAT, the other major college readiness test, recently announced a major overhaul beginning in 2016. The ACT changes are less dramatic than the SAT’s, but no less significant. Below are some of the changes you can expect.

New supplemental scores will be added to give educators, parents and students more details about academic and skill levels. New indicators include:

STEM Score: The ACT is currently the only college readiness exam that measures science skills. This new score represents a student’s combined performance on the math and science sections of the test. The STEM indicator will outline strengths and perhaps indicate career paths that students may not have considered otherwise.

Progress Toward Career Readiness Indicator: This assessment is designed to measure progress toward career readiness, giving students and educators a guideline for success in a variety of career paths.

English Language Arts Score: This score combines English, reading and writing scores and enables students to view how their performance compares to other college-ready students.

Text Complexity Progress Indicator: This indicator measures student progress in understanding the complex text they will encounter as they go through college and professional life. The indicator is designed to help students plan study areas to improve text complexity skills before entering college.

Enhanced Writing Scores

Enhanced scores and a new approach to the optional Writing Test will offer insights and assessments that indicate where students excel and where more work is needed. Essays will be evaluated using four writing competency domains: development and support, organization, ideas and analysis and language use. Analytical ability and complex comprehension will be assessed.

Computer-Based Testing

Beginning in 2015, select schools will offer a computer-based ACT test that includes optional constructed-response questions. The computer-based program was successfully tested in April of 2014 and will likely become more widely available as time goes on.

Preparing for the ACT

Overall, the ACT test itself will change little. The new indicators and scores are designed as supplemental tools to help students, parents and teachers navigate a future course of study, deal with inconsistencies and open new career path considerations. According to Jon Erickson, ACT president of education and career solutions, “These research- and evidence-based enhancements are designed to keep our products relevant and helpful.” He continues, “They will be introduced gradually and thoughtfully, so our customers don’t experience radical changes.“

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Why You Shouldn’t Settle for a Low ACT Score

Standardized tests, such as the ACT and SAT, have recently come under scrutiny. According to some, standardized test scores are not predictors of collegiate academic success and emphasis on scores is, as Leon Botstein, president of Bard College stated about the SAT, “a bizarre relic of long outdated 20th century social scientific assumptions and strategies.” If you’re a student who has a low ACT score or not yet taken the test, you may be asking yourself if getting a high ACT score is still important. Let’s look at the facts.

The Times Are Changing

The 2008 economic recession changed the way college admissions officials looked at applicants. In a trend that continues because of ongoing budget cuts, officials look for ways to single out and accept only those students with the best chance of success. ACT scores play a substantive role in the decision-making process. In other words, a higher ACT score is often the difference between getting into the school of your choice and not making the grade.

Moshe Ohayon, founder of Bad Test Takers, an innovative program designed to help students get higher ACT scores, points out another significant benefit that comes from achieving a high ACT score—lower college costs. The price of college soared to close to $60,000 this year, nearly triple the amount of 30 years ago. Most students graduate from college with a debt of approximately $29,000. Students with high ACT scores, however, are eligible for merit-based scholarships that pay for much, if not all, of their tuition costs. Scholarships vary by state, but an ACT composite score of 32-36, along with a minimum required GPA, often results in little or no out-of-pocket or loan-based tuition.

Are the Criticisms Warranted?

Much of the criticism about standardized college entrance exams is geared toward the SAT. The SAT is the oldest college entrance exam and was originally an IQ test. The College Board, SAT test administrators, recently announced a completely redesigned test that will make its debut in 2016. The ACT, on the other hand, is an achievement test designed to measure knowledge.

A 2011 National Bureau of Economic Research found that the ACT English and Math sections were, in fact, accurate college success predictors. Another study, conducted by researchers at Michigan State University, followed 3,000 college students and found that a high ACT score directly correlated with a cumulative GPA in the top half. High scores also accurately predicted graduation success rates.

