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The latest news on SAT Exam from Business Insider

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    China Chinese Students SAT Test College

    There's a distinct worry in the higher education industry that "Chinese students might think cheating is their only choice" to get into American schools, Inside Higher Ed's Elizabeth Redden reports from this week's Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling conference.

    Specifically, according to Redden, counselors are worried about Chinese students faking transcripts and admissions letters, or even more actively cheating on the tests themselves. One service targeted at Chinese students that was mentioned at the conference sends answers over a wireless-enabled watch, as highlighted in a China Newsweek article.

    "There's a perception in China that the system is rigged, that if you pay enough money you're going to get the results that you want," Terry Crawford, the CEO of a video interviewing company based in Beijing, said at OACAL, according to Redden.

    This might have a negative impact on Chinese students who don't want to cheat, but may feel that there's no other way to get into an American college.

    "If you like cheating, then that's very exciting because you realize how easy it is," said Tomer Rothschild, co-founder of a company that helps Chinese students apply to American colleges, Redden reports. "But assuming you don't get that same stimulation from cheating, imagine if you just want to play by the rules — how do you feel?"

    The widespread cheating allegedly seen in China also appears to be evident in the US. In May, 15 Chinese nationals living in the US were charged with hiring imposters to pose as Chinese students in tests such as the SAT.

    The Chinese nationals would charge up to $6,000 for an imposter to take the test, according to a Department of Justice indictment.

    It appears this mentality may carry over to Chinese students actually studying at American schools. Roughly 8,000 Chinese students were expelled from US colleges and universities last year, according to a recent report from WholeRen Education, and 80.55% of these dismissals "resulted from academic dishonesty or low academic performances."

    Additionally, just over 50% of the students had a GPA lower than a 2.0 — typically, a C.

    "Chinese students used to be considered top-notch but over the past five years their image has changed completely — wealthy kids who cheat," Chen Hang, chief development officer at WholeRen, told The Wall Street Journal's China Real Time blog.

    SEE ALSO: Former Ivy League admissions dean reveals why highly qualified Asian-American students often get rejected

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Princeton Review Student Tutor SAT Test

    Asian families living in the US are almost twice as likely to be charged higher prices by college test prep service The Princeton Review, according to a new study from ProPublica.

    The Princeton Review determines pricing based on a potential customer's ZIP code. As ProPublica notes, there is a nearly $2,000 difference in the highest and lowest prices for the Princeton Review "Premiere" SAT prep course, the company's most expensive tutoring service.

    "When it came to getting the highest prices, living in a ZIP code with a high median income or a large Asian population seemed to make the greatest difference," according to ProPublica reporters by Julia Angwin, Surya Mattu, and Jeff Larson. "Customers in areas with a high density of Asian residents were 1.8 times as likely to be offered higher prices, regardless of income."

    High-income ZIP codes were twice as likely to be charged a more expensive price, according to ProPublica, although this was not always the case. The report noted that "affluent neighborhoods in Dallas are charged the lowest price, $6,600."

    ProPublica found several low-income areas with large Asian populations that were charged Princeton Review's higher prices.

    "Consider a ZIP code in Flushing, a neighborhood in Queens, New York. Asians make up 70.5% of the population in this ZIP code. According to the US Census, the median household income in the ZIP code, $41,884, is lower than most, yet The Princeton Review customers there are quoted the highest price," according to ProPublica.

    Another example cited by ProPublica is "the gritty industrial city of Westminster, California," where half the residents are Asian with a below average median income, but are charged Princeton Review's second-highest price.

    A Princeton Review spokesperson emphasized to Business Insider that the company uses ZIP codes to determine pricing because "95% of our tutoring is all in person." The other 5% are also matched with local tutors, in case the student wants to meet in person, rather than over Skype or another form of online communication.

    Prices change among different geographic areas, the spokesperson said, due to differing costs of doing business and varying competitive markets for tutoring services.

    The Princeton Review sent ProPublica the following statement:

    For each online test prep tutoring service in question, The Princeton Review offers four different prices, based entirely on the geographical region in which the product is offered. These geographical delineations are not drawn at the neighborhood level, but instead are entire cities, regions or states, where pricing is not determined by an algorithm, but by the differential costs of running our business and the competitive attributes of the given market. This is a ubiquitous practice across all commerce, both online and offline. For example, our product costs more in New York City and the surrounding area than it does anywhere else in the country, just as virtually every good or service does, be it gasoline, rent or eggs. No region is a perfect cross-section of the rest of the country, and the areas that experience higher prices will also have a disproportionately higher population of members of the financial services industry, people who tend to vote Democratic, journalists and any other group that is more heavily concentrated in areas like New York City than in the rest of the country at large. But to equate the incidental differences in impact that occur from this type of geographic based pricing that pervades all American commerce with discrimination misconstrues both the literal, legal and moral meaning of the word.

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    Students Test Classroom Exam

    When George Washington University announced last month that it was adopting a “test-optional” admissions policy, it repeated a standard line made by colleges that allow prospective students to opt out of sending SAT or ACT scores.

    “The test-optional policy should strengthen and diversify an already outstanding applicant pool and will broaden access for those high-achieving students who have historically been underrepresented at selective colleges and universities, including students of color, first-generation students and students from low-income households,” Laurie Koehler, G.W.’s senior associate provost for enrollment management, said in a news release.

    But is increasing socioeconomic and racial diversity really the university’s motivation in making this change? Or does it have a less altruistic reason for doing so, such as raising its standing in the all-important college rankings game?

    We don’t know for sure. But a 2014 study by researchers at the University of Georgia suggests that we should not take G.W. at its word.

    The researchers examined U.S. Department of Education data at 32 selective liberal arts colleges that have adopted these policies and found “that test-optional policies overall have not been the catalysts of diversity that many have claimed them to be.”

    The study did not find any evidence that test-optional colleges had made “any progress in narrowing these diversity-related gaps after they adopted test-optional policies.” Instead, these policies had benefited these colleges “in more institution-promoting ways.”

    The George Washington UniversityAt first glance, these findings seem surprising. After all, research has shown that standardized tests such as the SAT often put low-income and minority students at a disadvantage.

    Low-income students, unlike their more affluent peers, don’t have the money to spend on expensive test-prep classes that teach tricks students can use to increase their scores.

    Therefore, it would appear that low-income and minority students would have a better chance of being admitted at test-optional schools.

    In practice, however, colleges have used these policies to become even more exclusive than they previously were.

    Here’s how schools do it: by freeing prospective students from having to provide SAT and ACT scores, they tend to attract more applicants, many of whom may have scored poorly on the tests. (The University of Georgia study found that these schools “receive approximately 220 more applications, on average, after adopting a test-optional policy.”)

    For the colleges, more applicants mean more students they can reject, which lowers their acceptance rate and raises the institution’s perceived selectivity.

    US News RankingsIn addition, by going test-optional, schools can artificially inflate the average SAT and ACT scores that they report to magazines that rank colleges, such as U.S. News & World Report. That’s because under these policies, the only students who tend to send in their scores are those who have done well on the tests. 

    Many schools then use only these scores to calculate their average scores. The University of Georgia study bears this out. The researchers found that after going test-optional, these schools saw their mean SAT scores rise, on average, by 26 points.

    These institutions stand to benefit from lower acceptance rates and higher average SAT/ACT scores because both of these institutional indicators factor into the U.S. News rankings.

    The University of Georgia study provides the best evidence to date that “test-optional policies enhance the appearance of selectivity, rather than the diversity, of adopting institutions.” But it is hardly the first to raise these concerns.

    In 2006, Colin S. Diver, the then-president of Reed College in Oregon, wrote a scorching column in The New York Times showing how colleges could raise their rankings by going test-optional. “Once a few colleges adopt the tactic, their competitors feel pressure to follow suit, lest they suffer a drop in rank,” he warned. “And so a new front opens in the admissions arms race.”

    If test-optional colleges truly don’t care about SAT and ACT scores, they should drop them altogether, rather than leaving it up to students to decide whether to submit them. As Diver wrote in his piece, “It’s illogical to count a test score if it is high but ignore it if it is low.”

    So why don’t they? Once again, it’s because of U.S. News. Standardized test scores are so important to the magazine’s rankings that the publication essentially punishes colleges that don’t consider them by leaving the schools unranked.

