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Using Our MCAT CARS Skills to Analyze the Homework Gap

Session 27

This week is a fun article about homework and technology. Jack Westin joins us once again as we look at a passage today that’s easier to read. But usually the easier the passages are, the harder the questions.

If you want to get a good score then be sure to read all of the passages. Some students may only read the first 8 or 7 out of the 9. But this is a mistake. There are easy questions on every passage. So you have to go through every passage. Going through and trying to figure out which one is easy and hard by skimming is not easy. And this alone takes so much brain power so you might as well just read them all in the order they give it to you.

Additionally, if you get to a passage with more difficult questions then just come back to them later. That being said, it’s okay to skip questions, but just don’t skip passages.

Link to article: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/10/lacking-internet-millions-teens-cant-do-homework/574402/

In decades past, students needed little more than paper, pencils, and time to get their schoolwork done. For the vast majority of students, that’s no longer the case. Most schoolwork these days necessitates a computer and an internet connection, and that includes work to be done at home. One federal survey found that 70 percent of American teachers  assign homework that needs to be done online; 90 percent of high schoolers say they have to do internet-based homework at least a few times a month. Nearly half of all students say they get such assignments daily or almost daily.

Yet despite the seemingly ever-growing embrace of digital learning in schools, access to the necessary devices remains unequal, with a new report from the Pew Research Center finding that 15 percent of U.S. households with school-age children lack high-speed internet at home. The problem is particularly acute for low-income families: One in three households that make below $30,000 a year lacks internet. This is despite an emerging reality in which poorer students are attending schools that evangelize technology-based learning while their more affluent counterparts, as The New York Times reportedthis past weekend, are “going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction.”

It’s a glaring irony that’s also a major force behind class- and race-based discrepancies in academic achievement. In what’s often referred to as the “homework gap,” the unequal access to digital devices and high-speed internet prevents 17 percent of teens from completing their homework assignments, according to the new Pew analysis, which surveyed 743 students ages 13 through 17. Black teens are especially burdened by the homework gap: One in four of them at least sometimes struggle to complete assignments because of a lack of technology at home. And close to half of teenagers in the bottom income bracket have to do their homework on a cellphone occasionally or often.

From a history-class assignment on the political debate over immigration to required participation in an online discussion board for AP Environmental Science, access to a functioning computer and high-speed internet is all but a prerequisite for success in high school. This is becoming especially true as schools gravitate toward software where students file assignments and papers virtually, as well as schools that equip each student with a laptop or tablet; one 2017 survey found that half of U.S. teachers have one device for each of their students, up 10 percentage points from the year prior. Close to two in three teachers use technology in their classroom daily, according to a separate 2017 survey.

The homework gap can have major consequences, with some studies suggesting that teens who lack access to a computer at home are less likely to graduate from high school than their more technologically equipped peers. The “challenge to complete homework in safe, predictable, and productive environments can have lifelong impacts on their ability to achieve their full potential,” wrote John Branam, who runs an initiative to provide lacking teens with internet access, in an op-ed for The Hechinger Report last year.

[03:50] Paragraph 1, Sentence 1

In decades past, students needed little more than paper, pencils, and time to get their schoolwork done.

Jack says:

The author is just saying here how, before, we didn’t need that much to get things done with schoolwork.

[04:12] Paragraph 1, Sentence 2

For the vast majority of students, that’s no longer the case.

Jack says:

The author is setting up how it used to be and now it’s not the way anymore.

[04:23] Paragraph 1, Sentence 3

Most schoolwork these days necessitates a computer and an internet connection, and that includes work to be done at home.

Jack says:

Now, we’re needing all this technology to get homework done.

[04:44] Paragraph 1, Sentences 4-5

One federal survey found that 70 percent of American teachers  assign homework that needs to be done online; 90 percent of high schoolers say they have to do internet-based homework at least a few times a month. Nearly half of all students say they get such assignments daily or almost daily.

Jack says:

A survey is mentioned here. So again, the author is trying to tell us that before, we only use pencils and paper to do homework. And now, they’re requiring online access and computer to do that.

[06:18] Paragraph 2, Sentence 1

Yet despite the seemingly ever-growing embrace of digital learning in schools, access to the necessary devices remains unequal, with a new report from the Pew Research Center finding that 15 percent of U.S. households with school-age children lack high-speed internet at home.

Jack says:

The author is setting up some disparity here saying that although students have required online access, a large percentage of household still lack high-speed internet. So there is inequality here.

[06:56] Paragraph 2, Sentence 2

The problem is particularly acute for low-income families: One in three households that make below $30,000 a year lacks internet.

Jack says:

They’re pointing out the inequality here.

