Math had always been the hardest section for me, but after working with James Denke, my scores and understanding were better than I had ever hoped they would be...
Since early 2009, The Waterton Group has worked with over three dozen students from Highland Park High School. As a Dallas-based test preparation firm with a hyper-specialized approach, Waterton has stood well-positioned to offer keen insight to parents and students regarding readiness for upcoming PSAT® / SAT® and ACT test dates. Waterton Directors reviewed and compiled notes from past Waterton students in order to offer some valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the average Highland Park High School student here in Dallas, TX. We are delighted to present you with our first assessment below. In a continued effort to support students and parents, Waterton has made this information public to assist parents and students alike with making informed PSAT® / SAT® and even ACT preparation decisions.
We will periodically update this information throughout the 2012-2013 school year, so feel free to revisit this page. You may also contact us with questions at (214) 228-5822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proceed to our Highland Park H.S. Readiness Critique to read more.
Make no mistake; Highland Park High School (HPHS) students attend, in Waterton’s opinion, the best public school in Dallas. Across all areas of Writing, Math, and Reading, HPHS students consistently begin test preparation with higher scores on tests than students from competing public schools. Below are generalized critiques from HPHS students of past Waterton Directors and Instructors.
Highland Park Students have exhibited very acute mathematical skills. Generally, our Directors have regarded HPHS students as above average in mathematical understanding.
Areas of strength include topics found in Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Numbers and Operations. For example, most students in grades 10, 11, and 12 at HPHS have a strong understanding of Circle Properties and Exponents.
Functions are the worst area for HPHS students. Waterton Instructors report that functions like f(x)=x2+2 is difficult for students to decipher. Also, high‐level logic problems and systematic approach problems tend to overwhelm students, because logic and reasoning are not formally taught to most HPHS students.
The reading portion of the test proved difficult for approximately 60% of our past Highland Park HS students. The remaining 40% of students showed very strong verbal acuity. The main driver of introductory Reading section scores was whether students actively read in their spare time. Those students who read books (fiction and/or non-fiction) outside of the required school reading assignments showed much stronger section scores.
Again, each student is different with regard to the Reading section, but most HPHS students have been exposed to a strong list of classic literature. Students typically read at a moderate pace and were able to absorb most of the material from the PSAT® and SAT® passages.
Vocabulary is the most common trouble area for HPHS students. Although most students receive some sort of required vocabulary building assignments in classes, they tend to forget these words within weeks of the required vocabulary assignment, particularly if not used in regular speech or writing. Waterton students learn memory techniques to assist in remembering these words well past a few weeks. For more information, contact one of the Directors listed below.
Highland Park HS students from Waterton’s client list have shown an overwhelmingly low affinity for grammar. The reason for this is simple: HPHS students are not exposed to grammatical rules past the 8th grade. Although most public schools in the DFW area have little to no grammar included in English curriculum, some schools in Dallas (mostly private) have weekly session where teachers review basic and intermediate grammatical rules. At these schools, Waterton finds students with above average understanding of grammar. Unfortunately, HPHS is not one of these schools. In fact, students have almost no understanding of basic sentence structure apart from their inherent ability to identify “what sounds correct.”
Areas of strength are limited. Students are easily able to differentiate between nouns, verbs and adjectives. After some instructor guidance, HPHS students can recognize adverbs, prepositions and subject/verb agreement; however, understanding typically ends there for most students.
Of the 25 highly tested concepts within the grammar portion of the PSAT® and SAT® tests, Highland Park HS students typically struggle with 19 of these areas. Some of the most common problem areas include: Tenses, Pronouns, Pronoun Disagreement, Appositives, Dangling Modifiers, Comparisons, Redundancy, and Restrictive Clauses. Contact the Waterton office for a more detailed list.
If your child achieves a 175 or greater on his or her Sophomore year PSAT test, we need to talk. A score at or above 175 gives your child the potential to score a 215 or above on the Junior year PSAT. A PSAT® score at or above a 215 positions your child for potential National Merit recognition. This honor is an excellent addition to his or her college application, and can result in National Merit scholarship money. For more information, contact our office.
A score in this range is very respectable and above the national average; however, there are some areas that may need improvement. Waterton suggests reviewing each section score (Math, Reading, Writing) in order to identify strengths and weaknesses of your child. Parents should encourage students to seek help in trouble areas, but remind their child that scores will organically improve over the course of his or her Sophomore year. For questions, contact our office.
Students in this range are below the average HPHS PSAT score for Sophomores and should consider seeking help outside of the classroom. Waterton encourages parents to begin working toward score improvements now instead of waiting until Junior (or even Senior) year. Too often, our Directors are contacted by parents of students with low test scores and only a few weeks or months for improvement. Even though Waterton students regularly recognize 300+ SAT score improvements, it is most prudent to begin efforts during the Sophomore and early Junior years. Feel free to contact our office with questions.
It is early enough in the process to relax with test preparation. The sophomore year PSAT® test is almost a year from now; simply ensure that your student follows these recommendations to organically boost his or her future PSAT® and SAT® scores:
If you would like one of our Directors to conduct a tailored assessment of your son or daughter, we’d be happy to help. In fact, having formed such a successful relationship, we have decided to extend the special offer of a free assessment to any Highland Park HS student. Gather any past test scores and contact our office so we can guide you and your child through the process of preparing for upcoming PSAT® and future SAT®/ACT tests. Remember, it is best to prepare for tests in the months leading up to the test.
For more details, or to schedule an initial assessment, feel free to call (214) 228-5822 or contact one of our Directors below.
James R. Denke
Mark S. Hastings
Whether attending a public high school or an elite college preparatory academy, The Waterton Group can help you reach your goals. We remain small and local in order to maintain the home field advantage we have earned over the years. Check out our Highland Park PSAT® Resource page for information tailored to Dallas area high schools.
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Working with Waterton was absolutely the best decision for my SAT® prep. They taught me the skills to improve my scores in not only my weak area, but also my strong subjects... Read more
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