August102012
May202012

AP Tests: German Language

For many students getting ready to take on the second half of their high school careers, the number of things they have to do to prepare for college is staggering. From taking the SAT to getting in grade reports and from visiting campuses to sending in admissions essays, there’s a seemingly never-ending list of Must-Dos, Should-Do’s, and Will-Do’s. And if you haven’t already, you should consider adding AP coursework to this list. While it’s certainly not for everyone – particularly students who are planning on going to colleges that don’t accept AP test scores for credit – it can be a great way to get lower-level coursework out of the way, simultaneously saving time and money and preparing you for the rigors of real college courses.


At Concepts Mastery, our Austin AP tutors want to help you prepare for the tests. That’s why we’ve provided this helpful series about the AP tests and what you can expect on them; this particular article is about the German Language AP Test, and goes into the basics of the course and what you should expect to see on the test. To learn more about how our Austin-area tutors can help you, contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

The Course

The German Language course differs slightly from school to school, but the general curriculum is guided by the recommendations of the College Board, which administers the AP tests. It is roughly equivalent to a German 301 introductory course at the college level, and as such, students should already be familiar with basic grammar and syntax by the time they take it. While you do not need to have taken the course to sign up for the test, it is highly recommended.

How the Test is Divided

Like other language AP tests, the German Language AP Test is divided into four sections, each of which is meant to test a particular component of communication. Each of the four sections counts for 25% of the final grade. The sections are:

  • Listening. A student answers multiple-choice questions after listening to a series of recordings.
  • Reading. A student answers multiple-choice questions in response to written sections.
  • Writing. A student writes essays in response to writing prompts.
  • Speaking. A student responds verbally to a set of visual cues. Students are given time to prepare before having to speak into a recording device.


At Concepts Mastery, our Austin-area AP tutoring professionals are dedicated to helping students succeed in class. Contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.


To learn more about AP tests, click here.

May32012

The Free Time Consequence, by Concepts Mastery

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12PM

AP Tests: English Literature and Composition

If you’re getting ready for college, there’s an overwhelming amount of work you have to do, including writing admissions essays, taking the SAT and possibly subject tests, turning in grade reports, visiting campuses, taking meetings, lining up recommendation letters, and a whole lot more.  You may be considering adding “taking AP tests” to that list, since many universities accept high grades on these tests as college-level coursework, saving you time and money in the process.   Remember, though, that while you can take any AP test you want, the College Board highly recommends students take corresponding classes beforehand.

At Concepts Mastery, our Austin tutors are committed to helping students like you perform well on AP tests.  We know that you may be a bit in the dark about what’s actually on the test, as well as the ins and outs of how they work.  That’s why we’ve provided a series on the test and what you can expect.  This article covers the English Literature and Composition AP Test, an exam that many students take at the end of their junior year of high school.  To learn more about how our Austin tutoring professionals can help you, contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

The Course

Unlike the similar English Language and Composition test (normally taken by high school seniors), the Literature and Composition test focuses primarily on English-language novels, essays, plays, and poetry rather than general rhetoric and syntax.  Students typically read assigned materials and learn about the major themes, structures, and devices associated with literature.

How the Test is Divided

While the College Board includes general guidelines for the English Literature and Composition Test, they are not as rigidly defined as those for other tests.  Instead, the College Board releases a lengthy reading list, complete with a disclaimer that there is no defined list or study area that students should focus on.  The aforementioned reading list is broken down into the following categories:

  • Poetry – starting with Shakespeare in the 16th Century and leading up to modern poets
  • Drama – starting with Greek drama and leading up to the post-modern period
  • Fiction – both novels and short stories, beginning in 18th Century and moving up to the middle of the 20th Century
  • Essays – the least-represented of the categories

At Concepts Mastery, we hire only the most experienced tutors Austin has to offer.  Our goal is to work one-on-one with our students, ensuring that they get the AP test support they need to succeed.  Contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

To learn more about AP tests, click here.

