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This girl applied to 35 colleges


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I'm happy with my guys who applied to between 3 and 6 places. If they can't whittle their list down to something more reasonable than 35 based upon preferences before applications, there's something wrong IMO. (BUT I can't watch the video at home to see what the "special" story is.)

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I think it's neat that she was accepted into so many top tier schools. These aren't no name colleges but respectable schools that would be considered reaches for many students.

 

I am sure she had no idea that she would receive that many acceptance letters.

 

I think it's intersting because she is a first generation college student coming from a low income area. This is my alma mater and I can say that this is quite an accomplishment for this particular area and society. Although I do agree that 35 applications was a bit over the top.

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Interesting post -- thanks!

 

Just a side note about waivers ... My son's good friend, whose widowed mother lives in Mexico, had fee waivers for college applications (as well as the SAT, AP exams, college housing deposits, etc.) .... I don't begrudge him those waivers at all -- he worked very hard in high school, and the waivers allowed him to apply to, and enroll at, a UC -- but it did allow him to apply to a lot more colleges than my son did (and to be fair, as a first-generation college student, he was not at all sure where he would or should attend college), and it also allowed him to stretch out the decision-making process! (because there wasn't the financial penalty of losing deposits) ... There is definitely something to be said about having to limit one's choices and being forced to make a decision by the deadline :)

 

And yes, $75 or thereabouts is standard for applying to each UC and Cal State, as well as the private schools ...

 

 

ETA: she says she comes from a low-income household, so waivers were likely. BTW *one* kid from our local high school was accepted at Stanford, also a first-generation college student, and he received a full ride (need-based, of course). Colleges really want those first-generation students.

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This quote is from her interview on the evening news:

 

"I come from a low-income household," she said. "I've had people tell me I wasn't going to succeed but if you have it made up in your heart and mind that you're gonna do it, just do every thing you can and it will happen."

 

 

Getting into college, yes. Succeeding in life, yes (esp if they got this far!). Getting into a < 10% acceptance school - not necessarily. She did (obviously), but not all do. I hate to see anyone base their definition of success on that. Success is so much more.

 

And I still wouldn't emulate 35 applications. I wish the Common App would cap apps at 8 or 10.

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I wish the Common App would cap apps at 8 or 10.

 

Yes!

 

But couldn't people have foreseen this? Applying to 35 colleges seems a natural result of making applying to another college via the Common App just another few buttons to push. (All right, there is a huge $$ factor, but there will always be those for whom the money is not an issue -- for whatever reason.) But when applying to one more college is rso easy, the reasons to only apply to a reasonable number shrink.....

 

Given that admit rates are falling, I suspect we will see more of this rather than less unless the Common App limits the # of applications that can be sent.

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Yes!

 

But couldn't people have foreseen this? Applying to 35 colleges seems a natural result of making applying to another college via the Common App just another few buttons to push. (All right, there is a huge $$ factor, but there will always be those for whom the money is not an issue -- for whatever reason.) But when applying to one more college is rso easy, the reasons to only apply to a reasonable number shrink.....

 

Given that admit rates are falling, I suspect we will see more of this rather than less unless the Common App limits the # of applications that can be sent.

 

 

I agree. Frankly, I think the common ap should go the way of the do-do bird.

 

Faith

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The fee for applying to Harvard is $75. I don't know how that compares to other schools in terms of fees, but there is no way most people could afford something like that times 35. Seems she probably got wavers.

 

But yeah that is quite an accomplishment!

That's not the only cost, there's also having your test scores sent. And postage!!!

 

But seriously, I can't imagine asking anyone for that many letters of recommendation!

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Why are colleges so interested in first generation students?

 

 

Because most students who don't have at least one parent with a degree don't make it to college, much less to the level that would enable them to aim for top colleges.

 

Colleges are trying to increase their ethnic and class diversity, and first-generation students are disproportionately minority and disproportionately poor.

 

When a kid from an affluent family (or a poor family with a lot of social capital, especially education) does well in school, it's sort of what's expected. When a kid who has to navigate applications themselves, course selection themselves, doesn't get tutoring because parents are low-income, etc. does well in school, it's unexpected because most don't.

 

(There are other opportunities open to students whose parents did go to college, for example, legacy admits)

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But seriously, I can't imagine asking anyone for that many letters of recommendation!

