STEAM Collaborator, May 14, 2016

young hands create a Prairie Book Mark

young hands create a Prairie Book Mark


It was a STEMtastic fabulous day of adventure for the school district.

Theresa Michna was an Exhibitor for the Third Annual STEMfastic  hands on festival. Theresa’s workshop: “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architecture: MATH and Design”

Four dozen students, grades K-6,  folded, measured, and created stained glass windows , inspired by those designed by Wright in his Prairie Houses.  What excitement when even the littlest hands finished cutting their sparkling  3-D windows into bookmarks!

STEAM = Science + Technology + Engineering + Art + Math


Stay tuned for Theresa’s  exciting STEAM Workshop at French American School of New York Camp this summer, July 5-8th!!!!

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Create Your Personalized 30-Minute Math Workout for SAT/ACT


Last fall, I reduced speed reading to a 20-minute course, courtesy of Tim Ferriss’ advice (Four Hour Work Week, Times Bestseller). Now I’m reducing the essentials of the math prep to a few potent steps.


You can begin these steps in just 30 minutes or less. Here’s how —


  1. Six minutes: Content knowledge is power. Therefore, identify and understand the content of the SAT Math and ACT Math, so you can optimize your study time. Acknowledge the areas that you are weakest in. Then obtain 3×5 index cards so you can write math formulas and rules you don’t know. So here’s the scoop on content:


Math Topics on SAT:


  •    Algebra + functions, 33%
  •    Geometry/coordinate geometry, 29%
  •    Data, statistics, 14%
  •    Number theory + percents, 24%

Math Topics of the ACT:


  • 19 algebra questions = 31%
  • 23 plane geometry + coordinate geometry = 38%
  • 14 pre-algebra = 23%
  •    4 trig questions = 6%


  1. Nine minutes: Scrutinize the Table of contents of the Official Collegeboard SAT , or Real ACT by Peterson. Highlight with color your weakest math topics. Next, make a plan to read and study those pages within the next 5 days. Don’t wait too long — your motivation may wane.


  1. Five minutes: Find about two dozen 3×5 index cards, and fasten them with a band or collect in an inexpensive box. These cards will be used by you to write all the new and forgotten math rules and formulas. Eventually, you can stick these cards on a kitchen wall, and commit them to memory each day.


  1. Nine minutes: Finally, study the following strategies. If you need clarification, refer to a popular SAT or ACT review book, or work with a seasoned tutor. These tried and true strategies are taught by 90% of the high end tutoring companies found on the internet.


  1. ANALYZE the Answer Choices (eliminate poor answers first).
  2. BACKsolve the Answer Choices (Use the answers given and plug them into the problem.)
  3. PIN Numbers (Choose a simple number, such as 1 or 2, to replace the variable.)
  4. SPLIT the Question into Parts
  5. DIAGRAM (visualize) the Question and draw the figures.
  6. If you can eliminate 1 or 2 answers, guess on the SAT. For the ACT, always fill in an answer, because there is no penalty for guessing.
  7. For the ACT, try the middle value first. Solve the problem. If it’s too big, cross off any numbers that are larger than the one you tried. Then, try the remaining answers.
  8. For both SAT and ACT, read all words of the problem carefully. Underline/circle what the problem asks you to solve.


Theresa Yin-Michna, M.A. has taught over 2,000 hours of test prep. She enjoys seeing her students succeed. Ninety-three percent of her students were accepted at one of their top 2 colleges. Visit her at, or

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Testimonies 2014

I received my results today, with a composite of 28!  I am so excited!   I appreciate your help SO MUCH.  Working with you has been so instrumental in my success, and it has been such fun, too!
–Junior, Independant School, N.Y.C., 2014
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SAT v. ACT: Showcase for Talent

SAT v. ACT: How to Showcase Your Talent


Come Join the Debate for Fall 2014

– Major differences between these two well-crafted exams?

– My most compelling reasons to take the ACT

– And some compelling reasons to take the SAT

– My hottest recommendations for self-prep books

— How Playing Games can enhance your test prep


Come join SAT/ACT Expert Theresa Michna for a lively discussion. She will share some down to earth tips based upon her ten years experience of coaching 2500+ hours of SAT/ACT. Join us for an insider’s view of these high-stakes exams. It’s free and all families and students are welcome!

Sept. 15, Monday,    7 p.m.

