You have questions — we have the answers.
Today we will tackle Score Choice for the SAT and ACT tests. We often get asked by parents of Seniors if the schools their children are applying to can see all of the scores for the SAT or ACT tests the student has taken.
The answer is that students make this choice…in most cases.
With the score choice system used by both test providers, the student has the power to decide which scores will be released to the colleges of their choice. For the SAT and ACT tests, the student can choose by test date. For the SAT Subject tests, a student can select to send only scores from a specific test on any date if they tested for more than one subject on that date.
Note that certain schools may have more specific rules, and some do require that you release everything, so check those details before applying. Your decisions on score choice also will not preempt your high school from receiving all your scores.
These programs benefit the students as well as the test companies. According to the ACT, “43% of ACT test takers chose to take the test more than once last year, and more than half of them improved their scores.”
Another factor to consider is the practice at many schools of superscoring. With superscoring, the student provides all their scores from test dates they’ve selected with the understanding that the school will take the highest score for each section from the tests dates submitted to arrive at the student’s best possible score.
So we say don’t sweat it too much. Even if they have all your scores, the vast majority of schools are only going to plug your highest section scores into their analysis. And likewise, it is in your best interest to retest if you missed your targets on the first or second tries. Everyone has bad days, poor test environments, or other impediments at least once in this process. If you feel a test did not truly reflect your capabilities, we say it’s more than okay to try again.
Have a question you need answered? Call or email us; we are always happy to help.
Are You Ready to Tackle the High School Admissions Process?
The school year just started, but if you are an eighth grader, it is already time to consider where you will be attending school this time next year as the high school admissions process has kicked off at most schools.
Why Is This important?
In the near-term, applications will be due to private high schools and Montgomery County Public School magnet and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs in the coming months, meaning you need to start gathering and preparing your materials now as well as planning any school visits, future interviews, and entrance test preparation.
Longer-term, the consideration of your high school selection is important for two main reasons. First, college admissions decisions about your academic performance will be judged on both the grades achieved in individual classes as well as the school or advanced academic program where those classes were taken. A 4.0 GPA is not the same at every school, and admissions officers weigh this in their consideration of a student’s application. Second, opportunity and fit are important for future success in high school (and college). If the school you attend is not a good fit for your abilities and interests, and if it does not provide you the right opportunities to grow and learn, your overall academic performance will suffer.
Entrance Tests Already?
Private schools will also require the applicant to take an entrance test such as the SSAT, ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam), or HSPT (High School Placement Test). This score will be a key indicator used by the admissions team to gauge a student’s ability to perform in high school. While the testing window varies by school or program, you can expect to need to take a test in late November or December for most. In the case of private school admissions, most will take both the SSAT or ISEE, but there are some notable exceptions, so it helps to check. If you are focused on attending a Catholic Church high school, the HSPT is the standard choice of the Archdiocese.
These tests focus on verbal skills, reading comprehension, quantitative skills (pre-algebra to geometry), and in the case of the HSPT, grammar. Their difficulty can often stretch past the abilities of eighth graders because schools use them to test students as far along as eleventh grade. With this in mind, we see many students each fall for test prep focused on one or two of these tests.
Prep is focused on reinforcing the knowledge a student already has as well as preparing them for content and skills they may not have seen before in middle school. For verbal, this means a concentration on roots, suffixes, and prefixes so they can understand the context of words they may not know. We also focus on how to read passages for critical information and the strategies needed to answer the types of verbal and reading comprehension questions used on these tests. Students must approach these questions differently than they would a subject test in school. To prepare for the quantitative sections, we use diagnostic tests to determine the student’s math abilities and knowledge. Using this baseline, we will review concepts that a student knows within the framework of how the tests ask these questions. We will then start adding skills for any concepts that they should know by eighth grade, and if possible, expand their abilities beyond this core set so they can demonstrate a higher level of math knowledge on the test. As with verbal prep, we also provide the key strategies to answering the specific types of questions a student will encounter on the test.
For entrance to the Montgomery County Public School magnet programs, students will take the CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test). This test differs from the others because it is testing a student’s ability to examine a novel problem and find a solution instead of testing just their learned knowledge. Because of this, we approach CogAT prep differently. Here our goals are to familiarize the student with the types of questions they will see and then to improve their reasoning ability to tackle these problems.