 

 

But with the CommonApp, you ask a teacher or two to write one non-college specific letter of recommendation, and it gets sent to all 35 colleges. In fact, unless the student tells the LOR writer, he/she wouldn't know which colleges received the letter anyway.

 

I agree with the others that said the CommonApp should have a 10 college limit. Ten seems high, but it you are a student who needs merit and/or financial aid to afford a school, you might want to put in 2 - 3 reach school apps, 3 - 4 match school apps, and 2 - 3 safety school apps so you can compare offers in April.

 

Maybe if the number of applications was limited, it would cause the acceptance rates to some of the most selective schools to increase. Although I don't really see the incentive from really any angle to want to decrease the number of applications. More selective schools probably want more apps for bragging rights, so they can have a low acceptance rate, and so they receive more application fees. Less selective schools probably want more apps because it might broaden their pool of applicants.

 

Brenda

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But with the CommonApp, you ask a teacher or two to write one non-college specific letter of recommendation, and it gets sent to all 35 colleges. In fact, unless the student tells the LOR writer, he/she wouldn't know which colleges received the letter anyway.

 

Oh, I didn't realize it worked like this. Back in my day, we had to get separate letters. One of my teachers made us write HIM a letter about ourselves, even though he knew us perfectly well.

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35?! I'm also the first in my extended family to go to college. Also from a poor family so I got fee waivers too. But at my high school we were advised to apply to 3-6 schools which included the state U (it had no app fee at the time) and one "reach" school. I think applying to 35 schools is excessive.

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Wow.

 

In the UK, you can only choose 5 for the UK version of the common app (the UCAS). When your "offers" come in, they are either unconditional (you're in, nothing more is asked of you); conditional (you're in, as long as your last exams or whatever are up to snuff); or rejected outright. And you don't get to pick another five if they are all "rejected" - you can only go into something they call "clearing", which is the big pool of unwanted toys floating around hoping to pick up a slot that someone decides they don't want, (at a uni the student hadn't previously applied to). And clearing doesn't start until after everyone has clicked their "choice" and "insurance" buttons at the UCAS website. (yep - only two out of five)

 

Oh! Even better! The student has to pick their "choice" and their "insurance" prior to receiving their exam results! So if they have a conditional based on exam results due to not having taken a particular course until their last year, they may be choosing a uni they can't even end up going to - Doh!

 

It's a no-win everywhere. ;)

 

 

a

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Wow.

 

In the UK, you can only choose 5 for the UK version of the common app (the UCAS). When your "offers" come in, they are either unconditional (you're in, nothing more is asked of you); conditional (you're in, as long as your last exams or whatever are up to snuff); or rejected outright. And you don't get to pick another five if they are all "rejected" - you can only go into something they call "clearing", which is the big pool of unwanted toys floating around hoping to pick up a slot that someone decides they don't want, (at a uni the student hadn't previously applied to). And clearing doesn't start until after everyone has clicked their "choice" and "insurance" buttons at the UCAS website. (yep - only two out of five)

 

Oh! Even better! The student has to pick their "choice" and their "insurance" prior to receiving their exam results! So if they have a conditional based on exam results due to not having taken a particular course until their last year, they may be choosing a uni they can't even end up going to - Doh!

 

It's a no-win everywhere. ;)

 

 

a

 

 

I agree, it's not a great system. It comes out of three constraints:

 

- The UK exam system examines all work done over the year, so exams are not taken until the end of the year. As there are no transcripts, the universities will not give guaranteed places until they see the exam results in the summer.

 

- Almost all universities are government-funded and are fined if they accidentally accept too many students (as it exceeds the government's budget for that university). That means that the universities can't accept extra students until they know how many conditional offers have been fulfilled by exam results. Hence the Clearing system.

 

In fact, an intermediate stage, called 'Extra' has now been introduced: if you not given offers by any of your universities, you can apply to more before Clearing.

 

- Overseas students need time to apply for visas, so the whole application process can't wait until the exam results are published in the summer, because the foreign students would miss the beginning of term. There was actually a task force working on whether this was possible a year or two ago, and they decided it wasn't.

 

So there you are: introduce transcripts (not going to happen); move exams earlier in the year (possible but unlikely); take off the cap on university applicants (hah!); make it easier to apply for visas (least likely of them all).