The Village Center
Larchmont Public Library
121 Larchmont Avenue, 10538

Call Larchmont Library to make a reservation today!

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Testimony 2014

Hey Theresa!!!

I just got my SAT scores back and they are fantastic.  I got a 770 in math (Up 90), 690 in writing (Up 90), and a 690 in reading (Up 60).  A total of 2150 compared to my old score of 1910.  I got a 10 on my essay.  Thank you so much for all your help.

-12th grader, Greenwich H.S., who was awarded a large scholarship at Northeastern Univ.

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Testimony 2014

We truly appreciate all the time and energy you have spent with M. She looks forward to ACT tutoring – and clearly that is all you. I am sure that we will be interested in having your help in the application phase! Thanks again for everything.
–11th Grade Parents, April 2014.


“The Power of Play”,, July 2013.


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Theresa tutored my twin sons this past year,  for both the SAT and ACT tests.  She was terrific! Theresa was able to discern their strengths and weaknesses very quickly and then created a study/prep program for each. My kids looked forward to their lessons.   She has a wonderful way about her; in addition to being very smart and organized, she was always warm, in control, and extremely positive .  I would strongly recommend her to families !

– parent of 2 freshman, U. of Chicago, Tulane U., ’17

Our daughter, M., is going to be a freshman at University of Rochester!  Thanks to your infinite patience, practice , and confidence in her, she got to her first choice school. We are thrilled and thank you for everything.

– Parents of freshman, U. of Rochester, ’17


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Cut your SAT Critical Reading Prep in Half

You Can Cut Your SAT Prep Time in Half

While lazy summer days lie ahead for most juniors, don’t lose sight of the start of college test prep in August. This all-important step starts for most juniors at the end of July or beginning of August. High school students should celebrate the longer days, but also be sure that they are making the most of relaxing summer evenings. Don’t worry. From an expert who has helped hundreds of students prep for their SAT/ACT exams—there are shortcuts. Here are some hands-on tips that may drastically cut your test prep time in half.

I. Critical Reading

• Half the battle in choosing the right answer is knowing how to eliminate the poor answers. These “clunker” answers often sound off-topic, or do not satisfy the text “100%.” (The SAT only looks for answers that fit 100% with the passage.)
• Practice a zig-zag reading style to switch between the reading passage and the questions.
• Don’t get stuck in difficult passages by over-spending time to analyze the text. Instead, learn to skim the passage quickly, then go immediately to the questions for cues.
• If you don’t know the answer right away, move quickly on to the next question; this is what the most successful test-takers do.
• Once you can eliminate two answers, then guess; it takes some confidence to do this, but with practice you will adroit at guessing.

II. Enlarge your vocabulary of recognition:

• By now, you should have been reading a handy vocabulary builder such as Hot Words for SAT by Carnevale, or checking online games like Quizlet or Free Rice. (If you haven’t tried these resources, make sure to check them out over the summer.)
• Remember that fill-in questions get progressively harder, so if you don’t get the last two in each section, don’t worry.
• For two-word fill-ins – try identifying one word first, then matching the second one as best as you can. It’s more logic than pure vocabulary.

Oh, have I forgotten the math SAT section? Not a chance. Students can learn to cut their math prep time in half. Just stay tuned for my next blog.

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Put It in Words

It’s never too early to think about beefing up your writing portfolio.  In our Seminars, “Fearless Writing Workshops,” we encourage students to keep a journal, and to keep their eyes peeled for interesting and compelling topics.  Delicious and demanding topics are honed from reading The New York Times, The New Yorker, Atlantic Magazine, National Geographic, to name just a few.

Need mechanical help with writing?

Here are some other masters who may just help give you the Writing Bug:

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity, by Ray Bradbury;

Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir, by Beth Kephart

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers”  by Betsy Lerner.

So sharpen your pencil, get a cheap notebook, write away from your computer, and practice Zen silence, as you learn to listen to your own voice.


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More Students Are Taking Both the ACT and SAT


Students deal with multiple exams

Students deal with multiple exams


“As if applying to college isn’t taxing enough, the process seems to have been ratcheted up another notch. Ambitious high school students are no longer content with just one college admissions test. Not a single college requires it, but many applicants to the nation’s most selective colleges and universities are taking — and retaking — both the ACT and the SAT.”

— Read more about the skyrocketing number of test takers in 2013-14.

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