John Napoli began preparing students for the Monmouth County Vocational School (MCVS) entrance exam in 2009 at his Middletown Mathnasium Center; those programs have evolved into Exl Prep.
This year, an astounding 30% of students admitted into the MCVS class of 2021 (Allied, Biotech, Communications, High Tech or MAST) trained at Exl Prep utilizing the methods and practices he developed (click for details). The following is a summary of his MCVS experience.
In October of 2009, my son Matthew decided to apply to both CBA and MAST. During the Q&A portion of the MAST open house, a parent asked how to prepare for the exam. We were told that the test was a standardized test, and later told that the test aligned with NJ ASK content. We were also told that there was no way to prepare for this type of test.
I had a mental follow up question, “Why does our school spend time immediately prior to the NJ ASK reviewing related content if there is no benefit from preparation?” I decided to keep that question to myself.
Obviously, standardized test preparation matters; many districts prepare for standardized tests to increase district, school, and student performance. Shouldn’t I prepare my son for this standardized exam as well? This exam counted more than any prior test, the results would impact his future, our finances, and he would only be given one opportunity.
I put together a program for him and he took the test. On the ride home he asked, “What is an appositive?” I quickly recognized that he was not as prepared as he should have been. The test included concepts that he had not learned in school.
My younger son Sawyer planned on taking the test the following year and I wanted to do a better job with Sawyer’s preparation. I assembled a few of Matthew’s friends who took the MCVS test with Matthew to dissect their test content and experience.
After research and collaboration, I began offering a preparation program in the Fall of 2010. We developed methods for diagnosing and fulfilling a student’s specific needs, topic review, content, and test-taking techniques to best position students for the test.
After that test, and every year since, I assembled a group of students to discuss the test in order to refine and enhance our methods. We have found that the test varies from year to year and have adapted our programming. I have analyzed all of the vocational school tests (2010 to 2016) by meeting with the students after the test. To be clear, I have never seen a copy of the test; however the reviewed information is invaluable in preparing students for future tests.
Your student will be likely competing for one of 40 or so seats (unless they are the best within your district). Last year approximately 1,600 students took the MCVS entrance exam; 400 were admitted and we prepared over 100 of the students that were admitted. Of the children that we prepared, over 2/3rds were admitted into the vocational school of their choice. The program works and the evidence is clear.
Matthew graduated from MAST in 2014, Sawyer in 2015 and my daughter Makara was admitted into the BTHS class of 2018. Time goes too quickly.