Education

Things to Consider in Deciding Between the ACT and the SAT (as of January 2017)

  screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-12-41-56-pm2016 was a big year of change in the standardized testing landscape.  Now that the rSAT has been in place for almost a year and the ACT has slipped in its own test changes, it is more clear how the two tests compare.  Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that more changes are not on the horizon (either subtly slipped in changes or announced changes)  For now though, below is a comparison of the ACT and the SAT as of January 2017

Total Time:

SAT ACT
3 hours 50 min with essay (3 hours without essay) 3 hours 35 min with essay (2 hours 55 min without essay)

Math

SAT ACT
Questions/Concepts are Narrow and Deep Questions/Concepts are Broad and Shallow
60% of Math is Algebra 30% of Math is Algebra
There is  No-Calculator Section Calculator is allowed for entire math section
You have 83 seconds/question You have 60 seconds/question

Reading

SAT ACT
Requires deep understanding and includes graphics (13 min/passage 10-11 questions/passage) 65 min total Requires quick and efficient reading (8.75 min/passage 10 questions/passage) 35 min total

English (very similar tests - grammar, editing, punctuation, rhetoric)

SAT ACT
48 sec/question - includes graphs and charts and more main idea and author’s intent questions 36 sec/question

Science (neither test requires much specific science knowledge)

SAT ACT
21 science questions included in the test -no separate science section Separate section -  requires quick interpretation, reasoning and analysis

Essay - Optional for Both SAT and ACT

SAT ACT
Analyze a persuasive essay

Score is separate from the 800 Reading/Language and the 800 Math

Write a persuasive essay - ACT essay scoring has changed a lot in 2016

Score is not calculated in the composite but is calculated in the ELA subscore

 

OTHER THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE DECIDING BETWEEN THE TWO TESTS:

Super-scoring: more schools super-score the SAT than the ACT (This decision is controlled by the colleges and is subject to change at any time. Checking the school’s website is the only way to know the school’s current policy.)

SAT Subject Tests: some schools that require SAT Subject Tests do not require the SAT Subject Tests when the student submits the ACT score (Rice, Tufts, McGill)

Accommodations:  

  • SAT extra time is added to each individual section (if given 1 hour to take the English Language, the student must wait that full hour before moving on to math) - SAT just made the process of getting accommodations simpler (yet to see if ACT will simplify their process as well)
  • ACT extra time is given for the test as a whole - The student moves through the test at his/her own pace and may leave the testing center if finished before the full added time is used.

Cancelling of Scores

  • SAT - you have until 11:59 EDT Wednesday after you take the test to cancel your scores
  • ACT - If you ordered that your scores be sent to schools, you have until Thursday noon central time after the Saturday you took the ACT to stop your ACT scores from being sent to the schools.  ACT also has a process to delete a test from record.

Sending of Scores

  • SAT - scores are ordered and sent in a bundle
  • ACT - scores are ordered and sent one test at a time

***all of the above information is subject to change - the only way to know the current information is to visit the SAT, ACT or college websites

EDNavigators recommends that all students take a full practice ACT and a full practice SAT before deciding which test to prepare for and take for real.  It is the only way to know which is better for the student and to avoid second-guessing the decision later in the process.

2016-2017 Essay Prompts Released

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 5.57.15 PMThe prompts are the same as they were for the 2015-2016 application cycle. 2016-2017 Essay Prompts 1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? 4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. 5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

The essay that results from one of these prompts is sometimes referred to as the personal statement portion of the college appliction.  It is one of a few or many essays a student will be asked to write during the college application process.  Since Fall of senior year tends to be very busy, a good time to work on the personal essay is the summer between junior and senior year.

PSAT Scores are Back - Tips on Interpreting Scores -

PSAT scores were released over the past week.  For those students who were able to access them, many are not clear on how to interpret them.

Most common questions:

Based on my PSAT results, how will I do on the SAT?

Official concordance tables have not been released to predict how the 2015 PSAT scores would project to the SAT - A perfect score on the SAT is a 1600. A perfect score on the PSAT is a 1520. The PSAT perfect score is lower because the SAT is more difficult than the PSAT. The PSAT 1520 perfect score is shifted down to account for its differences in difficulty level. While a perfect score on the PSAT suggests you might earn a perfect score on the SAT, this is not certain because the additional questions on the SAT will be more difficult than those that were on the PSAT.  Many in the industry have also noticed somewhat inflated PSAT scores this year.

