Math Puzzle

Challenge: Can you get all 4 across in under 15 minutes?

bridge & torch problem

Four people come to a river in the night. There is a narrow bridge, but it can only hold two people at a time. They have one torch and, because it’s night, the torch has to be used when crossing the bridge. Person A can cross the bridge in one minute, B in two minutes, C in five minutes, and D in eight minutes. When two people cross the bridge together, they must move at the slower person’s pace.

The question is, can they all get across the bridge in 15 minutes or less?

Check out the full story on the bridge and lantern problem here!

Test Prep

ACT Writing Enhanced


Starting in September 2015, ACT will introduce a number of enhancements to the ACT writing test. Key differences between the former and the enhanced designs are outlined below.

To download a writing scoring rubric to see what the new guidelines are.

View a sample writing prompt to see a representative of the prompts that will be used for the ACT writing test.

Writing Prompt

Many elements of the writing prompts will remain the same. For example, the test is still an exercise in argumentative writing, and it continues to measure core competencies that are linked to college and career success.

Modifications to the writing prompt will build on the former design in a few important ways:

Design Modifications Former Design
(Through the June 2015 Test Event)
Enhanced Design
(Beginning in the September 2015 Test Events)
A broader range of engaging subject matter Presents controversies around school-themed issues Presents conversations around contemporary issues
Prompt offers different points of access to the issue Gives positions for/against the issue Offers three diverse perspectives that encourage critical engagement with the issue
Writing task more clearly resembles real-world argumentation Asks students to take a position on the issue Asks students to develop an argument that puts their own perspective in dialogue with others
More structure for planning and more time for composing 30 minutes to plan and compose

Blank space for planning

40 minutes to plan and compose

Guidance and structure for planning and prewriting

Writing Scores

Scoring and reporting for the ACT writing test have also been updated. Instead of one holistic score, students will receive four domain scores, each reflecting a key dimension of writing competency. They will also receive a subject-level Writing Score and an English Language Arts (ELA) Score on the familiar 1–36 scale. This allows for precise evaluation of student writing and a more detailed score report.

Former ACT Writing Scores
(Through the June 2015 Test Event)
Holistic Writing Score 2–12
Combined English/Writing Score 1–36


New ACT Writing Scores
(Beginning in the September 2015 Test Events)
Subject-Level Writing Score 1–36
Individual Domain Scores
Ideas and Analysis 2–12
Development and Support 2–12
Organization 2–12
Language Use and Conventions 2–12
ELA score (an average of the English, reading and writing tests) 1–36
For more information concerning the Writing test of the ACT, please visit their website here.

Newsletter – November 2015

November Newsletter


Newsletter – October 2015

Oct Newsletter


How Tutors Help Students Dominate Mathematics!


To much math can be a pretty intimidating en devour. Many people will loudly toss around the disclaimer “I’m not good at math” before performing mathematics in front of people. This disclaimer is used to prepare themselves for failure and to avoid feeling embarrassed in front of their peers. The complexity of math scares many people, but with a tutor this fear can be all but eliminated. This article over at NPR gives an in-depth but quick look at the symbiotic relationship tutors have with their students. Students with tutors do better in math class because not only do they get the one on one help they need, but their anxieties about math have been reduced if not eliminated. Tutors inject their students with the confidence needed to tackle any math problem from any number of different approaches. They find their students strengths and teach them utilize these strengths to excel not just in math, but all aspects of academia and life as well. This article is a great read and one we can’t recommend enough! Be sure to visit Study Tips & Strategies for more useful articles.

Study Tips & Strategies

Less is More

less is more

This fascinating article by Clifton B. Parker of the Standford News sheds light on researcher Michael Franks examination of how children best learn and use words they hear. Mr. Frank surmises that the context for how children hear a word is more important than how often its heard. Here’s a brief section from this incredible interesting article: “According to Frank, the study goes beyond simply addressing how often a child is exposed to a word to where and how the child hears the word. In doing so, he said, it provides evidence that what really matters for word learning is that words be used in a context that is distinctive for the child so that he or she can more effectively decode what the speaker is trying to say. In sum, words used in distinctive ways or in specific routines were learned and used by the child earlier than words that were said more frequently”.


Math In An Attic?

Neil Sloane

Neil Sloane isn’t a well known name to the general public, but to math mathematicians all over the world he is considered to be one of the most influential mathematician of our time. The 75 year old Welshman worked for Bell Labs for some 40 years where he won numerous awards but the creation he is most famous for is his Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences. Mr. Sloane spends a considerable amount of his time organizing numbers into sequences and is the leading expert in his field. This interesting article over at goes into depth of his work and his history with the exciting field of mathematics.

Study Tips & Strategies

The 9 BEST Scientific Study Tips

AsapScience has put together this great video explaining not just the best way to study math, but how studying anything effects the human brain. No surprise the first tip is not to cram the night before! The human brain is one of the most unique computational devices to ever exist and AsapScience goes to great lengths showing us how to correctly put our brains to work. Be sure to visit our blog for more Study Tips & Strategies.

Test Prep

Practice Makes Perfect- New Practice Tests!

Redesigned SAT
Practice Makes Perfect, So Go Ahead and Try These Awesome Practice Tests
The popular website has just put up some fantastic practice SAT and PSAT/NMSQT tests that we highly recommend taking. They’ve also provided an answer sheet so you can check your results right away. Practice makes perfect and Making The Grade, LLC can’t recommend these tests enough. We’d recommend challenging yourself to take these tests once a week for a month, and at the end of the month check to see how you’ve progressed. Taking the tests once will give you a good idea of what to expect on the SAT, but taking the practice tests over and over will help you show the SAT who the boss is. Be sure to visit our ACT Prep page for more tips and information!



Newsletter – September 2015