You Do Have Options for High School
While our society has a predilection to stress the importance of the college admissions process, we know that the choice of high school can have as significant an effect on a student’s future as the college they attend since one is foundational to the other. While costs and logistics can often be limiting factors in a family’s decisions about which high schools to target, we would recommend at least investigating the options available to your student. Most private schools offer generous tuition assistance based on need, and just like colleges, every high school is looking for talented and unique individuals to diversify their student body. Do not preempt the process before exploring all your options; you never know where you might end up because you took that first step.
If you have questions about the local high school admissions process or need help preparing for an entrance test, give us a call today. The consultation is free, and we are here to help you achieve your academic goals this year.
Read more about our high school entrance exam prep process.
If you are planning on taking an SAT test, ACT test, PSAT test, or AP exams this school year, we have something for you. Our handy test calendar allows you to track these important dates, the days Montgomery County Public Schools will be off or have early dismissal during the 2019-2020 school year, and the key to dos for students planning their college admissions process.
Download the printer-ready PDF below or stop by our offices to pick up a copy.
Unsure of when you need to start your prep or what to do next? Call us to discuss the next steps on your road to achieving your educational goals this year.
If you are preparing to scale the mountain that is Junior year, we have some advice for you: take your SAT tests or ACT tests in your first semester.
The first semester provides the best window for taking two tests in a row. We recommend that in September Juniors should decide which test (ACT or SAT) they want to take based on diagnostic testing, use September and October to prep for that test, and then take two of the tests in a row to maximize their testing preparation and experience. If you plan now you will have plenty of time for test prep before the mid-Fall tests, which are on October 26 for the ACT and November 2 for the SAT, followed by the December 14 ACT and December 7 SAT.
This advice applies especially to students on the SAT track because of the large gap of time between the December 2019 and March 2020 test dates (the next ACT is a little earlier in early February 2020). If you prepare for the December test, you will have exams, holidays, the new year, and several months of second semester to distract you before you retest. We find large gaps like this cause students to forget the skills and strategies they have learned for the initial test date, greatly reducing their potential to increase their score on the second test and minimizing the value of their preparation.
Watch Out for March
If you are focused on an SAT track, there is another large downside to the March test that you should know: the pool you will be scored against is traditionally more competitive than any other test date each school year. This is because the March test date is the only one that does not offer SAT subject testing. Many competitive students also complete several SAT subject tests during their Junior year and focus on taking the subject tests on the other test dates. This leaves them the March test as one of their definite SAT test dates. Since your math and verbal scores are based on how you do on a particular test compared to everyone else taking it that day, you may score lower on the March test than you would normally if you are not already prepared to do extremely well.
The same effect is not present in the ACT because the difficulty of the individual sections differs from test to test (sometimes math is harder, other times it might be science or English), and these variations tend to wash out any effects of having more competitive students in your exam pool since the final score is a composite of all four section scores. The test gap decline is still real though, so if you are on an ACT track, be sure to knock your tests out this Fall as well. You will appreciate having time to focus on finishing your academic year strong and being able to take a third test if for some reason your earlier scores did not meet your goals.
When to Start
When should you start prepping for the fall tests? We recommend taking diagnostic tests at least 9-10 weeks before your first potential test dates. This allows time to compare your SAT and ACT results, decide which test track you should pursue, and plan an individualized course of prep for the student. We find 6-9 weeks allow enough time to prep for your first exam, after which we can reevaluate your performance and, if necessary, provide additional focus on any areas where you can improve on the second test.
Our Fall schedule fills up quickly once school starts, so call us today to discuss your needs for meeting your goals this year.
Today we’ll cover the ACT and SAT writing exams. Our clients often ask if the optional 40-50 minute exams, which students take in addition to the required sections on test day, are really necessary.
Our answer is: potentially yes.
While many schools do not require them, that often isn’t the case with most Ivy League and other competitive private schools. Even competitive state schools like Cal Berkeley require the writing tests. Schools can also change their requirements from year to year, so you are better prepared for potential changes if you have taken one.
Adding the exam costs $15 for the SAT and $16 for the ACT, and they are offered at every regular test day for both tests.
