HBCU Spotlight – Spelman College

Spelman-CrestHistorically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have served a vital and transformative role in the history of America. Many of this country’s most prominent civil rights activists, politicians, actors, scientists, scholars, and public figures attended or taught at HBCUs, and for students of all backgrounds who want to connect with and be inspired by this history, HBCUs can provide an excellent education and a sense of pride in the extraordinary accomplishments of the many students who have gone before them.

There is, however, another potential benefit of attending an HBCU. Many of the top HBCUs offer generous merit-based scholarships to students who have met certain GPA and test score requirements. In this series, we have profiled some of the top HBCUs in the country to show you the kinds of opportunities that exist at these historic institutions.

Continue reading “HBCU Spotlight – Spelman College” »

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SAT Sentence Completion Example Problem

                                                                              Meeting

      To keep their negotiations —–, the leaders of rival groups in the country arranged meetings that were —-.

a.       relaxed… complex

b.      covert… prestigious

c.       secret… clandestine

d.      productive… unscheduled

e.      diplomatic… illicit

Explanation: The framework of this sentence is such that the word in the second blank must be similar in meaning to the word in the first blank. Of the available answer choices only (c) has two answer choices with similar meanings.

You can never have enough vocabulary; you should add these words and their definitions to your flashcards.

Relaxed: To make lax or loose; to make less severe or strict; to reduce in intensity; slacken; to relieve from tension or strain.

Complex: Involved or intricate, as in structure; complicated.

Covert: Not openly practiced, avowed, engaged in, accumulated, or shown. Covered or covered over; sheltered.

Prestigious: Having prestige; esteemed.

Secret: kept hidden from knowledge or view; concealed. Dependably discreet. Operating in a hidden or confidential manner. Not expressed; inward. Not frequented; secluded. Known or shard only by the initiated. Beyond ordinary understanding; mysterious. Containing information, the unauthorized disclosure of which poses a grave threat to national security.

Clandestine: Held in secrecy; inconspicuous.

Productive: Performing the act of, or having the ability to, accomplish a task or activity in abundance or efficiency.

Unscheduled: Not planned; Spontaneous.

Diplomatic: Relating to the use of peaceful means of negotiation to accomplish political goals, especially in order to avoid conflict.

Illicit: Illegal.

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Extra Hard SAT Math Question – Mean Means

The human race will tremble before my unstoppable math problem!

At the end of every SAT Math section, the test makers try to come up with an extremely difficult problem that will leave even the cleverest students scratching their heads. The really evil part, though, is that even these problems can be solved in under a minute without a calculator – if you know what to do. This means that once you “figure out the trick,” these difficult problems become easy. So, while those test makers are busy cackling with sadistic glee, let’s see if we can’t beat them at their own game.

Consider the following problem:

If the average (arithmetic mean) of four different positive integers is 5, then the least possible product of the four integers is:

A) 20

B) 84

C) 104

D) 480

E) 504

This one might seem like a hard nut to crack. After all, there are many possible sets of four distinct positive integers that have an average of 5. We could not possibly test them all one by one given the time constraints of the SAT. So how are we going to figure out which four integers are the ones that yield the smallest possible product?

Well, if we want the smallest product, then we want as many of the integers to be as small as possible. If the smallest of the three integers were equal to 1, then that would be great, since multiplying by one simply produces the same number and would thus not increase the product of the three numbers. Since the four integers must be distinct, we can make the second integer 2 so that it is also as small as possible, and by the same logic the third integer would be 3. All that remains is to determine the fourth integer, which we can find using algebra:

The fourth integer is 14, and the product is:

Logically, the answer must be 84, or choice B. If you are still feeling unsure, you could try a few other sets of four integers to see if their products are less than 84. What happens, for instance, when we increase the 3 to 4 and decrease the 14 to 13?

No, Magneto! We have to educate humanity, not destroy it!

No, Magneto! We have to educate humanity, not destroy it!

Already, the product begins to increase. Try any other set and you will see that its product is greater than 84. It doesn’t matter that we decreased 14 to 13, because what controls the outcome in this problem is how small we can make the smallest numbers in the set. Thus, our original reasoning was correct.

If you know what to do, it takes only about 30 seconds to solve this problem. So you see, with practice, even the hardest problems on the SAT become easy. Check back here each week for more extra hard problems and the tricks you need to solve them! Also, remember that you can find out all the tricks from experts like me with a Test Masters course or private tutoring. Until  then, keep up the good work and happy studying!

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Simple Errors You Could Be Making While Memorizing Vocab

OOPS!

