Sandy Aprahamian

Interpreting rSAT Scores

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 5.31.21 PMThe scores for the March SATs (rSAT) were released today.  The College Board released this converter tool to use in converting SAT scores from new to old and from old to new. The conversions indicate that the test has been re-centered.  This means that the new concordance tables are showing the mean score for the rSAT looks to be closer to a 1090.  The mean score for the previous SAT was a 1010.

A few leaders in the test-prep/college counseling world have created some nice graphics to show the score comparisons between the old SAT, the new SAT and the ACT.

Comparison and Concordance of the New SAT and ACT, Compass Education Group, Art Sawyer - May 2016

Higher Ed Data Stories - New SAT Concordance Tables, Jon Boeckenstedt - May 2016

RE-CENTERING REDUX, Ethical College Admissions, James Jump - May 2016

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

 

Do I Have to Take the Writing Section of the SAT or ACT?

  Screen_Shot_2016-01-13_at_12_53_41_PM 2With the College Board making the SAT Essay optional for SAT test takers beginning in March 2016 and the ACT, which already had a writing optional status, changing its writing section format,  many students are wondering if they need to take the writing section of either test.  

In short, as with most college admissions related questions, the answer is:  It depends.  It depends upon which colleges/universities you are interested in.  Some colleges and universities have decided on their policy with regard to writing and some have yet to decide.  Since the list of where each school stands on the essay is continually being updated, it is best to check one or both of these links where the website owners, College Board, and Compass Prep are updating their information regularly.  If in doubt about a certain school, it is best to take the writing section of the tests just in case.

Chart Compiled by Compass Prep

College Board List addressing  SAT only

Sandy Aprahamian, MEd.  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 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

2015-2016 Common App Essay Prompts Released

The Common ApplicationThe Common App released the essay prompts for the 2015-2016 application year today.  The five prompts are listed below.

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.

For high school juniors who want to get a head start on writing these essays, it is helpful to know the prompts. Students may write their essay at any time then copy and paste it into The Common App when The Common App goes live August 1, 2015.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

Soccer - College Admissions - ESPN - A Connection

Power of Social MediaI recently presented college admission information to a group of Penn Fusion Soccer Academy players and their parents at PFSA’s Fifth Annual College Night . PSFA players are fortunate to belong to a club that is led by such dedicated leaders as Mark Thomas and Tino Mueller who genuinely want the best for each and every one of their players.  At PFSA College Night, players and parents were provided valuable information about the college application process for students who would like to play soccer in college .  A panel of soccer coaches from D1, D2 and D3 schools presented recruiting and admissions information to the audience then candidly answered questions from the audience. 

This morning’s New York Times article reminded me of an important point that was made at Penn Fusion College Night:  Players (and parents), watch what you post on the Internet. A coach’s livelihood rests on your ability to make good decisions both on and off the field. If you come across as a risk, coaches will pass you by.  Your decisions can cost the coach his or her job.  Character and a history of good decision-making count.  As today’s article demonstrates, the consequences for social media decisions continue into adulthood. Think before you type…and again before you post.

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

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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

Some October 2014 SAT Scores are Delayed

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.03.23 PMSome high school students recently learned that the reporting of their October SAT scores is being delayed.  This Washington Post article provides an overview of the situation.  With many Early Action and Early Decision deadlines only three days away, seniors who were counting on these scores to complete their application may not make the application deadlines.  The score delays affect students who took the SAT in China, South Korea and, possibly Singapore.  Students who find themselves in this situation should call or email each school directly to ask how the delay will be handled.  Some colleges will give a grace period due to the circumstances - some will not.  This is frustrating all-around.  At EDNaviagotors  we encourage students to complete their testing by the end of their junior year of high school.  For high school seniors, this removes the testing burden, the uncertainty of where test scores will fall and whether or not scores will arrive in time.  High school seniors are busy enough focusing on grades, essays and applications in the fall.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators

Practice Test Date for ACT Added

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.04.50 PM

EDNavigators will be offering a practice ACT in Malvern PA on Saturday, October 18, 2014 from 8AM-12PM.  Test details and registration information can be found here.  

Basic overview of the ACT.

The New SAT vs the Current SAT vs the ACT -A Preliminary Look

More information on the ACT

New College and Career Planning Software Added

  Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 5.22.31 PM EDNavigators LLC is delighted to announce that we are using the  ACT Profile as a part of our educational consulting student intake inventory suite.  This college and career planning program measures a student’s self-reported interests, abilities and values to suggest potential college majors and career paths.

Results generate a career map, a major map and an interest inventory.  All of these guides are interactive and valuable components to be used in finding a student’s “best-fit” college and career path.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 5.22.19 PMScreen Shot 2014-08-07 at 5.22.09 PM

We are excited to include interpretation of these results as part of our new Narrow in on a “Best-Fit” College/University Type Based on Student’s Personality Type, Learning Style, Interests, Values and Abilities Package - Package IB.

The ACT Profile has also been added to Package 1.  Current students who purchased Package 1 will receive an email within the next few days outlining how to access this new benefit.