    Sarah Lawrence College Campus WestlandsSarah Lawrence University is a case in point. For nearly a decade, the university did not consider SAT and ACT scores in its admissions process. The institution did not want to feed into the “mania” surrounding the tests, which it said gave “an unfair advantage” to students wealthy enough to afford test-prep classes.

    But in 2013, Sarah Lawrence reversed course and became test-optional. University officials said that being unranked in U.S. Newshad put it at a major competitive disadvantage to its peers.

    “Frankly it is good to be back in the rankings,” Thomas Blum, the university’s vice president of administration, told TheWashington Post in 2014, when the rankings came out. He said of parents and students: “Realizing [the rankings] are flawed, they do recognize we are a national liberal arts college. It does not hurt to have that kind of recognition.”

    Currently, Hampshire College is the only selective college in the country that is “test-blind.” Officials at the iconoclastic institution say they don’t mind being left out of the rankings. “Our students don’t get caught up in the rankings,” Meredith Twombly, the college’s dean of enrollment and retention, told Inside Higher Ed last year.

    But unfortunately, many affluent students and their families do. And that’s why advocates for low-income and minority students should not get too excited when institutions like George Washington University decide to go test-optional.

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news website focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about higher education.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    FEBRUARY 05: Pupils at Williamwood High School sit prelim exams on February 5, 2010 in Glasgow, Scotland As the UK gears up for one of the most hotly contested general elections in recent history it is expected that that the economy, immigration, the NHS and education are likely to form the basis of many of the debates. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

    Conversations about SAT and ACT scores are ubiquitous for high-school students applying to college.

    Increasingly, however, colleges and universities have begun to eschew mandatory standardized-test scores as requirements for their application process.

    In July, George Washington University became the latest school to drop the requirement for incoming freshmen, The Washington Post reported.

    That makes GWU — with 10,000 undergraduates and 25,000 total students — the largest private university in the top 100 best-ranked schools to forgo rigid testing requirements in favor of a more holistic application review process.

    GWU and other schools with open-testing policies are stuck in the middle of a fierce debate over the efficacy and motivations behind such policies.

    Schools that drop testing requirements are lauded by supporters who cite inherent bias against low-income and minority students in such exams.

    However, opponents say dropping the requirements have a negligible effect on diversity and are a self-serving way to increase a school's ranking.

    CNN Money made an argument in favor of dropping testing requirements in an article that said it was proven to help with diversity recruitment, as African-American and Latino students tend to perform worse on standardized tests than their white counterparts.

    CNN pointed to examples of demonstrated success in increasing diversity as an effect of dropping testing requirements.

    Wake Forest University, for example, made its admission process test-optional in 2010. Before the change, about 18% of students were nonwhite. In 2010, however, that number jumped to 23%, and now it stands at 30%.

    Wake Forest is not an outlier. Similar trends have been seen at other schools around the country.

    Marist College, a liberal-arts college in New York, became test-optional in 2011. The percentage of minority students jumped from about 14% to about 18% after the change.

    Those increases and the discussions around dropping such policies are spurring conversation from the very students the policies supposedly benefit. "I think it makes a huge difference to see a student as a whole person instead of just a number,"Imani Jenkins, an African-American freshman at Marist, told CNN.

    Students Test Classroom Exam

    Supporters of dropping these requirements also claim that it is a logical and fair decision, as high-school GPA and course work are proven to be better indicators of college success than SAT test scores.

    But there are equally strong arguments against having open-testing policies. Stephen Burd argued in The Hechinger Report that making SAT and ACT scores optional doesn't actually make schools more diverse.

    Burd cited research by the US Department of Education that studied data at 32 selective liberal-arts colleges.

    "The study did not find any evidence that test-optional colleges had made 'any progress in narrowing these diversity-related gaps after they adopted test-optional policies,'" Burd wrote.

    Additionally, these schools receive benefits from going test-optional, according to Burd. "By freeing prospective students from having to provide SAT and ACT scores, they tend to attract more applicants, many of whom may have scored poorly on the tests," he explained.

    "For the colleges, more applicants mean more students they can reject, which lowers their acceptance rate and raises the institution’s perceived selectivity."

    And these schools also see a bump in their average SAT or ACT scores because students who perform very well on these tests are more likely to submit their scores than students who perform poorly.

    To date, there are more than 800 schools that do not use SAT or ACT scores for admitting substantial numbers of students into bachelor's degree programs. As that number grows, the debate over test-optional policies will certainly continue.

    SEE ALSO: Top-notch colleges in the US are dropping a major admissions requirement

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    Caltech studentsWe recently ranked the 50 best colleges in America based on how well they prepare students for success after graduation. Next, we wanted to find out which schools enroll the smartest students.

    Jonathan Wai, a Duke University Talent Identification Program research scientist, created a ranking exclusively for Business Insider of the smartest US colleges and universities based on the schools' average standardized test scores. Research shows that both the SAT and ACT are good measures of general cognitive ability, since they measure one's ability to reason.

    We updated last year's ranking by including the 1,338 schools in the national universityliberal arts collegeregional university, and regional college lists that reported SAT or ACT scores in the latest US News & World Report rankingACT scores were converted to SAT scores (math + verbal) using this concordance table so all schools could be compared on one metric. Then, an average of the 25th and 75th percentile was computed (see more detail on methods and limitations here).

    Once again, the Pasadena-based California Institute of Technology takes the top spot on the list, and the University of Chicago, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton round out the top five schools. 

    Keep scrolling to see the 50 smartest colleges in America.

    SEE ALSO: The 50 best colleges in America

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    50. Macalester College

    St. Paul, Minnesota

    Average SAT score: 1368

    Macalester ranks sixth in the nation, according to US News, for best undergraduate teaching, and 23rd overall for best liberal-arts colleges. Macalester is proud of its "cutting-edge courses" that bring out-of-the-box perspectives to today's global issues. Previous classes include "inside the animal mind,""constructions of a female killer," and "the automobile and the American environment."

    47 (TIE). Case Western Reserve University

    Cleveland, Ohio

    Average SAT score: 1370

    Case Western is known for its top-rated engineering and science programs: Nearly 30% of students major in an engineering field, and another 13% major in biology. Students are exposed to an endless number of research opportunities at a school that's consistently ranked in the top 20 private research institutes in the country.

    47 (TIE). College of William and Mary

    Williamsburg, Virginia

    Average SAT score: 1370

    William and Mary calls itself a "public Ivy" for its high-quality research program and academic rigor at a public-school price. The school is the second-oldest college in the US — chartered in 1693 — and attracts some of the smartest students in the nation: 81% of new students this year ranked within the top 10% of their high school classes.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    We ranked the top boarding schools in America by taking a look at the top average SAT scores. Here are the top 11.

    Click here to see the top 24.

    Produced by Devan Joseph. Special thanks to Melissa Stanger.

    Follow BI Video: On Facebook

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    Every year, Bill Gates puts out his annual list of the year's best news on his blog GatesNotes.

    It's a nice feel good message, especially since 2015 also ushered in so many negative things, like the rise of extremist terrorist groups, the Paris attacks, the ongoing Syrian refugee crises, endless mass shootings in the US and so on.

    So to get you in a happy, grateful mood for the holiday season, here's one of the world's most charitable person's take on the best things that happened in 2015, in a Letterman-style list.

    rubella virusNo. 6: "German measles" Rubella has been eliminated in the Americas.

    This thanks to a 15-year effort to vaccinate people.  Rubella is really dangerous for pregnant women, and can lead to death or severe birth defects. 

    "This milestone lends momentum not only to efforts to wipe out rubella around the world. It also gives a shot in the arm to efforts to eliminate measles, which is more deadly and more contagious than rubella, because the rubella and measles vaccines are often given in combination," Gates said.

    The Gates Foundation is trying to end measles, and has been developing more affordable vaccines. 

    No. 5: Mobile banking is huge hit and getting bigger in developing countries.

    Gates has said that he believes mobile banking is one of the best things ever invented to help people lift themselves out of poverty. 

    "Today, more than two billion people have no access to financial services, severely limiting their ability to borrow, save, invest, and participate in the mainstream economy. But that is changing fast," he writes.  

    For instance, 75% of adults have a mobile bank access in Kenya and huge strides are happening Brazil, Rwanda, Tanzania, Bangladesh, and India.

    "When I’ve traveled in these countries, I’ve seen digital financial innovation that’s even outpacing what we see in rich countries," he adds.

    No. 4.  SAT college prep studying is now free for everyone

    Kahn Academy SAT prepIn June, the company that created the SAT helped the online training site Khan Academy launch free online studying tools, filled with interactive lessons and videos, for the SAT or PSAT.