Clearly, earning a high ACT score is essential, not only when it comes to getting into college, but also for reducing the massive costs. If you have a low score or are getting ready to take the test for the first time, consider the ACT for Bad Test Takers program. Armed with the right approach, you don’t have to settle for a low ACT score.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Hope for Bad Test Takers: Proven Strategies That Boost ACT Scores

A low ACT score not only undermines confidence, it also limits possibilities. In most cases, a low ACT score is not indicative of a student’s true academic abilities. In fact, a low ACT score may indicate a lack of knowledge about how to take the test itself.

So what can you do to turn this problem around? It may be time for a new approach. Consider the ACT for Bad Test Takers program, which teaches students how to turn the ACT’s structure into a distinct advantage and earn an ACT score that accurately reflects academic knowledge.  

How It Works

Today’s high school student is no stranger to standardized testing. Federal and state governments in the United States require a series of achievement and assessment tests. By the time most students are in high school, the standardized test format is exceedingly familiar. Why is it that the same students who do well on those standardized tests struggle when it comes to the ACT?

Many of the successful strategies students learn over time when taking elementary, middle and high school standardized tests don’t work with the ACT. In fact, used on the ACT, those same strategies often prove detrimental. The Bad Test Takers method shows students how to “un-learn” standardized test programming and introduces a new approach designed specifically for the ACT.

The creators of the program discovered that students typically go into the ACT totally unprepared for what is to come. Academically, they know their stuff, but they have no clue about how to handle the ACT test structure.

Proven Method of Success

Students who previously scored in the upper 20s often break into the 30s after using the Bad Test Takers approach. The biggest successes, however, are students who initially score in the teens or low 20s. Bad Test Takers is responsible for helping students with average scores see significant gains. Well over a thousand students have reached their target ACT scores through the program.

To keep up with changes and ensure that the ACT for Bad Test Takers program remains relevant, founder Moshe Ohayon and his team take the ACT periodically. They regularly score in the 99th percentile.

The real advantage of the Bad Test Takers strategy is that students earn the ACT scores they deserve, based on academic skills and knowledge, not on how well they understand the test’s structure.

Thursday 31 July 2014

Is College Right For Everyone?

Soaring tuition costs, rising student debt and restrictive college admission requirements have some high school students rethinking their college goals. Some students hesitate about jumping directly from high school to college. Others don’t do well in a schoolroom setting and balk at going to school for another two to four years. Still others question the high costs and wonder if going to college is worth it. Is college the right step for everyone? Are there alternatives that give you the tools you need to support yourself and future family without struggling financially for the rest of your life?

The Argument for College

A college degree still opens a lot doors that remain closed for the less educated. An associate degree is worth over $170,000 more over a lifetime than a high school diploma. A bachelor’s degree is worth $30,000 more per year. During the recent recession, jobs requiring a college degree grew, but jobs for the less educated declined on a large scale. According to Georgetown University’s job projections, approximately 63 percent of jobs in the United States will require a college education by the year 2018.

College graduates as whole not only have jobs, they have better jobs. They earn more and the jobs they have are more likely to have benefits, such as retirement plans and health insurance. The 2008 poverty level for college grads with a bachelor’s was 4 percent compared to 12 percent for high school graduates.

A college education has a high return, even if the investment is substantial. Calculating the costs against money earned results in a return on investment (ROI) of 15 percent. Going to college also provides networking value because college life not only consists of classes, but also encourages participation in study groups, clubs and teams. College internships also provide opportunities to meet mentors and make contacts.

The Argument Against College

Student loan debt is has increased exponentially since 2003. The average student loan balance in 2012 was $20,326, a 91 percent increase. The United States Congress Joint Economic Committee approximates that 60 percent of the 2011 college graduates had a total student loan debt that equals 60 percent of the students’ income. Making late or missing payments lowers credit scores and escalates the problem with added fees.