Sandy Aprahamian,EDNavigators LLC

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

 

Side By Side Comparison: SAT/Revised SAT/ACT - A Preliminary Look

The New SAT vs the Current SAT vs the ACT

A Preliminary Look

Current SATTotal Time/#Questions Revised SAT - Effective For Class of 2017:(this is based on College Board’s 208 page DRAFT Release of Test Specifications for the Redesigned SAT found here:  https://www.collegeboard.org/delivering-opportunity/sat/redesign  **Some features of the new test, such as timing, length, and scores to be reported, may still be adjusted pending the outcome of CollegeBoard studiesThis new test will "go live" with the PSAT in the Fall of 2015 - until then, the Current SAT will be the only SAT offered.Total Time/#Questions ACT (With ACT update, reporting will change but the test will remain the same) Total Time/ #Questions
Math 70min./54 Questions (approx 1/3 emphasis on geometry - includes algebra, sequences, permutations does not include  trig) 800 points 80 min/ 57 Questions(1/10 emphasis on geometry - includes trig,  a lot of algebra functions, algebra 2, area of circle, and complex numbers - more word problems with direct application to real-world events) 800 points 60min/60 Questions (pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, and trigonometry)
Reading 70min/67 Questions (Passage topics are random - includes uncommon vocabulary) 800 points 65 min/52 Questions (Passages will focus on science/history and social science - vocabulary will be tested in context) 400 points 35 min/ 40Questions (Passages broken down into Prose Fiction, Humanities, Social Science and Natural Science)
Writing 60min/49 Questions (called writing)- revision of sentences 800 points 35 min/44 Questions (called writing and language) - revision of passages/may include tables/charts/graphs - 400 points 45 min/75 Questions (called English) - revision of passages
Essay 25min/1 prompt score goes into writing score 50 min/ 1 prompt (optional) - graded separately from final math/reading/writing - will test reading and analysis as well as writing 30 min/ 1 prompt (optional)
Science none (incorporated into reading,writing and math sections) 35 min/ 40 Questions
Total 225 min (3 hours 45 min)/ 171 Questions 220 min (3 hours 50 min)/153 Questions 205 min/215 Questions
Penalty for Guessing? yes no no
Total Possible Points 2400 1600 **big change here in that math will be 800 possible points and reading and writing will be 800 possible points combined - this test places more weight on math than the current SAT - Essay will be scored separately 36
Scores will be broken down by subject and concept no yes yes (there will be more detail with the new ACT reporting)
Calculator allowed for entire math section? yes no yes

 

Key Points -

  • The Revised SAT very similar to the ACT
  • Math will be more heavily weighted on the Revised SAT
  • EDNavigators recommends that the class of 2017 take the current SAT and/or the ACT because there are too many uncertainties about the format of the new SAT as well as the timing of score releases and concordance tables for the new SAT
  • We will continue to share information we get about test changes as soon as they are available

How to prepare for these tests:

  • READ often
  • Understand math concepts - not just to get a good grade in school, but for yourself - You need to know the concepts after you are tested on them in class. The new SAT puts more weight on Math than the current SAT
  • Put down your calculator!  Practice math without using the calculator.  It won’t be allowed for part of the math section of the SAT
  • There are strategies, but no shortcuts.  Just like anything else in life, success comes from dedication and preparation.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

EDNavigators Introduces Custom College Plan for Comprehensive Management of the College Process

Another College Application Question With Varying Answers

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 11.24.14 AMRising Seniors are encouraged to begin their college applications over the summer between Junior and Senior Year.  This sounds like a simple task, but considering that colleges work with different applications and on different timelines, it gets complicated quickly.  The first question students must find the answer to is:

When Do College Applications Go Live?

For schools that accept the Common Application and the Universal Application, these dates apply:

  • The Universal Application opens on July 1, 2014
  • The Common Application opens on August 1, 2014

At some schools, like The University of Chicago, you can start and submit your supplement before you complete the Universal or Common App.

Some schools with rolling admission, like Delaware Valley College, accept applications anytime after the student completes his/her junior year of high school. Others with rolling admission, like Pennsylvania State University make the application available September 1.

Bottom Line:

Check the website or call each school to which you plan to apply to get its specific application timeline.

Use a system to keep track of what is due when.

If you are planning to apply to colleges that accept the Universal Application or Common Application, start the main essay as soon as you can and supplemental essays (common app prompts are here) as soon as they are released by the school.  Early Decision/Early Action Dates of Nov. 1 and Nov 15 come quickly.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

 

 

Understanding Athletic Recruiting in the 21st Century

I attended an outstanding seminar yesterday:  Understanding Athletic Recruiting in the 21st Century. The seminar will be offered again, Sunday, June 14 in Lawrenceville, NJ.  I highly encourage student athletes, parents, coaches and counselors to attend.   Jeffrey Durso-Finley and Holly Burks Becker have experience with the process from all sides of the desk.  The information they provide is honest and extremely valuable.  Click the link below for more details on the seminar.

College Sports Flyer 2014- June Programs

Homework, Sleep, Habits

  Ghandi - HabitsEdutopia's blog post today,  Homework, Sleep, and the Student Brain was right in line with a recent discussion I had with my students - about what homework was like “back when I was in high school”…a book, a pencil, a notebook - no phone, internet or social media distractions…It was easier to go to bed by 11PM in high school, stay healthy and earn good grades.

The distractions technology presents to students today can not be eliminated.  Students need internet access to complete school assignments.  For today's student, time management and the ability to stay on task are essential skills for success. To ignore distractions, students need a positive Mindset and powerful habits.

Books I recommend that address these topics include:

Sandy Aprahamian, Independent Educational Consultant, EDNavigators, LLC

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