    "I’m very excited about this development because of what it means for kids who can’t afford expensive test-prep classes and tutors," he says.

    No. 3 The Nobel Prize went to three researchers fighting diseases of the poor. 

    "On October 5, I woke up to the wonderful news that this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine had been awarded to three researchers who developed indispensable tools for fighting diseases of the poor," Gates writes.

    Two of the researchers are working on curing parasitic worms and the other is trying to cure malaria. The invented "true miracle drugs," Gates says.

    No. 2: Neil deGrasse Tyson gives a brilliant 272 word defense of science.

    "He makes the best argument I’ve ever heard for ensuring that science plays a big role in policymaking," Gates writes. "Inspired by the short and eloquent Gettysburg Address, Dr. Tyson makes his case in just 272 words."

     And the No. 1 best news of 2015 is ... Africa went a year without any new polio cases.

    Polio Vaccination"On July 24, Nigeria marked one full year without a single new case of locally acquired polio, the crippling and sometimes fatal disease. It is the last country in Africa to stop transmission of wild polio," Gates writes. "This milestone represents a huge victory—one that some experts feared would never come."

    It came about because of a huge effort, involving hundreds of thousands of people who mapped every village in the north of the country, counting all the children and delivering oral polio vaccine several times a year. 

    In 1988, polio was still running amok in 125 countries. Now, it's endemic in only two, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Gates believes the day is coming when it is eradicated.  

    SEE ALSO: Bill Gates got one lucky Reddit user an incredibly thoughtful Secret Santa gift

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    Youth Children Kids Education School

    As 2015 comes to a close, it's becoming clear that certain education stories will heat up over the next year. From a revamped SAT exam to a Supreme Court case that may change college admissions, these are the big education stories to watch.

    1. The crumbling for-profit college industry

    In April of this past year, Corinthian Colleges, the second-largest for-profit college system in the US, abruptly announced it was shutting its doors for good.

    That decision followed a $30 million fine from the Department of Education (ED), which claimed Corinthian misrepresented the kinds of jobs its graduates could get.

    That was not an isolated event. The entire for-profit industry has come under fire for its alleged focus on signing up students and depositing their federal financial-aid checks rather than providing a quality education.

    The largest for-profit college system, University of Phoenix, was suspended from recruiting military students by the Department of Defense (DoD) in October, which was notable as it pulls in more money than any other US college, public or private, from military students.

    And another for-profit college powerhouse, Education Management Corporation (EDMC), paid $95.5 million in November to settle a case alleging it falsely obtained federal and state education funds.

    The nearly $100 million settlement was the largest false-claims settlement with a for-profit educational institute in history.

    It's not yet evident whether more for-profit colleges will be handed massive fines by the federal government or have to close as a result of financial difficulty, making it a story to watch out for in the coming year.

    Abigail Fisher

    2. Affirmative action in the Supreme Court

    In December, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case on affirmative action that could have a far-reaching impact on the ability of universities around the nation to consider race in admissions.

    Fisher v. University of Texas (UT) will determine whether it's constitutional for the University of Texas at Austin to consider race as one factor in its admission policy.

    The plaintiff — a white woman named Abigail Fisher who was denied admission to the Texas' flagship public university in 2008 — claims her race played a factor in her rejection, and that UT accepted less-qualified nonwhite students.

    As the case unfolds in 2016, the future of affirmative action hangs in the balance.

    Malia Obama

    3. Malia Obama's college choice

    Malia Obama toured a number of colleges around the US in 2015, leading to rampant speculation over her eventual college choice.

    She toured six of the eight Ivy League Schools — Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale — as well as Barnard, the University of California at Berkeley, New York University, Stanford, Tufts, and Wesleyan, according to The New York Times.

    While she has yet to announce if she's been accepted to any school early decision, or if she favors one school over others, the most popular theory is that she will end up at NYU, based on the fact that the president said she is interested in majoring in film studies. NYU's Tisch School of the Arts is known to be one of the top film schools in the US.

    And this summer, she had an internship in New York City on the set of HBO's "Girls" and proved herself to fit right into the scene, according to the New York Post.

    But perhaps she will decide to go to her mother's alma mater, Princeton, or her father's undergraduate choice, Columbia. We don't yet know and will likely have to wait until the spring to find out.

    Common Core protest

    4. The future of Common Core

    The past year saw even bolder rhetoric against the Common Core State Standards, the controversial set of nationwide education standards that almost all 50 states signed into law.

    Following near-universal praise and adoption of the standards in 2010, there has since been equally swift backlash against the standards on both sides of the aisle. Former Republican proponents of the Common Core, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have flipped their stance and condemned the standards.

    And in New York State, parents banded together in 2015 to boycott the standardized tests linked to the Common Core, and succeeded in a 20% opt-out rate. That has given pause to once staunch advocates of the Common Core, like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

    Vitriol for the Common Core has become so high that some states have even rebranded the standards.

    Next year will be a significant one to see if the standards survive.

    SAT test prep exam

    5. A brand-new SAT

    The College Board, the company that owns and publishes the SAT, is changing the SAT in 2016. Starting in the spring, the new version of the SAT will revert back to scoring out of 1600, rather than 2400 as is the case for the current exam, and there will be four, rather than the current five, answer choices in the new version.

    Some experts say the exam will be easier than before, as it will do away with obscure vocabulary and provide more time to answer the questions.

    Over the next year, the new test will face additional scrutiny on the strength, or weakness, over whether it properly tests the aptitude of America's high-school students.

    SEE ALSO: The 20 best college towns in America

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    Anthony James Green headshot

    SAT tutor Anthony-James Green wrote an essay for Vox about why his $1,000-per-hour students did better without him, leading him to make a career change. Below, he explains to Business Insider what it was like giving up such a lucrative job.

    In the spring, summer, and fall of 2014, I had a full roster of SAT tutoring clients paying me $850-$1,000 an hour.

    I’d been doing well beforehand, but this was an entirely different level of success for me.

    For a little while, the influx of cash was incredibly exciting. Money was always an issue when I was a kid growing up in the suburbs of New York. We were never desperate, but financial stress was always present, so the sudden realization that I had more than enough was exhilarating.

    Within months, however, I simply got used to the new level of income. You always hear it said that people aren’t any happier above ~$75,000 a year, but when you’re not wealthy, you’re tempted to call BS.

    Suddenly, making much more, I realized how true it really was. I’d already been paying my bills before the influx, so I was just saving most of the money. The few lavish purchases I made “because I could” — an expensive watch, some designer-label clothes, all the stuff that we're sold as a sign that "you've finally made it"— just made me feel self-conscious and stupid.

    My online SAT prep program had already been out for a year, and I was actively encouraging people to sign up for the program for $597 instead of for my one-on-one sessions. My online students were doing just as well paying a fraction as much, but I wasn’t going to turn down such high fees from clients who weren’t just happy to pay — they insisted on working with me rather than enrolling online. But the money wasn’t making me any happier, and the work was making me miserable.

    The majority of my students were very pleasant to work with. You’d think that some of the less-pleasant students might have been my reason for quitting my own practice, but it was actually one of my best students that finally got me to pull the plug.

    I was sitting in my apartment Skype-chatting with a 16-year-old at 10 p.m. on a Friday evening, telling her stuff for $1,000 an hour that I’d already documented in my online program, and that she was supposed to have read already. She asked me to explain the answer to a question she’d gotten wrong over the course of the week, and I said:

    “Listen: You already know how to find this information. It’s in the back of the book, and I’ve already taught you how to explain these things to yourself without my help. Why didn’t you look it up before we met?”

    studying homework teenagerWithout pausing, she said: “I know I could have found it on my own, but I just wanted to wait until I met with you.”

    This was a totally capable, hard-working girl. It was at the moment that I realized just how unhealthy my own role in the process had become.

    I had thousands of kids using my program to study on their own, to answer their own questions, and to put the power in their own hands. And here I was charging literally 100 times as much to act as a crutch — to hamstring this girl’s ability to learn. I felt completely sickened.

    Over the next few months, I stopped taking on any new clients, mailed back the deposits that my clients had sent me (some as far in advance as 2020), and focused all of my energies on promoting my online program. The extra money was doing nothing to improve my quality of life, so it was just a matter of choosing between a fulfilling, promising lifestyle of spreading helpful, affordable information versus charging enormous sums to a small group of kids who were becoming less capable as a result of my one-on-one instruction. The decision was easy to make.

