Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

The ACT is coming up. You think you’re ready. You’ve studied well, sharpened your pencils, and set three alarm clocks just to make sure you don’t oversleep. What could possibly go wrong?

Just to give you an idea, here’s an email that I received from a student after the ACT:

“Not to be a downer but the last 5 hours of my life honestly belong in an ACT from hell movie. Besides the proctor actually being moderately illiterate and no clock, just a time based off of his watch, a girl got the hiccups for the entire reading section, a janitor vacuumed the hallways, two girls actually had conversations throughout the test, half the room didn’t bring their admission tickets or pencils, and some boy kicked me every 5 minutes. It was definitely quite an experience. But, I did my best…”

This real email should serve as a warning. Not everything is in your control! Whatever you worry about going wrong probably won’t – but chances are, there is plenty that will. So add this tidbit to your test day preparation list: get ready to roll with the punches. Do your best and never give up, no matter what fate throws your way. And don’t get discouraged even if the test taker behind you is making awful noises or kicking you.

P.S. The student who wrote this email actually reached her target score! She handled the distractions with humor and refused to give up the fight.

So remember, stay focused, do your best, and don’t panic!

Graduating and Looking for Your Passion? Just Be Patient

After you’ve finished your education, what path through life should you take? This is a question all are faced with when seeking their first job after graduation. Armed with the generic advice “follow your passion,” many students feel lost or unsure of their direction. This article discusses the steps graduates should take when building their future to ensure they find a job that will foster their interests.

Click here to read this article by Angela Duckworth.

The Return of the Pink Eraser

Do not show up to the SAT or ACT with a mechanical pencil, and definitely do not show up with a bad eraser! Every year I yell and scream these Do Nots and every year students don’t listen and there are tears! Therefore, this year I am putting these Do Nots in writing.

Here’s what you need to know about Scantrons: Scantron machines look for the darkest area on the paper. If a mark is too light, then an answer may be marked incorrect (even though it might be correct).

Ever watch a student use a mechanical pencil? Well, I have. Students write lightly because they don’t want to break the tip, and, since they always do break the tip, and break it often, they are constantly clicking for more lead. Fact: If you write lightly on the Scantron, there is a good chance the machine will mark a correct answer incorrect. Plus, constantly clicking for more lead takes focus away from the test questions. So, bring five old-fashioned #2 pencils to the test and bubble away with confidence.

Now onto erasing. Last year I literally had a student tear a HOLE in his Scantron because of his eraser. Students should bring a separate eraser. Think the big, pink eraser that you used in 2nd grade. As stated above, Scantron machines look for the darkest mark, and the machine will be confused if there are two or three marks on one line because the student did not erase effectively.

Although the correct eraser will help eliminate unwanted marks, it will only help so much. Therefore, students should first put an answer down in their test book and then put the answer on the Scantron. Students should be confident about their answer choice when bubbling in. This will eliminate subsequent Scantron mistakes. But, do NOT leave the bubbling to the end of the section. Bubble as you go. Perish the thought that a student gets to the end of a section, the bell rings, and nothing is bubbled in! Perish indeed!

Since I don’t like to end my Tip of the Week on a negative note, I will briefly share some Do’s: Do bring extra batteries for your graphing calculator; do bring water and snacks; do bring a watch; and, most importantly, do bring your confidence!

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