Will I qualify for the National Merit Scholarship?

National Merit Scholarship Qualification is based on your NMSC Selection Index Score.  The selection index score can be found on the third page of your PSAT score report.  The Selection Index Score is calculated by weighting your Writing score ⅔ and your Math score ⅓ - More information about the PSAT/NMSQT can be found in the student guide.

Official selection index score cut-offs have not yet been determined for the class of 2017, but the predicted scores by state can be found here.

Should I take the ACT or the SAT?

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I refer to this article and chart by Compass Prep with the reminder that the most difficult SAT questions were left off the PSAT, the scoring of the March SAT will be delayed and preparation for one test overlaps preparation for the other.

If I decide to take the SAT, do I need to take it with writing?

It depends. This link will provide some insight into that.

Sandy Aprahamian, M.Ed.  EDNavigators LLC

 

Five Essential Components for Success on the ACTScreen Shot 2015-11-30 at 10.29.02 AM

A

Attitude - Success requires a positive attitude.  Think, “If it can be done, I can do it!”.  You need to really WANT to do well and you must squash the ANT (Automatic Negative Thinking) Eliminate all negative thinking during prep and during the actual test.  There is no room or time for negative self-talk during the ACT.  

Application - Work through retired ACT questions and take retired ACT practice tests before sitting for the real test. Understand the correct answer to every question you miss as question types repeat themselves on standardized tests.

C

Content - Fully understand the content that is being tested

Commitment - Make the test a priority.  Commit yourself to dedicated preparation and focusing on areas of weakness.

T

Time - Finding time for quality test preparation is usually the biggest challenge in the life of high school students today. ACT success requires quality focused preparation time:dedicated work on content and retired ACT questions, timed full length practice tests, time put into reading and studies. Testing time is tight on the ACT.  You must work at a fast pace. Pace increases when you know what to expect on the test and have confidence solving similar questions - practice questions from retired tests.  Pace increases with practice under timed conditions - time yourself when taking practice tests and working on practice test sections.  Read this post for suggestions specific to increasing reading speed.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

The 2015-2016 Common Application is Live - 3 Key Things to Do Before You Log In

The Common ApplicationThe 2015-2016 Common Application, an online application system that allows students to input their undergraduate application information once and have it sent to all student selected member schools, went live today. This one-time input is a great time saver!  However, most schools require additional input which is unique to their institution (supplemental essays, portfolios, etc.)  With so many components to the college application process, things can still get quite confusing. Students should take their time setting up their Common Application accounts.  Errors made early on can make the process much more challenging than it needs to be. 3 Key Things Seniors Should Do Before Setting Up The Common App Account

  1. Gather the following items before you sit down at the computer to set up your account:  a copy of your transcript and your senior year courses, a list of your activities, dates and scores from standardized tests and parent information (address, employment information, education)
  2.  Set up a system for keeping track of login information.  ( EDNavigators students should record their usernames and passwords in their Guided Path account.) There will be many passwords to keep track of as you apply to college. Keep your Common App username and password recorded in a place where you will remember it (Your username will be your email. You'll need to use this exact email to link your family connection/naviance account to the common app so your transcript and recommendations can be sent from you high school. )  
  3. Bookmark these two sites for easy access over the next few months: The Common App Login Page  The Common App Training Resources Library (The resource library has a lot of valuable set up information and answers to many troubleshooting questions.)

In addition to getting started with the basics of the Common App, seniors may want to get started on their Common Application essay.   The 2015-2016 Common Application Essay prompts can be found here.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

Improve Reading Speed and Comprehension for the ACT

Read to SucceedReading is a learned skill that builds upon itself. Reading often is the best way to improve comprehension and reading speed. Reading connects people places and times. It builds on personal experiences and learned knowledge.

A reader can improve reading comprehension by:

  • Selecting reading material of interest.
  • Reading with purpose - reading title page/ copyright and introduction and connecting time and place if given - getting any background available
  • Focusing - shuting out negative thinking and distractions
  • Looking up new vocabulary and concepts as they come up

A reader can improve reading speed by:

  1. Understanding that Speed Reading is basically more focused reading.  The best way to increase reading speed is to read often with focus and concentration.  Continued practice is key.
  2. Gently trying to read faster than comfortable.
  3. Grouping Words
  4. Trying out these free apps/software programs:  

Acceleread App - use the free version of this app for an introduction to the process of and skills needed for speed reading.

