Aside

Upcoming College Admissions Presentations in Portland, Oregon

Kristen Miller, a long-time partner of North Avenue Education, is an independent college counselor in Portland, Oregon. She is the founder and owner of College Bound & Ready and offers free consultations to 8th-11th grade students and parents.

Of course, the best way to get to know a college and whether it is a good fit for a student is to visit the college in person. But with the average number of colleges on students’ lists consistently growing, it can be an expensive and time-consuming proposition to visit every college a student is considering. According to The American Freshman Report, 46% of private school students and 25% of public school students applied to seven or more colleges in 2015, up from 17% overall in 2005. Given that demonstrated interest is becoming more important to many colleges, what can students do to get to know colleges and show demonstrated interest without visiting?

Besides the steps discussed in this recent blog post, students (and parents) should research if and when colleges will be visiting their area, and plan to make a connection. Some colleges still have room in their schedules and budgets for individual high school visits. A high school’s counseling office should have a schedule of these spring and fall visits to share with families, and students should plan to attend the visits offered from colleges of interest to them. But many colleges aim for more bang for their bucks by conducting joint presentations with other colleges and universities or by hosting their own informational events at a more central location. If you or your student is looking to make connections and demonstrate interest in person, see below a list of upcoming College Admissions Presentations in Portland, Oregon, as well as websites to check for future visit dates in your area:

Group Events

Join admission representatives from Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Virginia, and Washington University in St. Louis​ for a group presentation. Learn more about academic programs, student life, admission, and financial aid at these institutions. There will be time for questions and to meet representatives at the end. The event will be held on Monday, May 22nd from 7-9pm in the Moyer Theatre at Jesuit High School (9000 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy, Portland, OR 97225). Please register here.

The “Exploring Educational Excellence Tour,” hosted by Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Penn, and Stanford is Tuesday, May 23rd at 7pm at the Crowne Plaza in Portland (1441 NE 2nd Ave). You must register to attend.

The following night Brown University, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, and Rice University will be hosting a joint presentation at the same location. The presentation will be on Wednesday, May 24th at 7pm at the Crowne Plaza (1441 NE 2nd Ave). Again, you must register online to attend and print a confirmation ticket to bring with you. If these are schools you are interested in, you should attend. Most of these schools do not visit individual high schools or attend college fairs, so this is your once-a-year chance to hear from the universities without going to their campuses! The presentation includes a brief overview of each institution, information on admissions and financial aid, and a chance to speak informally with admissions representatives. Parents are welcome to attend, but you must register all attendees online.

Jesuit Excellence Tour

Representatives from 15 different Jesuit universities will be gathering at Jesuit High School for a College Fair that is open to the public on Thursday, May 25th from 6-7:30pm in the student center (9000 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy, Portland, OR 97225). For more information and a list of attending schools, check out their Facebook page or contact Claire Silva at silva@gonzaga.edu.

College Fairs

College Fairs are offered in the spring and fall, and are a quick way to gather information on colleges and show demonstrated interest. This blog post offers some college fair tips, and below are upcoming fairs in Portland:

Interested in pursuing a college degree in music, theater, art, dance, or other related disciplines? Attend the Portland Performing and Visual Arts College Fair, Monday, October 16th from 6:30-8:30pm at the Portland Art Museum, Mark Building (1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205).

The 2017 NACAC National College Fair will be held at the Oregon Convention Center (777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97232) on Sunday, October 29th from 1-5 pm and Monday, October 30th from 9am-12pm. The fairs are free to attend, but students should pre-register.

Not Yet Scheduled (check back often)

The Coast to Coast College Tour, with Dartmouth, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Berkeley, and Princeton, should be scheduled for fall 2017.

Vassar, Tufts University, Vanderbilt also often travel together. Other highly selective schools use the Coast to Coast College Tour platform so check back in the fall for more information.

Yale and Wellesley (and others) have plans to visit California, but are not currently scheduled to visit Portland.

