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SAT or ACT? Or Both?

Juniors in high school are busy students.  Adding to their academic and extra-curricular burden is the prep for the SAT or ACT tests.  Which test is best for me?  Do I have to take both?  Most college applications require SAT or ACT scores so students need to map out when they are going to take these tests before they send their applications in the Fall of their Senior year.

 

Most colleges that we encounter will accept either SAT or ACT scores.  College advisors at area high schools often recommend that you take both.  Many students also respond to the desire to do well on both tests.  However, you only need an acceptable score on ONE test to be accepted.

 

We recommend that you take a free practice SAT test and ACT test.  (Students usually have PSAT scores that we can use in place of a practice SAT test.)  The SAT and ACT tests have different sections and different timing issues for the students.

 

Students who are better at math may gravitate to the SAT because the SAT score is 50% math.  Whereas, students who are more talented in Reading/ English may prefer the ACT because it is only 25% math and the other 75%–reading, English, and science—relies on stronger reading skills.

 

Many of our students are studying to improve their SAT/ACT scores to earn scholarships to out of state schools, like Oklahoma State, University of Oklahoma, and U of Arkansas.  Other students are trying to earn scholarships at private colleges–TCU, Baylor, SMU—or gain acceptance into the honors programs.  It is common for students to earn $32-40,000 in scholarships by raising their scores.

 

Give us a call and set up a free 15-minute consultation to help you choose which test is best for you.  Our program can help you prepare for both the SAT and ACT and we will guide you through your Junior/Senior years as you test and apply to college.

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PSAT SCORES: 3 MYTHS ABOUT THE TEST

Before you add those test scores to your pile of papers on the kitchen counter, note how your student scored on the test and formulate a study plan for the SAT.

Myth 1: My student is smart or a good student and will do fine on the SAT.

Their SAT scores will mirror their PSAT scores and now that you have those PSAT scores, plan to increase those scores 100-200 points.   If you study for tests at school, why would you not practice and learn the strategies to get YOUR top score.

Myth 2:  The PSAT is not important.

It is your Junior year.  The PSAT scores from the Junior year are used to identify National Merit Scholars.  If your student is a high scoring student, increasing those scores can lead to an opportunity to be a National Merit Scholar. National Merit Scholars benefit from full ride scholarships to colleges across the country.

Myth 3:  My PSAT scores will improve each year.

Not really, not that much.  Students who do not study the PSAT/SAT will see little or no growth in their scores.  Students often say they plan to take the SAT test again to improve.  Statistically, they will not improve unless they practice.

 sportboy Study Skills page

Most students take the SAT their Junior year and many take it more than once.  With our prep program, students return to classes free to continue to improve their scores.  Some students return Senior year, to earn scholarships or admittance to the honors programs at their chosen colleges.

SAT or ACT? Or Both?

cropped-dreamstime_m_7945041.jpgJuniors in high school are busy students.  Adding to their academic and extra-curricular burden is the prep for the SAT or ACT tests.  Which test is best for me?  Do I have to take both?  Most college applications require SAT or ACT scores so students need to map out when they are going to take these tests before they send their applications in the Fall of their Senior year.   (See collegeboard.com for SAT test dates or ACT.org for ACT test dates)

 

Most colleges that we encounter will accept either SAT or ACT scores.  College advisors at area high schools often recommend that you take both.  Many students also respond to the desire to do well on both tests.  However, you only need an acceptable score on ONE test to be accepted.

 

We recommend that you take a free practice SAT test and ACT test.  (Students usually have PSAT scores that we can use in place of a practice SAT test.)  The SAT and ACT tests have different sections and different timing issues for the students.

 

Students who are better at math may gravitate to the SAT because the SAT score is 50% math.  Whereas, students who are more talented in Reading/ English may prefer the ACT because it is only 25% math and the other 75%–reading, English, and science—relies on stronger reading skills.

 

Many of our students are studying to improve their SAT/ACT scores to earn scholarships to out of state schools, like Oklahoma State, University of Oklahoma, and U of Arkansas.  Other students are trying to earn scholarships at private colleges–TCU, Baylor, SMU—or gain acceptance into the honors programs.  It is common for students to earn $32-40,000 in scholarships by raising their scores.

 

Give us a call (972-359-0222) and set up a free 15-minute consultation to help you choose which test is best for you.  Our program can help you prepare for both the SAT and ACT and we will guide you through your Junior/Senior years as you test and apply to college.