Spreeder:  a free online speed reading software where you can copy your own text and practice reading it with custom speed and grouping (set speed and grouping preference in “settings” under the passage) - I have no experience with the paid version of this program.  I think the free version should be fine for practicing. Copy and paste portions of  these Newspapers and Magazines The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Scientific American, The Atlantic Monthly, or The New Yorker into Spreeder and read them for speed and comprehension.  While reading, determine the purpose, main point and tone of each article. . (You may eventually want to copy and paste the article you select into Spreeder to practice reading it at the speed needed for the ACT.)  A reading speed of at least 300 wpm is needed to get through the ACT.  This reading speed is also important to get through the large amount of reading that is required in college.

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, EDNavigators LLC

The Secret to Effective Time Management on the ACT

ACTThe ACT is a test of content, speed, focus and time management.  Once the content is learned and preparation is complete, the test of time management remains.  A last-minute concern about running out of time on this test can quickly derail all preparation. To manage time during the ACT, I provide my students with an ACT watch.  This gives them the security of knowing that they will be able to pace themselves through the ACT and always know exactly how much time has lapsed and how much time remains in each section.  This video shows how this ACT approved watch works.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

Gap Year Information, College Affordability Information, Standardized Testing Updates, College Admission Represenatives ... all in one place

Since the role of an Independent Educational Consultant is still unclear to many people, I thought I'd share some of the sessions that I attended at the IECA Fall Conference last week.  The conference included break-out educational sessions, two keynote addresses, hosted receptions, round table discussions, committee meetings, a vendor hall, a college fair and numerous other networking events.

I attended the following Break-out Educational Sessions:

  • Gap Years:  What’s Out There, How to Structure One, and Simple Vetting Options
  • Testing College Readiness:   What are the Redesigned SAT and ACT Measuring and How Do We Best Prepare Our Students
  • Anatomy of a Financial Aid Award
  • The Fading of Facebook: the Evolution of Teenage Online Social Interactions

I heard Keynote Addresses from:

  • Justin Bachman - 17 year-old high school senior with Tourette’s Syndrome, severe ADHD and dysgraphia
  • Ashely Merryman - Best-selling author and award-winning journalist (NurtureShock:  New Thinking About Children Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing)

I attended Hosted Receptions/ Presentations from:

  • University of New Haven
  • Oak Meadow Independent Learning
  • Warren Wilson College

I Visited the Following Booths at the Vendor Hall:

  • Colleges That Change Lives
  • American Gap Association
  • Summit Educational Group
  • YouScience
  • IECA Foundation
  • American Institute of Certified Educational Planners
  • College Affordability
  • College Cost Navigator
  • Guided Path
  • Wintergreen Orchard House
  • Human eSources, Ltd.

I Met Representatives/Admissions Representatives from the following Colleges and Universities:

  • American University
  • Bucknell University
  • Eckerd College
  • Rollins College
  • University of Miami
  • University of Richmond
  • University of South Carolina
  • New York University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Ursinus College
  • Susquehanna University
  • University of New Haven
  • Warren Wilson College

It was an action-packed educational week.  I met great people and learned a lot.  In future posts, I will share, more specifically,  some of the key information I learned.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators

An Important Word to Remember When Leaving for (or sending your child off to) College

IMG_0773

Last week I participated in a webinar presented by Harlan Cohen, author of The Naked Roommate.  In his presentation, Cohen reminded us that the transition to college WILL BE UNCOMFORTABLE.  As counselors, parents, and teachers, we tell our students and children how lucky they are to get to go to college - that they are headed off to the best four years of their life - that they will be among people just like them - that they will have the opportunity to learn interesting material - that top-notch facilities will be at their fingertips…  Our students and children know that - BUT it doesn’t change the fact that UNCOMFORTABLE can not be avoided. UNCOMFORTABLE comes with the territory of change and newness.

Navigating the UNCOMFORTABLE in the college transition is an important hurdle.  The skills students learn and use in this transition go into their toolkit for the future.  The fact is, we are faced with uncomfortable situations throughout life.

I felt the freshman uncomfortable feeling just this week when I attend the IECA  (Independent Educational Consultants Association) conference in Orlando, Florida.  At the happiest place on earth, amongst people whom I knew I had a lot in common with, presented with a candy shop full of information and learning opportunities, I felt uncomfortable.

