Because the way I do it, the students gain skills that they’ll actually use throughout their adult lives.
My buddy Tutor Ted and I were discussing this recently: check out the clip.
(PS snappy title notwithstanding, I don’t “coach the ACT,” I coach people through the process of learning to excel at that test.)
Today Seth Godin posted:
Education is the hustle for a credential. It exchanges compliance for certification. An institution can educate you.
Learning can’t be done to you. It is a choice and it requires active participation, not simple adherence to metrics.
Learning is the only place to find resilience, possibility and contribution, because learning is a lifelong skill that isn’t domain dependent.
Most of the learning moments in our lives are accidental or random. A situation presents itself and if we’re lucky, we learn something from it.
I agree that learning is where it’s at, which is why we’re introducing a few new offerings in the coming weeks. If you’re on our mailing list, you’ll see those shortly. (And if not, let me know, and I’ll be happy to add you.)
But I also think that if you can rack up an educational credential as part of the learning process, it’s worth going for it. And that’s why we also continue to help students prepare for standardized tests, math competitions, and classwork.
To sum up: It’s great if you join us because you want the STEM grades and the test scores. But once you’re here, it’s the learning that’ll really blow your doors off!
So… let’s get to it.
I didn’t expect Farnam Street to relate so directly to college admissions, but it does, and in a way that is as important as it is deep.
According to the post linked above, the outcome of a “winner’s game” is determined mostly by the actions of the winner; the outcome of a “loser’s game” is determined mostly by the actions of the loser.
So, in a winner’s game, superior skill matters, whereas in a loser’s game, it’s consistency that matters.
Everyone acts as though the SAT and ACT are winners’ games. And, for middle-tier scorers, they probably are. But for high scorers, these tests are loser’s games, 100%.
In other words, you don’t get from 1400 to 1550 by becoming smarter or more knowledgeable. You get there by consistently avoiding mistakes.
You show me a 1400 scorer, and I’ll show you someone who already has the necessary knowledge, but who also experiences some combination of anxiety, hubris, wandering attention, and/or magical thinking when it comes to answering the hard questions.
Getting rid of such bad habits is really hard. That’s why so few people get perfect scores.
That’s also why high scores are so prized.
Students suffering from test anxiety often make things worse by misunderstanding the nature of successful preparation work.
They think: “my goal is to have new knowledge and new techniques.”
But that’s wrong. The right goal is to have new habits.
Under pressure, all people follow their habits. So if you don’t have new, well-established, constructive and functional habits by Test Day, you’ll just automatically revert to what you did before.
And of course, when you do what you used to do, you’ll get the score you used to get.
The alternative is to painstakingly train new and better habits in the weeks (months?) leading up to Test Day. Then, under pressure, you’ll thrive.
(Also check out my book, specifically Chapter 9, Stress.)
“Test day jitters” manifests as “the problems were hard!” when what’s really going on is “I’m not quite as capable when I’m nervous / amped up / in the spotlight.”
The biggest barrier to addressing this issue is misunderstanding what’s really going on.