If you’re thinking about applying to a school that requires the exam, we can add specialized exercises and preparation to your individualized plan as part of our verbal test prep instruction.
Check Your Schools
If you know your target and reach schools already, you can check their requirements with these handy search tools:
At Everest, we have the luxury of offering personalized learning in our private tutoring setting. The ability for a teacher to reach a student is much more effective when we can cater to that one student at that one time. Here is a blog post (http://bit.ly/2pneKJZ) from Bill Gates on moving this model into schools...a change our educational system should thoughtfully consider.
This will be a great assist to busy juniors who find the end of the school year an inconvenient time to test. It will also allow students to take time and prepare without the added responsibilities of school and school year activities filling up their schedule. It might also be of good use to rising juniors looking to get ahead of admissions tests and be wrapped up well in time to focus on the more enjoyable aspects of being a high school junior!
Read more here:
Since the first scores of the New SAT were released last week, there has been a great deal of speculation and skepticism surrounding the scores, and quite frankly it is for good reason. Although many students in Montgomery County, MD were thrilled to see scores better than they expected, the numbers reported in and of themselves are actually a bit misleading, as the Washington Post reported in an article titled “Why your new SAT score is not as strong as you think it is.”
At first glance, the scores from the new SAT appear encouraging. However, the reality is that a score of 1300, for example, on the new SAT, is not as strong as a score of 1300 on the past exam. In fact, you need a converter to adjust your new score to the appropriate score. (Incidentally, there is also an app available through the College Board to help convert scores). However, what the conversion calculators unanimously reveal is that the new scores don’t stack up to the old scores, and the discrepancy between scores can be as much as 80 points.
That means that students who were counting on a specific score to lock in admission to a certain school are liable to find out they need a higher score than they thought. Consider the example of student Bill Jones. Bill believed he needed a 900 total SAT score to fall in line with the median score of Incoming freshman at West Virginia University in 2015. However, with the new SAT scoring system, Bill actually needs a 980 score. Likewise, at Penn State, where the 2015 median score of incoming freshmen was an 1190, students taking the new SAT need to score 1260 for the score to carry the same weight.
Confused yet? You’re not alone. At Everest Tutors & Test Prep, we predicted that there were going to be some hiccups and obstacles and problems with the new SAT. A change of this magnitude simply wasn’t going to go off without a hitch, which is why we continue to recommend that high school students in Montgomery County, MD take both the SAT and the ACT for the foreseeable future.
The ACT has become the more popular of the tests in recent years, and with such big changes to the SAT, it is highly advisable that students preparing for college study take the ACT in addition to the SAT until this scoring is better understood. As a private tutoring and test prep services company serving Montgomery County students for a nine years, Everest's sole goal is to ensure your student performs their best in school and on all college prep tests they choose to take.
In the meantime, if you are struggling to understand what your student’s new SAT score means for him or her, in regards to college admissions, feel free to contact us anytime at (301) 208-8011 or via email at email@example.com. We are happy to help you and your student determine the best strategy for preparing for the next exam, whether that is the ACT or the SAT.
In this day and age, it is increasingly common to turn to the Internet and digital platforms to resolve life’s daily tasks and conundrums. Though plenty of web services make life easier or more efficient, one particular digital area’s true value still remains to be seen: online tutoring. Though some online tutoring services tout cost efficiency and accessibility, can education via the Internet work as effectively as the time tested and proven face-to-face tutoring model?
There are plenty of reasons that students and their families seek out tutoring services, often to prep for major college admission tests like the SAT or the ACT. In addition to choosing the college admission test that’s best for a student, it is just as important to determine the delivery method by which a student is best served. Even online tutoring courses that promise real-time online SAT or ACT support from teachers tend to come up short when it comes to lasting results. Though a quick online course may modestly boost scores, it is no match for a small group or private one-on-one tutoring where actual, in-person tutors can strategize alongside a student and cater to his or her specific strengths, weaknesses, learning style, and goals.