Business travel uncomfortable parallels college freshman uncomfortable in many ways.  I entered a new and exciting environment, which I chose, but where I did not know the lay of the land or a single person.  I had no safety net to turn to, no wing-man by my side, no familiar paths or comforts.  I had to pull out my toolkit and manage the uncomfortable.  I’m thankful that I had this experience because it reminded what my students feel when they head off for freshman year. As a counselor and parent, it's easy to forget.

As I navigated the uncomfortable this week, these were some tools I used - the same tools I recommend for students transitioning into college.

Tools to Navigate the UNCOMFORTABLE

Have the Right  Attitude:

  • Feel confident in the decision you made to attend this particular school.
  • Plan to succeed there.
  • Expect it to be uncomfortable at first and plan to step out of your comfort zone.

Practice Self-care:  Do what you need to maintain your personal balance.

  • Exercise daily
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Find quiet safe places to retreat when time alone is needed.
  • Be there to learn about what interests you. Do not feel pressure to get good grades right off the bat.  Interest in soaking up as much knowledge as possible, makes grades came naturally.

Practice Controlled Caution:

  • Before going out think about possible scenarios and have a plan... it takes time to learn who you can trust in a new environment - the one person you can truly trust is yourself. Remain in control of your decisions.

Make Connections and Initiate Conversations:

  • Introduce yourself and make connections - other people are feeling uncomfortable too.
  • Attend ice breakers and freshman activities.
  • Take advantage of the programs offered to acclimate.
  • Join a small group where you will be among people who share your interests (sports team, band, chorus, prayer group, action committee, poetry club, service organization, book club…there are many groups and clubs )

Know yourself - Be yourself - Expect the Unexpected - Be Patient - Remember, it WILL be UNCOMFORTABLE at first.

As a follow-up to this article, the IECA Conference was a huge success.  I learned a lot and made great new friends.  I will be sharing my new knowledge with you in future posts.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators

Attention High School Athletes: The Academic Index

Ivy League Pennants What is the Academic Index (AI)? - The Academic Index is a tool used by the Ivy League Schools to measure a high school athlete's academic performance and to determine whether or not the student has the academic credentials necessary to be admitted to the school.

Why is the Academic Index Important? - In order to be accepted by the admissions office of an Ivy League School, high school athletes who plan to play their sport in college must meet the school's Academic Index.  It has become more important to understand the AI early in high school as high school athletes are being offered early verbal commitments from coaches as early as freshman year of high school.  If a student has his/her heart set on any Ivy League school, it is essential that the student knows whether or not he/she can meet the Ivy League's AI before making a decision on the early verbal offer from another school.

Two New York Times articles by Bill Pennington are great resources on the topic of the Academic Index (AI) -

Before Recruiting in Ivy League, Applying Some Math The Graphic on the left of the article show sample calculations.

A Rare Glimpse Inside the Ivy League’s Academic Index

To Get a General Idea of your AI:

Add the results of 1, 2 and 3 below together:

1.  SAT or ACT Index Number:

  • If using SAT scores to calculate AI, add reading and math scores and divide by 20
  • If using ACT scores to calculate AI, multiply the ACT Composite Score by 2.23

2.  The GPA Index Number (this index number used to be based on class rank)

The university has a conversion table to convert grade point average to an Academic Index number. The conversion can handle any conceivable grading scale, weighted or unweighted. A couple examples:

  • 3.5 (out of 4.0) unweighted yields 73 AI points,
  • 3.7 weighted is 71 points
  • 3.3 unweighted is 70 points
  • 3.0 unweighted is worth 67 points

3.  SAT or ACT Index Number from step one or SAT II Subject Tests:  Add your 2 best SAT II subject tests together and divide that total by 20.

Another article with valuable information about affording an Ivy League education:

Financial Aid Changes Game as Ivy Sports Teams Flourish by Bill Pennington

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal- EDNavigators LLC

 

Rising Seniors - Summer Timeline for College Applications

College Application Checklist for Rising SeniorsFirst semester senior year is busy.  Class rigor and grades for senior year count toward college admissions. EDNavigators encourages students to remove some of the senior year stress by beginning applications over the summer. What can a rising senior do over the summer in preparation for college applications?

