Archive for the ‘ Student Resources ’ Category

Acing the ACT

By Amanda Bertsch


That perfect 36 may be more attainable than you think. Here’s ten tips to help you ace the ACT.

  1. Start early: Say you signed up for the ACT in four months. It’s still not too early to start studying! The Barron’s book is very good, but you can also look up online help or check out other books.
  2. Understand the test: The ACT is different from the SAT in a number of ways. For instance, the ACT (and the new SAT) does not take off points for wrong answers, so you should always guess if you don’t know an answer. Read through the ACT website ( and make sure you understand the format before test day.
  3. Know your weaknesses: Do you always score lower in math? Is writing your weakest point? Know what the hardest section for you will be, and study that more.
  4. Practice makes perfect: If you’ve never taken the ACT before or you’re not used to taking standardized tests, it might be wise to practice taking the ACT. Pick a Saturday morning and have someone print out a practice test for you. Try to simulate testing conditions as accurately as possible—do all the timings and breaks exactly as the test directs.
  5. Squeeze in timed practice: Sometimes it’s not possible to set aside an entire morning to do a full practice test. Do shorter sets of problems, but be careful to time yourself. For instance, the full math test has 60 questions in 60 minutes, so allow yourself 10 minutes for 10 questions.
  6. Practice essays: If you’re taking the ACT with writing, you should know that writing is usually one of the lowest scores for every student. Counter this by looking up past year’s ACT prompts and doing the 40-minute writing time. Then give your essays to teachers, parents, or to critique.
  7. Don’t be scared of science: The science section on the ACT seems intimidating. What order do the steps of meiosis go in again? However, as the ACT site emphasizes again and again, you do not need any prior knowledge of science to ace the science section. This section tests scientific thinking, not scientific knowledge. Prepare yourself by looking at graphs and articles on sites such as
  8. Test smart: You’ve heard all the clichés: sleep well the night before, eat a hearty breakfast, etc. This advice is so popular because it works! Try for more rest during that entire week so you’re not groggy on test day, and be sure to eat something filling that won’t upset your stomach on that morning.
  9. Know if the ACT is for you: Generally, the ACT is considered to be easier than the SAT because it has no wrong-answer penalty and the questions have simpler phrasing. However, there are also plenty of people who do better on the SAT. If you dislike science or aren’t good at concentrating on one subject for long periods of time, consider looking at the SAT instead.
  10. Relax: Colleges understand that one test on one day does not define your high school career. Even if you feel like you didn’t get the score you wanted, you can always retake it later. Relax on test day and you’ll perform better without the added stress of worrying about test scores.

Good luck!


10 Things to do Over Summer Vacation

By Markus Weinzinger


Finally, the school year has come to an end, and the question arises: “What do I do for summer?” Summer is filled with opportunities for students returning and for graduating students. Listed below are ten suggestions that can inspire other great ideas.


Around the World…or Arizona: One of the first things that pops into the mind of a student out from school is to get away. Whether it is along the beach in California, deep in the wilderness of the West, or the bayous in the South, this country has much to offer. Traveling abroad is available through flights, cruises, tours, and trips. If just being in Arizona is good enough, plan for short or lengthy excursions with friends and family in town.


Practice a New Talent: With two months of potential free time, there is plenty of time to learn new skills and enhance talents. Such skills can become useful later in life. Though most talents can take longer than two months to perfect, it does not hurt to set up a consistent schedule to practice; or to share with others for that matter. Ideas may be performance, musical, sports, occupations, or a talent unique to you.


Scholarships: Now with school over, students have more time to apply for scholarships. Services like can help find worthy scholarships. Scholarships are tempting to put off until later in the school year. However, if the school year proves too busy, procrastination becomes a big problem. Take advantage of applying for scholarships early!


Summer School: Though it may sound like an oxymoron, summer schools in reality are helpful for catching up. Some classes taken at school may require another class to be completed. For example, to take Physics, you need to at least be taking Pre-Calculus as a prerequisite. Summer school offers the chance to take a class (especially if it is an easy class) to gain an additional step. However, most online summer schools can cost upwards of $450.


Camps: Camps are a great opportunity. Camp lengths vary from a weekend to more than a month. Camps grant applied understanding, character building, and wholesome fun. In addition, you can meet new people who could become close friends. Most camps have sign-ups available before the summer season.


Start a Healthy Habit: With the burdening schedule of school no longer dragging down, there is freedom to begin a health-building plan. Starting the day may begin with a morning jog, followed by lifting weights and other workouts. Workouts can alternatively be practiced as sports or rigorous performing arts (e.g., dance). Having a regular schedule can prove beneficial in the next year for sports like rowing, soccer, or basketball.


Rest: Of course, rest prevails after an exhausting year of school. Sleep is key to performing well in school, and can make a summer vacation experience more savory. It may also help to set a consistent schedule for sleep in the next year of school, so that late-night homework and studies can be avoided.


Celebrations: If the other suggestions were not fatiguing enough, then celebrations trump all competitors. There is plenty to celebrate once summer vacation dawns: finishing the school year, friends or yourself graduating high school, being awarded a scholarship, birthdays, Father’s Day, Independence Day, family reunions; the list goes on. A planner might be useful to keep track of these events.