[07:20] Paragraph 2, Sentence 3

This is despite an emerging reality in which poorer students are attending schools that evangelize technology-based learning while their more affluent counterparts, as The New York Times reported this past weekend, are “going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction”

Jack says:

This is the part where it could get hard. So you have to really pay attention to this sentence.

[08:49] Paragraph 3, Sentence 1

It’s a glaring irony that’s also a major force behind class- and race-based discrepancies in academic achievement.

Jack says:

Going back to wooden toys would mean the opposite of electronics. Human interaction is something you don’t do when on your phone. So what the author is saying is that affluent families are tending to stay away from electronics.

When they say “glaring irony,” they’re probably referring to the fact that these least well-off families need internet and computers. And there are these higher income classes that can afford it but they don’t need it. So it’s ironic.

[11:00] Paragraph 3, Sentence 2

In what’s often referred to as the “homework gap,” the unequal access to digital devices and high-speed internet prevents 17 percent of teens from completing their homework assignments, according to the new Pew analysis, which surveyed 743 students ages 13 through 17.

Jack says:

There is a need for internet connection due to the homework online. And 17 percent of teens aren’t able to do that.

[11:35] Paragraph 3, Sentence 3

Black teens are especially burdened by the homework gap: One in four of them at least sometimes struggle to complete assignments because of a lack of technology at home.

Jack says:

They’re giving a specific demographics here of black teens.

[11:54] Paragraph 3, Sentence 4

And close to half of teenagers in the bottom income bracket have to do their homework on a cellphone occasionally or often.

Jack says:

They’re pointing more inequality here. MCAT may bring up questions here that are very obvious and easy to understand. And they will ask you where is this inequality. Is it within the schools or the homes? And you’re supposed to know that they’re really bringing up the inequality in homes and the actual homes of the students, and not really their schools.

[12:52] Paragraph 4, Sentence 1

From a histor-class assignment on the political debate over immigration to required participation in an online discussion board for AP Environmental Science, access to a functioning computer and high-speed internet is all but a prerequisite for success in high school.

Jack says:

The author is just pointing out the cases of needing a high-speed internet.

[13:20] Paragraph 4, Sentence 2

This is becoming especially true as schools gravitate toward software where students file assignments and papers virtually, as well as schools that equip each student with a laptop or tablet; one 2017 survey found that half of U.S. teachers have one device for each of their students, up 10 percentage points from the year prior.

Jack says:

They’re talking about cases here where the students struggle with filing assignments online. And it’s all about homework.

[14:09] Paragraph 4, Sentence 3

Close to two in three teachers use technology in their classroom daily, according to a separate 2017 survey.

Jack says:

It seems to highlight the importance of technology in school. The previous paragraph is talking about the lack of internet access at home. And then they’re saying there’s so much technology in school and students are going to have access to everything.

[14:45] Paragraph 5, Sentence 1

The homework gap can have major consequences, with some studies suggesting that teens who lack access to a computer at home are less likely to graduate from high school than their more technologically equipped peers.

Jack says:

Students are always being asked to do homework online. But there are these students that don’t have access to this. And now, they’re showing the consequence that they’re less likely to graduate from high school.

[15:19] Paragraph 5, Sentence 2

The “challenge to complete homework in safe, predictable, and productive environments can have lifelong impacts on their ability to achieve their full potential,” wrote John Branam, who runs an initiative to provide lacking teens with internet access, in an op-ed for The Hechinger Report last year.

Jack says:

Branam is saying we need to provide students with a safe and predictable environment for their success.

[16:21] The Big Picture

The author is trying to paint the picture of how important technology is in school and out of school now because of all the homework. It tells us how there is a lot of inequality with access to those tools to make students successful.

Although this is not a hard passage, they’d probably ask hard questions like where the author expects you to know this is from. Is this related to colleges? They will ask you very broad questions and the only way to answer those is if you’ve read the passage. These kinds of questions will require a little bit more careful analysis of what you’ve read.

They don’t mention how schools have inequality. But they’re mentioning how the homes are unequal. They could trick you by making you unaware of how subtle these answer choice differences will be. If you’re careful with what they’re saying, you will notice that there is a slight difference between two answers. This may be based on maybe one word or the way they phrase their answer choice. It could be about the homework or how some of the more affluent children aren’t necessarily using computers. But the passage is mentioning a point that is contrary to what most people would think.

[19:43] Jack Westin

If you’re struggling with the CARS section or MCAT in general, and you’re looking for some help, check out Jack Westin. Sign up for Jack’s CARS course. Let him help guide you through your MCAT journey! Click on the link to get $100 off.

Links:

Jack Westin

Link to article: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/10/lacking-internet-millions-teens-cant-do-homework/574402/

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