June and July: 1. Plan and adjust college by researching and visiting colleges. 2. Prepare for the SAT or ACT if taking it in the fall. 3. Go to the website of or call the college of interest to find out: • If it accepts The Common Application - If yes, are supplements required? Are they available yet? Supplements to the Common Application become available on a school-by-school basis. Princeton University’s Supplement to the Common Application for the Class of 2015 is available now as well as Purdue, Amherst and Penn. • If it accepts The Universal College Application - If yes, are supplements required and are they available yet? • If it has its own application - If yes, is it available? For schools with rolling admission, the sooner you complete and submit the application, the better your chances of getting in. Penn State's application becomes available September 1. There are different application requirements and different timelines for each school. The only way to get the information you need specific to each school is to go to the school’s website or call the school’s admissions office. 4. Write the common Application Essay. The Common Application Essay prompts will remain the same as they were last year. They are available now. 5. Take time to do things you enjoy

August: 1. On August 1, The Common Application and The Universal College Application go live for the next school year. Complete the core sections during the month of August. The Common Application and The Universal College Application for Fall 2015 will be available August 1, 2014 2. Continue to adjust and revise the college list 3. Continue with test-prep 4. Take time to do things you enjoy.

 Specifics for the Classes of 2016 and 2017

Common Application Essay Prompts for 2014-15

2014-15 Common Application Essay Prompts Rising Seniors, use this summer to write your Common Application Essay.  The Common Application itself will go live on August 1, 2014 but the essay prompts are available now.

As stated in The Common Application Knowledgebase:

"The Common Application will retain the current set of first-year essay prompts for 2014-15, without any edits or additions. The essay length will continue to be capped at 650 words. The feedback received from member colleges and school counselors has been positive. The essay prompts will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that they continue to serve students and member colleges well.

The essay prompts are as follows:

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn? Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you? Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family."

EDNAvigators offers assistance with the College Essay Process

 

The College Put Me on the Wait List. What Does that Mean? What Should I Do?

cropped-gold-boy-in-grad-cap.jpgI attended an outstanding webinar today hosted by Cyndy McDonald of Guided Path and delivered by  Peter Van Buskirk  of Best College Fit . Peter shared many valuable insights into the college admissions process from the perspective of the school’s enrollment management and yield. Peter Van Buskirk holds a wealth of knowledge.  I encourage you to visit his website BestCollegeFit to see when he presenting at an event in your area. Below are some key points Peter shared about Wait Lists.

  • The Wait List is a DEFINITE MAYBE  NOT a POLITE DENIAL.
  • Many schools use the wait list as a means to improve the yield that they report for rankings.
  • You are still in the game, but you need to continue to play your best.

If you are truly interested in a school that puts you on its Wait List:

  • Act NOW.  Don’t wait.  Some schools go to the wait list as early as mid April.
  • Get on the radar screen of your regional recruiter.
  • Visit the campus.  Yes, AGAIN if you have already been there and be sure the admissions office knows you made the visit.
  • Clarify your need for financial aid.  If you have figured out a way to pay for the college without financial aid, let the college know this in writing.  Money matters when it comes to the wait list.
  • If you make it off the wait list, he school will most likely call you and ask you if you would like the spot.
  • Be ready because you most likely have only 24-48 hours to respond.  Your official offer won’t arrive until you verbally accept the spot.

Most importantly, remember, the best college for you is the one that fits YOU best.  Don’t be swayed by glitzy advertising and don’t let a college’s decision shape your opinion of yourself.

Best,

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, EDNavigators, Independent Educational Consultant

The New Redesigned SAT

David Coleman reported on The Redesigned SAT today.  Below are some highlights. DeliveringOpportunity.org will provide all specifics of the new SAT.  The New SAT will be:

  • Focused and Clear
  • Useful and Open (applicable to work in college and career settings)
  • Based upon what is currently taught in class

The Content of the Redesigned SAT will include Three Sections

1.  Evidence Based Reading and Writing:

  • The exam will showcase students command of evidence rather than picking right answers.
  • Students will be asked to locate the evidence that supports the answers.
  • Students will read and analyze a wide range of texts (Science, Social Studies etc) - This sounds very similar to the current ACT
  • Students will work with narratives  and graphs - students must be data analysts
  • Students will analyze texts.
  • There will be no more sentence completion
  • Vocabulary will be "powerful words" like synthesis and its various meanings

2.  The Essay

  • Assignment will be to analyze the core argument of a text.
  • Directions will be:  As you read the passage in front of you, consider how the author uses evidence, reasoning, and stylistic or persuasive elements to add power to the ideas expressed.
  • Essay will be optional on the SAT (like the current ACT)

3. Math

  • Will focus on three areas:
  1. problem solving and data analysis (ratios, proportions..)
  2. the heart of algebra (linear equations and systems)
  3. passport to advanced math (the math that opens doors of opportunity - calculus will be included)
  • Students will be presented with a scenario to which they will apply the math they have learned.
  • There will be calculator and non calculator sections of the SAT.

