Tiffani's Boost Blog

Welcome to Tiffani's Boost Blog!

As the Co-Founder and Executive Director of EdBoost, I wear many hats -- from tutor and test prepper to curriculum writer and college counselor. It not only keeps me busy, but gives a a really broad perspective on how to teach kids and how to approach different ages, subjects, and learning styles. At EdBoost, we're lucky to get to work with kids from all kinds of families, schools, and backgrounds: those who love school, those who hate it, and the many, many kids in between. We also get to write our own curriculum and then test it out with real students. It's a huge learning process -- and one I hope to get to share with other parents, educators, and observers of kids through this blog.

Thanks for reading! Please comment if you find anything interesting, inconsistent with your experiences -- or something you'd like to read about!

SAT Stats: Sampling I

When I was in grad school, I took a research methods class in the public policy school. I had learned about different types of sampling at some point (Undergrad? High school?  Who knows?), but this was the first time I had ever analyzed how samples worked and how taking different samples would affect what you could say about your research results. It was a great class -- and I still use information from that class when I think about studies that I read about in the news -- but the information felt like what one learns while getting a doctorate in sociology (or maybe a masters in public policy), not something that the average person knows. 

So, imagine my surprise when a lot of that material showed up on the SAT. 

SAT Stats: Frequency Tables

Who doesn't love a frequency table?

What is a frequency table.  It's a table that shows you frequency: how often something happens.  This is the sort of frequency table and question you might see on the SAT.

The students in a class took a survey about the number of pets that they have.  The table below shows the results of the survey:

Stats, Sampling, and Research Design on the SAT

Two Way Frequency Table from SATOne of the biggest changes to the new SAT is the addition of a good number of statistics and research design questions. Although most SAT math is now algebra, statistics have surpassed geometry as the second most tested math type. 

The problem? Students learn very little about statistics in school. And, even students who take AP stats usually take it AFTER they take the SAT.

So, what do students need to know?

Critically, all students should be able to read all kinds of graphs and charts: pie charts, line charts, bar charts, scatterplots, stem-and-leaf plots, box-and-whisker plots, frequency tables, and two-way frequency tables. 

SAT vs. ACT: Math

 Probably the biggest different between the SAT and the ACT is in the math sections. 

When people talk about SAT and ACT being different, this is usually what they are talking about.  Not only do the sections vary in content, but they also seem to test different types of thinking skills. It's in the math section that one might say that SAT is easier for people who are naturally good at puzzles and word problems.  ACT seems a better fit for those who have strong math skills and can execute problems through trigonometry. 

But, let's start with the organization, format, and timing. 

SAT vs. ACT: The Essays

The essays on both the ACT and the SAT are optional -- you choose if you are going to write the essay when you register for the test (it costs more if you add the essay). Many colleges and universities REQUIRE the essay. It's worth the extra \$14 (SAT) or \$16.50 (ACT) to add the essay, just in case you want to apply to a school that requires it. 

But, which essay is easier?

The essays are quite different. 

Grammar Mini-Blog: May Imani go to the movies with Katie and I?

When we were little, we would run to our parents and declare, "Me and Justin want ice cream!" and immediately, before even dealing with the emergency issue of ice cream, our parents would say, "Justin and I."  And thus, we were trained, when you include yourself and someone else in a statement, you never say "me."  You always say "I."

You won't get corrected if you say: " Justin and I" or "Katie and I."  But, is that always the correct way to refer to your self and someone else? 

College Essay Ideas... Another Reason for Community Service

Jonny helping kids depict the poem "Sick"As 12th grade approaches so do college applications -- and the process of writing college essays.

The process is a hard one for most students. Who wants to write about themselves? Frankly, who wants to even think that hard about themselves? How do you make yourself sound fabulous and  unique at a time when you feel very much like a number in a system?

Grammar Mini-Blog: Is "Everyone" singular or plural?

Who hasn't heard (or said) something like "Everyone needs to take their shoes off!" or "No one has had their dinner yet!"?

In English, we struggle with pronouns. We have lovely gender-neutral plural pronouns, like "they," "their," and "them,"* but all of our singular pronouns are gendered (or 'it,' and who wants to be an it?).

To make matters even more complicated, we have indefinite pronouns,  like "everyone," which seem to capture lots of people, but are actually singular ("everyone" means each and every one... one, singular).

So, when the subject of a sentence is "everyone" or "no one," which are both singular, the verbs and pronouns that go with those subjects should be singular also.

WRONG: Everyone needs to take their shoes off!

Reading Sections: SAT vs. ACT

Both SAT and ACT have reading sections -- and they don't get much press.  They are pretty typical read-the-passage-answer-the-questions multiple choice style sections.  But, there are some subtle but important differences between the sections. 

First, and most importantly, there is a timing difference.

SAT: 65 minutes, 52 questions, five passages (one is actually a pair of passages) with about 10 questions for each passage/pair of passages.

ACT: 35 minutes, 40 questions, four passages with 10 questions each.