 

Laura

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So with the British system of no transcripts, you can do poorly on all assignments and classroom tests for all of high school and then, if you do well on your exams, you can still go to someplace like Oxford? For the students who don't test well, that seems like it would be a nightmare, but on the other hand, if you are uninterested in school at 14 and 15 and then become motivated later in high school (a common situation here leading to some bad family relationships), you would be ok. What IS looked at and how, if there aren't transcripts?

 

Nan

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Excessive or not, good for her! And while getting into a top college may not be everyone's definition of success, it seems like it is to her. And why not, unless you know what it is like to be poor and underprivledged, you don't realize that even graduating from HS is making a success of yourself.

 

 

Edited for typos. I blame my ipad, lol.

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So with the British system of no transcripts, you can do poorly on all assignments and classroom tests for all of high school and then, if you do well on your exams, you can still go to someplace like Oxford? For the students who don't test well, that seems like it would be a nightmare, but on the other hand, if you are uninterested in school at 14 and 15 and then become motivated later in high school (a common situation here leading to some bad family relationships), you would be ok. What IS looked at and how, if there aren't transcripts?

 

 

It (the way secondary education is conducted in Britain) is good preparation for the British system at the universities, which is very similar (i.e., test- or evaluation-based, not homework-based). (You can goof off all term if you like.) I'm no expert, although I have lived and studied overseas, so I'll let Laura Corin et al. respond, but I'll just mention that there is a fascinating book called Uni in the USA for British students hoping to study in the USA, full of practical advice that gives a window on the different culture and mindset. One bit of advice they give is that, in U.S. unis, every lab and every homework assignment often count toward one's grade (even if it's just 10% for all of them together) -- so they're telling British students that you have to pay attention to every little thing, which they are not used to. It must seem like an inordinate amount of hand-holding to them ... but it's what we're used to here! :)

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So with the British system of no transcripts, you can do poorly on all assignments and classroom tests for all of high school and then, if you do well on your exams, you can still go to someplace like Oxford?

 

 

Not quite. In addition to exams, the universities will look at the recommendation sent by your school, so you can't slack off if you want a good recommendation.

 

ETA: and the 'high school' years are set up differently, so there is more than one set of exams that the university will see. A college-bound pupil in England will take exams in eight or more subjects at age 16 (rough equivalent of SAT subject tests), in five or so subjects at age 17 and in three or four subjects at age 18 (very rough equivalent of AP exams).

 

For Oxford and Cambridge, in addition to the recommendation and the exams, you have to pass an interview. It's very competitive.

 

Laura

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Hasn't St. Andrews added in some extras as well due to increased demand?

 

 

a

 

 

I don't know about St Andrews - it's not on my radar because Calvin wants to go further away to university. Some universities add in requirements for submitting essays, taking aptitude tests, etc. There are just too many A and A* students and the universities that don't interview are having a hard time discriminating.

 

This is partly because the schools have got much better at getting people through exams: I got two 'A' grades and an 'E' at A level back in the dark ages. I'm pretty sure that the same school now would spot the danger signs and pre-empt the 'E'.

 

Laura

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I agree with the others that said the CommonApp should have a 10 college limit. Ten seems high, but it you are a student who needs merit and/or financial aid to afford a school, you might want to put in 2 - 3 reach school apps, 3 - 4 match school apps, and 2 - 3 safety school apps so you can compare offers in April.

 

 

 

 

So glad Common App is not capped at 10 apps for the above reason. Ds applied to applied to 11 schools. We don't qualify for financial aid, so we desperately needed merit. Therefore, we had to cast a wide net. Ds was rejected by 2, no merit from 4, merit from 5. If his top choice hadn't offered merit, he would have had a tough decision to make.

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Interesting about the British system. See, for kids like mine, who are bright but disorganized, a system that heavily emphasized test scores over softer stuff, like essays and homework grades, would be great. And it has always seemed patently unfair to me that college application essays are so heavily weighted by US schools. Being only an OK writer can mean your 4 years of hard work (GPA) and good test scores count for less.

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And it has always seemed patently unfair to me that college application essays are so heavily weighted by US schools. Being only an OK writer can mean your 4 years of hard work (GPA) and good test scores count for less.

 

 

However UK exams are almost all essay-based, so there's no avoiding that.

 

Laura

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That kind of writing is not so much the problem. Their difficulty is with creative writing, and will self-promotion. They just don't seem to get that.