Past College Events (check back in 2018)

The PNACAC College Fair at the University of Portland Chile Center was just held on Sunday, April 30th. The spring fair is less crowded than the National College Fair in the fall, and is a great introduction to colleges for sophomores just starting to think about college. You can see the list of attendees here. Be sure to check back here next spring, http://www.gotocollegefairs.com/, and mark your calendars to attend if you currently have freshmen or sophomores in high school.

NYU (April 2017) http://www.nyu.edu/admissions/undergraduate-admissions/visit-nyu/events-in-your-city.html.

And MIT visited Portland in September 2016. Keep checking here for updates.

Many more events will be offered in the fall, so check these links again in August! If you are looking for a certain school that is not listed, go to that university’s website and search for “admission events in my area.” If you have any questions or need help with college visit planning, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Aside

How to Prepare for AP Chemistry Exam – All Year Long

AP Chemistry is known for being a difficult class in school—and a difficult test! However, if you’re taking AP Chemistry, you’ve already proven yourself to be a bright student and highly capable of studying complex topics. And while I wish I could tell you there was a quick and easy way to ace the test in May, there isn’t. Hard work and planning are what you need for scoring a 5 on the AP Chemistry test.

Here’s how.

In School: Understand Fundamentals

There’s an old English proverb by Lord Kanye West: you must crawl before you ball. Learning (and in a perfect world mastering) the fundamentals of Chemistry will give you a great foundation to understand advanced topics. But you have to be proactive and put the work in.

In the classroom, take those extra steps to understand introductory topics at the beginning of the class before moving on. It’s tempting to breeze over the information and get help from friends just to get a good score on an assignment, but in the long run it won’t be worth it. Cramming just to pass a unit quiz won’t help you retain information. You’re going to need that information months later.

So, talk to your teacher if you are having trouble with a concept. Make sure to get it. You’ll quickly learn that concepts in Chemistry (and plenty of other subjects, too) build on themselves as the course progresses.

For example, mastery of topics like atomic structure and electrons can be used to help explain bonding, ionization, and oxidation-reduction reactions. Learning about ionization will be much easier when you don’t have to rebuild all of that basic stuff to get there.

If not, the class will snowball out of control and you’ll find yourself really struggling. The last thing you want is to spend the year playing a constant game of catch-up.

Asking for help may not be your favorite thing, but building self-advocacy is critical to success in education, esp. college. Teachers want their students to succeed. They will help you. So ask. Ask questions until you fully understand the material to the point that you can teach it to someone else.

At Home: Practice, Practice, Practice

There’s another old English proverb: practice makes perfect. There isn’t much that can prepare you for the AP chemistry test except for the test itself. It’s a three hour and fifteen minute test, broken down into a 90-minute, 60-question multiple-choice section and a 105-minute free response section.

In other words, this test is an endurance trial.

I can’t recommend enough that students take multiple practices tests before the actual test to build stamina, reduce mental fatigue, identify content areas that need more reviewing, and become familiar with the style of questions on the test.

Tell help you conquer your practice tests, and use that time effectively and efficiently, here’s a practice test plan:

Before you take your first practice test:

  1. Read sample responses to free-response questions.
  2. Practice answering some free-response questions untimed to get a feel for the process.

Keep the following in mind when practicing free response questions:

  • Read the question at least twice before attempting to answer to be sure you answer the question thoroughly.
  • If a part of a questions relies on using the answer to a previous part, use your prior results to answer it. If you couldn’t complete a previous part, make up an answer and explain what you would have done.
  • Be specific!
  • Show your work, round calculations to appropriate significant figures at the end of the problem, and use appropriate units.
  • Clearly label your axes on graphs.
  • Once you are fully familiar with the format, it’s time to…

Take a practice test! (Barron’s AP Chemistry includes plenty of practice tests for you to choose from.)