Oftentimes, people will attempt to memorize a word before learning its definition. This effort usually involves an attempt to consciously automate the definition, or to not even initially bother with the definition at all. Take the word sequacious, for example. Many students might simply stare at this word, reading it over and over again, in an effort to cement the knowledge that, yes, sequacious is in fact a word into their memory banks. Some students might simultaneously attempt to summon the definition for sequacious to mind, but if they did not previously bother to learn that sequacious means “disposed to follow another” or “persisting in a continuous intellectual or stylistic direction,” they will in all likelihood not summon the correct definition to mind. For most students this approach to memorizing vocabulary is an exercise in futility because “word first” approaches most often result in students recognizing a word but not being able to recall its definition. In terms of the SAT, and really just generally speaking, there is no value in simply knowing that a word is a word; for a word to be valuable to you, you must know its corresponding definition(s).

Recognition Vs. Recall

Recognition and recall are the two primary methods by which we access our memory.

Generally, when you know a meaning or definition, or even understand a given context within a situation, you’re usually able to label such a thing with a particular word. For example, if you’re driving a car on a crowded highway with each car moving no faster than twenty miles an hour, you would be stuck in what? Traffic!

What happens, though, when you are presented with a particular word with which you are unfamiliar, or when you have only a limited understanding of the context in which a given word is used. For example, what if someone ran up to you incredibly upset and said, “My girlfriend just excoriated me!” Chances are, if you don’t know what excoriate means, your imagination is running rampant with possibilities of what this guy is talking about. This is just my point.

With the traffic example, you were able to assess the situation in front of you, and label the situation. But, in the second situation, if you don’t know what the word means, then you can’t really infer what’s wrong with the guy in question. This is why it’s best to know the meaning of a word before the word itself. Remember: It’s more important to learn that there’s a word for something, rather than knowing a word that means something and not knowing or remembering what that something is. Also, for the record, excoriate means to verbally rip apart, criticize, or abuse. It is usually applied to expose or describe someone with a lack of being thick-skinned. (So, if you’re thinking of the example I used at the beginning of the article, it might be entertaining to picture someone like Dwayne Johnson or Channing Tatum as the guy who’s crying.)

If this strategy doesn’t work, then you can try the exact opposite, learning the words first. However, you should be mindful that there is a certain way to go about learning the words first. Instead of the usual strategy of looking at each word with their definition immediately, JUST look at the words and familiarize yourself with them. Keep in mind that this does NOT include learning the definition as you read through them. In fact, you should avoid looking at the definitions at first. Unorthodox, I know, but bear with me. When you look at just the words, especially when you see one for the first time, your mind automatically wants to fit a meaning to it. But, if you let the words digest in your mind, you automatically create a curiosity about them. This makes your brain grows hungrier for the definition, so that when you do in fact learn the definition, the chances of you remembering it soars.

Either one of these strategies could work for you, but keep in mind that if one works, the other will most likely not.

We’ll be talking about the best ways to study and retain vocabulary over the next few weeks, so be sure to return soon to College Compass.

If you’d like more information on how to study effectively, consult this popular article.

 

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Extra Hard SAT Math Question – Fun with Fractions!

What about their math scores? They don't need them, do they?

What about their math scores? They don’t need them, do they?

At the end of every SAT Math section, the test makers try to come up with an extremely difficult problem that will leave even the cleverest students scratching their heads. The really evil part, though, is that even these problems can be solved in under a minute without a calculator – if you know what to do. This means that once you “figure out the trick,” these difficult problems become easy. So, while those test makers are busy cackling with sadistic glee, let’s see if we can’t beat them at their own game.

Consider the following problem:

If Aragorn can dispatch 5 orcs every 11 seconds and Legolas can dispatch 3 orcs every 9 seconds, then together, how many orcs they can dispatch in how many seconds?

A) 2 orcs every 5 seconds

B) 8 orcs every 20 seconds

C) 26 orcs every 33 seconds

D) half an orc every second

E) genocide

To solve this problem, all you need to realize is that the rates at which Aragorn and Legolas slaughter orcs can be represented as fractions and then combined to give their combined rate:

5 orcs every 11 seconds = 5/11

3 orcs every 9 seconds = 3/9 = 1/3

You will notice that we simplified 3/9 to 1/3. It’s always a good idea to simplify fractions whenever possible, as this will save time later. Next, we need to give the fractions like denominators so that we can add them together:

Mass slaughter of orcs doesn't count as genocide, does it?

Mass slaughter of orcs doesn’t count as genocide, does it?

