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Posted on Jan 16, 2012 - 06:00 AM | Career Prep | Comments (0)

Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
On this holiday when we encourage the nation to come together as a whole, it’s a good idea to look at one other way in which we’re uniting, like it or not.
While there’s been a big call to keep education local and let school districts and states handle curricula and graduation requirements, the exact opposite has been happening. Among the 31 states that require exit exams prior to granting high-school diplomas:
·        27 participate in national guidelines
·        11 require students to take either the SAT or ACT, which is the same test nationwide
·        16 require tests that show a student’s level of college and career preparedness.
Meeting Common Core Standards and No Child Left Behind Requirements
While teachers, tutors and parents can help you meet state and federal Department of Education regulations, it’s ultimately up to you to pass those tests. Take certain steps to improve your performance:
  1. Read more. Select books from a college prep reading list – books that get you ready for college, encourage critical thinking and increase your general knowledge. These books are classics and will still be discussed years from now. Many are available for free at the library or various public domain downloads, like the Gutenberg Project.
  2. SAT/ACT practice tests and tips. Prepare for the college admissions exams. This not only helps you in those 11 states that require them, but improves your math and reading skills (the two most commonly tested areas). You’ll get ready for more than one test at once!
  3. Build your vocabulary. Find a word of the day program to build your vocabulary. It improves your word power, reading ability, essay writing skills and memory.
Of course, many states aren’t just focused on academic goals but career readiness. This means knowing basic arithmetic and a whole lot of other skills like categorization, communication and problem-solving. To meet these standards, you’ll need to know which courses to take; you may also need to pick up additional training through vocational/career placement, volunteering, interning or employment. Combine your school and extracurricular experiences into your test preparation.
Avoid Teaching to the Test
Teaches have long been accused of “teaching to the test,” that is, of getting students ready for the questions on a state evaluation test rather than giving them a broad overview of the subject. Unfortunately, students don’t have the luxury of taking only the state tests. In addition to these graduation standards, there are subject tests, the SAT, ACT or SAT II Subject Tests, and possibly additional tests given by the colleges themselves. Some employers even require basic tests to examine your job qualifications.
In other words, studying for a specific test can hurt you in the long run. You need a broad overview of a subject, plus good communication skills, sound reasoning, critical thinking, and all the other talents that will get you ahead in life.
As you look for ways to get additional help, examine programs that help you meet your goals. This way, you’re not just getting ready for one test, but the big test, the one life throws at you in college and the workplace.
Be college and career ready. Show intelligence and character, and meet the true goal of education.


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