    I’m paying myself a salary that meets my own needs, and not a dollar more. The rest of the money gets reinvested back into promoting and improving Green Test Prep. I’m making less money than I was before, but the extra money wasn’t making me a happier person. My lifestyle has changed drastically: I spend eight hours a day working on something I believe in wholeheartedly, and I spend the rest of the day with my friends and pursuing creative projects, which I couldn’t do when I was tutoring all night and all weekend.

    Now that I can spend all day interacting with my online students, dissecting data, and making constant alterations to the program. The students enrolling in Green Test Prep continue to do better and better. We’re experiencing exponential growth, mostly through word of mouth, and for the first time in years, I feel like I’m really making a difference. I’m helping thousands of kids to excel on their own terms, rather than acting as a custodian to ~40 kids a year.

    My goal is to make Green Test Prep a household name. Our average student is improving by over 345 points on the SAT and 4.66 points on the ACT — these are life-altering improvements, but we’re competing against larger, less-effective companies with almost unlimited money to spend on marketing and sales staff. It’s an uphill battle, but we’re winning it, and I wake up every morning with a mission and a purpose that I never had in my own life.

    I love what I do now, and I’ve been fortunate enough to  learn a lesson that a lot of people learn way too late: Happiness comes from the things you do every day, and not from the balance in your bank account.

    Anthony-James Green is the founder and CEO of Green Test Prep. Follow him on Twitter @GreenTestPrep.

    SEE ALSO: After unexpectedly losing her job, one woman built a business that earned nearly $500,000 this year

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    child painting

    The Turning the Tide report released last week by the Harvard Graduate School of Education has colleges and universities across the country taking a hard look at what many believe is a deeply flawed admissions process.

    A number of colleges have already been reexamining their admissions process. In September last year, more than 80 leading colleges and universities announced the formation of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, so as to make changes in the admissions process and diversify student bodies.

    The new report characterizes the message being sent by colleges to high schools “as simply valuing their achievements, not their responsibility for others and their communities.” It asks college admissions officers to take the following three primary steps to improve the admissions process so that it is fairer and inculcates a concern for others:

    • promote more meaningful contributions through community service and other engagement for the public good
    • assess how students engage and contribute to family as well as community across race, culture and class
    • redefine achievement in ways that level the playing field for economically diverse students and reduce excessive achievement pressure.

    However, what often gets left out of admission criteria is a student’s creativity. As a creativity researcher, I have studied many aspects of creativity that reinforce the idea that creativity is a valuable and necessary attribute for students in the 21st century.

    Why measure creativity?

    Creativity can be seen at all levels – from young children to geniuses. Creativity can help us discover new things, from the next generation of smartphones to new ways of recycling our trash.

    It enables us to make art, tell stories, design buildings, test hypotheses and try new recipes. Indeed, creative people have been found to be more likely to succeed in business and be happier in life.

    There is a growing volume of research that shows putting greater emphasis on creativity assessments in the college application process could provide a more holistic impression of students’ potential. Right now, we look only at a narrow range of abilities, which means that we over-reward people with certain strengths and penalize people with other strengths.

    Students Classroom Computers OnlineStudies have shown that the most widely used standardized performance tests for college admission, the SAT, is a better predictor of college success for white students than African-American and Hispanic-American students.

    However, creativity assessments are more likely to be gender- and ethnically neutral, thereby avoiding the potential for bias.

    A study we conducted recently on more than 600 college applicants compared applicants’ performance on a series of online tests assessing various forms of creativity to application data, which included SAT scores, class rank and college admission interview scores.

    We found that traditional admissions measures (SAT scores and GPA) were only weakly related to the creativity measures. Further, people with high creative self-efficacy (i.e., people who think they are creative) did slightly worse on some admission tests.

    We are continuing to capture data about students over the course of their college careers to assess whether including creativity tests with traditional admissions measures can better predict student outcomes such as retention, college success and graduation rates.

    Assessing creativity makes a difference

    We do understand that assessing students' creativity would not be easy. But that is not to say it is impossible.

    As part of the admissions process, students could be asked about how they would solve world problems or what their dream job would be or how they would spend lottery winnings; these responses could then be rated for their creativity by admission officers or trained raters. Many studies have shown that this is a reliable and valid way of measuring creativity, although it can be resource-intensive.

    Some universities may ask such questions in current admissions, but most do not actually score answers for creativity. In fact, being creative on admissions essays can actually hurt students.

    standardized testIf there are concerns about adding too much stress on students during applications, schools could use a portfolio approach in which students could simply upload a poem, drawing, movie, invention or science experiment that they have already produced.

    The fact is that using creativity as a criterion in admissions has been done before. At one point, Cornell University Professor of Human Development Robert Sternberg and colleagues included creativity and practical intelligence as an optional part of college admissions at Tufts University. What Sternberg and colleagues found was that students enjoyed the application process more and the average SAT score of all applicants increased from previous years.

    In an equally important outcome, differences on these new measures showed reduced or no ethnic differences, and minority admissions increased.

    Such results are typical in creativity studies. Whereas many standardized or intelligence tests show ethnic, cultural or gender differences, creativity measures tend to produce no differences – everyone has the same potential to be creative.

    Creativity is more important than ever as college and universities try to both emphasize diversity in their student population and seek future innovators in science, technology, engineering and math, otherwise known as the STEM fields. Including creativity helps accomplish both goals.

    If early impressions of the Turning the Tide report are any indication, we could be heading into a pivotal time for college admissions. Such changes should not be limited to the scope of this landmark report. We need to be creative.

    James C. Kaufman, Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Connecticut

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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    The SAT is getting a huge overhaul. Starting in March, it'll have just two sections instead of three, and those sections are going to be totally different. We talked to Stacy Caldwell, vice president at The College Board, the company that administers the SAT, who explained the changes.

    Story by Jacob Shamsian and editing by Stephen Parkhurst

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    Business Insider asked Gary Grubera theoretical physicist and educator, to show us what the new SAT questions would look like. Then we had him show us how to nail them.

    (That quiz is here.)

    Here, Gruber walks us through his thought processes for solving the problems:

    1. Reading Test

    library books

    Here's the passage from the quiz:

    Classical music is termed “classical” because it can be heard over and over again without the listener tiring of the music. A symphony of Brahms can be heard and heard again with the same or even heightened enjoyment a few months later. It is unfortunate that the sales of classical music are dismal compared to other types of music. Perhaps this is because many people in our generation were not exposed to classical music at an early age and therefore did not get to know the music.

    In contrast to classical music, contemporary non-classical music has a high impact on the listener but unfortunately is not evergreen. Its enjoyment lasts only as long as there is current interest in the topic or emotion that the music portrays, and that only lasts for three months or so until other music replaces it, especially when another bestselling song comes out. The reason why the impact of this type of music is not as great when it first comes out is thought to be because technically the intricacy of the music is not high and not sophisticated, although many critics believe it is because the music elicits a particular emotional feeling that gradually becomes worn out in time.

    According to the passage, it can be assumed that the majority of younger people do not like classical music because they:

    A. buy only the bestselling songs

    B. do not have the sophistication of a true music lover

    C. grow tired of classical music

    D. did not hear that type of music in their youth

    Choice D is correct.

    Gruber: See lines where it states that many people in our generation were not exposed to classical music. Don’t be lured into the distractor choice A, even though there was mention of sales. 

    String Instrument Sheet Music Musician

    2. The reason the enjoyment of a particular piece of contemporary music may not last as long as a piece of classical music is the:

    A. emotion of a person, which is thought to change in time

    B high sophistication of the classical music and its technical intricacy

    C. fact that there is always another piece of contemporary music that replaces the one before it

    D. economy and marketing of the songs

    Choice A is correct.

    Gruber:  See lines where it mentions that the emotional feeling gradually wears out in time.  

    listening to music headphones

    3. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

    A. Lines (Paragraph 1): “Perhaps…music.”

    B. Lines (Paragraph 2): “In contrast…evergreen”

    C. Lines (Paragraph 2): “The reason…high”

    D. Lines (Paragraph 2): “because…time”

    Choice D is correct.

    Gruber: The phrase, “although many critics believe it is because the music elicits a particular emotional feeling that gradually becomes worn out in time.”   

