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Which test to take or if he should take both tests is determined by what colleges he is interested in. Generally even the top schools in the Midwest are looking for high ACT scores, and writing the essay is a plus. The big schools on the coasts generally want the SAT. (Its essay is not optional.) However, to maximize your investment you MUST investigate each individual school's expectations of its incoming freshman class. If both tests are indicated on the basis of what I've just said, then my counsel is to prep and sit for the SAT first, then the ACT.   You may even want to schedule one of each test before investing in paid test prep. It's enormously helpful to me to have that baseline already drawn.   On test dates occurring in December, April, and June, it's even possible to obtain a copy of the exact test and your students' answers. This request is called Test Information Release (TIR). You can request a TIR at the time that you register... read more

I struck up a conversation with a home-schooling mom the other day. Parent of a middle-school student, she told me I should talk to middle school parents about this topic because, as she put it, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” In my blog post “Test Prep Students 1: Before Our First Session, Please,” I mentioned planning ahead to give yourself more time to prepare. Since then, I’ve come to believe that you can’t have too much time to prepare, regardless of what you are testing for * High school graduation (Minnesota GRAD) * College National Merit Scholarships (PSAT/NMSQ) * Advance college credit (AP, CLEP) * College admission (ACT, SAT, TOEFL, IELTS) * Professional licensure (such as the Minnesota Teacher Licensing Exam—MTLE) * Graduate school admission (GRE, GMAT, and again TOEFL or IELTS). Students as young as 12 or 13 can successfully answer many of the ACT Questions of the Day (QOTD) http://www.act.org/qotd/ and SAT QOTD http://sat.collegeboard... read more

This afternoon, I found myself writing to one of my ESL students: ______________________ Hello, XXXXXX--- I am imagining you and your dog having a fine time at the cabin as I write this. I bet you are in the cabin as well. In the first sentence at the cabin is correct, just as you would say "I am at home" rather than in home. It would also be correct to say "I'm in the house" rather than outside in the yard. When you are at home, the yard is included. When you are in the house, the yard is excluded. With cabin, the same word is used both ways. When you are at the cabin, the exterior property is included, but when you are in the cabin, it is excluded. By the way, while you might be in your yard, you would be on your property. ______________________ Preposition problems are common to all but the most advanced English language learners, including many native speakers. After sending my student this email, I realized the word office... read more

(STUDENTS: Remember to write new words in your vocabulary journal. Do not worry if you cannot find any. I said it is a simple song!) INTRODUCTION A CALL AND RESPONSE SONG is sung by two or more people. One SOLOIST sings the "call." It may be a question, but not always. Everyone else sings a "response" after the call. If the call is a question, the response will be the answer. In our Christmas song "Must Be Santa", singers sing only a few lines this way. ALL sing the other parts of the song. (For more fun, people can take turns being the SOLOIST!) The YouTube MITCH MILLER video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42_vCV2_gf0 includes art that will help you understand some of these words. (You can sing along with it too!) A list of hard words and holiday terms appears after the LYRICS to the song. ------------------------------------- MUST BE SANTA (COMPOSERS: Hal Moore and Bill Hendricks) CALL: Who's got a beard that's long... read more

(A glossary of the words spelled in all capital letters in this blog post appears at ITS end. See how much you can understand without looking at the glossary. Students: Remember to write new words in your vocabulary journal.) Introduction EVIDENCE of the Christian holiday Christmas is everywhere in December. The TWELVE days of Christmas begin on December 25, commonly called Christmas Day. December 26, more commonly in the United Kingdom than in the United States, is known as Boxing Day. However, at the time that this Christmas CAROL was written, BOXING DAY was also called the FEAST OF STEPHEN. This refers to Saint (St.) Stephen, a ROMAN CATHOLIC SAINT. The Holiday Song The LYRICS of “Good King Wenceslaus” (below) were written by John M. Neale (1818–1866). This carol was first published in Car­ols for CHRISTMAS-TIDE, by Neale with Thomas Helmore (1811–1890). This book was published in 1853. The MELODY comes from a 13th-cen­tu­ry (1200s A.D.) Latin spring... read more

My emerging tutoring passion is assisting ESL college students with their coursework. Most of them must also hold full-time jobs to support themselves and often their families as well. Many require online courses to get college educations. They could not earn a college degree any other way. Do textbook publishing companies realize how much cultural bias is written into their online ancillary (supplemental) materials? Do teachers of online college courses realize how hopeless these students feel about merely passing a class when their grades depend on online multiple-choice exams consisting of 60 items to be completed in 60 minutes (60 in 60), for example? This may be a subtle form of cultural bias, but bias it is. Frankly, as a native speaker of American English with a master’s degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin—Madison, I’m not sure I could pass a 60 in 60 exam. I would like to challenge the instructors who teach these online courses and college administrators... read more

You have educational goals. Next, you have a test to take. It's one of those big milestone tests for admission to college, such as the ACT, SAT, or GRE--or other standardized tests such as the SSAT, ASVAB, GED, or a professional licensing test. You want a tutor who works hard to get you ready. Help me be that tutor. Do these three things before our first session together. 1. If you have already set a date to take your test, tell me what it is. If you are not that far along yet, tell me the dates you are considering. This will assist me in developing a schedule for our sessions, and, if you'd like, I will suggest a study schedule for you for the time between our meetings. [PLEASE NOTE: It is far more effective to meet with you once a week for three months than three times per week for one month. Even when you are not studying for your test, your mind is preparing for it. Since your mind is busy in many other ways as well, it makes sense to give yourself ample time... read more

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