 

The self-promotion part goes against everything we've tried to teach them. It also is something we tried to keep them from doing in their writing. Then all of a sudden, they have to write one very very important essay that is all self-promotion. Is it any wonder that they balk? Or that even the good essays sound strange? This was a major problem for us. Fortunately, the older two didn't have to write an essay and the youngest, once he'd defined the problem, managed to come up with a solution to the problem. Thank goodness he didn't rely on the "how to write your college application essay" library book I had gotten for him. I didn't look at it until my son was sitting down writing and I asked him if the book had been helpful and he had said it was horrible. I think if you wanted to submit a typical essay, it was actually rather a good book, but I had no idea how horrible a typical essay was going to sound lol. To make the whole thing worse, I had a typical-engineering-type son with solid technical writing skills trying to write an essay about himself that was going to be judged by a person who was almost certainly a humanites major. We thought that if a STEM person read it, they would probably like it, but thought it highly likely that a non-STEM person would miss the point. Ug. It was rather scary to submit an essay that was so different, but it didn't stop him from being accepted, so I guess it was ok. What a process!

 

Nan

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The self-promotion part goes against everything we've tried to teach them. It also is something we tried to keep them from doing in their writing. Then all of a sudden, they have to write one very very important essay that is all self-promotion. Is it any wonder that they balk? Or that even the good essays sound strange?

 

Oh, that kind of essay. Yes, British students have to write a 'personal statement' for the UCAS form (UK common application).

 

Laura

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Oh, that kind of essay. Yes, British students have to write a 'personal statement' for the UCAS form (UK common application).

 

Laura

 

Yes - and there was some serious stomping about the house regarding the "self-promotion" thing. The mere fact he had to begin sentences with the word "I" about killed him.

 

Luckily for him, I have based his entire schooling on essays and Socratic discussion, so the concept of writing in general is not strange to him. The SATs, however, have been one, large "WHO on the planet came UP with these ridiculous EXAMS!" They have NOTHING to do with actual STUDIES!"

 

We have good friends (British mum, German father) whose son is over at St. Andrews. He did extremely well on his IB (he was at an Int'l School in Germany), and had excellent exams as well. He decided to take the American SATs simply because they were offered (there are American students at his school). He bombed. Bombed, bombed, bombed.

 

Kid didn't bomb his SAT or his ACT, but I'm guessing that is in large part because he had an American tests tutor. The European/UK style of schooling and overall culture is not 'set up' for such tests.

 

I will be seriously relieved when all of the subject tests are done.

 

 

a

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I almost wonder if she felt like she should apply everywhere that recruited her? I know that if I'd applied everywhere that sent me a recruiting letter, especially after the Jr year test scores came back (this was back in the days when taking AP exams as a junior was fairly unusual), I probably would have been applying to 35+ schools.

 

Of course, that was also back in the day when you had to do a separate application, with separate essays, for each school, and no two were alike, so every additional application was a pain in the tail. I applied to 5 schools my senior year, and that seemed like a lot.

 

Where I really got brave was for grad school-I applied to exactly one school. Not sure what my path would have been if I hadn't been accepted!

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We have good friends (British mum, German father) whose son is over at St. Andrews. He did extremely well on his IB (he was at an Int'l School in Germany), and had excellent exams as well. He decided to take the American SATs simply because they were offered (there are American students at his school). He bombed. Bombed, bombed, bombed.

 

Kid didn't bomb his SAT or his ACT, but I'm guessing that is in large part because he had an American tests tutor. The European/UK style of schooling and overall culture is not 'set up' for such tests.

 

I will be seriously relieved when all of the subject tests are done.

 

 

a

 

 

I haven't looked at the SAT in any detail. In what way is it different from UK exams? I know that the maths covered is similar to the GCSE (the author of LOF had a look at the (i)GCSE for me). Is it the English that is so different?

 

FWIW, I would never suggest taking an exam without at least working through a relevant test-prep book.

 

Laura

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I haven't looked at the SAT in any detail. In what way is it different from UK exams? I know that the maths covered is similar to the GCSE (the author of LOF had a look at the (i)GCSE for me). Is it the English that is so different?

 

FWIW, I would never suggest taking an exam without at least working through a relevant test-prep book.

