Archive for April, 2010

How to get into (your) Harvard 2010

Thank you to all the guests who made it out to the second in our series of free seminars.  This installment was particularly exciting.  We were joined by Chris H. former Assistant Director to Admissions at Yale College and current member of the Veritas Tutors Admissions Consulting team.

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By Andrew | Thursday, April 29th, 2010 | No Comments »

Veritas Tutors – Technology In Education Seminar

This semester, Veritas Tutors was fortunate enough to have three dedicated interns from the Harvard Graduate School of Education helping out with pedagogic research and development. As part of their weekly commitments, one of these interns engaged in weekly seminars with Andrew Magliozzi, Founder of Veritas Tutors. The general topic of these seminars was be education, entrepreneurship, and disruptive technologies.

As usual, we recorded and shared these lessons freely with the world. Without further ado, here are the lessons:

Lesson One: Introduction to tutoring, education, and disruptive market forces
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Reading for Lesson 1:

“Expanding Open Education” by Andrew Magliozzi (submitted to Free Culture Conference 2009)

Lesson Two: Information in a Digital Age
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Readings and media:

Free by Chris Anderson

Minds for Sale by Jonathan Zittrain (video)

“The work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter Benjamin

The Economy of Ideas by John Perry Barlow

Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead by Joshua Green

Lesson Three: Online Education Entrepreneurship
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Readings and Media:

Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology by Collins and Halverson

Khan Academy

Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen, Curtis Johnson, and Michael Horn

Lesson Four: Online Education Research Plan
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Readings and Media:

Minds for Sale (redux) by Jonathan Zittrain (note Andrew’s question at the end)

L3C information

The World is Open by Curtis Bonk

Lesson Five: Fundraising and Grantwriting for Non-profits

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Lesson Six: Design Thinking and Education – Web 3.0 Predictions

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Dave Eggers TED Talk on 826 Valencia Volunteer Tutoring Project

Jane McGonigal TED Talk: Gaming can make a better world

Lesson Seven: Designing Social Engagement in Education

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Sir Ken Robinson Ted Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Lesson Eight : Legal Design and Ed Koans

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University of the People by Shai Reshef
Note your esteemed host on this podcast is an active contributor to the conversation.

“Your next book should be an app” by Cody Brown

Jimmy Wales on the creation of Wikipedia

Lesson Nine : LibraryofChampions.org and an old sales paradigm for a new age

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Lesson 10: Interview with Allan Collins, co-author of Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology

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By Andrew | Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 | No Comments »

What is the Difference Between the ACT and SAT?