In its list of the projected 30 fastest-growing jobs between 2010 and 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, five do not require a high school diploma and nine require only a high school diploma. Famous people who never went to college or dropped out before finishing include Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, Dell founder Michael Dell and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The emphasis on college has left a glut in the trade professions. Machinists, electricians, construction workers and plumbers are in short supply. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that these middle-skill jobs will make up 45 percent of job openings this year, but 2012 statistics show that only 25 percent of the workforce possesses the skills to fill those jobs.

Are There Viable College Alternatives?

Conventional wisdom says that a degree from an accredited college means a good job and higher pay. The recent recession changed the economic landscape and a college degree is no longer a guaranteed path to a higher paying job. There are a number of four-year college alternatives to consider.

One alternative is to start your own business. Internet connections make starting a business easier than ever. Retail options include selling merchandise, trading antiques and making and selling your own handcrafted goods. There are online jobs for computer whizzes, writers, photographers and translators. Successful entrepreneurs find a way to turn a passion and their people skills into opportunity.

Attending community college may not sound like an alternative, but it’s one of the best. Taking a course or two at the local community college is a great way to test the waters and see if going on to a four-year school is for you. It is also a way to delve more deeply into subjects you like and gives you time to explore your interests and better define your talents. Community colleges are a great bargain, too. The average credit hour at a four-year university is $300. It’s $60 at a community college. If you want to earn a degree at a community college, you can. Associate degrees take a comparatively short amount of time to obtain and cost less but offer a surprising list of possible careers, including web developer, MRI technologist, air traffic controller and nuclear technician.

If you are mechanically inclined and enjoy working with your hands, consider going to a trade school. Trade schools typically offer two-year programs that teach a variety of skilled labor careers. Beginning salaries for college and trade school graduates are surprisingly close. The average college graduate’s starting salary is $45,000. The average trade school graduate’s starting salary is $42,000. Construction and landscaping companies often offer apprenticeships where students are given on the job training and move into regular jobs after completing the program.

Is college right for you? The choice is yours. Choosing to skip college is a decision not to be taken lightly, however. Carefully consider your options. Discover and expand your interests. Think about your financial situation and future goals. If a lack of confidence in your skills is keeping you from going to college, try taking a few supplemental classes or working with a tutor. If you need a break after high school, get a job and work for a year before you decide. The future is yours.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Moshe Ohayon of Louisville Finds Creative Ways to Help Students

Moshe Ohayon of Louisville, KY, is the founder of the Louisville Tutoring Agency (LTA), a learning center designed to prepare students for college and beyond. He’s also the founder of Educational Justice, a nonprofit organization that provides tutoring and supplemental academic help to the region's low-income students. Educational Justice relies on donations and volunteers. Because of the organization’s limited resources, Ohayon sought a way to help more of the bright but underserved students he worked with regularly. Ohayon came up with EJ Activists, a new program that connects exceptional high school students with underserved middle school students struggling in school for one-on-one tutoring and academic mentoring.

Thursday 13 March 2014

Moshe Ohayon of Louisville Builds Tomorrow's Leaders Today

As a child of teachers, MosheOhayon of Louisville was raised with a profound determination to succeed academically. Coming to the United States from Israel when he was eight years old, Ohayon committed himself to his schoolwork and did well, in spite of adjusting to life in a new country. His hard work paid off when he was accepted at Columbia University. He got his first taste of what would become his life's work at Columbia when he took a job as a university tutor. Now, with a thrivingbusiness, Ohayon makes volunteering a priority. He dedicates his time to helping underserved students build skills and confidence so they become strong leaders for the future.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Moshe Ohayon of Louisville Credits His Parents for His Love of Learning

When he was a young boy, Moshe Ohayon of Louisville came to the United States from Israel with his parents. Ohayon's parents, who were both teachers, raised him to value education and learning. Committing himself to schoolwork, Ohayon worked hard and eventually earned admission to Columbia University.

Ohayon was also raised to think about the less fortunate. As a college student, he tutored first-year engineering students for the university and discovered a way to help others learn and excel academically. Now a successful businessman, Ohayon continues to reach out by tutoring low-income students in the Louisville area, encouraging them to learn and serve others.