    4. The graph below illustrates the number of listeners of a particular type of music per day in a metropolitan area.

    Screen Shot 2016 02 11 at 4.21.05 PM

    According to the graph:

    A. the listeners of classical music and non-classical music are steadily declining

    B. the gap between the listeners of classical music and non-classical music steadily increased through the years 1960-2015

    C. the number of listeners of classical music was at some time as large as the listeners of non-classical music

    D. it can be assumed that the number of classical music listeners will exceed the number of listeners of non-classical music at some point in time

    Choice B is correct.

    Gruber: You can see that the difference (gap) between the number of classical music lovers and non-classical music lovers gets greater as time goes on.

    Choice A is incorrect: The listeners of non-classical music was not steadily declining.

    Choice C is incorrect: The number of listeners of classical music was always less than the listeners of non-classical music.

    Choice D is incorrect: It seems that the number of classical music lovers is diminishing in time while the number of non-classical music lovers is increasing or remaining steady.

    listening to music on headphones

    5. The term "evergreen" at the beginning of the second paragraph most nearly means:

    A. colorful

    B. lasting

    C. current

    D. encompassing

    Choice B is correct.

    Gruber: Since the next sentence after the word “evergreen” qualifies that enjoyment lasts only for a short time, “lasting” would be an appropriate definition of “evergreen” in this context. Be careful of the distractor choice “colorful.” 

    Science lab

    6. In a college biology class, 60 students are chosen to study microorganisms. The study groups have been divided into 18 sections where each section will have 3 or 6 students. How many of the sections will have exactly 3 students?

    A. 2

    B. 4



    Choice D is correct.

    Gruber: Let the number of sections with 3 students be denoted as x and the number of sections with 6 students denoted as y.

    Then (1) 3x + 6y = 60 (the total number of students)

    And (2) x + y = 18 (the number of sections) 

    Now use a strategy of simplifying the equations.

    Simplify equation (1) by dividing both sides by 3:

    (1) becomes: x + 2y = 20.

    But we have (2): x + y = 18. 

    Now use a strategy of subtracting equations (2) from (1):

    We get y = 2. 

    Now substitute y = 2 into equation (2) and we get x = 16.

    The SAT is getting an overhaul

    7. If -5/4 <-2p+3 < -1, what is one possible value of 6p-9?

    A. 2

    B. 2 ½

    C. 3

    D. 3 ½

    Choice D is correct.

    Gruber: Anything less than 15/4 or greater than +3.

    Look at (1) -5/4 < -2p +3 

    Use the strategy of representing 6p – 9 in a form you already have: 

    (-2p + 3) (-3) = 6p -9

    So multiply inequality (1) by (-3).

    You need to use the basic skill: You reverse the inequality when you multiply by a negative number.

    So (-5/4)(-3) > (-2p + 3) (-3)


    15/4 > 6p -9

    Now look at the given -2p + 3 < - 1

    Multiply this by (-3):

    You again have to reverse the inequality sign and get:

    (-2p +3)(-3) > (-3)(-1) 


    6p – 9 > 3

    So the value of 6p –9 is such that

    15/4 > 6p - 9 > 3

    or 3 ¾ > 6p – 9 >3

    Thus one value of 6p – 9 can be 3 ½.

    france tennis

    8. 180 tennis players are competing in a tournament.  The tennis players are separated into three levels of ability: A (high), B (middle), and C (low), with the number of players in each category shown in the table below.

    Screen Shot 2016 02 11 at 4.32.52 PM

    The tennis committee has 54 prizes and will award them proportionately to the number of players at each level.  How many prizes will be awarded to players in level A?

    A. 6

    B. 7

    C. 8

    D. 9

    Choice D is correct. 

    Gruber: The phrase “proportionately…in each category” means that

    Screen Shot 2016 02 12 at 12.08.14 PM

    exam, test, classroom

    9. If x-4 is a factor of x2– ax + a, what is the value of a if a is a constant?

    A. 16/3

    B. 8/3

    C. -8/3

    D. -16/3

    Choice A is correct.

    Gruber: Translate words to math.

    (x - 4) is a factor of x2– ax +a means that there is another factor

    (x + b) of x2– ax + a such that (x – 4)(x + b) = x2– ax + a.

    Now use the strategy of writing (x – 4)(x + b) in another form to get more information.

    Multiply out:

    (x – 4)(x + b) = x2– 4x + bx – 4b which is equal to x2– ax + a.

    From this we get:

    -4x + bx – 4b = -ax + a

    Now think of the possibilities.  If x = 0, then

    (1) -4b = a

    But if -4b = a, then

    -4x + bx = -ax for all x and if x = 1, then

    (2) -4 + b = -a


    (3) b = -a + 4

    Substituting b in (3) into b in (1), we get:

    (4) -4(-a + 4) = a or 4a – 16 = a and get 3a = 16, a = 16/3

    10. In the following figure, adjacent sides meet at right angles.  What is the perimeter of the figure?

    Screen Shot 2016 02 11 at 4.41.23 PM

    A. 35 m

    B. 70 m

    C. 140 m

    D. 160 m

    Choice B is correct.

    Gruber: Label the sides of the figure, adding variables where no number is given.  You can see that for the vertical sides of the figure:

    a + 6m + b = 20m

    While for the horizontal sides:

    c + d + e = 15m

    The perimeter equals:

    b + e + 6m + d + a + c + 20m +15m

    = (a + 6m + b) + (c + d + e) + 20m + 15m

    = (20m) + (15m) + 20m + 15m = 70m

    SEE ALSO: Here's how to master 5 of the trickiest GMAT questions

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    Shaan Patel

    With a perfect SAT score, Shaan Patel thought he'd be able to get into one of his dream schools in the Ivy League.

    Unfortunately, that didn't happen, but Patel's fine with it.

    Instead, he's been able to build a thriving SAT-prep startup that got him on ABC's "Shark Tank" and let him strike a deal with Mark Cuban.

    "My goal is to become Mark Cuban’s most successful 'Shark Tank' investment," Patel told Business Insider.

    From growing up at his parents' budget motel to getting a perfect SAT and running his own startup, Patel likes to joke that he's "every Indian stereotype rolled into one." But his story serves as a great reminder that hard work eventually pays off — and an appearance on "Shark Tank" can really make your business fly.

    "The 'Shark Tank' effect is very real, and it’s still going on," Patel said.

    From a budget motel to getting perfect SAT scores

    Patel grew up in a budget motel his family owned in Las Vegas. His high school was in one of the country's worst school districts with a 40% dropout rate, he says.

    But that didn't deter Patel from achieving academic excellence. He was his class's valedictorian, homecoming king, and a White House Presidential Scholar, a program reserved for only two students per state.

    Despite getting a mere 1,760 on his first SAT practice exam, Patel spent hours studying the test, and was even able to get a perfect 2,400 score.

    With that kind of a background, Patel seemed like a perfect shoo-in for some of the top schools. But he was rejected by every Ivy League school he applied to, including Harvard, Princeton, and Brown. Stanford rejected him too.

    Eventually, Patel took a full scholarship offer from USC, enrolling in its dual BA/MD program. He always wanted to be a doctor, so it was a perfect program to prep him for medical school — but he soon had a change of heart.

    Part-time entrepreneur

    Shaan PatelIn the summer before starting med school, Patel tried to write an SAT prep book, based on his own test-taking skills. But over 100 publishers rejected his idea, so he launched an online SAT-prep site called 2400 Expert instead, using some of his scholarship money as seed capital.

    Soon, his company took off, and McGraw-Hill, one of the publishers that initially rejected him, came back and offered him a book deal. Patel wanted to keep growing his business, so he ended up taking a two-year leave of absence from USC to pursue an MBA at Yale.

    In fact, his story was so good that he was able to grab the "Shark Tank" producers' attention, and in June 2015, he ended up going on the show. (His episode didn't air until January 2016.)

    But the sharks weren't too impressed. Although they liked his growth and margins, they didn't like the fact that he was doubling as a student and entrepreneur.

    "You have to be completely committed," Kevin O'Leary, one of the sharks, better known as "Mr. Wonderful," told him. "I don’t believe you. You can’t be a part-time entrepreneur."

    One by one, each shark started to drop out. Patel, who was confident he'd get multiple offers before going on the show, started to get nervous.

    "That was a really scary moment — reality sort of slapped me in the face," Patel says.

    At the end, he was able to get a deal with Mark Cuban, but at a much lower valuation. Patel sought $250,000 for a 10% stake, valuing his company at $2.5 million. He had to settle for $250,000 for 20%, slashing his company's value in half.

