All posts by raginasacademy

Stanford University

As a parent of a Stanford student I was excited to be part of the Stanford community on Parent’s weekend in February 2016.  As I attended various lectures, talked to students and faculty, listened to the president and the provost speak I scouted to learn what it takes to help my students get into Stanford.  The one thing that stood out for me was the question of leniency for the athletes.  There is none.  Stanford will not lower it’s academic standards to give way to athletes.  This is encouraging for academics like me.  I have always said to my students that “At the end of the day a respectable college is an academic institution”.  I was pleased to hear the president agree with this notion.

Admission into STEM Programs

While the college websites and college admission departments of many top colleges in United States seem relaxed about the SAT-subject test scores and AP classes, the reality is that many who get accepted in the top schools in STEM programs have an impressive record of 800 in Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Math with at least one humanity subject.  They also have participated in sports, music, and drama.  The core curriculum is aggressive in introducing the science but not enough to get students ready for the three science subject test and math by the fall of their senior year.

SAT & ACT Approaching Word Problems

When you see a math question that feels like a paragraph use stop and start reading method.  Stop and start reading method is when you begin to read each word slowly, word by word.   Stop at the end of a phrase and translate what you just read to yourself and start reading again, picking up from where you left.  Continue this style of stop & start reading until you have read the entire question.  As you read, write equations, draw a diagram, draw a graph, create a table  or any other pictorial representation of your translations.  Write them down.  Don’t just think about it. 

Gather all known information surrounding the topic(s) that the question is asking and write them down.  You will then see more clearly how to plan and solve word problems.

Three Key Points to Remember When Selecting Majors in College

  1. Do not shy away from taking math and science.  Combining art History with Chemistry will land you a job in art restoration projects.
  2. Even you do not like programming including at least one CS class.  Ability to program helps with landing yourself a job.
  3. Be warned about majors that is a catch all majors like Sociology or Communications.  Have something specific in mind and combine it with another minor subject like STEM or photography to make you look well rounded.

College preparation starts in high school.  My advise is that even if you think you do not like STEM subjects you will serve yourself better when you have science math to support a humanities major.

Which test should I take? ACT or SAT


Before deciding which test to take practice both tests and calculate your percentage score and not the scaled score.  Take the test which gives you the higher percentage score.  Remember there are no penalties in the new SAT.  Factor penalty when calculating percentage score.

This chart gives a quick overview between the SAT and ACT exams.  


The no calculator portion in the redesigned SAT will test students’ number sense and  their ability to apply common techniques to manipulate numbers.  Use the following 5 guidelines to brush up on your number sense.

  • Review ratios and proportions section.
  • Review adding and subtracting of fractions without a calculator.
  • Review multiplying and dividing fractions without a calculator.
  • Learn to reduce fractions.
  • Fluency in multiplication and division.

Everything you need to know about the re-designed SAT

  • The Test:  The redesigned SAT will have 2 sections, (i) evidence-based reading and writing and (ii) math section.  Each section is scored 200 to 800 points and no penalty is given for wrong answers.
  • Essay: The optional  essay section now requires a written analysis of a given passage.  Students have 50 minutes for this section.
  • Math: The math section is now divided into two parts; (i) calculator and (ii) no calculator parts.
  • Writing: The sentence completion section will have commonly used words in academic settings and words that you will use in your career.  This section will be in the evidence-based reading and writing section.
  • Reading Passages: Reading passages will now contain graphs, charts, tables, etc.  The passage topics will include analysis of History/Social Studies and Science.   All questions are evidence-based and answers are in the passages.