Since 1999, MEK Review has been a major name in admissions prep to Bergen County Academies and Bergen Tech. Over the past few years, on average, 1 in 5 students accepted into BCA were MEK students. Last year, 75% of students in our BCA Prep program received an invitation to interview from BCA.
In our program, the teachers are coaches, guiding students toward BCA success instead of just instructing them on the right answers to problems. MEK’s experienced teachers prioritize building mindset and encourage active, not passive learning. Canvas clearly displays the student’s academic progress and supports them in their daily BCA prep routine. This unique approach of MEK to BCA prep has led to consistent results.
Read on to learn about the structure of MEK’s acclaimed BCA Prep program, which is fully on-site at both the Closter and the Palisades Park campuses.
All new prospective students must take a placement test for entry into the program before the end of August. The test closely resembles an actual BCA entrance exam.
Placement test scores determine the initial level at which the student enters the program. Students may be given different class placements for Math and English.
What are the different class levels?
BCA Prep students are placed into 1 of 5 levels: High Honors (HH), Level A, Level B, Level C, and Clinic.
|Level||High Honors (HH)||Level A||Level B||Level C||Clinic|
|Math Placement Test Score||32+/40||27/40 to 32/40||23/40 to 26/40||18/40 to 22/40||17/40 or lower|
|English Placement Test Score||25+/30 on Reading & 34+/40 on Writing||24+/30 on Reading & 30+/40 on Writing
23+/30 on Reading & 33+/40 on Writing
|20+/30 on Reading & 26+/40 on Writing||17+/30 on Reading & 24+/40 on Writing||16/30 or lower on Reading
23/40 or lower on Writing
|Phase 1 or 2?||Both||Both||Both||Both||Only Phase 1. Students in this level must graduate out of it to at least Level C to progress to Phase 2|
|Sessions / Week||1||1||1||1||2|
What makes the levels different? Do students learn different things?
The curriculum itself is consistent across all the levels. The difference between levels lies in the teaching strategy and what aspects of academic performance are prioritized. For Level C students, teachers focus on helping them break bad habits and motivate them to complete their homework efficiently. For High Honors and Level A students, teachers focus on helping them eliminate silly mistakes and study even more efficiently to go from being good to great. The system of levels maximizes the student’s progress by providing a flexible approach to BCA prep, personalized to fit individual students and their needs.
Being in a lower level does not mean the student has less of a chance to get into BCA. Students from all levels are able to gain admission as long as they keep up their progress and put in their best effort.
In the BCA Prep program, class shuffles take place every 3 weeks. Students either move up, down, or stay in the same level.
The three shuffles of Phase 1 also act as points of entry for new students. However, we do not take new students starting in Phase 2 in order to maintain the rigor and group class dynamic until the very end.
What is the purpose of the shuffles?
The prospect and potential to move up and down levels gives students closer, more achievable milestones to aim for.
Students having difficulties in their current level may shuffle down a level in order to target their weaknesses and rebuild their foundational skills before moving onto more intensive test strategy. In the same way, students making great progress in their current level can shuffle up to present a greater challenge and maximize their potential to get high scores.
Students have the potential to move from Level C to Level HH, as long as they are given the resources and are active about their learning.
How are the new class placements determined?
Students are shuffled according to their performance on their weekly tests in math and their homework essays in English. Teachers discuss the student’s progress in Canvas Learning Mastery and their performance on weekly assessments. If their grades and test scores are on par with a certain level, students will move up or down to that level.
Does the schedule change when the class level changes?
Yes, but students who will shuffle classes and their parents are notified in advance to minimize schedule disruptions.
Phase 1 & Phase 2
What is the difference between the two phases? Why does MEK divide the program into two phases?
Phase 1 and 2 are both 9 weeks long. In Phase 1, students develop test-taking skills and strategies, solve different types of questions, and learn to manage time effectively. In Phase 2, students compete with their peers and maximize test scores by taking practice tests modeled closely after the official BCA exam.
An 18-week program without any time to reset between the weeks is exhausting for students, making them prone to burnout. By dividing the program into two phases, students will regroup and start fresh as Phase 1 ends and Phase 2 begins. The phases are also slightly different from each other in regards to goals and homework.
Can you enroll in one phase but not the other?
No. Both phases are incredibly important to students’ test prep progress, and eventually their admissions chances to BCA or BT. Skipping either phase would make them sacrifice an essential part of their test prep experience.
How often are they?
Simulation tests occur every week for both Math and English in both phases. In Phase 2, the tests are proctored. Regularly taking simulation tests prepares students for the real exam day by helping them learn to get into a test mentality and budget their time.
How are the simulation tests designed? Are they similar to the actual exam?
The tests are closely aligned with the scope of the official BCA exam.
Application Essay Guidance
As well as preparing for the BCA test, the English program of BCA Prep also helps students write their application essays for the specific academy (BCA) or program (BT) they have chosen to apply to. MEK holds an application essay writing workshop in October to learn more about the process of writing the essay. In the workshop, teachers cover everything from how to write a good hook and maintain an appropriate tone to how to research the academy/program.
Following the workshop, students submit their essay to the MEK teachers and receive feedback so they will improve on their drafts. Students who need to make several changes to their drafts submit a 2nd draft of their essay to receive another round of feedback. Those who only need to make a few changes do not need to submit another draft, but they can if they want to.
On the last day of Phase 1, students learn how to navigate the often confusing BCA/BT application portal. The teachers also cover how to get teacher recommendations and which forms students need to give to their guidance counselors.
In Phase 1 of the BCA Prep program, students schedule consultations with Mrs. Ahn, Head Academic Counselor of MEK. In these meetings, she covers the student’s academic portfolio from middle school, state exam scores, the town they went to school in, their performance in the classroom, and their academic interests. The purpose of these meetings is not to instruct the student, but to guide them by giving soft advice and answering questions they have.
Before students submit their applications, the MEK counseling team will review them to make sure students and parents have correctly completed each component on time.
Practice for interviews is available after the first round of BCA admissions, in February. Students with BCA interview invitations have free mock interviews through Zoom with Mrs. Ahn, Head Academic Counselor of MEK, and Jaehee Ahn, Director of Academic Counseling Services. The feedback and interviewing tips they’ll receive from the counselors will give students a leg up in the actual BCA interview.
To learn more about the BCA Prep program and how it sets your child up for success in BCA admissions, click here.