In the Northeast, it’s a little known fact that the ACT is an absolutely viable replacement for the SAT for application to most colleges.  In fact, though the acronyms are almost the same, the tests are very different in some important ways.  Because of these differences, some students will perform significantly better on one of the two tests.  Are you one of them?  Read the below Q&A to understand whether you should be considering the ACT.
What are the structural differences between the SAT and ACT?
The SAT has math, critical reading, grammar, and writing components.  These are setup in 10 sections, 3 of each and one “test” section that’s not counted toward your score.  The total time of the exam is 3 hours and 45 minutes.  There is also a guessing penalty on the SAT in the form of 1/4 point off for each question you get incorrect.
The ACT also has a math, reading, and grammar section.  It also has a science section, and the writing portion is optional.  The science section, however, does not test your knowledge of chemistry, biology, or physics, but rather your ability to read closely and critique experimental design.  In fact, it’s more like a critical reading on science experiments.  The ACT is broken down into five sections and takes 2 hours and 55 minutes without the writing, or 3 hours and 25 minutes with the writing.  There is no guessing penalty on the ACT.
What are the other differences between the two tests?
The other differences in the tests can be understood by knowing a bit about the history of the two tests.  The SAT was developed as an aptitude test in the 1920s, and the ACT was developed as a content test in response a few decades later.  In other words, the SAT tries to test how smart you are by giving you really tricky problems and the ACT tries to test how much you actually learned in high school.  Though this is a bit of a simplification, it does illustrate the differences.
How does this manifest on the test?  Well, the SAT focuses more on abstract reasoning, tougher vocabulary, and really tricky problems.  The test is sort of like a logic test or a brain teaser (not coincidentally, the SAT’s original author also created the first aptitude/IQ tests for the army).  However, the SAT gives students relatively more time per problem than the ACT because they figure the student either gets it or they don’t, and extra time won’t make too much of a difference.
The ACT, on the other hand, focuses less on tricky problems and more on just testing students on concrete things that should have been learned in high school.  The ACT, however, does give less time per problem and timing is the most challenging aspect of the test.   Because the problems are pretty straightforward, the ACT wants to see how quickly students can answer them.  That, to the ACT, is an indicator of how well a student knows the subjects.
So is the ACT easier than the SAT?
In some ways yes, and in other ways no.  Though the ACT has problems that are generally less tricky, the timing of the test is quite a bit more stringent.  So, if you’re a student that needs a lot of time to read and answer questions, the ACT may be a lot harder.  But, if you don’t have a great vocabulary or are not a particularly abstract good problem solver, the ACT may very well be a lot easier.
So what kinds of students should take the SAT?
You should be focusing on the SAT if you have a great vocabulary, are good with tricky reading and math problems, and have a strong reading comprehension level.
And what kinds of students should take the ACT?
Doing moderately well in a standard high school curriculum and having a strong reading speed are prerequisites for doing well on the ACT.  Also, if you have begun preparing for the SAT already and are not doing as well as you’d like, you should take a practice ACT to see if you feel any more comfortable on it.
Where should I start?
Well, if you’re a good student and a quick reader, but have a weak vocabulary or aren’t good at tricky problems, start with the ACT.  If you have a great vocabulary and are good at figuring out abstract problems, begin with the SAT.
If you’re still not sure or don’t fit in either category, start with the SAT.  The SAT is actually a more coachable test.  This is because there are only a certain number of tricks that the SAT tends to throw at students, so improving for the SAT — to a certain degree at least — lies in understanding the “tricks” and the problem types that the SAT tends to favor.
The ACT is not as coachable because it requires a lot of knowledge that has to be internalized and deployed very quickly.   In other words, it generally takes longer to improve your scores on the ACT than on the SAT.
But won’t colleges think it’s odd if I submit an ACT score instead of an SAT score if I’m from an area where the SAT is more common?
No.  If you do well on either test, it’s a good sign.  Doesn’t matter which one.
If you do well on the SAT, it shows that you have good abstract reasoning skills and have a strong grasp of the fundamental concepts on the test.  If you do well on the ACT it shows that you also have a good grasp of the fundamentals and that you really learned what you were meant to in high school.  Both results are great signs for a college.  Furthermore, because so many students are applying to colleges from so many different locations, admissions officers are used to seeing both.
Should I do both?
There is some debate as to whether you should submit both scores.  We advise that you only do so if you’ve done extremely well on both.  Otherwise, a lower score on one could be considered a weakness in your application.  If you’ve scored well on one, then don’t worry about taking the other until you’ve finished everything else in the college application process.  Having one good score and great essays, or a great extracurricular experience, is far more impressive than having two great scores and a weakness somewhere else.

In the Northeast, it’s a little known fact that the ACT is an absolutely viable replacement for the SAT for application to most colleges.  In fact, though the acronyms are almost the same, the tests are very different in some important ways.  Because of these differences, some students will perform significantly better on one of the two tests.  Are you one of them?  Read the below Q&A to understand whether you should be considering the ACT.

What are the structural differences between the SAT and ACT?

The SAT has math, critical reading, grammar, and writing components.  These are set up in 10 sections, 3 of each and one “test” section that’s not counted toward your score.  The total time of the exam is 3 hours and 45 minutes.  There is also a guessing penalty on the SAT in the form of 1/4 point off for each question you get incorrect.

The ACT also has a math, reading, and grammar section.  It also has a science section, and the writing portion is optional.  The science section, however, does not test your knowledge of chemistry, biology, or physics, but rather your ability to read closely and critique experimental design.  In fact, it’s more like a critical reading on science experiments.  The ACT is broken down into five sections and takes 2 hours and 55 minutes without the writing, or 3 hours and 25 minutes with the writing.  There is no guessing penalty on the ACT.

What are the other differences between the two tests?

The other differences in the tests can be understood by knowing a bit about the history of the two tests.  The SAT was developed as an aptitude test in the 1920s, and the ACT was developed as a content test in response a few decades later.  In other words, the SAT tries to test how smart you are by giving you really tricky problems and the ACT tries to test how much you actually learned in high school.  Though this is a bit of a simplification, it does illustrate the differences.

