Testing

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.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The SAT is tomorrow and I have the flu! What should I do?

fluWinter is a popular time for high school juniors to take the SAT.  It is also, unfortunately, flu season. If you have the flu and are scheduled to take the SAT tomorrow, don’t panic.  Your health is most important.  There is still time.

In an ideal world, you planned your testing timeline in advance and gave yourself some room “just in case” this were to happen.  If you didn’t plan out your testing timeline, do it now.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 10.23.14 AMAssuming you plan to take SAT Subject Tests and AP exams, your new testing timeline can be as follows:

  • SAT March 8
  • SAT Subject Tests May 3 and June 7

Since not all subjects are offered on both dates, it is important to

1.  Check when the tests you want to take are offered and

2.  Leave May and June test dates open for SAT Subject Tests.

***You may take up to three subject tests in one day

Retesting option is  October 11 and maybe November 8 and December 6 depending upon the college deadlines and whether or not you are applying Early Decision or Early Action.  All colleges have different application deadlines.

**SAT and the SAT Subject Tests can't be taken on the same day

Note:  AP Exams are May 5-16.  These are given during school hours so they will not conflict with the SAT or SAT Subject Tests in scheduling.  It’s just important to be aware that they will be given during this timeframe.

If you do have the flu and need to reschedule your SAT:

  • Log in to your College Board account and request a new test date.  The College Board directions are here.
  • There is a $27 change fee.
  • Colleges do NOT see that this change was made.
  • They will simply see the date you actually take the test and the scores you receive.
  • Don’t worry about the change- just work on feeling better.

I do not recommend taking a standardized test when you are ill because you will not be presenting yourself at your optimal strength.  If, however, you are only slightly under the weather or just want to skip the test because you want more time to prepare or you don’t want to get up early, I recommend you get up and take tomorrow’s test.  If you don’t like your score, don’t report it and take the test again on a later date.  At least you got one test under your belt.

Before rescheduling, create a calendar and make sure you have time to make-up the test.

2014 Testing Dates:

2014 SAT Tests are  January 25, March 8, May 3, June 7, October 11, November 8, December 6,

2014 SAT Subject Tests are offered  every SAT testing date except March

2014 AP Exams are May 5th-16th

Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Educational Consultant, EdNavigators

 

Chances of Success: For Standardized Testing, College Admissions and Life

chances of successAttitude matters. If you think you can, you can.

In standardized testing, in college admissions and in everything you desire to do in life -

Squash the ANT (Automatic Negative Thinking)

Sandy Aprahamian - Owner, Independent Educational Consultant - EdNavigators