college admissions tests

5 Ways to Prepare for the SAT (Even when you're not preparing for the SAT)

5 Ways to Prepare for the SAT (Even when you're not preparing for the SAT)

The SAT is designed to test skills and knowledges that are accrued over a long time, things like vocabulary and math fluency, and these can be developed and honed beyond the hours spent in class. Not only do you not have to wait until a full-scale test prep program to start building these skills, you probably shouldn’t. Here’s a list of 5 ways you can utilize the precious summer months to build your skill and knowledge, laying the foundation for a strong performance on your next (or first) SAT in the fall.

Four Steps to Getting More Out of Test Prep with a Mindful Approach

Four Steps to Getting More Out of Test Prep with a Mindful Approach

I realized that the upper limit to my student’s test day performance wasn’t set by how much material she knew or how well she understood test-taking techniques. Rather, her performance was limited by how she was thinking about and experiencing the test. So that’s where we put our attention. And that’s where I suggest you put your attention: allow yourself to become aware of your thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs and how they impact your experience. You are then empowered to choose thoughts and behaviors that create a better experience.

SAT Subject Tests: Another Testing Task or an Opportunity to Shine?

A high score on an SAT Subject Test is a valuable asset for applicants to certain highly selective schools. Making the most of this opportunity can be difficult, however. When student and parent fatigue surrounding pre-college planning is already quite high, the need to make additional decisions can feel overwhelming. Armed with a little knowledge and guidance, however, students can make informed choices and increase their chances of success on these tests.

Predicting who is more likely to retake the SAT

Does your SAT score end in "90"? Tomorrow Juniors head off to take the SAT with varying degrees of preparedness and nervousness. While most students will sit for the SAT and/or ACT at least twice, we don't encourage our students to take these tests over and over in pursuit of that ever-elusive "highest score possible". Standardized tests are only one piece of the college application. While an important part, they shouldn't be given undue time or weight.

Good luck, juniors!

SAT Score-Use Practices

Beginning with the March administration of the SAT, juniors are now able to choose which scores they will send to selected colleges.   Score Choice allows students greater control over the information about them that is recieved by colleges.  However, schools vary on how they use scores for admission purposes - while some schools will take the highest scores from each section (math, critical reading and writing) across test dates, other colleges will only consider the SAT scores from your single highest test date.  For a listing of the SAT Score-Use Practices for most schools, click on blog title.

Put Tests in Perspective

Which of the following is true: A. College admissions tests are the most important factor in college admissions; B. The SAT is the same as the ACT; C. All colleges require either the SAT or ACT for admission; D. None of the above. If you answered D, congratulations! You are savvy about the myths surrounding these standardized tests. If you answered incorrectly, read on.

While the SAT is the most commonly recognized college admissions test, the ACT is rapidly gaining in popularity, and is accepted in lieu of the SAT at most colleges and universities. Although these entrance exams are treated equally, there are several important differences between them.

The SAT provides scores for Critical Reading, Math and Writing on a scale ranging from 200 to 800, a "perfect" score. The math portion covers material up to ninth grade basic geometry and the reading section emphasizes vocabulary.

A third writing section was added in 2005 but, as of now, most colleges don't consider this in their admissions decisions. In general, the SAT is a test of strategy and testmanship and those who are inherently skilled at multiple choice tests have an advantage.

The ACT is comprised of 4 sections: English, which emphasizes grammar; Math, which covers material through trigonometry; Reading; and Science Reasoning. There is also an optional writing section. Scores between 1 and 36 are given for each section and a composite score is derived using the same scale. Unlike the SAT, the ACT is a test of time management skills and academic achievement or studiousness. In short, ACT is a more curriculum-based test where students demonstrate their mastery of the material while the SAT measures that their inherent aptitude and skillful test-taking strategies can make a difference.

Most college-bound students take these entrance exams more than once in an effort to improve their scores. While the ACT has always offered test takers the opportunity to submit only those scores they wish colleges to see, as of March 2009, the College Board will also be offering Score Choice for the SAT for the Class of 2010. In both cases, scores for every section of the test must be sent for each test administration - students are not allowed to pick and choose their highest scores across test dates. Further, not all colleges will observe the Score Choice option. More information about this new policy is availabl e at

Despite all the chatter surrounding college admissions tests, it is important to note that nearly 20 percent of all four-year colleges are "test optional" and don't require these tests for admissions. A current list of test optional schools is available at

While standardized tests can play a role in admissions, in most cases it is not the most weighty piece of the application. Their role is to provide an "external reality" to the application by creating a uniform and consistent measure of academic aptitude and ability. While each college and university will determine the extent to which standardized test scores will factor into their admissions decisions, in most cases a student's high school transcript is the most important piece of their application.

So, do prepare for standardized tests, but keep their role in in perspective.

Reprinted with permission from Metrowest Daily News.