  1. Plan on taking the test under standard test conditions, which means timed and in a quiet place. Set aside an afternoon or morning to take the test, make sure you’re well-rested, and set a timer.
  2. Once you’re done, reward yourself with a break! You just took a great step toward getting a high score on test day.
  3. Grade the practice test.
    Make notes about which type of questions you’re missing. Are there specific topics that need to be explored more fully? Are there fundamentals that need to be reviewed? Make a comprehensive study guide for yourself.
  4. Review missed questions thoroughly.
    Most practice tests provide the answers and explanations. Read these and understand why you missed the question, figuring out what topic is at the heart of the question.

Review!

  1. Study problem areas from your first test.
    Dedicate time to reviewing the topics you struggled with in your practice test.
    You can find practice problems specific to those areas in your study guide or test book (or online!).
    Try approaching one topic a day instead of doing it all at once. It will most likely be multiple hours of study, so be sure to split up the studying. The key is to retain all this information, so you need to give yourself time to take it all in!
    After studying a subject, remember to quiz yourself on the material a week later to assess whether you retained the information.

Repeat! (Because each released AP exam contains a slightly different spread of topics covered, the more practice tests you take the better prepared you’ll be for the topics you’ll see on the official exam date.)

AP Chemistry can be overwhelming and frustrating, but you have all the tools to succeed. With dedication and a strong study plan, you can rock it on test day!

Depending on how you do, you should work through a prep book or hire a tutor to review test strategies and content. If you’re not sure how to proceed, give us a ring after taking a practice test; we’ll talk you through your results and give you honest and specific recommendations for getting ready.

Aside

5 Tips for Multiple-Choice Math Tests

With May and June SAT and ACT test dates just around the corner, we thought we’d share some quick, last-minute test-taking tips to incorporate into your study routine! While the focus here is on math-based tests (incl. SAT Subject Tests in Math 1 and 2), these general concepts can easily be applied to multiple-choice tests at large.

Tip 1: Eliminate + Guess

For the ACT or SAT, or multiple-choice test where incorrect answers are not penalized, it is always worth guessing! Even if no answer options can be eliminated, the test taker has nothing to lose by guessing and may get lucky guessing the correct answer. Of course, if any answer options can be eliminated, here’s something to remember.

The probability of guessing the correct answer increases with each option eliminated.

To eliminate options, think about the extremes of the problem set before you, what range the final answer should fall between, or other characteristics the final answer should have. This requires a bit of out-of-the-box thinking that can be improved with deliberate practice.

Some tests do penalize for incorrect answers though.

The SAT Subject Tests, for example, penalize test takers a quarter-point for incorrect answers. Why?

The penalty is meant to statistically offset any blind guessing.

Blindly guessing on five questions that have five answer options will statistically result in one correct answer and four incorrect answers. The point awarded for the single correct answer will be balanced by the four quarter-points subtracted for incorrect answers.

Although this is the most likely option, this is still pure chance, and some days will yield more lucky results! Also, you can change the statistic through elimination.

If you can eliminate at least one of the options for a multiple-choice question, the statistical probability of gaining a point outweighs the probability of losing that quarter-point.

So, it behooves the test taker to guess when at least one answer option has been eliminated.

To help with your process of elimination, look at all of the answer options and work backwards from the choices to the question. This can be extremely helpful for complicated, multi-step problems.

By looking at the answer choices, you may be able to notice patterns, such as answer options set apart by the same multiple, suggesting a step in calculation that may be missed by someone working through the problem in a conventional way.

For example, let’s say a question asks for the diameter of a circle, which requires multi-step algebra and these are the answer choices:

A. 5
B. 7
C. 10
D. 14
E. 18

A trained eye will notice that answer choices C and D are twice that of A and B, respectively. This should be a signal that one of the potential steps is to either multiply or divide by two (or know not to do so).

Given the nature of this question, you can pretty safely assume that two of these answer choices (A and B) are actually the radius, rather than the desired diameter of the circle, and can thus be eliminated. This can also aid in making sure you remember to take that final step of multiplying the radius by two to get the diameter.

