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Khan Academy helps students prepare for medical school admission test

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There were many memorable moments on my road to becoming a doctor, but a few stand out.

1. Biking to the hospital in the snow, day after day after day (it was in Boston), during residency. Wet scrubs are no fun.

2. Talking to a teenage girl who was embarrassed about having to find a prom dress that would cover the large psoriasis plaques on her elbows

3. High-fiving and hugging a patient-turned-friend moments after finding out his leukemia was in remission!

4. Helping to give a baby its first breath…

5. Studying for the MCAT® exam (Medical College Admission Test)

Are you surprised that last one made the list? Don’t be. I studied for the MCAT for weeks and weeks, and walked out feeling drained. It was a grueling experience and I was a basket case, running around trying to balance my class-load with finding reliable study materials and knocking out practice questions on weekends. For three long months, I ate, slept, studied, and stressed (in that order). But I realize that the work I put into preparing helped get me ready for medical school.

This April, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is unveiling a new and improved MCAT exam. More than 80,000 individuals will take this new test on their road to medical school each year. And with the help of the AAMC and a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Khan Academy has built resources to help students prepare for the exam.

For the past two years, we’ve worked with a fantastic team of educators to create more than 900 videos and 2,000 questions spanning all of the foundational concepts tested on the new exam. These include biochemistry, biology, physiology, physics, chemistry, and - for the first time ever - the social sciences, specifically psychology and sociology.  

It’s amazing to think that within four years, students taking the new MCAT are going to be physicians in every single clinic, hospital, and operating theater across the United States and Canada. They’ll be caring for you or someone you love.

We know that aspiring medical students want to learn, and we want to be a small part of their journey. Good luck to everyone taking the new MCAT exam - we hope you find our new study tools helpful!

  • Rishi Desai, Program Lead - Medical Partnerships

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New course: Learn to make your web pages interactive with JavaScript

On Khan Academy, our two most popular programming courses are Intro to JavaScript, where you learn the fundamentals of JavaScript with the ProcessingJS library, and Intro to HTML/CSS, where you learn to create, style, and lay out a web page. But that’s like having strawberries and chocolate in front of you, and not dunking a strawberry in the chocolate.

Why? Well, JavaScript was originally invented in order to bring HTML/CSS web pages to life, to make them interactive with events and animation. The language has become very popular since its invention and is now used outside of browsers, but, still today, it is the only language that browsers natively understand and it is used by every interactive web page on the internet.

That’s why we’ve put together a course on making web pages interactive — combining your knowledge of HTML/CSS with your knowledge of JavaScript so that you can programmatically access parts of your page and modify them in response to all sorts of user events. With that knowledge, you can make slideshows, games, galleries, apps — virtually anything you’ve seen on the web.

Dive in here: https://khanacademy.org/html-css-js

A big thanks to our early reviewers for all their great feedback:

Nicholas Zakas, Kevin Lozandier, wbwalp, SpongeJR, and Katarina L

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The Learning Myth: Why I'll Never Tell My Son He's Smart

By: Salman Khan

Update: This Op-ed was part of a Khan Academy initiative to change how people think about learning. Since then we have launched LearnStorm, a free Common Core math challenge for 3rd-12th graders in the Bay Area to give parents, teachers and students a hand-on way to practice better learning mindsets. If you’re a parent, teacher or student in the Bay Area you can sign up for LearnStorm here.


My 5-year-­old son has just started reading. Every night, we lie on his bed and he reads a short book to me. Inevitably, he’ll hit a word that he has trouble with: last night the word was “gratefully.” He eventually got it after a fairly painful minute. He then said, “Dad, aren’t you glad how I struggled with that word? I think I could feel my brain growing.” I smiled: my son was now verbalizing the tell­-tale signs of a “growth­ mindset.” But this wasn’t by accident. Recently, I put into practice research I had been reading about for the past few years: I decided to praise my son not when he succeeded at things he was already good at, but when he persevered with things that he found difficult. I stressed to him that by struggling, your brain grows. Between the deep body of research on the field of learning mindsets and this personal experience with my son, I am more convinced than ever that mindsets toward learning could matter more than anything else we teach.

Researchers have known for some time that the brain is like a muscle; that the more you use it, the more it grows. They’ve found that neural connections form and deepen most when we make mistakes doing difficult tasks rather than repeatedly having success with easy ones.


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What this means is that our intelligence is not fixed, and the best way that we can grow our intelligence is to embrace tasks where we might struggle and fail.

However, not everyone realizes this. Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University has been studying people’s mindsets towards learning for decades. She has found that most people adhere to one of two mindsets: fixed or growth. Fixed mindsets mistakenly believe that people are either smart or not, that intelligence is fixed by genes. People with growth mindsets correctly believe that capability and intelligence can be grown through effort, struggle and failure. Dweck found that those with a fixed mindset tended to focus their effort on tasks where they had a high likelihood of success and avoided tasks where they may have had to struggle, which limited their learning. People with a growth mindset, however, embraced challenges, and understood that tenacity and effort could change their learning outcomes. As you can imagine, this correlated with the latter group more actively pushing themselves and growing intellectually.