 

Laura

 

Kid found the English and Lit to be incredibly easy, but he had a very WTMish education in terms of classical grammar studies, classics, et al - so he didn't have to do the whole "I must sit and memorize word lists so that I can do well on the vocabulary section, figure out if a sentence is grammatically correct and be able to write a coherent essay on with whatever prompt they give me" (they want examples from 'acknowledged literature'). The only thing that gave him any difficulty at all was the time constraint on the essay. He is accustomed to forming a more well rounded argument than they actually want (they don't even care if the facts are wrong or inappropriate to the argument), and I wasn't able to break him of that prior to the exam...

 

Obviously, a sign of maturity is to make one's argument in as few words as possible, but he was disappointed to read essay examples after the fact that were pure cr@p, yet scored higher. As one never knows what a prompt will be until the book is open, one kinda has to punt. Still, he was pleased with his 2 Language scores (770/780 out of 800). Math - that is another story.

 

He had worked through test prep books prior to the exam, but he hadn't truly "learned the test". And 'learning the test' for the SAT math portion is really important, as each question allows for 1-2 minutes. On the SAT math subject exam (the one he has left to take), each question allows for 1 minute 20 seconds. The questions are laid out easiest to hardest, and students are (in theory) not penalized for unanswered questions. However, there are 50 questions, and one hour in which to do them.

 

The test assumes calculator usage, which I understand in this modern age, but personally feel is cr@p. It is deliberately written to be completed "on time" only with the use of a calculator. This is not a problem for most children, but I believe it is discriminatory to lower income kids (the best calculators that do the higher graphing functions cost 50-60 quid), and to those who have not had instruction in how to use the calculators to their full potential. Let's face it: most public school math teachers do not have time to do that.

 

For a top score of 800 on the Math 1 subject exam, a student must answer all questions, and answer them correctly. On the Math 2 exam (which includes Calculus), the metric is slightly different: a student must answer at least 43 questions correctly (and not answer the other questions at all - e.g. cannot answer them wrongly - must leave them blank) to get a top score of 800). Is this possible? Of course it is. Is it attainable for smart kids who aren't whiz bang? No, not really. I'm sure Kid will do just fine, but I personally feel that many kids get the shaft.

 

Like I said - it is a matter of "learning the test". I hate College Board Testing Service. To the core of my being. I will be SO happy when this is over...

 

 

a

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On the SAT **1** math section (not the SAT2 - can't remember how that one works), make sure you tell your student to look at the answers BEFORE solving the problem. Many of the problems are designed such that if you understand the math, you can elimate all but one answer. That is how you steal the time to solve the ones that actually need to be solved. This also provides you with a way to guess. If you can elimate one or two answers, it tilts the statistics and makes it advantageous to guess amongst the rest rather than making it disadvantageous. And obviously, skip any difficult problems and come back to them. Just make sure you double check the answer number on that bubble sheet.

 

On the SAT1 Reading section, read the questions FIRST, then scan the passage keeping in mind those questions. I agree that a child who has been through TWTM is probably going to have no problem on the SAT1 reading section. He will be able to answer the grammar questions just by thinking about what "sounds" right and the vocabulary will be no problem. On the vocabulary section, tell your child to pick the BEST answer, not just one that could be considered right.

 

It is totally unfair that some students aren't told these things going into the test. They sit down and dutifully start solving problems. They solve each problem and then look to match up their answer with the answer choices, in order. When they hit one they can't solve, they use up all their time trying to figure it out and never get a chance even to try the rest of the easy ones. They sit down to do the reading section and carefully read each passage and answer the questions and run out of time. It is a ridiculous test but at one time, it did what it was intended to do (assess one's ability to handle college classes) because the students who were prepared for college had either figured these things out or were taught them in their good schools and had families who used more sophisticated grammar and vocabulary. That was before competition became fierce and one needed to get 800s. It disadvantaged the poorer students unless they were very bright indeed and colleges were not that unhappy about it.

 

Nan

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On the SAT **1** math section (not the SAT2 - can't remember how that one works), make sure you tell your student to look at the answers BEFORE solving the problem.

 

 

This may be what tripped up the student whom Asta was describing. Maths exams are not multi-choice at that level in UK or IB exams, to my knowledge.

 

Laura

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I would hope that tests in which you are supposed NOT to solve the problems would be unusual. Sigh.