Other Facts:

  • America's Founding Documents and Global Conversation will be included on the Redesigned SAT.
  • The new exam will be given spring 2016 It will be offered both through computer and pencil and paper.
  • The new test length will be 3 hours with an optional 50 minute essay
  • The New SAT will return to the 1600 score
  • The essay will be scored separately.
  • The penalty for wrong answers will be removed.
  • April 16 the full blue print for the exams and sample questions of the New SAT will be revealed.
  • Khan Academy will provide FREE test prep.  It will be adaptive.  It will provide customized learning.  Khan Academy has always been a cornerstone of learning at EdNavigators.  As EdNavigators students know, Khan Academy has provided answers to the questions in the College Board Blue Book for a while.  We are thrilled about this new partnership.  We are looking forward to the Khan Academy SAT Prep. Khan Academy SAT prep will be found at:  khanacademy.org/sat

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, Educational Consultant  - EdNavigators

Making Sense of the Testing Options and Requirements for College Applications

HELP-Standardized TestsGone are the days of simply taking the SAT to meet college application requirements. Today, students are presented with a variety of exams, some required, some optional.  These exams include:

  1. SAT (New SAT for class of 2017 and beyond)
  2. ACT
  3. SAT Subject Tests (also known as SAT II Tests)
  4. AP Exams:

(In effort to make this article a manageable length, the above list does not include IB testing or major-specific exams.)

The Basics

  • The majority of four year colleges require applicants to submit scores from the SAT OR the ACT.
  • Some highly selective schools require or strongly recommend that applicants submit scores from two or three SAT Subject Tests.
  • Some schools accept the ACT with Writing in lieu of the SAT and SAT Subject Tests.  For more information on this complicated decision, please read these articles written by Nancy Griesemer who has done extensive research on this topic.

With all of these testing requirements, it is important to create a testing plan in high school.  Freshman year is not too early to plot out the test plan since some tests may be taken then.

Possible Testing Timeline beginning Junior Year

  • SAT OR ACT :  Take one of these tests Two times between January and June (This leaves September/October of Senior Year available as additional test dates if needed.  Ideally, however, all testing is complete by the end of Junior Year - Senior year is very busy with applications and essays.)
  • SAT Subject Tests:  These should be taken May or June of the year the subject is studied
  • AP Exams:  These are given in May of the Year the subject is studied
  • Class of 2017 suggested SAT/ACT prep timeline

EdNavigators recommends the following:

  • Take a full length practice ACT and a full length practice SAT to see which test you prefer.  Prepare for the test you prefer and plan to take the test "for real" at least twice.  *Many students select to take both tests...in this case, two additional test-prep sessions would be required to discuss content and strategy for the test the student did not prep for.  The content covered on the SAT and ACT is very similar (EDNavigators Test Prep Packages are described on this page - Package 2 is to prep for the SAT OR the ACT, Package 2B is to prep for the SAT AND the ACT)
  • Take the SAT Subject Tests and AP tests around the same time because they can test similar information.   It also makes sense to take them right after completing the course.  (If a student takes Honors Biology as a Freshman, he/she should take the test(s) Spring of freshman year.)

If you feel your standardized test scores don't represent your abilities, don't panic. There are also FairTest Schools.  A recent study revealed that students who chose not to submit standardized test scores for entry into college still performed well in college.

For now, however, many colleges do still require standardized test scores.  It is worth the time and effort to make a plan and prepare.

Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Consultant, EdNavigators

AP Exams - Quick Facts

AP Exams are the cumulative final exam for students who take AP classes in high school.AP Exams 101 Test takers do not have to have completed an AP course to sit for the exam.

For some colleges, AP exams can earn the student college credit.  For other colleges, AP courses and successful exam scores are expected for admission - no college credit is earned.

AP exams are scored from 1-5  a minimum of three is required to earn college credit but many schools require a 4 or 5 on the AP exam to award college credit.  This varies by school, by subject sometimes by department within a school.

AP exams are offered in high schools over a two week period in May.