    Most transformative experience

    Still, Patel calls his experience on "Shark Tank" the most transformative thing to have ever happened to him. Aside from the expertise he gets from Cuban, Patel says the national exposure he received is invaluable.

    Now Patel manages more than 40 employees, mostly part-time instructors. His business has a growing archive of recorded sessions and offers in-person classes in nearly 20 cities nationwide. 

    He says his sales are projected to hit over $3 million this year, a huge jump from the $500,000 it was seeing before going on "Shark Tank." He also expects to sell roughly 10,000 of his SAT-prep books in this year alone, the same amount he sold over the past four years combined.

    "I'd say 'Shark Tank' was probably the single greatest moment of my life so far," Patel said.

    It's why Patel says everyone with an idea or an actual business should apply for "Shark Tank" and take their chances on going on the show. And to anyone considering going on the open-call audition, Patel offers the following three tips:

    Give away something memorable: You only get 60 seconds to impress the open-call directors, so make sure you impress them with something physical or memorable, preferably at the end of the open-call pitch.

    Be entertaining on video: Once you pass through the next round, you're asked to submit a five- to 10-minute video. Be witty and entertaining, like Patel did. ("I'm an Indian-American who got a perfect score on the SAT, got straight A's, my parents own both a gas station and motel — yes "Patel Motel" is a thing — and I'm in med school to become a doctor. So I'm pretty much every Indian stereotype rolled into one.")

    Fill out the application as if you're talking to a stranger: The application is over 20 pages long, but the producers know nothing about your business. The only way to keep them interested is to ask yourself, "What would a stranger want to know next?" until you've conveyed all your thoughts.

    You can watch Patel's appearance on "Shark Tank" below:

    SEE ALSO: This guy turned his failure on 'Shark Tank' into a $28 million investment from Richard Branson

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    Shaan Patel

    Shaan Patel had his fair share of rejection when he was applying to college.

    Even armed with a perfect SAT score, he was rejected from every Ivy League school to which he applied — Harvard, Princeton, and a special medical program at Brown. He also got rejected from Stanford. 

    Undaunted from past rejections, Patel went on ABC's "Shark Tank" and struck a deal for his SAT-prep company, Business Insider's Eugene Kim reported over the weekend.

    "That was amazing," Patel said after accepting his offer. "Mark Cuban is my business partner. That's pretty cool."

    Cuban offered Patel $250,000 for a 20% stake in his company.

    Patel told Business Insider he is using the money to hire more employees, expand to more cities, and improve his offline and digital marketing efforts.

    Patel, 25, an entrepreneur from Las Vegas, Nevada, has never quite followed the expected path.

    In a previous interview with Business Insider, Patel told us he spent his formative years growing up in the Sky Ranch Motel, a self-proclaimed budget motel that his family owned and operated as well as called their family home.

    "At a young age I saw, like, drug deals and prostitutes," Patel told Business Insider.

    The motel is a source of embarrassment for his mother, but Patel says he embraces it and doesn't try and downplay its existence in his life.

    "It's kinda like that's where I grew up and people should know," he said.

    With a backstory like that, some people may be surprised to find out just how impressive Patel's high-school accomplishments actually are.

    He was the valedictorian of his class, was crowned homecoming king, and even shook President George W. Bush's hand in 2007 as a White House Presidential Scholar, a program that recognizes two academically gifted students from each state.

    He also scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT in high school, an accomplishment he has since parlayed into a thriving SAT test-prep company that got him the backing of Cuban.

    Ivy League rejections 

    Sky Ranch MotelBuoyed by perfect test scores and numerous extracurricular activities, Patel applied to colleges seeking out some of the top programs in the US. He was rejected from the Ivy League and Stanford. 

    "I do think that Asian-Americans have a disadvantage applying to college," Patel said.

    Patel is Indian-American and made the comment in reference to both his own rejections as well as recent news stories citing Asian-Americans who say they face discrimination in college applications.

    But, not one to dwell on disappointments, Patel explained that he got into the University of Southern California on a full scholarship.

    At USC, he pursued the joint BA/MD program that had always piqued his interest. In high school, Patel had volunteered in the emergency department of a hospital, and that developed into a passion with medicine and the desire to become a doctor.

    The joint-degree program at USC offered a way into medical school and the security that he would be able to realize his dream of becoming a practicing physician.

    More disappointment before finding success

    Patel has always been the type of person who embraces having a full plate. "I like being busy," Patel said. "Busy" seems to be a bit of an understatement.

    After he had finished his undergraduate studies and was about to start his first year in medical school, Patel tried to launch an SAT prep book to help students prepare for taking the exam using the methods he did. His attempts were unsuccessful. One editor even went as far as to give him the brutal feedback that he didn't have an engaging personality and was not a great writer no matter how well he scored on the SAT.

    Shaan PatelUndaunted, he used the last of his scholarship money — just $900 — to launch an SAT prep company website called 2400 Expert (Patel is changing the company name to Prep Exepert in March). He advertised it as the only SAT prep course taught by a student who got a perfect score in high school.

    The very first course ran during the summer before med school, and it took off from there. Word caught on after his pilot course showed an average improvement per student of 376. Patel says this kind of score improvement is unheard of in the test-prep industry.

    Once the summer was over, Patel trained qualified instructors and managed the company remotely from California.

    And more satisfying, McGraw-Hill, one of the major education-publishing giants, saw the success Shaan was gaining and offered him a book deal after all. Shaan's book, "SAT 2400 in Just 7 Steps," was published in July 2012.

    More College Aspirations

    Patel was juggling a growing SAT prep business with studying for medical-licensing-board exams and doing 36-hour surgical-rotation shifts at the hospital. He still loved the medical profession, but was also highly interested in learning how to scale and grow his business. 

    He decided to take a two-year leave of absence from USC to pursue business school, where he has already completed his first year working towards his MBA at Yale's School of Management.

    Shaan PatelLast summer, rather than working in an internship like most of his classmates, Patel focused his attention on 2400 Expert. Since he launched his company in 2011, he says he has grossed over $6 million in sales from 2400 Expert course sales, his McGraw-Hill book sales, and licensed content sales. 

    Patel says his company is now online and in 20 cities including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, and Atlanta.

    So the logical question for Patel is whether he's planning on continuing on with the medical field, and how he aims to make it all fit together.

    Patel says his decision to go to business school was not solely driven by the desire to grow his company. He's also very interested in the management of healthcare.

    His plan once he graduates from Yale is to go back to USC and finish his last year of medical school.

    And he aims to choose a specialty that allows him enough flexibility where he can practice medicine and run his own clinic, as well as leaving time to pursue his other entrepreneurial interests as well

    As someone who has struggled and succeeded in launching a business, Patel is particularly qualified to answer what it takes to start your own company. His biggest advice is not to let rejection get you down. "Rejection is the necessary evil of entrepreneurship," he said.

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    Students take a university entrance examination at a lecture hall in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, September 15, 2009. Students in Spain must pass the exam after completing secondary school in order to gain access to university. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo (SPAIN EDUCATION SOCIETY)

    On Saturday, March 5, the SAT is changing its format for the first time in over a decade.

    In 2005, the College Board, the company that owns and publishes the SAT, began scoring the SAT out of 2400.

    The College Board is now reverting back to scoring the exam out of 1600. 

    And better yet for high school students, the changes will also impact the content of the test and make it the easiest version of the SAT ever, according to Shaan Patel, founder of SAT-prep company Prep Expert.

    Here's why:

    1. No Obscure Vocabulary

    The new version of the SAT will be easier because there will no longer be obscure vocabulary to trip up test takers, Patel told Business Insider. High school students will no longer have to memorize words they've never heard and will likely never use.

    Instead, the College Board made the measured decision to focus on vocabulary words that students will encounter on a regular basis in college and in future jobs. On the College Board's website it reference its decision saying, "No longer will students use flashcards to memorize obscure words, only to forget them the minute they put their test pencils down."

    2. Fewer Answer Choices

    Shaan Patel

    The new format will have four answer choices, rather than five, as the exam does today. This update will benefit test takers in two highly important ways, according to Patel.

    First, test takers will save time, as they will have one less answer choice to read through on each question. Second, test takers have better probability of getting the question right as they have a 25%, rather than 20%, chance of choosing the right answer.

    3. More Time

    Patel says one of the biggest complaints students have with the current version of the SAT is that there is not enough time to take the exam. That will change with the new version of the test.