 

(My youngest did not do well on the math section because, as he put it, he usually derives most of formulas he needs and there wasn't time to do that on the SAT. He did well enough to get into the sort of college he wants. He knew he should have memorized those formulas beforehand but decided it was more important to study for his physics test.)

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The test assumes calculator usage, which I understand in this modern age, but personally feel is cr@p. It is deliberately written to be completed "on time" only with the use of a calculator. This is not a problem for most children, but I believe it is discriminatory to lower income kids (the best calculators that do the higher graphing functions cost 50-60 quid), and to those who have not had instruction in how to use the calculators to their full potential. Let's face it: most public school math teachers do not have time to do that.

 

 

 

I disagree. Kids who know the math inside and out and have good math instincts (who for example, know right away that if they see a 30-60-90 right triangle, the shortest leg is half of the longer leg) can EASILY do the math section in time without a calculator. My kids always have time to go back and check and double check. They get them done quickly and rarely miss a problem. It just takes practice. And an 800 is meant to set the kids who are really good at math apart from the kids who can sludge through it and get the right answers, isn't it? Also, public schools provide calculators and spend plenty of time teaching kids to use them. The problem is, the kids don't understand the math well enough to breeze through the questions.

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My youngest did not do well on the math section because, as he put it, he usually derives most of formulas he needs and there wasn't time to do that on the SAT. He did well enough to get into the sort of college he wants. He knew he should have memorized those formulas beforehand but decided it was more important to study for his physics test.

 

I've noticed that the kids who do *really* well on the standardized math tests aren't usually the ones with the best math skills and intuition. (There are exceptions, of course, but I'm talking generalities.) The kids who do well were usually those who memorized a bunch of random factoids (like the 30-60-90 triangle rule mentioned in another post), but they may not have the skills to solve new problems. They may not know *why* that rule works, which is a more important thing to understand.

 

I suspect a lot of admissions people intuitively know this, but they're still unnecessarily wowed by high scores.

 

And the writing portion of the ACT -- um, yeah. Seems there isn't a lot of correlation between those kids who can write (based on college professor's evaluations once they get to college) and the writing score on that test. I suspect the writing score is in no way based on logical arguments, but just a) getting the mechanics right and B) filling up the pages. But the most basic thing about writing well is putting together an argument. Who cares about spelling? You can always pick that up in the 2nd draft.

 

Worse, it kind of looks like high school teachers know this and are teaching to that test. Because the writing ability of college students taking the ACT writing test has been nosediving in recent years. Students don't even seem to understand that a logical argument is the first and foremost thing to pay attention to. And suddenly it's expected that college professors should be teaching this, when it should have been taught in high school or before. College professors don't have time for this -- they've got content they're supposed to be teaching.

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I've noticed that the kids who do *really* well on the standardized math tests aren't usually the ones with the best math skills and intuition. (There are exceptions, of course, but I'm talking generalities.) The kids who do well were usually those who memorized a bunch of random factoids (like the 30-60-90 triangle rule mentioned in another post), but they may not have the skills to solve new problems. They may not know *why* that rule works, which is a more important thing to understand.

 

I agree with this. While certainly a math-talented kid will hopefully score higher than a less-math-able kid, deep mathiness is not necessarily easy to show on the SAT. Math talent may have nothing to do with speed, and it is not unheard of for a very math talented student to have a relative weakness performing on bubble-filled timed tests. Personally, I wish the time allowed were more generous and that deeper problem-solving skills could be demonstrated. (It's great that a few tippy-top schools consider a good AMC score when available, but I wonder how many schools do so in the next lower tier?)

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Well, I feel somewhat at fault over that SAT math score because I definately feel that if I had been a better math teacher, he would have done enough problems that those simple formulas that my son usually derives would not have had to have been derived. It doesn't matter, since his math score put him right where we want him, college-wise. We were quite sure that would happen and didn't insist he go over the formulas before he took the SAT. LOL I had already used up all my insisting allowance convincing him to retake the SAT1. His scores were sufficient the first time round, when he had a roaring cold and was having trouble focusing his eyes enough to read. I was just really really insecure about the whole college application as one of the more unusual homeschoolers process.

