Monthly Archives: February 2021

17 Feb 2021

Talking to Yourself: The Benefits of Subvocalization

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to studying — or focusing on any intellectually stimulating task, for that matter. Some people prefer a quiet atmosphere while others can focus with loud music blasting in the background. Others enjoy the ambient noise of a coffee shop while working (though coffee shop study sessions feel like a thing of the past). Recently, much attention has been paid to the power of spoken self-affirmation as a means of self-empowerment. Talking to oneself, either silently or aloud, can also serve as a cognitive and intellectual tool with the potential to increase motivation, emotional regulation, and have a hand in developing metacognition and reasoning. 

Subvocalization, also known as silent speech, is the internal speech that we typically employ while reading; it is the mechanism by which we silently say the sound of a word as if it were read aloud. Subvocalization is a natural process that helps the mind comprehend and remember the meaning of the material that is being read. Billy Wheelan, the founder of Sentia Education, often teaches subvocalization to his students and recognizes both its value and potential drawbacks as a studying and test-taking tool. 

Here’s Billy’s take: “Subvocalization can benefit test-takers in several ways: for the student who rushes, subvocalization provides a way to stay on pace. In the ACT Science section, it provides a mechanism for ensuring the test-taker is considering carefully which chart or graph she’s using as evidence — lest she accidentally reason a response from looking at the wrong source material. And while subvocalization slows most students down too much to be employed widely in passage-based reading, it’s a great way to unpack tricky sentences or paragraph transitions. Subvocalization really should be in every test-taker’s arsenal and it’s easy to practice on your own as you complete question sets or mock tests.”

By (silently) articulating ourselves, we are forced to pay more attention to crafting a cohesive idea or argument. For many, self-talk conjures up the image of an imagined listener or interrogator, pushing us to more critically examine our thoughts. Another fascinating offshoot of subvocalization is the tendency to move our bodies while thinking deeply or talking to ourselves. If you’re ever paced back and forth while thinking or talking something out, you’ve already employed this technique intuitively! 

Evidence shows that movement enhances our ability to think and learn. In fact, activities such as speaking aloud, writing, or dancing do not begin in the brain and simply trigger the body to move, as one might assume. Rather, these actions require both the body and mind to work together as an integrated whole, influencing one another. So, physical actions like moving the jaw as you silently talk yourself through a difficult math problem, for example, can enhance your comprehension of the task at hand. Don’t take our word for it — give it a try next time you sit down (or pace back and forth) to study, write, or simply think! And though talking aloud to yourself would be frowned upon on Test Day, no one will fault you for subvocalization. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our tutoring techniques, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. All of our tutors are well-versed in test-taking techniques that have helped many of our students reach their target scores. We are also passionate about providing academic support to students of all ages, especially during such a challenging time for students and educators everywhere. We are here to help. At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™!

09 Feb 2021

2021 AP Exam Update

Now that SAT Subject Tests have been discontinued, all heads turn to AP exams. In the absence of Subject Tests, AP exams will be key for students who are looking to demonstrate their mastery of more specialized academic areas, beyond the scope of the SAT or ACT. AP exams in 2020 looked far different than years prior, as College Board was forced to create alternative modes of testing to accommodate COVID-related health and safety protocols. With the pandemic ever-present and 2021 AP exams fast-approaching, College Board has released final details on this spring’s AP exams after learning from the challenges of last spring. 

This year, there will be three test dates for each subject: 

Administration 1: May 3-7, 10-12, 14, 17 (exact date depends on the subject) – These will be available as a paper-based in-school test only. 

Administration 2: May 18-21, 24-28 –  These will be available as either paper-based in-school tests OR as online at-home tests.

Administration 3: June 1-4, 7-11 – These will be available as either paper-based in-school tests OR as online at-home tests.

The type of test (at-home online or in-school paper-based) and test date will be determined by the student’s school. The abbreviated, open note AP exams of last year have been redesigned to more holistically reflect the curriculum of each AP course. This year’s online AP exams will be full length, can only be taken on a laptop or desktop computer, and free-response questions must be typed. For more detailed and subject-specific information about 2021 AP exams, check out College Board’s official 2021 AP Exam Format Information. 

We understand how important AP exams are this year and how jarring it is to pivot from preparing for one test to another. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re seeking guidance on how to navigate the recent changes from College Board. We are always happy to help! At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™!