    There will be more time per section on the new version, and students will even have double the amount of time to write their essay. Additionally, the new 1600 version of the test will have 16 fewer questions that the old version.

     4. No Penalty for Guessing

    On the previous version of the SAT, students were penalized for guessing the wrong answer. For that reason, Patel's test prep company used to provide students with strategies to know when they should guess and answer or leave a question blank.

    But the new system doesn't penalize students for choosing the wrong answer. If you're taking the new SAT, Patel advises you to make sure to answer every single question.

    SEE ALSO: A perfect SAT couldn't get this guy into the Ivy League — but he persevered and now runs a business that makes millions

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    SAT test prep exam

    (Reuters) - At least five times in the past three years, U.S. high school students were administered SAT tests that included questions and answers widely available online more than a year before they took the exam, a Reuters analysis shows.

    Reuters reported last month that the College Board, the not-for-profit that owns the college entrance exam, had often reused SATs overseas after first giving the test in America and even after some test questions began to circulate online.

    The news agency also reported that the organization had sometimes recycled exams in the United States, including last January. That was during a regular Saturday exam sitting, the day most Americans take the SAT.

    But the College Board has recycled SATs more frequently than the occasional Saturday. Reuters found that tests were also reused in the United States during special midweek sittings, on Sundays and during makeup exams, even though some questions and answers from those tests had been discussed online.

    A test given on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, for example, previously had been administered in June 2013, Reuters determined. A copy of that test booklet was available in advance on a website called Between the time the booklet was posted and early 2015, the website reported that the document had been downloaded more than 53,000 times.

    It’s unclear how many students took the exam during the five sittings Reuters identified. The College Board has said that it’s unable to assess how many test-takers may have seen recycled exam material online before taking the test.

    Reusing test items is common in the standardized test industry. It helps ensure that scores on different versions of an exam are comparable. It also reduces costs.

    But if some test-takers see the exam beforehand, they may gain an unfair advantage and a better chance to secure coveted spots at top universities. That leaves college admissions officers concerned about the validity of scores.

    During a conference call scheduled for this Thursday with the College Board, a group that includes university admissions officers and high school counselors plans to discuss the reuse of SATs.

    “I would say that the Reuters articles will be front and center as a part of that conversation,” said Anne Richardson, who chairs the international advisory committee of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The organization has more than 15,000 members.

    Brown University Students Graduation

    “What I am hearing is there is a growing and vocal voice that is urging the College Board not to recycle tests,” said Richardson, who is director of college counseling at Kents Hill School in Maine. “I think that is becoming the number one issue in terms of test security.”

    The College Board has reused SAT test material overseas even after being warned that the material had leaked, Reuters reported last month.

    In some cases, the College Board acknowledged that it also used test materials that it considered to have been compromised. The breakdowns in test security – particularly in Asia - were more pervasive that the College Board has disclosed publicly.

    The SAT is used by thousands of U.S. colleges to help select applicants. A redesigned version of the exam debuted last month, but College Board officials told Reuters they plan to continue the practice of recycling exam material.

    SAT School Day

    A growing number of high school juniors now take the SAT during midweek sittings. Schools in more than a half-dozen states - including Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Michigan and New Hampshire - and in cities such as New York, Seattle and Washington now offer the exam on what is known as SAT School Day. The College Board states on its website that “during the 2015–16 school year, over 500,000 students” will take the SAT on a school day.

    Zach Goldberg, a College Board spokesman, declined to comment on the use of recycled tests in America. “It is the College Board’s long-standing policy that in the interest of test security we do not comment on specific test content or the test form schedule,” he said.

    In addition to SAT School Day, the College Board also has given recycled tests during other special U.S. test sittings, including on Sundays and makeup test days, according to online discussions among test-takers.

    For example, some students who took the SAT on Sunday, October 19, 2014, reported online that the exam was the same test given on a Sunday in June 2013.

    taking exams

    “What makes you think it was the same test?” a test-taker asked on College Confidential, a website popular with college applicants.

    “Because if you look at the answer thread for the June 2013 Sunday tests, it's all the answers of the test I just took,” another test-taker responded.

    A discussion thread in June 2013 contained a long list of questions and answers on the test given at the Sunday sitting that month, including math problems and reading passages.

    One test-taker reported that the test previously had been given several times before: “The November 2008 was the same test as the Sunday June 2013. Also the December international 2012 and January 2011 international are also the same as the June 2013 Sunday test.”

    “I can’t believe they would repeat a test 4 times,” another person responded.

    Some students who took the SAT on two makeup test days last February reported online that they were given tests that had been used before. Questions and answers from those exams were discussed at the time the SATs were first administered - and can still be found online.

    'Real' SAT Tests

    The College Board instructs students not to disclose test questions after taking the SAT. But many American students go online immediately afterward to discuss questions and answers.

    Shortly after the SAT was administered on an SAT School Day in April 2015, for example, test-takers on College Confidential discussed creating a Google document they could share online.

    One soon did. “i would suggest opening this link incognito!!!!!!!!!” the document begins. “WHAT WAS THE ABSWER TO SECTION 3 NUMBER 20?!?”

    Another contributor said the test had been given before, in June 2013. The person provided a link from to a copy of the test. Participants in the online discussions said that same exam also had been administered overseas in June 2014. Chatter about some of the answers was in the shared Google document.

    The CrackSAT website offers SAT practice tests as well as what it calls “Real SAT Tests” for download. In February 2015, the site indicated that the test that soon would be given again in April 2015 already had been downloaded 53,671 times, according to, which archives websites.

    Reuters did not receive a response to an email sent to the contact email address on The site’s Internet registration lists a non-existent physical address in Toronto, Canada, and a non-working telephone number. Until last year, it was registered at an address at a university in Beijing, China, according to, a research service.

    The April 2015 midweek SAT test administration was not the first time test-takers reported online that an exam had been recycled on an SAT School Day.

    A posting on College Confidential in February 2013 stated: “Ok, so I took the test yesterday, February 27th 2013 in a school day testing. And today after searching for some SAT vocab words that appeared on the test, I discovered that the exact test that I took was used in 2006, 2010, 2011, AND 2012?!”

    The test-taker concluded: “If you just read past discussions of the SAT test before you take the actual test it might be easy to cheat! I’m concerned!”

    (Edited by Blake Morrison.)

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    taking notes

    Ideally, multiple-choice exams would be random, without patterns of right or wrong answers. However, all tests are written by humans, and human nature makes it impossible for any test to be truly random.

    Because of this fundamental flaw, William Poundstone, author of "Rock Breaks Scissors: A Practical Guide to Outguessing and Outwitting Almost Everybody," claims to have found several common patterns in multiple-choice tests, including computer-randomized exams like the SATs.

    After examining 100 tests — 2,456 questions in total — from varied sources, including middle school, high school, college, and professional school exams; driver's tests; licensing exams for firefighters and radio operators; and even newspaper quizzes, Poundstone says he found statistical patterns across all sources.

    From this data, he determined several strategies to up your chances of guessing correctly on any exam, whether you're stumbling through a chemistry final or retaking your driver's test.

    While Poundstone emphasizes that knowledge of the subject matter is always the best test-taking strategy and that "a guessing strategy is useful to the extent that it beats random guessing," he suggests you always guess when you're unsure. And guessing smartly will only improve your chances of being correct.

    Here are a few of Poundstone's tactics for outsmarting any multiple-choice test.

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    1. Ignore conventional wisdom

    You've probably been given test-taking advice along the lines of "always guess the middle answer if you don't know" or "avoid any answer that uses the words 'never,' 'always,' 'all,' or 'none'" at some point in your life.

    However, according to Poundstone, this conventional wisdom doesn't hold up against statistics. In fact, he found that the answers "none of the above" or "all of the above" were correct 52% of the time. Choosing one of these answers gives you a 90% improvement over random guessing, he says.

    2. Look at the surrounding answers

    Poundstone found correct answer choices hardly repeated consecutively, so looking at the answers of the questions you do know will help you figure out the ones you're stuck on. For example, if you're stuck on question No. 2, but know that the answer to No. 1 is A and the answer to No. 3 is D, those choices can probably be eliminated for No. 2.

    Of course, "knowledge trumps outguessing," Poundstone reminds us. Cross out answers you know are wrong based on facts first.

    3. Choose the longest answer

    Poundstone also noticed that the longest answer on multiple-choice tests was usually correct. "Test makers have to make sure that right answers are indisputably right," he says. "Often this demands some qualifying language. They may not try so hard with wrong answers."