Thus, together they can kill 26 orcs every 33 seconds, and the answer is choice C. If you know what to do, it takes only about 30 seconds to solve this problem. So you see, with practice, even the hardest problems on the SAT become easy. Check back here each week for more extra hard problems and the tricks you need to solve them! Also, remember that you can find out all the tricks from experts like me with a Test Masters course or private tutoring. Until  then, keep up the good work and happy studying!

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HBCU Spotlight – Fisk University

The Fisk University Seal features the images of some of Fisk's original Jubilee Singers.

The Fisk University Seal features the images of some of Fisk’s original Jubilee Singers.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have served a vital and transformative role in the history of America. Many of this country’s most prominent civil rights activists, politicians, actors, scientists, scholars, and public figures attended or taught at HBCUs, and for students of all backgrounds who want to connect with and be inspired by this history, HBCUs can provide an excellent education and a sense of pride in the extraordinary accomplishments of the many students who have gone before them.

There is, however, another potential benefit of attending an HBCU. Many of the top HBCUs offer generous merit-based scholarships to students who have met certain GPA and test score requirements. In this series, we have profiled some of the top HBCUs in the country to show you the kinds of opportunities that exist at these historic institutions.

Fisk University

Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Fisk University was founded in 1866 shortly after the end of the Civil War by members of the American Missionary Association and Northern abolitionist and philanthropist, Clinton B. Fisk. Many of the Universities early leaders happened to be music lovers and oversaw the foundation of a Mozart Society and a choir known as the Fisk Jubilee Singers, which developed an international reputation, performed for Queen Victoria, and raised enough money from their first European tour to build Jubilee Hall, which is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.

W.E.B. Du Bois, one of the major figures of American History.

W.E.B. Du Bois, one of the major figures of American History.

Throughout its history, Fisk has produced alumni who have gone on to become some of the United States’ most influential figures, including sociologist, author, and activist W.E.B. Du Bois, journalist and activist Ida B. Wells, activist and congressman John Lewis, and many other politicians, musicians, scholars, writers, scientists, inventors, movers, and shakers. There are many scholarship opportunities available to Fisk students, including the ones listed below. To find out more, visit: http://www.fisk.edu/admissions/scholarships

Scholarship High School GPA SAT/ACT Scores Award Renewal GPA (and other requirements)
Erastus Milo Cravath Presidential Scholarship 3.7 1860/28 Full tuition, fees, room & board, and books (up to $1,000) Recipient must earn a minimum of 12-18 credit hours per semester, maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA and perform 50 volunteer hours per semester or 100 per academic year
Ella Sheperd Moore Scholarship 3.5 1700/25 Full tuition Recipient must earn a minimum of 12-18 credit hours per semester, maintain a 3.2 cumulative GPA and perform 50 volunteer hours per semester or 100 per academic year
Clinton B. Fisk Academic Scholarship 3.0 1590/23 $5,000 to $10,000 Recipient must earn a minimum of 12-18 credit hours per semester, maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA and perform 50 volunteer hours per semester of 100 per academic year. Pre-approval of volunteer service is required.
Fisk Performance Award for Music Majors NA NA $5,000 Audition and Music Department recommendation. Contact Music Department.
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SAT Vocabulary — Assiduous

Assiduousas·sid·u·ous əˈsijəwəs/ adjective

Assiduous is an adjective that means showing great care and attention to detail. It can also mean to be extremely persevering.

Sample Sentence:

The architect spent weeks hunched over her desk, assiduously checking her plans for the new park to ensure that there wouldn’t be a single error.

In this sentence, “assiduously” (the adverb form of assiduous) is describing the way the architect was being extremely careful and thorough in her work designing the park. In this sentence, the best context clue that can help you figure out the meaning of “assiduously” is at the end of the sentence — “to ensure that there wouldn’t be a single error” indicates that she is trying to be extremely careful and thorough.

Assiduous is part of your Test Masters SAT & PSAT Vocabulary list. Students have either been tested on this word during past SAT/PSAT exams, or it has a very high chance of appearing on an exam in the near future.

Ask-Test-MastersMiss the last SAT vocabulary word? Check it out here!