To gauge for yourself how much guessing benefits your score, we recommend that you note the answers you guessed on while you are taking a practice test. When you are scoring the practice test, you can then easily count up the points you gained by eliminating and guessing.

Tip 2: Know Your Goal + Prioritize Your Time

In general, for standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests, the questions are roughly arranged from easy to difficult. By knowing your score goal, you can determine how many questions you need to answer correctly, and determine how to pace yourself in order to achieve that score.

It’s important to remember the following about the SAT and ACT: whether the question is an easy one at the beginning of the test, or a difficult one at the end, those two questions are worth the same for you score. There’s no need to rush to answer difficult questions you aren’t as likely to answer correctly. You can pace yourself at the beginning and knock those easy questions you can answer correctly out of the park. Prioritize the easy points first!

And not only don’t rush to get to the difficult ones, but let’s go ahead and just think of those difficult questions as the least important questions. I’ll say that again:

Those difficult questions at the end of section aren’t more important.
They are less.

Everyone take in a deep, relaxing breath thinking about that.

Depending on your score goal and the particular curve of the test, chances are your best strategy while include skipping a couple difficult questions, and only coming back to them once you’re sure you’ve bagged your more obtainable points first.

Tip 3. Beware the “Easy” Answers

Along similar lines, by knowing that the later questions in the section will be harder, you can approach those questions with a skeptic’s eye!

When you start getting to the end of the test, be suspicious of answers that are found too easily. Easy answers like that should prompt you to thoroughly re-read the question to see if you’ve missed a step in your thinking.

And, looking out for the “easy” answer can actually help you eliminate options! For example, a problem near the end of the test reads:

Buttercup donates 30% of her royal income to charity, and then gives 15% of the remaining funds to Fezzik. What percent of her royal income remains?

The “easy answer” would be simple subtraction (100-30-15 = 55%), but don’t trust it!

If it’s at the end of the test and seems to easy to be true, eliminate that option!

Tip 4. Read the Question Carefully

I don’t want to say that the test is trying to trick you.

But, our last tip of not trusting easy answers does highlight that these tests assume students will miss steps by not reading questions and answer choices carefully!

Most of the time, if there’s a way to misread the question, there’s a corresponding incorrect answer choice to reflect that possibility. For instance, if the question details how many apples Peggy collected over the week and asks how many left she needs to collect, there will be an incorrect answer choice of how many total she’s collected.

These incorrect answer choices are red herrings. One good way to avoid them is to locate the actual question of the question, usually the last sentence of the problem. Look for those question indicators: what, how many, which.

Then, when breaking down the question, pay special attention to units, negatives (“not”), and general reversals, such as asking for the LEAST of something. We are often trained to think of the greatest amount of something, which is why this step is so important.

Once you’ve located and deciphered the question, then go back to read peripheral or supporting information.

Tip 5. Use Figures to Guesstimate

Lastly, and here’s a tip that really only applies to math tests, if a figure isn’t captioned with “Note: figure not drawn to scale,” then you can assume that it is drawn to scale and you should take full advantage!

Sometimes the certainty of scale won’t give you a precise answer, but it will often at least allow you to eliminate some of the possible answer choices.

BONUS TIP: Take a Practice Test

Take at least one practice test under test-day conditions. Find a quiet space, use a timer, and take the test in one sitting.

To simulate the foreign space you’ll be sitting in on test day, you might try to find a space separate from your room or usual study space, such as a quiet corner of your school or local library. If you choose to use an empty room in your own home, make sure to ask those you live with to not disturb you during your set test time.

If you’d like a more official practice test setting, at North Avenue, we offer proctored practice tests about once a month.

By simulating the conditions of the test day, you can get a more realistic picture of what your final results may be, and adjust your studying priorities appropriately.

And now, you’re ready! Well, hopefully at least a little more prepared than when you started perusing this article.

Remember to breathe; you got this.

Want to view your schedule or check up on student progress? Login here