Thank you to the 230 attendees of our BCA and Bergen Tech Webinar on August 5, 2020!
We were thrilled to share our expert knowledge with so many parents and students.
If you were unable to attend, don’t worry! We’ve compiled the most commonly asked questions and provided answers below.
BCA & Bergen Tech Admissions
Q: Will the admissions process have special considerations this year due to COVID-19?
Historically, BCA and Bergen Tech have required students to complete the following:
- an application and application essay
- entrance exam
- send their school transcript
- submit letters of recommendation
- complete an interview process (if selected)
- submit a portfolio or audition (for their visual performing arts programs)
While we believe they will require almost all of the above items, it is possible some aspects may change.
For instance, COVID-19 is most likely to affect the testing and interview processes to reflect social distancing guidelines.
Also, in the past, they required students to send their New Jersey state standardized test scores with their transcript. But of course, students did not take standardized tests this year. Furthermore, they will take into consideration that students may have irregularities in their 7th grade transcript due to the upheaval of COVID-19.
However, school grades will still be an important evaluation tool. What’s more, because of the disruption coronavirus caused to students’ school year, their letters of recommendation and application essay will likely become an even bigger evaluation tool.
Q: Do BCA and BT admissions work independently? Can a student be accepted to both BCA and BT?
BCA and Bergen Tech have the same admissions test, and students complete the application for both schools through the same application portal. However, when completing the application, if the are applying to both schools, they have to select which school is their first or second choice school – Bergen County Academies or Bergen County Technical High School.
Furthermore, the admissions committee for BCA and Bergen Tech is different.
Historically, it is possible to be accepted to both programs, although it is not that common.
Q: What courses should we take to maximize our chances of getting accepted?
Over the past three years, we have compared our students who were taking higher level math classes such as Algebra II or Geometry with our students who were taking regular math classes. We discovered that close to the same percentage of students were accepted from both higher level and regular level math classes.
What does this mean?
It means that while taking higher level math classes can boost your resume, many applicants apply to BCA with higher level math classes. So it won’t greatly increase your chances.
BCA really looks at students holistically. So it’s important that rather than just focusing on the courses your children take, you make sure that in their classes they are thriving. Then they can receive strong letters of recommendation from their teachers. It’s also important that they have a strong resume and application essay.
Also, they need to focus on completing actual test prep, since the entrance exam (which only tests math up to a pre-Algebra level) is very challenging even for the most advanced students.
Q: How does school district or town factor into admissions?
Bergen Tech requires your child be a resident of Bergen County. They do not take into consideration what town you live in or your school district, but review the individual child’s portfolio.
Bergen County Academies selects students from school districts. However, it is not possible to determine any quotas or formulas for how this weighs into admissions. They want to have a diverse freshmen body by accepting applications from many different areas of Bergen County. So they will take into consideration the size of a school district, how many applicants applied from that district, as well as the strength of the applicants.
Since there is no way to know specifically how your child’s school district will affect their application, we encourage parents to categorize this as “something I have no control over.” And instead, focus on the parts of the application that is within your child’s control like their grades, essay, and entrance exam.
Q: What’s on the entrance exam?
Historically, the entrance exam has had a 60 minute math section and 45 minute English section. The math section is a challenging multiple-choice test that doesn’t allow calculators and tests students on a variety of challenging, mentally taxing, and lengthy problems.
The English section consists of a short fiction or non-fiction text with a corresponding essay prompt. Students must read the passage and then write a 5 paragraph literary analysis essay about the text.
We predict that BCA’s math section will remain largely unchanged this year. However, for the English test, BCA may opt for multiple-choice rather than essay format if they decide to make their test electronic.
MEK’s BCA Prep Program
Q: How long is your program? How long are the classes?
Our BCA Prep program is 18 weeks long and divided into two phases, each 9 sessions long. During Phase I we focus with students on building up core skills, breaking bad habits, and learning test-taking techniques.
During Phase II, we focus on creating an even more intensive, competitive environment to prepare them for not only the admissions test but BCA classes in general.
Students in BCA HH, BCA A, BCA B, and BCA C – English meet in virtual classes with their teachers once a week. Their English class is 90 minutes, and their math class is two hours. They also come on-site to take a practice test which is 60 minutes during Phase 1, and 1 hour and 45 minutes in Phase II.
Students in BCA C – Math, do not come on campus to take a test for the first 9 sessions. Instead, they meet with their math teacher 3 times a week for 1 hour sessions each time. These students during Phase I are highly focused on building up core calculation and problem-solving skills that will help them to successfully transition into test-training during Phase II.
The course begins September 11 and tentatively continues until January 9. We base our program dates around BCA and Bergen Tech’s official test day, so when they officially announce the test date (most likely in October), we will accommodate as needed. However, students will always complete a minimum of 18 sessions.
Q: Can I register for the BCA Prep program late?
Our BCA Prep program begins on September 11, and we highly encourage all students to begin at the start date.
However, we know that students and their families are facing a lot of uncertainty in the coming school year.
That is why we are offering the opportunity for students to register in our BCA Preparation Program right up until the 10th week of our semester if there are spots available. This year, that means that you can register until November 13th, 2020. This will provide enough time for your student to prepare for the test and get valuable feedback from instructors on their applications.