    If one choice is noticeably longer than its counterparts, he says it's likely the correct answer.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    school test

    Some parents are so angry with the testing regime facing their children that they have come together in an attempt to boycott primary school exams.

    Preparation by teachers for these standardized achievement tests (SATs) in England have involved a narrowing of the curriculum, including a specific focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar.

    Parents believe that their children should be stimulated instead by more enriching activities and projects. There is also a worry that the tests may cause undue stress and pressure on their young children to perform well. These beliefs are widespread: more than 49,000 parents have signed a petition to abolish SATs altogether.

    An awareness of pressure

    Teachers are under considerable pressure for pupils to perform well on SATs. Performance-related pay and position in school league tables depend on test results. Parents believe that exam results will have a bearing on their young child’s future and understandably want them to do well.

    But the children are also well-aware that their performance on the SATs is important to their teachers and parents. Teachers may unwittingly transmit the stress they are under to their pupils. Children can also pick up on their parents’ attitudes and associated behavior and feel under pressure to make them proud.

    This pressure from parents is perhaps the largest source of stress for children aged ten to 11 who are working towards their Key Stage 2 exams. One Year 6 pupil my colleagues and I interviewed described the source of the pressure he felt:

    You want to get them [SATS questions] right because other people want you to get them right and, like, you don’t want to disappoint people.

    Test anxiety

    Stressed Law StudentsStress and pressure about forthcoming exams can result in what education researchers have termed “test anxiety”. This can present itself via a number of symptoms.

    Children can suffer from negative thoughts such as: “If I don’t pass this test, I will never get a good job”. They can also suffer physiological symptoms such as tight muscles or trembling and distracting behaviors such as playing with a pencil. The effects of anxiety during a test can influence the child’s ability to process and understand test questions and perform at their best.

    It is well established that pupils with high levels of test anxiety perform more poorly in their exams. The overall prevalence of test anxiety in primary school children is on the increase and it is fairly common for children at the end of primary school. Year 6 pupils report experiencing anxiety either some or most of the time when asked two weeks prior to their exams.

    But there are differences in how SATs are viewed by different children. Some perceive them to be stressful, while others view them as a challenge. As well as pressure from parents, pupils in Year 6 have cited the demands of the testing situation as a cause of stress. This includes completing exams under timed conditions and having no contact with classmates or teachers. There are also concerns about exam results being used to influence which set a child will be put in at secondary school. Another Year 6 pupil my colleagues and I interviewed said:

    You look at your booklet and you’ve got like loads of questions left and you’re like, ‘I can’t do this’. You just want to just sit there and go ‘I can’t do this’ and walk off.

    The extent to which children aged six to seven, working towards Key Stage 1 exams, feel test-anxious, is unclear. Very little research has been conducted exclusively with them. Some younger children, however, have been found to display clear signs of anxiety or stress during the period leading up to the SATs.

    Reducing the pressure

    charter elementary school students kids How resilient a child is can reduce the negative effects of test anxiety on performance. Specifically, children who believe they can succeed, trust and seek comfort from others easily and who are not overly sensitive, can be better at combatting the problems associated with test anxiety. Parents may therefore help their children by attempting to nurture and boost their resilience.

    Keeping SATs “low-key” is crucial to minimizing anxiety and stress among children. Parents should reassure their children that results are not critical and that the most important thing is that they try their best. In the classroom, teachers should direct time and effort towards familiarizing children to the format and procedures involved in standardized testing. For instance, practicing with past test papers while children sit at individual desks, could help.

    Both parents and teachers could also keep a conscious check of how they may subconsciously transmit feelings of stress or tension to young children. Pupils who display signs of test anxiety require more space and understanding, both at school and home – this includes increased tolerance during the testing period.

    These strategies may go some way to reducing the pressure of tests on young children. It is essential that schools and teachers take the time to focus on the social, emotional and mental health and development of children.

    Laura Nicholson, Researcher, Faculty of Education and Associate Tutor, Department of Psychology, Edge Hill University

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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    Students take a university entrance examination at a lecture hall in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, September 15, 2009. Students in Spain must pass the exam after completing secondary school in order to gain access to university. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo (SPAIN EDUCATION SOCIETY)

    As the summer winds down and students prepare for the fall semester, the issue of college admissions will undoubtedly begin to weigh heavily on the minds of high-school seniors.

    One of the biggest questions surrounding this topic is whether an applicant will do better on the SAT or ACT.

    Business Insider talked to Dr. Gary Gruber, a theoretical physicist and educator who has dedicated his life to understanding the critical thinking skills essential in test-taking, to answer that question.

    Surprisingly, he said the two exams resemble each other today than at any time before.

    "The SAT is much closer to the ACT," Gruber, who has dozens of books published on standardized test taking, explained.

    "The reading is almost identical, and the math section is almost identical except the fact that its a little more tedious on the SAT," he continued. "The ACT is slightly more straight forward."

    Gary GruberBy tedious, Gruber explained that the questions on the SAT math section often have more material (reading or referencing a graph) that students must make their way through before answering.

    On the ACT you are more likely to find straightforward math questions, like simply solving an equation. 

    He gave an example of a tedious question that you'd be more likely to find on the SAT.

    Mary is a computer expert. Each week she is handed a number of computers that needs to be fixed. The following equation represents the number of computers at the end of the day that needs to be fixed: C = 16 – 2D, where C is the number of computers left and D is the number of days Mary has worked that week. What is the meaning of the number 16 in the preceding equation?

    (A) Mary will finish fixing all the computers in 16 days.

    (B) Mary fixes the computers at the rate of 16 per hour.

    (C) Mary fixes the computers at the rate of 16 per day.

    (D) Mary starts each week with 16 computers to fix.

    Choice D is correct.SAT v. ACT

    In terms of test format and content, there are also subtle differences between the two exams. The ACT, for example, has a science section while the SAT does not.

    "You don't need any science knowledge — like what is an enzyme — but you have to know how to interpret charts and graphs and data," Gruber said.

    Even though, the exams are really close in content, Gruber still said he thought one was slightly more difficult than the other. "Personally, I would say the SAT is a little more difficult," he said.

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    0 0

    Students take a university entrance examination at a lecture hall in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, September 15, 2009. Students in Spain must pass the exam after completing secondary school in order to gain access to university. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo (SPAIN EDUCATION SOCIETY)

    As the summer winds down and students prepare for the fall semester, the issue of college admissions will undoubtedly begin to weigh heavily on the minds of high-school seniors.

    One of the biggest questions surrounding this topic is whether an applicant will do better on the SAT or ACT.

    Business Insider talked to Dr. Gary Gruber, a theoretical physicist and educator who has dedicated his life to understanding the critical thinking skills essential in test-taking, to answer that question.

    Surprisingly, he said the two exams resemble each other today than at any time before.

    "The SAT is much closer to the ACT," Gruber, who has dozens of books published on standardized test taking, explained.

    "The reading is almost identical, and the math section is almost identical except the fact that its a little more tedious on the SAT," he continued. "The ACT is slightly more straight forward."

    Gary GruberBy tedious, Gruber explained that the questions on the SAT math section often have more material (reading or referencing a graph) that students must make their way through before answering.

    On the ACT you are more likely to find straightforward math questions, like simply solving an equation. 

    He gave an example of a tedious question that you'd be more likely to find on the SAT.

    Mary is a computer expert. Each week she is handed a number of computers that needs to be fixed. The following equation represents the number of computers at the end of the day that needs to be fixed: C = 16 – 2D, where C is the number of computers left and D is the number of days Mary has worked that week. What is the meaning of the number 16 in the preceding equation?

    (A) Mary will finish fixing all the computers in 16 days.

    (B) Mary fixes the computers at the rate of 16 per hour.

    (C) Mary fixes the computers at the rate of 16 per day.

    (D) Mary starts each week with 16 computers to fix.

    Choice D is correct.SAT v. ACT

    In terms of test format and content, there are also subtle differences between the two exams. The ACT, for example, has a science section while the SAT does not.

    "You don't need any science knowledge — like what is an enzyme — but you have to know how to interpret charts and graphs and data," Gruber said.

    Even though, the exams are really close in content, Gruber still said he thought one was slightly more difficult than the other. "Personally, I would say the SAT is a little more difficult," he said.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how to master questions on the new version of the SAT

    Join the conversation about this story »

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