Academics

A comprehensive look at high school academics. We cover grades, AP and IB courses, and the post graduate year. Learn the secrets of A+ students. Explore summer abroad programs, read interviews with experts and get valuable tips on excelling academically.
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Updated February 08, 2017
7 Ways to Improve Your Math Scores
Add things up and you'll quickly find the answer- math is crucial both in academics and the real world. By following these strategies and following personal training programs, students can uncover their weaknesses and conquer math.
Add things up and you’ll quickly find the answer – math is crucial both in academics and the real world.                                                                                                                        
To progress through high school to college and beyond, you better make sure your math skills are strong enough to face the gauntlet of exams, SAT’s, and more. Mathematics not only opens up career opportunities, but helps students develop critical problem-solving skills that they can use the rest of their lives.
We spoke with some experts in mathematics and learning to get some quick tips on how to improve your math skills. “Math is used in almost all parts of our lives, from sciences and computers to music and art,” states Tanya Mitchell, the Vice President of Research and Development for brain training company LearningRx. Tanya says that math struggles often boil down to weak cognitive skills, and not genetics, gender, age or study habits. By following these strategies and following personal training programs, students can uncover their weaknesses and conquer math.  

 

1.  Write out your work. 
It may be basic, but writing out your work is an essential rule to doing great math. Alison Dillard, Owner, is a
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Updated May 26, 2016 |
SAT Prep
SAT test prep takes time to do properly. We explore some of your options here.
The two main college admissions tests are SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and ACT (American College Testing). Each of these tests generates a high degree of angst for juniors and seniors. I suppose a certain amount of concern is justified especially if you have not been a good student during your middle and high schools.
 
What is the purpose of these tests?
 
Both SAT and ACT are deigned to assess a student's readiness for college level academic work.
 
"The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are designed to assess your academic readiness for college. These exams provide a path to opportunities, financial support, and scholarships, in a way that's fair to all students. The SAT and SAT Subject Tests keep pace with what colleges are looking for today, measuring the skills required for success in the 21st century."

This clip from the College Board explains what the SAT is.

Here is a brief description of what the ACT test comprises:

"The ACT is a national college admissions examination that consists of subject area tests in: English, Mathematics, Reading &Science
The ACT Plus Writing includes the four subject area tests plus a 30-minute Writing Test.
ACT results are accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the US.
The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete, including a short break (or just over four hours if you are taking the ACT Plus Writing). Actual testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes
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Updated April 10, 2015 |
An Interview with the Founder of Hyde Schools
Joseph Gauld is a distinguished educator who founded Hyde Schools in 1966.
Joseph Gauld is a distinguished educator who founded Hyde Schools in 1966. He very kindly agreed to answer some questions about Hyde Schools and his educational philosophy. The Editor.
 
1. Tell us a bit about the crisis of conscience which you had back in 1966. This is how the concept of Hyde Schools was shaped, correct?
 
As a director of admissions who taught calculus and coached football in 1962, I had a crisis of conscience when I realized I was part of a competitive educational system valuing certain abilities that blocked the full development of the unique potential of students.
As a mathematics teacher and varsity basketball and football coach in the 50s and 60s, I was inspired to start a new school because of an experience in an advanced calculus class I was teaching. My brightest student, who ultimately received the highest grade in the class, exhibited very little genuine curiosity in his own learning or that of others, relying almost exclusively on his innate abilities, despite the fact I encouraged him repeatedly to challenge himself.
 
On the other side of the spectrum, there was another student in the same class who was the classic “plugger.” Although he had considerable difficulty with the material, he embodied all of the qualities and virtues I hoped that schools would espouse: curiosity, strong work ethic, concern for others, honesty, etc. I praised his effort, yet ultimately—and reluctantly—gave him the lowest grade in the class.
 
This
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Updated June 25, 2014 |
What's In A Grade?
The letter grade at one school may or may not be the same as the letter grade scheme at another school. Some answers to the inconsistencies here.
Most schools use letter grades these days. But not every school uses the same letter grade scheme. This can cause problems when it comes time to send transcripts off to college admissions offices. The A at one school may not be equivalent to the A at another school.
 
The most common grade scheme is the following:

A+  97-100
A    93-96
A-   90-92
B+  87-89
B    83-86
B-   80-82
C+  77-79
C    73-76
C-   70-72
D+  67-69
D    63-66
D-   60-62
F     Below 60

If your school uses a variation of this scheme, then be sure to send a key or explanation sheet attached to each transcript. Failure to do so could cause mis-interpretation of students' results.
 
How does this tie in with GPA?
GPA or Grade Point Average is numerical equivalent of all your letter grades totalled and averaged. The numerical equivalents for letter grades are as follows:
A = 4.0
B = 3.0
C = 2.0
D = 1.0
F = 0.0
 
So, in theory if an A is 4.0, an A+ is higher. At some institutions that is the case. To put grades into perspective most graduate schools will require a 3.0 GPA for admission. American public schools set the benchmark at 1.0 for graduation.
Updated June 25, 2014 |
Interactive Learning the Harkness Way
Students sitting in rows of desks listening to a teacher lecture? You are not likely to find this scenario in a school which uses Harkness Tables.
Students sitting in rows of desks listening to a teacher lecture? You are not likely to find this scenario in a school which uses Harkness Tables. The brainchild of wealthy industrialist Edward Harkness, an Exeter alumnus, Harkness Tables are oval tables which seat 12-18 students together with their teacher. You cannot hide in the back of the classroom which uses Harkness Tables. That's the point. Engaged students learn.
 
In ancient times teaching was collaborative - think Socrates and Quintillian - but somewhere in our Victorian-Edwardian past we got off the rails and began lining children up in regimented rows of chairs and desks. Maria Montessori and Rudolph Steiner rebelled against this sort of regimentation. Their classrooms became what we would now call activity centers.
 
High school lab courses such as chemistry and physics have always been interactive and hands on. Discussion of findings and research are encouraged in that collaborative environment. Every member of the class has an opinion and a finding. That is the idea behind the Harkness Table. Every member of the class is encouraged to be an active participant. Because eye contact is a critical element of this style of learning, the Harkness Table's oval shape is ideal. It allows everybody around the table to see and be seen. Students and teacher interact. The teacher facilitates without dominating the lesson. He guides and steers the learning process. Maria Montessori would be thrilled.
 
Harkness Tables are widely used in prep
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