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Is Dual Enrollment a Better Option than AP Classes?

 

I received the following question on Facebook:

Is Dual Enrollment a better option than AP classes?

Great question! There is a growing trend to earn college credit early, but we should always step back and ask ourselves which tools best fits our circumstances (or if early credit even makes sense for your situation).

To best understand this question I want to quickly summarize what each of these tools are:

Dual Enrollment: Where you take a college course while still in high school, with the goal of earning both high school and college credit.

AP Classes: An advanced, college-level high school course created by College Board that is designed to prepare you to take an AP exam and possibly earn college credit.

AP Exams: A test that is designed to be taken at the end of

It's important to realize that while both of these tools have become increasingly popular, they still are very specialized college prep tools that are not required and do not make sense for...

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AP or CLEP Tests (or neither)?

ap clep phase 3 Jul 06, 2021
 

There is a growing trend to utilize credit by examination, whether that's AP exams or CLEP tests or other tools like DSST exams.

But just because something is a trend doesn't mean it makes sense for you

Here we'll take a look at the difference between the two exams and then some criteria for you to determine if these tools make sense for you:

 

AP Exams

 

CLEP Tests

  • Not as widely accepted as AP exams, but are generally considered easier.
  • You can schedule to test whenever works for you and your local testing facility (often community colleges).
  • Exams are 90 minutes long, computer administered,...
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Pros and Cons of Pursuing an Associate Degree During High School

 

I received the following question this week: What are the pros and cons of earning an associate degree during high school?

There are more and more opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school, even leading up to a full Associate Degree. The person who asked the question lived in one of the growing number of states that offer a free or drastically reduced option for dual enrollment. This sounds great, get a whole Associate Degree while still in high school, but you should 

Pros:

  • Students can develop the study habits needed to excel at college while still in high school and with their high school resources and support team.
  • Completing an Associate Degree in high school can allow a student to jump right in to their major after graduation (rather than having to focus on general studies).
  • There are a growing number of well-paying jobs that only require an Associate Degree, providing more options for the student employment-wise (in case they decide...
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ACT or SAT - Which Exam is Right for You?

act exam prep phase 3 sat Apr 28, 2021
 

Where Do I Start?

So first off when deciding whether to take the ACT or the SAT, it's important to note that since 2007 every college in the country accepts both the ACT and the SAT exam for admissions.

This means that students no longer have a college-motivated reason to take one exam over the other, but instead should take whichever exam they perform better on.

How do you determine that? Well we'll talk you through that, but first let's take a look at the basic structure of each test:

 

ACT Format

  • LENGTH: 2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay), 3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)
  • SECTIONS: English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning, Essay (Optional)
  • MATH: 60 minutes, 25% of your composite score, heavier on geometry than SAT, more math concepts than SAT, requires memorization of formulas, can use calculator on all questions, all questions are multiple choice
  • SCIENCE: Contains a Science Reasoning section
  • TIME PER QUESTION: Less time per question on every section than...
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Considering Dual Enrollment? 4 Questions You Need To Ask First!

dual enrollment phase 3 Apr 16, 2021
 

Let's talk about a popular subject:

Dual Enrollment

Everyone seems to be doing it. And it sounds amazing: take inexpensive or even free classes at college that meet both your high school and college credit requirements.

Amazing!

Yet in my 12 years as a college prep consultant I have seen many, many families that rushed into signing their teen up for dual enrollment before they had a plan in place, and ended up shocked when they realized the credits weren't all they were hyped up to be when a college wouldn't accept their credits, or just counted them for electives and made the teen take the general studies classes again (boy is that a downer), or even realized too late that their teen wasn't ready for college-level work and was permanently stuck with a low grade on their college transcript.

Dual enrollment is a great tool for specific situations. But it can also way overpromise and underdeliver in other circumstances. So if college credit early is your goal, here...

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Should I take Algebra 2 or Geometry first?

 

Math help!

So I've received multiple questions from individuals who are planning out their course load and trying to determine whether to take Geometry or Algebra 2 after completing Algebra 1. It's an understandable question, so in this article I'll take a look at the arguments for both routes, but the short answer is either way is fine. Now let's take a look at the reasons for each route...

 

A Short History (and a little about test preparedness)

Parents, chances are pretty good that you took courses in the order of Algebra 1, Geometry, and then Algebra 2. You probably also only had to take 3 math courses in high school, and there was probably very little integration of geometry into your algebra curriculum. Since students were required to take the ACT or SAT (and usually with little to no prep work), it made more sense for students to take geometry before algebra 2 for test purposes so that they had at least seen some geometry before they took the test.

But things have...

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Update on the SAT: Dropped Essay and Subject Tests

 

College Board made a big announcement in January that they were going to be discontinuing the SAT Subject Tests, discontinuing the optional SAT essay, and also that they were going to continue working towards a digitally delivered version of the SAT. 

What does this mean?

Dropped Subject Tests

The SAT Subject Tests were exams over individual subject areas that were used to supplement the primary SAT in the application process. Unlike the AP or CLEP tests, the SAT Subject Tests did not offer the possibility of earning students college credit.

The reality is fewer colleges have been requiring/recommending the SAT Subject tests anyways, with the ones who have been using the tests primarily being top-tier schools. So for most schools, this part of the announcement will not matter. College Board made this as a business decision, reflecting the fact that the demand for these tests was no longer there (amplified all the more by the COVID challenges to testing availability).

If...

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FREE Resources for the AP & CLEP exams

One of my recommendations if you decide to attempt credit by examination (using AP or CLEP tests) is to get a prep book (or online resource) and work through the book while completing your related high school subject.

With it being January and the start of a new semester, it's a great time to start preparing for the tests.

I won't get into the details about the AP & CLEP here, but rather want to point you to some awesome resources to help you be ready!

NOTE: though there are definite differences in the exam formats, resources to help you prepare for the AP can typically be used to prep for the CLEP and vice versa.


AP EXAMS

  • Khan Academy: Khan Academy has teamed up with College Board to offer free courses for many of the AP exams. These even include videos that work through actual problems from the tests (something most publishers can't do due to copyright issues). Khan Academy's courses include:
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When Should I Take the ACT? And should I do Test Information Release?

act phase 3 test prep Oct 19, 2020
 

Want my FREE 10-Page ACT Prep Guide? Visit here to download, and you can learn more about my Online ACT Prep Course here (with both 4 and 16 week study plans, and access to both Magoosh and Study.com's ACT Prep Courses!).

One of my ACT students emailed me asking "Should I sign up for Test Information Release (also referred to as TIR)?" so I wanted to address that issue and talk about choosing your test dates.

Test Schedule Overview

The ACT is typically offered 7 times a year: September, October, December, February, April, June and July. 

  • NOTE: Due to COVID-19, additional test dates have been added, so far just in September and October.

You can take the ACT multiple times, and should plan on taking the exam 3-4 times to reach your target score (and prepping for each of those dates!). So with that in mind, let's break down some considerations:

When To Take Your First Test

Your first test should typically be during either your Junior year (or your Sophomore year if you...

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