Personal Tutoring With a Professional Tutor
In fact, one of the most effective tools a tutor can employ is the bond forged between teacher and student which is built through spending time with one another. When trust is built between a tutor and his or her pupil through a small group setting or one-on-one study, comfort and communication result—which ultimately paves the way for the formation of positive and lasting study habits. A good tutor doesn’t evaluate from afar, via a screen located potentially thousands of miles away. Instead, the face-to-face, interaction between tutor and student puts the student at the center, and the ensuing strategy and set of goals are developed from a personalized starting point. While the nuances of test prep can get lost in translation when utilizing an online tutoring service, an experienced tutor can assess a student’s needs, progress, and long-term retention, and adjust along the way, when they are personally and routinely meeting with the student.
While online tutoring can be good at providing free generic instructional help and repetitive practice exercises, they also use generic approaches, not keeping in mind a student’s learning style or differences or their personality. An experienced tutor teaches a student how they can personalize and make the strategies and concepts their own. Using verbal and nonverbal cues, they diagnose and assess a student’s unique learning style, resulting in improved learning skills and self-confidence. Online programs have yet to bridge that human touch.
The College Board will be extending the regular registration deadline for the 6/4/16 SAT until 5/11/16. Please contact us to learn about our small group and private one-on-one tutoring options.
At Everest Tutors & Test Prep, we seek to meet the needs of each and every student, no matter his or her goals, interests, or academic background. Through one-on-one personalized tutoring and small group classes, we address the individual learning needs of all students, especially during the critical end of the year stretch. Finishing strong during final exams keeps transcripts and GPA’s on track, showing teachers and future college admission committees that a student is consistent and serious about his or her education.
America’s most elite universities are accepting fewer applicants than ever before, according to a report by The New York Times, with schools in the top percentile rejecting over 95% of all applicants—an astounding figure. This trend extends to universities across the board, as college enrollment continues to rise in numbers and in competitiveness.
So what does it take to stand out to college admission committees come application season?
In addition to the requisite good grades and solid SAT or ACT scores, there are two additional ways to ensure that a student stands apart from the pack: AP classes and test scores and the SAT Subjects Tests.
How AP Classes and ACT Tests Make a Student Stand Out
The benefit of AP tests are twofold: a good score on an AP test can make a definitive statement about a student’s commitment to taking on academic challenges, and it can help students satisfy certain college credits—valuable both financially and time-wise.
AP stands for Advanced Placement, and only a marginal percentage of American high-schoolers successfully complete these upper level courses. Subjects range from various languages to studio art to science to history, and many more. Undertaking an Advanced Placement course shows college admissions committees that a student is serious about his or her education and is unafraid to take on challenging, near-college-level work in subjects that highlight her skills and interests. Beyond that, scoring at least a 3 or higher on an AP Exam increases the likelihood that a student will be awarded college credit, freeing up valuable time to pursue an additional major or minor, explore alternate fields, pursue an internship, graduate early, and save money.
AP Tests, while laden with benefits, do require extra preparation and commitment. We provide one-on-one AP tutoring services so that students can ace their AP Exams, potentially earn college credit, and make their college applications that much more impressive.
How SAT Subject Tests Can Impress College Admission Committees
Most students and parents are familiar with the SAT or ACT tests. What many do not realize is the important role that SAT Subject Tests can play in taking a student’s college application from standard to exceptional.
SAT Subject Tests are separate standardized tests that students can take in a specific subject matter, including literature, history, math, science, languages, and more. There are 20 different SAT Subject Tests, and each is graded on the same 200-800 point scale as the standard SAT exam. Each test takes 1 hour, and tests a student’s specialized aptitude in a particular field. To be clear, SAT Subject Tests are indispensable in highlighting a student’s specialized knowledge. For instance, if a student is applying to a competitive engineering program within a university, taking the SAT Subject Test in science or math indicates a student’s interest and mastery of the material.
SAT Subject Tests can emphasize a student’s academic strengths and set him or her apart from the rest of the applicant pool. If a student chooses to use this method to bolster their applicant status, it is vital that he or she gets the results necessary to make an impact. SAT Subject Test tutoring is an excellent way to strategize before the examination, pinpoint trouble areas, run through practice tests, and identify strengths.
Whether a student is prepping for AP exams, the SAT Subject Tests, or both, we have the tutor or small group class to ensure a student’s success. Though the college admission process can feel like a daunting prospect, proper strategy, preparation, and guidance can ease nerves, bolster scores, and lead to a prosperous college application season.