For a full description of AP exams and the dates they are offered, visit The College Board's AP Website.

Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Consultant, EdNavigators

Prevent Panic on ACT Test Day

ACT TIPSYou have been working hard and are academically prepared for the ACT.  Don't let last-minute logistics sabotage your confidence.  Below are last-minute tips to prevent test panic and maintain an optimal state of mind for testing. Two days before the test:

  • Print out your admission ticket and read it over.
  • Read and complete the Test Day Checklist
  • Read the Test Day Tips
  • Gather everything you need to bring to the test center.
  • Get directions to the test center.  Plan a test-drive to the test center if you are not familiar with the area.
  • Decide what time you will need to leave your house in order to arrive at the test center a few minutes early.
  • Plan what you will wear to the exam and lay it out. Pick something comfortable.
  • Plan your breakfast for test day and be sure you have the ingredients available.
  • Reviewing the big picture format and timing of the test.

The day before the test:

  • Gather any test items that you were not able to find yesterday.
  • Make sure there is enough gas in your car.
  • Relax - Remind yourself that you ARE prepared for the test. Focus on how much you DO know.
  • Do NOT think about areas you feel you need work on.  Do NOT take extra practice tests.  If negative thoughts slip into your mind, delete them immediately.  Tell yourself you are prepared. Do NOT try to cram in information.
  • Go to the movies or do something that takes your mind off of the test.

Unexpected Scenario 1:  Bad weather and power outages

Unexpected Scenario 2:  Sick on test day

  • Don’t worry.  Colleges do not see that you registered for but missed the test day.  Obviously, is best to take the test when you are healthy. If you are unsure of what to do, is worth a call (319.337.1270) to ACT to explain your situation and discuss your options.

If any other questions come up, go to the testing source, ACT.org.

A relaxed brain performs.  In order to earn your optimal score, take ACT in a comfortable, relaxed and confident state of mind.

Wishing you all the very best on test day.

Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Independent Educational Consultant, EdNavigators

 

 

Who is Logan LaPlante? What is hackschooling? It’s worth twelve minutes of your time to find out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY I came across this video when reading the most recent Edutopia blog.  I encourage you to set-aside twelve minutes to watch it.  In this video, Logan proves that there is more than one way to get an excellent education.  Options in education are available and attainable.

Logan LaPlante is a teen full of life, inspiration and passion.  He is a self-described hackschooler who is sculpting his personal and unique path to happiness.  Logan clearly has family, friends, educators and supporters who are open-minded about education and understand that education is not a one-size-fits-all experience.  These role-models have enabled Logan to navigate his customized educational path.  Kudos to Logan and to those supporting him on his journey.

Hackschooling is a term that was coined by Logan LaPlante in his Tedx speech.  Logan describes hackschooling as "hacking school" - breaking it down into small pieces so that it may be improved.  The best innovators are those who think outside the box and find better ways to accomplish a goal.  By “hacking school” Logan is building his own, improved and customized model of education.

In 2013, I started EdNavigators with the hacking mindset.  My goal as an educator has always been to customize education and help each student I work with find and implement the educational/life-path that matches his or her unique self. My mission is to help students, like Logan, navigate their own educational paths.  I offer my teaching skills, knowledge of the educational process and personal experience to guide each student on his or her journey. I enjoy the variety of working with students from different backgrounds and all school environments including homeschoolers, hackschoolers and unschoolers.

I wish the happiest of holidays to all of the students and families with whom I have worked this year.  I wish you the very best on your education and life path and feel fortunate have the opportunity to guide you in discovering your dreams and making them a reality.

Without my own supportive family, friends, educators, and supporters, EdNavigators would not exist. Thank you for everything.  I wish you all true happiness and a life of purpose.  Make your dreams a reality in the year ahead.

Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Independent Educational Consultant, EdNavigators

 

SAT or ACT? Where do I begin? Which test is best for me?

pencils-7SAT

The SAT, originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, was created in the 1920's.  It evolved from the test that the Army used to assign recruits in WWI.  The test was designed to be a test of a person's innate ability to think and reason critically.   After WWII, because there were so many college applicants,  the test began to be used for college evaluations. The Scholastic Aptitude Test eventually morphed into the SAT Reasoning Test.  The College Board owns, develops and publishes the SAT Reasoning Tests which are designed to assess the test-taker's ability to analyze and solve problems.

