MTG Tip – Study Actively

Study actively.
Do  problems.
Make flashcards.
Be engaged.

As end of the year finals and quarterly tests  approach, it’s as important as ever for students of all levels  to have good, effective study skills.  Active studying vs passive studying is a much more effective way to learn and to reinforce information.

For example, rather then reread a chapter in a History book, outline the chapter…. but how to outline… well there are many ways to make an effective outline (addressed in another blog post or at

Also, rather than scan Chemistry or Math concepts, catagorize problems into sets and do a series of practice problems.

Make flash cards for vocabulary rather then simply scanning word lists.

Active study takes about the same, or less, time than passive study and is much more effective.

Evaluating and Improving SAT / ACT results

Evaluating Your Test Results and Improving

The scores for the May SAT will be sent out soon. Regardless of your performance on this exam, most students will take the exam a second time with the goal of improving their scores. It is prudent to use the initial results to evaluate strengths and weaknesses and then proceed to revise your study plans accordingly. For example, if your writing score was subpar, you will need to put more effort into improving that aspect of the test in the future. The SAT is best learned slowly and steadily over a long period of time. Be sure to give yourself adequate time. It is far better to have a study plan than to try to work on these exams ad hoc. The plan should include consistent development of test taking strategies, as well as time to do practice testing.

Here are some questions that surround the new scoring system. At this time, some of these questions remain unknowns. These will be addressed in future articles:

  • How will colleges choose to interpret these scores?
  • Will the math and reading sections of the new test be weighted more strongly than the-writing section?
  • How do I know what a “good” score is?
  • Will an 1800 on the new system be the equivalent of a 1200 in the old system?
  • Should I take the test again?
  • Is it bad to take the SAT more than 2 times? 3 times?
  • How does the SAT compare to the ACT?

For more information on test preparation, or general academic tutoring, or a free educational personal evaluation of your child’s need, contact Steven Greene Ed.D. at mAke the grAde Academic Services at 215 540 TEST (8378) or www

The 4I Rule for Standard Tests

Process of Elimination and the “4I” Rule

The major advantage that test-taking students have on standardized tests like the PSAT, SAT, ACT as well as PSSAs, is that the tests are multiple choice style. In fact over 90% of the test questions are multiple choice.  (For the SAT there are 67 critical reading and sentence completion questions, 54 math questions and 49 writing questions that are multiple choice, with 10 free response math questions and a written essay).

Last post I introduced the concept of the “5 MlSes,” where most students miss questions because they do not fully understand or utilize the information in the question. Process of elimination takes advantage of utilizing the answers given to arrive at the correct answer.

Here is another very useful strategy that anyone can easily use.

The “4I” rule states: If you can eliminate four incorrect answers from the list of answers, then you are left with the correct answer.

This seems obvious, but it is not how most people think. Most of us are conditioned, by years of school, to create an answer and then check to see if it is on the answer list. This is how we are taught to learn and produce answers. This method works fine in the classroom, but not on standardized tests. Always remember, the SAT and these tests are not like school.

Here is a simplified example:

Fill in the blank: The capital of Oregon is ________________

Unless you are up on state geography, this is hit or miss. All or nothing. Now try the “4I” rule.

The capital of Oregon is:

a) Washington
b) Paris
c) Tokyo
d) Atlanta
e) Salem

You may not have known that Salem was the capital, but you likely knew that the other four were wrong. Four incorrect = one correct.

For more information on test preparation, or general academic tutoring, or a free educational personal evaluation of your child’s need, contact Steven Greene Ed.D. at mAke the grAde Academic Services at 215 540 TEST (8378) or www

the 5 MISes you want to avoid…


Taking standard tests is a rite of passage for college bound high school students.  Today, the major test available are the PSAT, SAT and ACT exams.  While the tests differ in various ways, fundamentally they test similar problem solving skills, foundational academic skills and abilities and the tests primarily require reasoning and logic as much as basic skills and calculation techniques.

To succeed on these exams it is as important to avoid common errors as it is to have ‘positive’ skills.   The questions are often presenting in confusing or convoluted way and the first step for success is to be sure to understand what the question is asking and avoiding the ‘5 MISes”.

They  are:

  • MISread
  • MISunderstand
  • MISinterpret
  • MISrepresent
  • MIScaluclate

The first three MISs focus on the understanding and interpreting the questions and correctly reading, understanding and interpreting what the question asks for.  This would apply to all aspects of the tests, Writing, Reading and Math areas.

MISrepresent addreses information needed that is included in the problem (e.g. length of the side of a rectangle) and insuring that the test taker obtains and uses it properly, and MIScalculate is concerned with properly executing any calculations needed.