 

I think I would feel differently about the math SAT1 if there hadn't been people in my own math class who got 800s. Their ability to do math was an order of magnitude greater than my own. We both got A's in class without putting in tons of work but exams like the SATs were a piece of cake for them. I did fine on them, but I fell quite a bit short of an 800 GRIN. My neices and nephews are the kind of student Muttichen is talking about. They've played so many math games since they were little (mathematician parent and grandparent) that things like that common triangle are things they've known forever. It isn't something they ever remember memorizing. I am also sure there are students who have practiced SAT math enough that they can get 800s on the SATs without being good at the proof and problem-solving and visualization part of math, the real part. Colleges have to rely on other things to be able to tell the difference, like the reputaion of the school and the transcript and things like math team.

 

I hear you on the calculator issue, Asta, since being good at a graphing calculator is another math teaching thing I flubbed, but I'm not sure about a graphing calculator being necessary on the SAT part. Yes, there are kids who are so good at them that maybe they can use them fast enough for them maybe to be helpful on the SAT1, but there is a general idea floating around in my town that they are more trouble than they are worth unless you are very good at them and an ordinary scientific calculator is sufficient, and you have to use one of those a lost less than you would think. This is probably another place students lose time - they spend time punching stuff into the calculator that doesn't need to be punched in. The math whiz kids ARE very good at them here, where they are required after 9th grade, because they play with them all the time in a let's see what happens if we do this way. This is another thing I flubbed as a math teacher and which makes me really really insecure about my youngest surviving his college classes once he is there - most techies are calculator whizzes and mine isn't. It didn't matter for oldest and middle because their applied (as opposed to theoretical) STEM programs happened to have professors who discouraged graphing calculator use for exactly the reason mentioned - it disguises lack of understanding of the principles. But youngest's program is more theoretical and I am wondering how much of a problem it is going to be that he isn't really good at his calculator or those math computer programs out there. Good high school math was definately one of the disadvantages (in our case) of homeschooling/community college. Sorry. This got long due to my panickiness - both past and present, not over the silly SATs but over engineering school.

 

I think the SAT1 is one of those things that is not a good indicator of math ability in the middle range if one hasn't gone to US schools. Having watched my homeschoolers do some astonishingly stupid-seeming things when they first met a multiple choice test (not the SAT), I think there might be a cultural piece to this. It will still be easy for those at the very top. It will still be very hard for those at the very bottom. But if you use it to try to compare the middle students to each other, I think the ones who didn't receive on of the better US educations are going to be at a disadvantage. Maybe?

 

There also is the undeniable fact that some of the most brilliant people are lopsided in their abilities (or at least where they pay attention and where they don't, or in their priorities) and do some things that seem less than brilliant to the rest of us. GRIN

 

Nan

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(It's great that a few tippy-top schools consider a good AMC score when available, but I wonder how many schools do so in the next lower tier?)

 

Some of the next lower tier invite students to submit something which they feel better reflects their abilities in lieu of SAT scores. (Athough they tend to insist on SAT scores as well as the supplimental material for homeschoolers.) I would guess that perhaps the number of applications has something to do with this?

 

I sound like I am an expert at this. I am not. I just happen to live in an area where there happen to be tippy-top schools, their happen to be a fair number of people who get 800s on their SATs, and some of the colleges I happen to be familiar with happen to have ways to apply that don't involve SATs. The high number of happen's is probably deceptive.

 

Nan

 

PS - I forgot to say that the writing portion of the SAT is totally ridiculous, but not so ridiculous that it relies heavily on spelling, thank goodness lol.

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(who for example, know right away that if they see a 30-60-90 right triangle, the shortest leg is half of the longer leg)

 

Sorry... I guess you'll all figure out I'm a math geek when I just have to point out the shortest leg is half the hypotenuse, not half the longer leg...

 

IME, both types of kids can do well - those who instinctively know what they are looking at and those who work to get the answers. Those who tend not to do well are those who have memorized the facts/formulas and don't know which ones to use for the problems because they don't know how anything is applied without doing things in sections.

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Sorry... I guess you'll all figure out I'm a math geek when I just have to point out the shortest leg is half the hypotenuse, not half the longer leg...

 

 

 

You got me. That's why I could never get 800 on the thing. :huh: I've worked with lots of bright math kids though, and this isn't just a random fact they've memorized. They know it because they really (unlike me) understand geometry and trig. And sure, they've memorized their formulas, their square roots, their powers of two, etc. They love math and they really understand it. And they usually ace the SAT!