In 2005, the SAT underwent some big changes.  The changes included:

  • Scoring:  changed from a possible perfect score of 1600 to a possible perfect score of 2400.

  • Writing:  this section, which includes and essay, was added

  • Math:  Geometry and Algebra II were added

  • Reading:  short reading passages were added, taking the place of the analogies.

Today's SAT  is very different from the original SAT.

ACT

The ACT is considered more of an achievement test.  It was introduced in 1959 as an alternative to the SAT.   The ACT was first popular among colleges in the Midwest and the South while the SAT was the popular test along the US coasts.  The intent of the ACT is to measure a student’s ability to handle college level work as well as his/her general educational development.  Colorado and Illinois require all students take the ACT as part of their mandatory testing requirements.

The ACT has also undergone changes since its inception:

  • Addition of the Writing Section:  Originally, the ACT had four sections, English, Math, Reading and Science Reasoning.  In 2005 the optional Writing section was added.

  • A computer based version:  ACT recently announced that beginning in 2015, they will offer a computer based version of the test.

The ACT and the SAT are equally accepted by all colleges in the United States.  Colleges do not state a preference as to which test is taken.  It is student choice.

Comparison Chart of the SAT and the ACT

 

SAT

ACT

Official Website

http://sat.collegeboard.org/home

http://www.actstudent.org

When is the test given?

January, March or April, May, June, October, November, December (7 times a year)

February, April, June, September, October, December (6 times a year)

How many sections are in the test?

10:

3 math, 3 reading, 3 writing, one experimental

5: (including optional writing) -

Engilsh, Math, Reading, Science

How early is the registration deadline?

usually 4 weeks before

usually 5-6 weeks before

When are the scores released?

2 weeks after test online

3 weeks after test by mail

2-8 weeks after test (writing reported 2 weeks after multiple choice scores are reported)

How long is each section and how many questions in each section?

Writing: 3 sections total

25 min essay

25 min

10 min

Reading: 3 sections total

2- 25 min

1-20 min

Math: 3 sections total

2-25 min (one with 10 grid-in questions)

1-20 min

Experimental Section: 1- 25 min section of Reading, Writing or Math

English: 45 min - 75 questions

Math:  60 min - 60 questions

Reading: 35 min - 4 ten question passages

Science: 35 min - 40 questions

Is there a writing section?

yes - always given first

optional - always given last

How many points for a perfect score?

2400 (800 points per section)

36 points (a composite of the 4 required sections)

What topic/ subjects are tested?

Critical Reading

Math

Writing/Essay

English

Math

Reading

Science

Optional Essy

How long does the test take?

3 hours 45 minutes

3 hours 25 minutes

Is there an experimental section?

yes (25 minutes)

no

Is there a science section?

No

Yes - heavy on how well a student can read and interpret graphs -requires general science knowledge  - measures analysis of, evaluation of and problem solving needed in natural science

How high does the math go in terms of courses taken?

Includes geometry and algebra II

Includes geometry, algebra II and trigonometry

Is there a penalty for guessing?

yes  (lose 1/4 point on multiple choice questions that are incorrect - no loss for skipped questions)

no

Is the focus more on content or critical thinking and problem solving?

critical thinking and problem solving

content

Are calculators allowed?

yes - with restrictions

yes - with restrictions

So which test is better?  Which one is easier?  Neither.  They are just different.  Some students may do better on one than the other, but very often, the scores fall in the same range.  After giving practice tests and preparing students for both tests, I have found that most students fall in the same range regardless of which test they chose.  The decision of which test to take is just a matter of preference. When time allows, I recommend that my students try out both tests and, based upon their scores and feelings about each test, pick one on which to focus test prep.

Resources:

SAT ACT Concordence Study: examines the relationship between SAT and ACT scores

http://www.act.org/solutions/college-career-readiness/compare-act-sat/

Admission Matters: What Students and Parents Need to Know About Getting Into College by Sally P. Springer, Jon Reider, Marion R. Franck

ACT vs SAT, New York Times, by Michelle Statalla November 4, 2007

Official SAT site:

http://sat.collegeboard.org/home

Official ACT site:

http://www.actstudent.org

The Real ACT Book by ACT

Official SAT Book by CollegeBoard

 

Is it better to get a B in a difficult class or an A in an easier class?

This list from the Independent Educational Consultant Association answers this and other questions about what strengths and experiences colleges are looking for in high school students. Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 9.53.42 AM

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