What You'll Get
- $99 for a home-study ACT prep course ($500 value)
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The Psychology of Memory: Forging Pathways Through the Brain
One thing you'll definitely need to ace the test is a working memory. Read on to explore the process by which memories are embedded into our brains.
The capital of New Zealand. Last year's Oscar winner for Best Actress. Can you bring these names to mind, or do they feel like they're just out of reach, dancing on the tip of your tongue? In fact, cognitive psychologists formally describe this phenomenon as a TOT—tip-of-tongue—state, and it can help illustrate the complex processes that occur (or fail to) as the brain embeds and retrieves information for later use.
One thing that a TOT state tells us is that memory is not a matter of sending a search query into the brain's depths and coming back with a complete unit of experience (i.e., having studied New Zealand in sixth grade) that we'd once filed away. Different parts of memories are stored in different regions throughout the brain, depending on their nature—words, for instance, are not kept in the same place as faces. That storage system gets kicked into gear as each thing we see, touch, smell, and hear is processed by our sensory and short-term memories, where the information is mulled over for a few seconds and either discarded or transferred to long-term storage. Through rehearsal, or repetition, a short-term memory becomes a long-term one, where it resides among our most deeply embedded recollections: a wedding, the birth of a child, the words to our favorite mattress-store jingle.
Acquiring new skills creates additional pathways, which—like ruts in a dirt road—grow deeper with repeated use. Likewise, learned skills can disappear following periods of neglect. Over time, the brain prunes unused connections, which helps to explain how you can forget a second language once you stop speaking it regularly.
Some memories, however, seem impossible to forget. This typically happens when a memory is associated with a heightened emotional or physical response. "Where were you when JFK was assassinated?" is a question any baby boomer will likely have an answer to. In a classroom, teachers can use these physical and emotional associations to their advantage, teaching material with hands-on methods that stimulate different regions of the brain to create an abundance of connections between memory and knowledge.
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About ACT Mastery
According to ACT Mastery's data, its ACT prep methods help improve the scores of 92% of its students by an average of three points. To do this, the test-prep specialists offer in-person camps and programs and online classes where they teach the skills students will most likely face on the actual ACT. Courses cover math, reading, english, writing, and science topics, yielding overall higher composite scores.
ACT Mastery is the brainchild of Craig Gehring, who achieved perfect scores on both the SAT and ACT in 2003. After news of his scores spread, parents reached out to Craig, and he soon began tutoring fellow test-takers. Since then, he's published SAT ACT Mastery, which explains the methods he used to get his perfect scores, and developed the successful ACT Mastery curriculum.