April192012

AP Tests: Calculus AB

For many students, junior and senior years of high school are spent looking to the future and planning for college.  That often means taking the SAT test, visiting prospective universities, writing admissions essays, and preparing grade reports.  It may also mean taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses, the goal of which is to prepare students for a comprehensive end-of-the-year examination that can count for college credit.  These tests are a great way to save time and money by completing some of the lower-level college courses early.

At Concepts Mastery, our Austin tutoring professionals are dedicated to helping students prepare for AP Tests.  That’s why we’re happy to present this article, which discusses the ins and outs of the Calculus AB Test, which is typically taken following a pre-calculus course.  To learn more about how our experienced tutors may be able to help you succeed on the AP test, contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

The Course

There is some confusion about the two different Calculus AP tests: AB and BC.  The AB test is designed to be taken following a pre-calculus course, and is the earliest calculus test offered by the College Board.  Unlike BC, the College Board states that any school able to “organize a curriculum for students with mathematical ability” can offer the AB test.

How the Test is Divided

The College Board states that the Calculus AB Test is equivalent to about a semester of course work in a college calculus class, and as such, the following topics are covered by the AP test:

  • Analysis of graphs
  • Limits of Functions
  • Asymptomatic and unbounded behavior
  • Continuity
  • Derivatives
  • Integrals
  • Fundamentals of calculus
  • Antidifferentation

These are just the general topics covered, and individual questions may get into greater specifics.

The Day of the Test

The format of the AB test is identical to that of the BC test, except as it concerns the material covered.  The test is broken down as follows:

  • Section 1A: 28 multiple-choice questions, 55 minutes, no calculator use
  • Section 1B: 17 multiple-choice questions, 50 minutes, calculator use permitted
  • Section 2A: 2 free-response questions, 30 minutes, calculator use permitted
  • Section 2B: 4 free-response questions, 60 minutes, no calculator use

At Concepts Mastery, our Austin tutors are dedicated to helping our students prepare for the future and excel on their tests.  Contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

To learn more about Calculus BC - AP tests, click here.

April102012

AP Tests: Potential Positives

If you’re a high school student planning on continuing your studies into college, you’ve probably heard of AP tests.  As you probably know, Advanced Placement tests are exams that are taken following an Advanced Placement course, and participating colleges accept high scores on these tests as college credit.  But you may not understand the ins and outs of AP tests; while you may generally grasp the positives, you may not have considered the negatives.  Having a full understanding of AP tests is incredibly important.

At Concepts Mastery, our Austin tutors are committed to helping prepare students for college.  We work with students of all ages to improve study habits, and encourage them to do well in class by identifying their learning styles and developing in-depth studying plans around them.  If your child is struggling with major concepts or just needs a little help polishing his or her grade report, we can help.  Contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

First Thing’s First: What’s an AP Test?

Advanced Placement tests are administered by the College Board – the same organization that creates and distributes the SAT test.  The College Board offers dozens of tests, which are meant to be taken following the completion of an Advanced Placement course.  While you do not have to take the course to take the test, it’s strongly recommended.

Positives

Obviously, the major positive point of taking an AP test is that many universities accept high scores for college credit.  If you successfully complete enough tests, you can save significant time and money in college – where courses are often more difficult and more subjective.  Doing well on AP tests can be a great way to get a head start on your higher education.

There’s also a great secondary advantage.  Because AP courses are more strenuous and work-intensive than normal high school courses, they allow you to dip a proverbial toe into the college experience and get a feel for what kind of material will be covered in those classes.

There’s a definite financial advantage to performing well on AP tests, since you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars in college courses through them.  Just keep in mind that taking the tests costs money that you won’t get back if you do poorly.


At Concepts Mastery, our Austin-area tutors are dedicated to helping students improve their grades and prepare for college.  Contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

To learn more about reducing stress, click here.