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The test assumes calculator usage, which I understand in this modern age, but personally feel is cr@p. It is deliberately written to be completed "on time" only with the use of a calculator. This is not a problem for most children, but I believe it is discriminatory to lower income kids (the best calculators that do the higher graphing functions cost 50-60 quid), and to those who have not had instruction in how to use the calculators to their full potential. Let's face it: most public school math teachers do not have time to do that.

 

 

DD is currently preparing for the SAT Math 2 test, and we have not found any question that can only be solved with the help of a graphing calculator. All problems are solvable without, and that is often quicker than messing with the graphing calculator.

She will be using a simple $8 scientific calculator for speed on simple calculations.

 

What I find much more irritating is that some of the trig questions become absolute no-brainers if a calculator is permitted, because the student can simply punch in the numbers instead of thinking. Problems like, if sin theta is such-and-such-number, what is cot theta? What on earth is that supposed to test if the student can simply find the angle by inverse function?

 

For a top score of 800 on the Math 1 subject exam, a student must answer all questions, and answer them correctly. On the Math 2 exam (which includes Calculus),

 

 

The bolded is not correct. The SAT Math 2 exam does not include calculus, only precalculus and algebra.

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DD is currently preparing for the SAT Math 2 test, and we have not found any question that can only be solved with the help of a graphing calculator. All problems are solvable without, and that is often quicker than messing with the graphing calculator.

She will be using a simple $8 scientific calculator for speed on simple calculations.

 

What I find much more irritating is that some of the trig questions become absolute no-brainers if a calculator is permitted, because the student can simply punch in the numbers instead of thinking. Problems like, if sin theta is such-and-such-number, what is cot theta? What on earth is that supposed to test if the student can simply find the angle by inverse function?

 

 

 

The bolded is not correct. The SAT Math 2 exam does not include calculus, only precalculus and algebra.

 

 

Well on the trig question would it force the student to demonstrate knowledge of the relationship between the trig functions?

 

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I hear you on the calculator issue, Asta, since being good at a graphing calculator is another math teaching thing I flubbed, but I'm not sure about a graphing calculator being necessary on the SAT part. Yes, there are kids who are so good at them that maybe they can use them fast enough for them maybe to be helpful on the SAT1, but there is a general idea floating around in my town that they are more trouble than they are worth unless you are very good at them and an ordinary scientific calculator is sufficient, and you have to use one of those a lost less than you would think.

 

 

I hadn't heard of people using the graphing calculator on the various SAT tests. Is it even allowed? Because some of those calculators store a lot of info.

 

The further students get in college, the less they need a calculator. My daughter really only needed the graphing calculator for the Calc AP test. For all her physics, math,and engineering classes after that, a plain old scientific calculator has been fine. Sometimes even overkill.

 

As she's gotten into the higher classes, she often doesn't even bother to take a calculator to exams (not sure about engineering in this regard as she's only done the first year or so of engineering classes).

 

Back when I was taking all my physics classes, it was an odd period where some of us had the graphing calculator and some didn't -- I didn't. I mostly did fine. The ONLY exception was a professor who wanted us to calculate the roots of some complicated equation by hand. Well, of course, no one who had the fancy calculator was going to do that, so they all did it using the calculator and got full points on the test question. I had to do it by hand, made one small error, and lost full points. That professor, by the way, left teaching. Apparently it wasn't something he was very good at.

 

 

 

I've found the graphing calculator to be great for teaching, because it helps students see what's going on (and how to graph curves isn't always the first thing taught in calculus), but I don't know that it gets used all that much later on.

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I disagree. Kids who know the math inside and out and have good math instincts (who for example, know right away that if they see a 30-60-90 right triangle, the shortest leg is half of the longer leg) can EASILY do the math section in time without a calculator.

 

 

btw, I don't know this. ( Or whatever rule it is. And I'm not looking it up, because I don't care.)

 

Hasn't stopped me from doing just fine in physics. (Well, way more than fine back in the day when I was still taking classes.)

 

To me, that's a random fact that generally is of no use UNLESS one is taking a standardized test. Otherwise, you can just figure it out when you need it. Just so long as you aren't being timed.

 

These rules are one of the reasons why I think the standardized tests are pretty useless. There are a bunch of rules like this that are the backbone of the SAT and ACT. But to do well in math years AFTER these tests, depending on these rules is going to fail you. Because you will forget them.

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