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Intuition vs. Methodology: The Difference Between Spending 5 Minutes and 5 Seconds on an SAT Math Problem

Intuition vs. Methodology

Here is an example of a very classic SAT algebra problem. There are two ways to solve this problem; one is very intuitive and simple, but potentially very slow. The other is rooted in simple algebraic methodology (I promise you’ve done it a million times in school by now) and is extremely fast and precise. Let’s take a look at how basic algebra can help you save some major time on the math section. Continue reading “Intuition vs. Methodology: The Difference Between Spending 5 Minutes and 5 Seconds on an SAT Math Problem” »

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Ridge Liu Blogs about his upcoming semester at Rice University

Hey everyone! My name is Ridge Liu, and I am returning to intern at Test Masters this summer. You may remember some of my posts from last summer, like my Improve Your College Application: Extracurriculars or College Profile: New York University posts. After a long and arduous college application process, I am pleased to say that I will be attending Rice University in the fall.

Rice University was founded in 1912 by the will of William Marsh Rice as the William M. Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art. Over a century later, Rice has become a world leader in the sciences and humanities. Rice’s exceptional strength in the sciences is what convinced me to enroll as a student next fall.

Brockman Hall for Physics

The Brockman Hall for Physics.

Rice’s commitment to the science is illustrated by the construction of the Brockman Hall for Physics, which is outfitted for laboratories researching a broad variety of questions. During a visit to Rice, I had the opportunity to take a tour of the building and some of the research labs. These labs are in the basement of the building where things like building vibration and electrical interference are at a minimum and can be controlled for. Though I will not be taking classes in that building, it is still cool to know that during lectures, I’ll be just a few feet away from cutting-edge research.

I plan to pursue a BS in physics, a degree program that covers the foundation I will need for any career in physics. I was fortunate to go to a high school with a great Advanced Placement program, which means that I will place out of some of the distributional requirements in other subjects. Though I will not know my schedule until O-Week (Orientation Week), some of the classes I have to look forward to are Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, and Multivariable Calculus. In line with Rice’s academic reputation, these classes are tough. they will probably be more difficult than most, if not all, of my classes in high school, but I am confident that my high school experiences have prepared me for the workload.

In case I decide I don’t like physics after all, Rice has me covered. Other majors that interest me at Rice are mathematics and material science. Materials science is the field of engineering matter into structures that display special physical and chemical characteristics. The field is inextricably linked to Rice through the work of Nobel laureates Robert Curl and Richard Smalley, who discovered molecules made up only carbon atoms. Since the discovery of fullerene in 1985, the field has produced new materials that may potentially lead to wearable or more efficient electronics. As expected, materials science is a challenged major at Rice, which was named as the best materials science department in the world by the Max Planck Society in Germany.

Whether I study math, physics, or materials science I know Rice will be a good for me as I prepare for whatever lies beyond college. Expect to hear more from me this summer as I blog for Test Masters.

 

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Extra Hard SAT Math Question – Ratio Riddles

You will get this question wrong. Resistance is futile!

You will get this question wrong. Resistance is futile!

At the end of every SAT Math section, the test makers try to come up with an extremely difficult problem that will leave even the cleverest students scratching their heads. The really evil part, though, is that even these problems can be solved in under a minute without a calculator – if you know what to do. This means that once you “figure out the trick,” these difficult problems become easy. So, while those test makers are busy cackling with sadistic glee, let’s see if we can’t beat them at their own game.

Consider the following problem:

Out of 50 space cadets, 30 speak English, 20 speak Klingon, and 5 speak neither English nor Klingon. What is the ratio of those who speak both English and Klingon to those who speak neither?

A) 1:1

B) 1:2

C) 2:3

D) 1:3

E) 5:1

We know that the total number of space cadets is 50, and that the number of cadets who only speak English plus the number of cadets who only speak Klingon plus the number of cadets who speak both plus the number of cadets who speak neither should equal  50. The trouble is in figuring out how many cadets speak both so that we don’t count them twice. If we just add the 30 who speak English to the 20 who speak Klingon, we will have counted the ones who speak both twice. So, how can we prevent this?

By subtracting them. If we add the cadets who speak English to those who speak Klingon and those who speak neither but subtract the number who speak both, then we will have made up for double counting and the result should equal the 50 total cadets. If we let b be the number of cadets who speak both, then:

50 = 30 + 20 – b + 5

50 = 55 – b

b = 5

Set phasers to solve.

Since the problem asked for the ratio of those who speak both English and Klingon to those who speak neither, the ratio will be 5 to 5, or simplified, 1:1, which is choice A. If you know what to do, it takes only about 30 seconds to solve this problem. So you see, with practice, even the hardest problems on the SAT become easy. Check back here each week for more extra hard problems and the tricks you need to solve them! Also, remember that you can find out all the tricks from experts like me with a Test Masters course or private tutoring. Until  then, keep up the good work and happy studying!

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