April92012

Quick Study Tips: General Tips, Part 2

For many students, poor studying habits are what separate them from the top academic performers.  Without good study skills, even the most intellectually gifted student will struggle to get good grades.  That’s why we created this series on quick tips to improve studying.  While we believe that one-on-one tutoring is the best way to improve a child’s test scores, these quick tips – when correctly applied – can help bolster grades and improve report cards.

At Concepts Mastery, our Austin tutors are dedicated to helping students succeed in and out of the classroom.  Whether your child is struggling to understand major concepts or simply needs some help preparing for tests, we can help.  To learn more about how we can help your child improve in school, please contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

General Studying Tips

In our extensive essay series on studying tips, we’ve gone through what you can do before, during, and after class to prepare for tests and improve your grades.  These tips don’t necessarily fall neatly into any of those categories, but are instead “catch-alls” that could go anywhere.  Consider the following when you’re studying:

  1. Divide and conquer.  Rather than trying to tackle big projects all at once, chop them up into smaller chunks.  For example, if you’re writing a research paper, don’t get overwhelmed or try to do it in one day.  Set aside time to perform the research, create an outline, right a draft, edit, and rewrite.  You’ll be surprised how much easier it is when you take it one step at a time.
  2. Create a good study group.  Get together with friends or classmates you respect and trust to form a dedicated study group.  Create a plan for each meeting to ensure that you complete all your tasks, and make sure to compare and discuss notes.
  3. Synthesize your notes into related “chunks.”  Rather than just studying your notes chronologically, try breaking them up and rearranging them into sections of related ideas.  You may have a much easier time remember facts this way.
  4. Stay on top of things!  The worst thing that can happen to your productivity is to backslide and put things off.  Once you’ve procrastinated on the first thing, procrastinating on the second, third, and forth things gets a lot easier.  Set a schedule and keep it – believe it or not, this will actually be less work.

At Concepts Mastery, we’re committed to helping our students succeed. To discuss your needs with an Austin tutor, contact us by calling 512-767-5323.

To learn more studying tips, click here.

March192012

The Importance of Numeracy

Everyone knows the importance of literacy – that is, being able to read. It’s one of the most basic educational skills, and without the ability to read, it’s difficult to get a steady job. But what about numeracy, or math literacy as it’s often called? While most people may realize that being fluent in basic mathematics is an important skill, it’s seldom treated with the same importance as literacy. The fact of the matter is that numeracy is as fundamentally important to a student’s future wellbeing as literacy is.

At Concepts Mastery, our Austin math tutors are dedicated to helping students understand important mathematical concepts and succeed in school and beyond. If your child is struggling in school, we can help. Contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

Why Numeracy Matters

Numeracy is one of the most fundamental of human skills. At its most basic, it represents the human ability to understand magnitude and sequences and to discern patterns and order. Most of us begin developing these skills well before we begin formal education, but we require that education to understand the complex mathematical world around us. Numeracy is important for a number of reasons, including:

  • Because we use it every day. Any time you go shopping, balance your checkbook, pay a bill, or file your taxes, you’re using mathematics. People who lack the fundamental understanding of numbers or lack confidence in their abilities are at a significant disadvantage in virtually all aspects of life.
  • Because math leads to better jobs. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and computer-reliant, mathematics become more and more fundamentally important. The term STEM was developed to describe jobs in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and careers in those fields are booming. Students who excel in math and science are more likely to get stable, well-paying jobs down the road.
  • Because you’re graded on it. Since math and science classes are a big part of school curriculum, students should become comfortable with math for no other reason than that it will impact their ability to get into a good university or a good job, regardless of whether it’s in the field that involves math or not.

At Concepts Mastery, we employ only the best math tutors Austin has to offer. If your child is struggling to get the grades you know he or she is capable of, please contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

To learn more about learning styles, click here.