At Home: For those preferring a comfy, safer, and humbler summer, no other option rivals that of the home. It is a haven for quiet reading, movies, and rest. If that plan proves too boring, the backyard gives increased physical and peaceful opportunities, while still in the borders of home. Even more so, it allows family to connect and work together. Otherwise, the home offers the prospect of discovering smaller things in plain sight.


The Epic Experience: When all other ideas have been dried up and summer vacation seems over after only a few weeks, the conditions for an epic experience storm are confirmed. Plan for one epic experience to highlight the summer. A week composed of unique activities greatly inspires memories. For example, rock climbing on Monday, a concert on Tuesday, writing on Wednesday, and so on. Spending time with family and friends, teamwork, leadership, and other core values and virtues build on simple and inspirational activities.


Have a wonderful summer!

10 Things to Do Over Spring Break

By Markus Weinzinger

Spring Break is just around the corner, and the time has come for the best ways to spend it. Some may wish to travel out of state, while others might simply want to spend some time sleeping in. Whatever your plans, there are a variety of activities to make that week fly by!

  1. R&R (Rest and Relaxation): This is definitely the ideal way to spend the break! Break is a wonderful time to reclaim lost hours of sleep, dump built-up stress, and try new things. Get the time to finish that book, spend time with family, and relax in the comfort of home.
  2. Calendar Events: Check on the city or town website for activities and special occasions to participate in. Possible events include tours, art exhibits, concerts, celebrations, and more!
  3. Group Activities: School does not have to limit the times to see friends. It is a good time to plan outings, see the movies, or mingle and chat. Consider appropriate conditions in planning.
  4. Traveling: Plan on going anywhere for Spring Break? You can find locations to embrace or get away from the cold. Whether you’re traveling up north or across an ocean, reservations can be made now for next week. Don’t forget the camera!
  5. Exercise: Spring sports are on the rise, and a few extra days of practice can add up in performance. A long jog each day or hitting a local gym will get starting players an edge for next week. This can also be a great time to organize an effective workout schedule for sports, so that players can establish good habits.
  6. New Ideas: Tired and worn out, or bored to the breaking point? This time can be taken to explore and discover. It can be hiking a mountain or sketching a new invention. Engage in an opportunity to see more or make something better.
  7. Serving Others: Spring Break does not necessarily mean to focus on personal goals. Look for ways to help others and spread joy. How can people enjoy break without a happy attitude? You could share these experiences with friends when you get back!
  8. Looking Back: Having reached a major milestone in the school year, break can be a time to recall the great experiences and fun times friends have had. Perhaps these can provide more things to do over Spring Break. Try starting a journal!
  9. Winter Activities: Winter is still here, and the seasonal activities that come with it. The Snowbowl in Flagstaff is still open for the rest of the month, and conditions will have to be checked for visits. If snow continues to come down in town, sledding and snowball battles are a possibility.
  10. School Projects: This may seem like silly idea: break is supposed to be a break. However, a little discomfort now can pay off in the long run. Besides the weekends, there is little time to work on seemingly mammoth projects on regular school days. Take the opportunity next week to finish assignments, and you won’t have to stress about them at the last second.


Enjoy a safe and fun Spring Break!

Math in the Film Industry

By Taylor Whittemore

The film industry is a vast profession that encompasses several different types of occupations that each manage a different aspect of the film. Once the film is completed, it is sent to theatres around the country and sometimes internationally to produce profit. Since the entertainment industry is something people devote so much money towards, it has a box office gross of nearly thirteen billion dollars in 2014 alone. When people think about this expansive and expensive industry, they imagine the blinding lights, dedicated actors, and elaborate set. They rarely imagine how deeply math is integrated into the movies we watch with unparalleled fascination. Math plays a critical role in several careers involved in the film industry, such as producers, camera operators, costume and set designers, editors, and animators.

Producers are often given the task to control the specifics of the film, especially the budget. Needless to say, the budget includes a myriad of calculations. The producer must determine how much money is going to be spent on various aspects of the film while determining how much money is going to be set aside to pay the actors and crew. They must also seek out people who are willing to finance the film by making an investment in it, especially if it is a film independent of a large company. They continue to maintain and adjust the budget throughout the production of the film.

A film is comprised of the scenes that a camera captures, and therefore it is essential that the cameraperson captures the scene in the most effective way. Though the cinematographer technically decides on which angles should be shot, it is the cameraperson’s job to ensure that the video captured matches up to the cinematographer’s vision by using mathematics and, by extension, physics. They must calculate how the intended outcome will look with various filters, lenses, and film stocks. They also calculate variables such as exposure by using f-stops and focal lengths. Continue reading

An Eye for Design: Career Opportunities in Interior Design

By Virginia Riley

When someone is redecorating their room, or even their house, do you often know exactly what color to use for the walls, where something should go, or can tell when something does not fit in a room? Maybe you should think about a career in interior design.

One of the perks of being an interior designer is that you get to have a creative output as a job, which also meant that you need to have creative talent. A big part is the eye for color because when you are painting a room you do not want the color schemes to clash. Another thing is painting; there is a lot of painting, stenciling, laying flooring, arranging objects in a neat fashion, etc. involved in the job.

The part of the job that does not require any creative talent is communication. In order to successfully perform your job, you have to be able to communicate with the client and understand what they want you to do. Even though it seems all painting and remodeling, it is really a service job, just with more colors. Continue reading