How does this manifest on the test?  Well, the SAT focuses more on abstract reasoning, tougher vocabulary, and really tricky problems.  The test is sort of like a logic test or a brain teaser (not coincidentally, the SAT’s original author also created the first aptitude/IQ tests for the army).  However, the SAT gives students relatively more time per problem than the ACT because they figure the student either gets it or they don’t, and extra time won’t make too much of a difference.

The ACT, on the other hand, focuses less on tricky problems and more on just testing students on concrete things that should have been learned in high school.  The ACT, however, does give less time per problem and timing is the most challenging aspect of the test.   Because the problems are pretty straightforward, the ACT wants to see how quickly students can answer them.  That, to the ACT, is an indicator of how well a student knows the subjects.

So is the ACT easier than the SAT?

In some ways yes, and in other ways no.  Though the ACT has problems that are generally less tricky, the timing of the test is quite a bit more stringent.  So, if you’re a student that needs a lot of time to read and answer questions, the ACT may be a lot harder.  But if you don’t have a great vocabulary or are not a particularly good abstract problem solver, the ACT may very well be a lot easier.

So what kinds of students should take the SAT?

You should be focusing on the SAT if you have a great vocabulary, are good with tricky reading and math problems, and have a strong reading comprehension level.

And what kinds of students should take the ACT?

Doing moderately well in a standard high school curriculum and having a strong reading speed are prerequisites for doing well on the ACT.  Also, if you have begun preparing for the SAT already and are not doing as well as you’d like, you should take a practice ACT to see if you feel any more comfortable on it.

Where should I start?

Well, if you’re a good student and a quick reader, but have a weak vocabulary or aren’t good at tricky problems, start with the ACT.  If you have a great vocabulary and are good at figuring out abstract problems, begin with the SAT.

If you’re still not sure or don’t fit in either category, start with the SAT.  The SAT is actually a more coachable test.  This is because there are only a certain number of tricks that the SAT tends to throw at students, so improving for the SAT — to a certain degree at least — lies in understanding the “tricks” and the problem types that the SAT tends to favor.

The ACT is not as coachable because it requires a lot of knowledge that has to be internalized and deployed very quickly.   In other words, it generally takes longer to improve your scores on the ACT than on the SAT.

But won’t colleges think it’s odd if I submit an ACT score instead of an SAT score if I’m from an area where the SAT is more common?

No.  If you do well on either test, it’s a good sign.  Doesn’t matter which one.

If you do well on the SAT, it shows that you have good abstract reasoning skills and have a strong grasp of the fundamental concepts on the test.  If you do well on the ACT it shows that you also have a good grasp of the fundamentals and that you really learned what you were meant to in high school.  Both results are great signs for a college.  Furthermore, because so many students are applying to colleges from so many different locations, admissions officers are used to seeing both.

Should I do both?

There is some debate as to whether you should submit both scores.  We advise that you only do so if you’ve done extremely well on both.  Otherwise, a lower score on one could be considered a weakness in your application.  If you’ve scored well on one, then don’t worry about taking the other until you’ve finished everything else in the college application process.  Having one good score and great essays, or a great extracurricular experience, is far more impressive than having two great scores and a weakness somewhere else.

By Jay | Sunday, April 18th, 2010 | No Comments »

How to pick the right college

Now that high school seniors are beginning to sort through their acceptance letters, to attend admitted students weekends, and to make their commitments, the question of how to pick the right college is paramount.  When weighing the decision that will directly affect the next four years and indirectly affect the rest of your life, it’s not enough to simply rely on the rankings from US News and World Report.  Therefore, when choosing between the near-2,000 4-year colleges in America, a student ought to involve equal parts investigation and introspection.

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By Andrew | Friday, April 16th, 2010 | No Comments »

Veritas Admissions Seminars

For anyone that was unable to attend our recent Admissions Seminars on “How to write the Personal Admissions Essay” and “How to get into (your) Harvard,” we have the materials and lecture audio available here.  Check it out, tell your friends, and let us know what you think.

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By Andrew | Thursday, April 15th, 2010 | 3 Comments »

The Gap Year Advantage

During my years as a tutor and mentor, I have advised nearly all of my students to take a gap year in order to cultivate social, occupational, and academic growth. The motive has differed from student to student, but the outcome has remained consistent: almost all have ignored my advice.

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By Andrew | Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 | No Comments »
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