How to Capitalize on the New SAT

Answers to the testIn 2016, the SAT exams will be modified from their present longstanding format. Because of these changes, conventional test preparation will be less valuable to test takers.

Relevant words, the meanings of which depend on how they are used in context, will be emphasized, and fewer, if any, obscure vocabulary words will be included.

In addition, the new test is no longer designed to discourage guessing. This move to rights-only scoring will encourage students to give the best answer they can to every problem.

Finally, the writing section of the test will be optional, although some colleges will require it.

Bottom line: Skills will be more valued than test prep “strategies.” This is where Merit Software comes in.

Merit programs provide detailed coverage of the core competencies students require to succeed. Concepts in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary are covered from the basics to higher levels, providing an ideal base for succeeding on the SAT exams.

SAT scores have long been tied higher incomes.  In an effort to even the playing field The College Board has partnered with Kahn Academy to make test prep free to all students.

However, it is important to have more than one source when honing academic skills. Merit’s effective, efficient, and affordable methods of instruction will be indispensable for preparation for the new SAT.

Merit’s English College Prep Web Suite consists of a group of Merit online learning programs bundled together, selected to improve students’ reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing, and grammar skills.

Does Digital Reading Hurt Reading Comprehension?

Schoolgirl Using Computer At DeskReading online may be causing people to skim rather than read in depth according to one expert.

With the vast amount of information that comes in onto people’s computers and mobile devices, reading online is causing people to skim rather than read in depth in order to keep up.

Online reading is not necessarily superficial. Merit Software’s online products are in-depth interactive learning tools. In Merit’s Reading Comprehension Booster, for example, online context clues and multiple activities reinforce learning.

Click here to read the article.

Learn more about Reading Comprehension Booster.

Funding Opportunity for U.S. Non-Profits

Last week, a leading U.S. foundation announced its intention to fund promising programs to improve career opportunities for teens and adults.

A deployment of Merit literacy software appears to fit within the foundation’s criteria.

The deadline to apply is August 9th. Applicants may apply for amounts between $25,000 and $250,000 for one year.

Interested parties should contact Merit for additional information.

U.S. Teens Need Writing Help

Schoolgirl in high school classOnly 27 percent of U.S. students achieved a proficient score on a nationwide writing test – the NAEP for Writing 2011. The test was the first nationwide writing test ever given on computers. Students in 8 th and 12th grades took it in 2011.

An analysis showed that the lower scoring writers made fewer key presses to both write and revise their work compared to higher scoring writers. Key presses were not a determining element in students’ writing scores.

Merit’s Punch Writing programs have a strong track record of helping students develop clear, concise written works. The programs guide pupils through the writing process, providing hints and tips at every step of the way.

The hints and tips facilitate the generation of ideas, revisions, and corrections as students’ write. Additional key presses are an inevitable result as students expand, elaborate, and refine their writing.

Plus, student writing is automatically stored in a convenient Online Portfolio. Teachers are easily able to view written work at different stages of development.

Full-working samples, implementation ideas, and pricing may be found on each of the Punch programs’ web pages.

Grammar Fitness is another tool that can improve students’ writing too. It provides interactive grammar practice, combined with progress tracking, to help students recognize and revise errors in their writing practice.

New Tools for the 2012-2013 School Year

Great minds think alikeAs the school year commences and educators look for resources to fill in gaps, it is a good time to review many of the new tools Merit has recently introduced.

  • New real time, “heat map” tracking – visualize pupils’ progress while they work
  • A new, online version of Developing Critical Thinking Skills – reading improvement software for reading levels 5.0 through 8. 0
  • Open Punch – Helps students write narrative, fact-based, and argumentative paragraphs
  • Complete English Web Suite – a collection of the most popular Merit Online programs for reading comprehension, writing, grammar, and vocabulary

New Report: High School Graduates are Falling Short, Need Help

60 percent of recent U.S. High School graduates are at-risk of failing in their college and career endeavors according to new research by ACT, Inc.

“The best way to help students prepare for successful futures is by monitoring their achievement, academic behaviors and goals starting early in their academic careers and providing appropriate help whenever we find they are not on track for success,” says ACT Chief Executive Officer, Jon Whitmore.

Merit Software programs are developed with these features in mind.

Merit programs cover a wide range of academic skills and track students’ progress while they work. The programs provide context clues and built-in supports. Students automatically receive help when they encounter troublesome concepts.

{read the complete article from Reuters}

High School Writing and Grammar Help – Webinar Recap

Grammar Fitness Heat Map

Grammar Fitness Heat Map

STEM High School* has 500 students. Many struggle with reading and writing but are good with math and science.

The English department needs to find a way to help a large number of students improve grammar and paragraphing skills.

Last year the department did not have a good diagnostic in this area. They tried to teach writing skills in the context of the curriculum but that strategy wasn’t helpful.

Grammar instruction trails off in the district after sixth grade. STEM High School students are familiar with grammar concepts, but they haven’t practiced them enough to master them. The faculty feels the students need a program devoted to grammar and writing mastery.

Most STEM High School students plan to go to college. The SAT Writing test is primarily grammar, according to the English department head. Improving grammar skills should have the added benefit of improving SAT scores.

*STEM High School is not the real name of the school. It represents an accurate description of how the school’s administrators view its mission and goals.

Merit's Online Teaching Portfolio

Merit’s Online Teaching Portfolio


First, we looked at Grammar Fitness. A few aspects of the program impressed webinar participants.

  • They were pleased with the broad range of content.
  • They were thrilled with the ability to track entire classes through the heat-map.
  • Participants were also impressed with the program’s ability to drill down and see the areas where students needed help. They also liked that they could have students redo exercises if necessary.

Next we looked at Paragraph Punch.

  • The teachers liked that they could see where students were in the stages of the writing process.
  • They also liked that they could show students their own work at different stages of the writing process.
  • They liked that the program helped students brainstorm ideas.