Avoiding the 5 MISes is a fundamental way to become a stronger test taker on both standardized tests and academic school based tests.

For a FREE consultation concering SAT / PSAT /ACT prep (or other academic subjects particularly Math and Sciences) contact Dr Steven Greene at mAke the grAde AcAdemic services at

The ESSAY on standard tests

THE SAT: The Essay

When the SAT was changed in 2005, the most significant change was the inclusion of a handwritten essay based on a prompt.   Every student is given 25 minutes to plan and compose a complete essay on an assigned topic.  The single best piece of advice that I think you need to know for the essay is that it is much more important how you technically write your essay than the content of the essay.

The rubric used to score the essay has six parameters, of which five are primarily concerned with the essential mechanics of the essay including:

  • presentation of a clear purpose of the essay and a thesis statement
  • proper use of sentences
  • proper use of grammar and spelling appropriate
  • use of vocabulary and word choice
  • organization and development of the essay

Only a more subjective “overall impression” is left to the opinion of the reader.  It should be clear that the overall presentation is what score points on the essay.  Each of the parameters is scored by the reader on a 1-6 scale and the scores are summed and averaged and rounded to the nearest integer.

To complete the essay, the student should take a short time, to plan and organize his thoughts prior to beginning writing.  Further, these plans should he used as an outline for the essay. Remember, you have only 25 minutes to produce a finished product including Proofreading and minor editing.

For more information on test preparation, or general academic tutoring, or a free educational personal evaluation of your child’s need, contact Steven Greene Ed.D. at mAke the grAde Academic Services at 215 540 TEST (8378) or www

Free SAT Powerhouse Day – May 6th 3-5pm

If you are taking the SAT May 7th, MTG is offering a free! SAT Powerhouse day to help you review and prep for the test.  This is open to ALL MTG students and your friends as well.  Just stop by the MTG office any time between 3-5pm on Friday May 6th with any questions that you have.

No appointment needed.  Come one, come all.

This will also be available virtually via a LIVE web conference. (more details to follow).

SAT – How to finish strong

The next SAT is May 7th.  Only a week away.  It is critical for success with your SAT program to finish strong.  The keys are:

  • focus on using strategies
  • daily practice: 20-30 minutes a day
  • review past material
  • work on pacing using timed exercises
  • use the systems you’ve learned
  • attend the SAT ‘camp’ on Friday May 6th
  • contact mAke the grAde with any questions you have


Welcome to the NEW!!!
official mAke the grAde site.

After 3.666666666666666 years, the MTG site has been given a face lift.  The same basic features are here in this site that everyone enjoyed in the last version of the MTG  site.

This site is built in the wordpress platform. This allows for some nice features:

  1. Must easier access to the ‘code’ to update the site and keep it current. This is the Achilles heel  of web sites.. they are too easily updated if they aren’t kept current.
  2. Ability for visitors to leave comments and create a dialog within the ‘MTG universe’ in areas of interest.   In an effort to create a ‘community’ – everyone will be able to leave comments on posts and also on other comments.  Ideally this creates a constructive and helpful dialog.
  3. Ability to double as a blog which allows me (Steve) to save time updating both the blog site and website.  As a wordpress site, this site has the dual roles of web site and blog.  I am not certain where the cyber line is drawn, but basically the objective of this site is to be a forum for information about education as it relates to the mAke the grAde world.
  4. Ability to consolidate the email list and subscriber list into one list which is outside the dependence on Outlook or another mail based server.  We have been careful at MTG not to over load anyone with a plethora of email and information (even if it is relevant).  There is just too much out there frankly.  At the same time, there are times that MTG does want to get messages out to the public and to our subscribers.  By subscribing to this blog site, you will get the most important  and most up to date info.
  5. Ability for the site to be more Web 2,0 based (although I am waiting for someone to explain what this really means).  If it matters, there are videos on this site that weren’t able to be put on the last site.  Check out the MEDIA tab… and the hover tabs for PICTURES and VIDEO.  Some of these videos are welcome videos and others are instructional. Video is a very powerful teaching tool.  Look for more content here.  There are also instructional SAT videos under the STUDENTS tab (SAT INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS).  This will also expand in the near future.
  6. Ability to do some 2011 type things like file share. You’ll notice a widget on the right panel of this screen.  This widget contains a link to 3 files (for now) that can be downloaded: one is an exam planner, the others are links to excel files that enables PSAT and SAT students to score their own tests via and excel file.  We’ve used this file in the office for a long time but now it’s simple to share.  Pretty neat stuff.