March142012

College Admissions Essays: The Creative Question

The college admissions essay can be the greatest advantage – and the biggest annoyance – to prospective students. On the one hand, it provides an excellent forum for a student to distinguish himself or herself from the competition, to articulate why he or she deserves a spot at the university, and to be more than just a statistic or an SAT score.  On the other hand, essay prompts can run the gamut from “silly” to “outright difficult,” and the idea of summing oneself up in a single typed page can be incredibly daunting. Fortunately, we’re here to help.

While there are literally thousands of different essay prompts out there, they can generally be divided into the following three categories: the “me” question, the “why us” question, and the creative question.  You should be ready to provide a good answer for any of the three.

At Concepts Mastery, our Austin tutors are dedicated to helping our students succeed in and out of the classroom, and we know what it takes to get into a good school.  If your student’s grades aren’t what they could be, we’d like to talk to you today.  Contact us by calling 512-767-5323.

Understanding the Creative Question

Out of the three types of questions, the creative one may be the hardest to get a handle on, because it’s the most open-ended.  But while no two creative questions are exactly the same, they do conform to the same general type.  They try to be a little original, a little off-the-wall, a little bit thought-provoking, and they require something other than a pat response.  They seek to learn about you as a person through your response to a (seemingly) unrelated question.  Examples of creative questions include:

  • Our lives are shaped by the people we admire.  Who has been an inspiration to you, and how has it affected you?
  • Discuss a controversial issue of national importance and your take on it.  Explain the reasons you feel the way you do.
  • Community service makes our nation stronger.  What have you done to effect change in your society?
  • You’ve written a 300-page autobiography.  What’s on page 203?

The trick to answering a creative question is to be creative right back at it.  Try to be unconventional without being too out there; quirky without being off-putting.  Be honest, be informed, and be forceful.

At Concepts Mastery, we’re dedicated to helping our students get into top colleges.  Contact one of our tutors in Austin today by calling 512-767-5323.

To learn more about admissions essays, click here.

March62012

SAT Subject Tests: Languages

As you approach the point in your high school career where you need to start sending out applications, you may find yourself confused by SAT subject tests.  Because they aren’t mandatory, strictly speaking, many students are left wondering whether or not they need to take any of the tests.  While some schools do not require any subject test scores, others require at least one from prospective students.  It’s important to check with the admissions offices of any colleges you’re applying to beforehand in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

There are 20 different SAT subject tests, and over half of them fall into the category of language tests.  Obviously, your proficiency with a language should determine whether you take the test or not.

At Concepts Mastery, we’re dedicated to helping students get the SAT subject test grades they need to get into their top schools.  To learn more about how our Austin-area teachers can help your child, contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

Format

Twelve of the 20 different SAT subject tests are language tests.  They are:

  • Chinese with Listening
  • French
  • French with Listening
  • German
  • German with Listening
  • Modern Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese with Listening
  • Korean with Listening
  • Latin
  • Spanish
  • Spanish with Listening 

Most tests cost $11 to take per test, though tests with listening sections cost $21 per test.  Students taking these tests must bring a portable CD player and earphones to the test center.

What’s On the Test?

According to the College Board website, there is no difference in difficulty levels between the listening and non-listening tests, although college admissions offices might prefer students who have taken the listening test.  The College Board also notes that native speakers compete on the same tests as non-native speakers, and are therefore likely to score considerably better than non-native speakers.  Admissions offices should know this and take it into consideration.

Because the SAT language subject tests cover 12 different exams, there is a fair amount of diversity from test to test.  However, all are designed to test a student’s proficiency in a given language.  Questions will test a student’s understanding of vocabulary and grammar consistent with college-level courses.

At Concepts Mastery, our Austin tutors are dedicated to helping students get the good grades they need to get into top colleges.  If your child is struggling in school and you’re not sure what to do, contact us today by calling 512-767-5323.

To learn more about SAT subject tests, click here.

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