Practice Makes Passion

Who among us hasn't at some point been faced with a daunting and seemingly endless task that was just too unwieldy to confront, let alone tackle? A necessary house project, a work responsibility? For current or recent students, these sorts of hurdles are more common: the bar exam, a prerequisite class, a research paper. What is more frustrating is seeing a colleague or friend pursuing the same end with an incessant smile and an unflappably chipper attitude while you slog through details, drowning in your own boredom.

There is a solution, or at least an approach, which is beautifully laid out by Penelope Trunk, an entrepreneur and writer, in a blog post, reprinted in an article for Business Insider, about her son's audition for the Juilliard Pre-College Program.

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Jacob FeldmanComment
College Board's New Stance on Test Prep

For decades the College Board has maintained that its flagship test, the SAT, was unteachable. The name itself was once an acronym for "Scholastic Aptitude Test," which represented the test designers’ belief that the test measured inherent and unchangeable ability. However, on May 8th the College Board released a statement on its website that seemed to reverse its position. The article leads with its central point:

"New data show studying for the SAT® for 20 hours on free Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy is associated with an average score gain of 115 points, nearly double the average score gain compared to students who don’t use Khan Academy."

First, I should say that I am pleased that College Board has finally admitted what everyone else in the industry has known for years: preparing for standardized tests in advance improves your performance on those tests. It seems self-evident. But why the sudden change?

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College Essay Writers Circle

Nexus Academics is thrilled to announce the launch of the College Application Writers Circle!

With summer fast approaching, high school juniors everywhere are getting standardized test scores back and beginning to think about their college applications. Among the most important, but often misunderstood, elements of those applications is the Common App essay.

This spring and summer, workshops will take place at Nexus Academics' office at 300 Park Avenue, 12th Floor, each Tuesday from 4:00 to 6:00 PM. 

For more information, to reserve a spot, or to learn about Nexus Academics' other workshops, please email us at info@nexusacademics.com.

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Jacob FeldmanComment
From the department of "Why do grammar rules matter?"

Whenever your child, student, friend, spouse, or anyone else argues that grammar is going the way of the dodo, remind them of the case of O'Connor v. Oakhurst Dairy. The blog Quartz reported yesterday on the case, which has been mired in an issue of grammatical ambiguity. 

Here is the short version. There is a clause in Maine State Law regarding activities that do NOT qualify for overtime pay that reads:

The canning, processing, preserving,
freezing, drying, marketing, storing,
packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.

The truck drivers of Oakhurst Dairy contend that the phrase "packing for shipment or distribution of" refers to the "packing" as the action and "shipment or distribution" as a compound object of the preposition "for", thus qualifying drivers, who distribute, for overtime pay. The owners of the dairy contend that "distribution" is a separate action, an item in the list, and thus disqualifies the drivers.

Grammar lovers, don't fret...there's more!

The legal team for the drivers countered that, because the rest of the list contained gerund forms of the verbs (those ending in -ing) and "distribution" does not, it must be a part of the last item of the list rather than its own entry.

Needless to say, the issue is not clear. Ultimately, the 1st Circuit Court ruled in favor of the drivers, arguing that the law is meant to protect the worker. What part those judges' grammatical opinions played is not explicit, but we can only hope!

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Jacob FeldmanComment
Noteworthy This Week

The College Board recently announced a change in the basic schedule of test dates, the first such change in years. The January exam date will be eliminated in favor of a date in late August (this year's date is August 26, 2017). This news is significant, as this change alters long-term planning for test schedules.

Also, Good Morning America reported an inspiring story this week: "Barry White, Jr., a fifth grade English teacher at Ashley Park PreK-8 School in Charlotte, North Carolina, has an elaborate, personalized handshake with every one of his students. Every. Single. One."

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Jacob FeldmanComment