As this program is highly competitive and popular, however, we caution you to register by our registration deadline of August 28th. MEK Review cannot guarantee that spots will be available as the semester progresses. It should also be noted that we are offering an incredible 25% off your tuition if you register and pay in full by August 27th!
Q: Is there a trial for the first few classes?
MEK Review’s BCA Preparation program is a significant commitment for students and their families. Our teachers and students build an intentionally intensive learning environment to promote success. All participants are expected to come into this atmosphere with a focused and dedicated mindset.
Therefore, we do not allow students to attend the class on a trial basis.
For a taste of our virtual classroom setting designed for competitive eight graders please check out our blog and video on this summer’s Exam 8 Group Class. This way you and your student can experience the cutting edge techniques that our teachers employ.
Additionally, if you register for BCA Prep and the experience does not fit your student, then we will be more than happy to set up an academic counseling session to tailor programming together. Instead of a refund, MEK Review will credit you the tuition to be used on other programming.
Your tuition will then go towards enrichment that will build your student up for success.
Q: What are the requirements to get into your BCA Test Prep program?
Students who are interested in BCA Prep always begin with a qualifying evaluation. We have meticulously created this in-house evaluation to test students on Common Core State Standard skills as well as the skills required for success on the BCA and Bergen Tech entrance exam.
There is a 70 minute English section and 80 minute Math section.
If you are interested in setting up a BCA evaluation, you can contact us here.
Once students have completed the evaluation, we send you the results and our recommendations for next steps. If you child scores below a certain level, then they may not qualify for our BCA Prep Program.
We’ve created this qualification based on our 20+ years of experience helping 8th graders succeed within our program. If a student does not qualify for our program, then we set up a consultation meeting with parents and the student to suggest the best test prep options for them and other high school admissions tests available.
Q: Why do you have different class placements for BCA Prep? How is it determined? How is each class different?
Based on a student’s evaluation test, they will be placed in our BCA High Honors, BCA A, BCA B, or BCA C classes. Each class is tailored to a certain skill level, so that students can progress as quickly and effectively as possible. It is possible for a student to be placed in a different English and Math class. For instance, they could place in BCA A Math, but BCA C English class.
One of the main reasons, MEK’s BCA Prep program is so successful is because our teachers know how to really motivate students to do their best.
And that motivation starts at the very beginning by placing students in a class where they will get the most out of the instruction. We never want a student to be a class where they are bored and the pacing is too slow for them. We also never want a student to feel completely lost and the pacing is way too fast.
So we create different levels, so that every step of the way students are challenged but not overwhelmed, engaged but still being pushed. However, the overall goal of the class is the same. It is the instruction that is different, as each teacher tailors their lessons to the skills each class needs to focus on.
During the 18 weeks of our BCA Prep program, teachers and academic counselors will re-evaluate students’ performance 5 times, and place students in the appropriate class accordingly. Mostly students will be moving up to different class levels as their skills naturally progress.
Q: What do students learn in BCA Prep?
Students have an English and Math class. Each class builds up their higher learning problem-solving and critical thinking skills, so they can thrive on the BCA admissions test.
Students take many full-length simulation tests on-site and receive expert lecture from MEK teachers in virtual classes.
In math, students will build up their mental stamina, calculation skills, and mindset so they can tackle the very challenging math entrance exam.
In English, students will build up read comprehension, inference, grammar, writing, and analysis skills to write high school level literary analysis essays. They will also receive expert application essay help.
However, in a year of such uncertainty preparing for the entrance exam is not enough. Our course really teaches students not just how get into prestigious Bergen County magnet schools, but how to thrive once they are admitted!
Our course sets students up for success by teaching them study habits, mindset, and skills they will need to be successful in an advanced and competitive high school environment.
Q: Does your program help with the actual application or the application essay?
Yes! We offer expert application guidance from our academic counselors. Plus, our English teachers offer a special workshop to show students how to write a stellar application essay. Then we let students submit a draft of the application essay and our teachers provide expert feedback!
Q: Why are the practice tests taken on-site? Why not virtually like classes?
Over the past few months, we have found that virtual instruction is very effective. However, when it comes to testing, there are still many benefits to actually taking a test on-site, rather than at home.
It improves students’ mindset and cuts out distraction. It also reduces test day anxiety and test day fluctuations in scores. Finally, it increases students’ accountability.
For all those reasons, we strongly believe it is essential for students to come onto our Closter Campus to take their practice tests on-site in individual, enclosed areas.
To learn more about on-site testing, you can click here.
To learn more about all the health and safety procedures and renovations we are employing to ensure the safety of our students, you can click here.
Q: What do teachers recommend to help students improve their focus when working from home\virtually?
In a virtual setting, students have to be more motivated and committed than in a physical classroom. Otherwise, it is much easier for them to become distracted.
To get the most out of virtual classes, help your child set up a quiet environment conducive to learning. Find a place in the house where there is little traffic. Let them sit in an upright chair in front of a table or desk. Make sure they have plenty of space to take notes.
Encourage your child to participate, ask questions, and actively engage with the class. Our teachers will do the same. Have them put their phone in another room, so they reduce distractions.
Finally, as their parent, honor their virtual class time as actual class. Don’t interrupt their class to talk to them or ask them to complete a chore. If you treat it like a real class, so will they.