The good news is that mindsets can be taught; they’re malleable. What’s really fascinating is that Dweck and others have developed techniques that they call “growth mindset interventions,” which have shown that even small changes in communication or seemingly innocuous comments can have fairly long­-lasting implications for a person’s mindset. For instance, praising someone’s process (“I really like how you struggled with that problem”) versus praising an innate trait or talent (“You’re so clever!”) is one way to reinforce a growth ­mindset with someone. Process­ praise acknowledges the effort; talent­ praise reinforces the notion that one only succeeds (or doesn’t) based on a fixed trait. And we’ve seen this on Khan Academy as well: students are spending more time learning on Khan Academy after being exposed to messages that praise their tenacity and grit and that underscore that the brain is like a muscle.

The Internet is a dream for someone with a growth mindset. Between Khan Academy, MOOCs, and others, there is unprecedented access to endless content to help you grow your mind. However, society isn’t going to fully take advantage of this without growth mindsets being more prevalent. So what if we actively tried to change that? What if we began using whatever means are at our disposal to start performing growth mindset interventions on everyone we cared about? This is much bigger than Khan Academy or algebra — it applies to how you communicate with your children, how you manage your team at work, how you learn a new language or instrument. If society as a whole begins to embrace the struggle of learning, there is no end to what that could mean for global human potential.

And now here’s a surprise for you. By reading this article itself, you’ve just undergone the first half of a growth­-mindset intervention. The research shows that just being exposed to the research itself (­­for example, knowing that the brain grows most by getting questions wrong, not right­­) can begin to change a person’s mindset. The second half of the intervention is for you to communicate the research with others. We’ve made a video (above) that celebrates the struggle of learning that will help you do this. After all, when my son, or for that matter, anyone else asks me about learning, I only want them to know one thing. As long as they embrace struggle and mistakes, they can learn anything.

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LearnStorm is powered by Khan Academy with the support of our friends at Google

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Khan Academy: now on your iPad more interactive and personalized than ever

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Back in 2008, Khan Academy started as a simple library of YouTube videos, but has grown to become so much more. Over 15 millions students per month are learning across the platform through video lessons, tutorials and interactive exercises.

In our mission to build a free, world-class education, we’ve heard from students that they want to learn and practice on tablets: it’s easier to access whether you’re at school, on the couch or doing homework with friends. For the past few years we’ve offered a great video viewing experience on iPads - today, we’re excited to introduce the next step in Khan Academy’s mobile story: bringing interactive, personalized learning to the iPad with math exercises, handwriting recognition and more.

So what’s the story? This is the first time that the entire library of Khan Academy has been made available on iPads!

Our app has been built for speed - it’s the easiest and most personal way to access all of our content. We also wanted to build features uniquely suited for the platform, like our beautiful scratchpad that you can use to jot down your thoughts and work through problems in the app.

Our new app has brand new ways to help you learn math and more on the iPad:

  • Sharpen your skills: over 150,000 interactive, common core aligned exercises with instant feedback and step-by-step hints for each question. Follow along with what you’re learning in school or practice on your own, at your own pace.

  • Flex your muscles: the app adjusts to give you interactive exercise recommendations that are tailored just for you through the world of math.

  • Show your work: the app harnesses the power of showing and stepping through your work with a beautiful, expansive scratchpad. Once you have your answer, just write it in, and we’ll recognize your answer!

  • Track back: your learning auto-magically syncs between your iPad and khanacademy.org, so your progress and recommendations are always up-to-date, anywhere, anytime.

We’re excited that this can help you learn almost anything: we’ve put together thousands of videos on science topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and the humanities with tutorials on art history, civics, and finance, too. Our new app has a new, expansive design that highlights our content and makes it more efficient for students to access content at the right level and puts you a few touches away from our full library of videos, articles, and exercises.

This app would not have been possible without the generous support of our donors. It’s available now - download it here and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Announcing LearnStorm: Registrations open today!

It’s a big day for Khan Academy - we’re officially opening registration for our first ever LearnStorm! If you’re a 3rd-12th grade student in the Bay Area, you can sign up now at   www.learnstorm2015.com.

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So what’s LearnStorm?  It’s a math challenge designed to grow your ability to learn anything. Until April 30, you’ll be able to earn points by mastering math skills and demonstrating your hustle. You’ll be able to track your progress on your own leaderboard and work with your friends to accumulate points for your school or city. There will also be weekly challenges to help you build a growth mindset.

LearnStorm officially begins on February 9 and will wrap up with an in-person celebration complete with fun prizes.

LearnStorm is for everyone, whether you’re working on counting or calculus. Best of all, it’s completely free, and you can participate from anywhere - your home, your library, your school, or wherever you like to use Khan Academy.

We’re launching LearnStorm in ten Bay Area counties - Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma - but we hope to expand to more areas in years to come. We hope you’ll join us on this adventure!

For more details, or to sign up, visit www.learnstorm2015.com.

If you know a student, parent, teacher, administrator, librarian or anyone in the Bay Area who might be interested please forward some of these resources to them today.

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