Why SAT/ACT Prep Remains Vital

The hard truth about the SAT and ACT exams is this: While some universities may be ceasing or phasing out the use of these test scores in their admission process now, this still leaves us with the majority of top and mid-level colleges that continue looking to these scores to help them make important admission and scholarship decisions. This means that, for better or for worse, SAT and ACT prep continues to be a necessary investment for most students.

essay writing photoThere is mounting evidence to show that these standardized exams favor not simply the wealthy, but specifically wealthy white males. In a recent report from William C. Hiss, former dean of admissions at Bates College, and Valerie W. Franks, a former Bates assistant dean of admissions, “they reviewed 33 colleges and universities that did not require SAT or ACT scores,” and found that “those who didn’t submit SATs were more likely to be minority students, women, Pell grant recipients or the first in their families to go to college” (Todd Balf, The New York Times, 2014). They also found that there was “no significant difference in college GPA or graduation rates between those who had submitted tests and those who did not” (Balf, NYT, 2014). This means that even for women, minority, and lower-income students who are every bit as intelligent, creative, and scholastically successful as their wealthier, white, male peers, they are still likely to find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to the SAT and ACT exams.

This is certainly evidence to suggest that our general college admission process is in need of a dramatic overall and fast. But so long as these exams are still administered across the country each year and their scores still looked to as a major admissions metric, this prejudice is also evidence of an increased need for affordable test-prep for all. As Todd Balf explains in “The Story Behind the SAT Overhaul” for the The New York Times,

While more colleges are choosing to opt out of standardized testing, an estimated 80 percent of four-year colleges still require either SAT or ACT scores, according to David Hawkins at Nacac, and admissions officers report feeling bound to the tests as a way to filter the overwhelming numbers of applicants” (2014).

In his Atlantic article “The SAT-Prep Industry Isn’t Going Anywhere,” James Murphy agrees with this assessment, explaining,

The problem, though, is not test prep but the test. It is not teachers and tutors who make students anxious; it is the SAT. … Although more schools than ever are making SAT scores optional for application, good test prep will remain important as long as high-stakes, time-constrained, multiple-choice exams are being used to determine who gets admitted to the most selective colleges and universities. … It is important not to confuse the medicine with the sickness.” (2014)

And this really is the keynote of this article: The SAT and ACT exams are flawed, yes; problematic, certainly; stress-inducing, definitely; but they are still here. They are still being used and looked to and depended upon. And for as long as they are, test-prep will continue to be necessary the same way that extra tutoring is often necessary for student success in everyday classwork.

How to Know if Your Kid Needs Tutoring

USNAccording to U.S. News, three good ways to know whether or not your child would benefit from tutoring are:

  1. Use Your Institution: You know your kids better than anyone.
  2. Get to the Root Cause: Are your kids struggling to pay attention or are the subjects themselves eluding them?
  3. Look Beyond the Score: Don’t settle for your kids’ grades and test scores as a barometer of how they’re really doing in school.

(Article by Kelsey Sheehy)


parents

 

 

According to Parents:

  1. Slipping Grades: If you believe that your child can do better than he did on his latest report card, or if you’ve noticed a gradual or sudden decline in his test scores, communicate with his teacher about your concerns. …”
  2. “Not Managing Time Well: If your child puts off projects and postpone homework, she may not be able to keep up as workloads increase. …”
  3. “Being Consistently Confused: Sometimes a child is underperforming because he simply doesn’t understand the homework. …”
  4. “Lacking Confidence: It is natural to be uncertain when learning a new concept, but it is not constructive when a child is told she isn’t smart enough to do well in school. …”
  5. “Decreasing Parental Supervision: When parents take on additional commitments outside of the family, it may be impossible to maintain the same level of homework help they had been providing their child. …”
  6. “Learning Disabilities: Tutoring sessions are also beneficial for children who have been diagnosed with a learning disorder, such as ADHD, dyslexia, or a visual processing problem. …

(Article by Mali Anderson)


 

CBS According to PBS Parents, there are several ways to know if your child may need a math tutor, including:

  1. “If your child is old enough to receive report cards, you can tell pretty quickly whether or not he might need help when you see his grades.”
  2. “Beyond slipping grades, look out for a lack of enthusiasm for math.”
  3. “That loss in interest could signal that your child needs help, but it also may mean that he or she is bored. That’s where a tutor can come in.”

(Article by Laura Lewis Brown)


CBS News

 

 

 

 

 

According to CBS, a few key ways to recognize whether or not your kids might benefit from tutoring are:

  1. “Continued failing grades in school.”
  2. “Child is constantly making excuses as to why he or she is not doing homework. The student is unhappy in school or having problems in general that you are aware of.”
  3. “The teacher sends notes home to you and you have to go to school because there is disruptive behavior, a pattern that goes on for at least a full school year.”

(Article by Tatiana Morales)


And according to KSL News:KSL News

  1. “Does your child have continual bad grades that do not seem to improve?”
  2. “Does your child have behavior problems at school? Behavior problems at school do not always indicate a need for a tutor. Some students have behavior problems because they do not seem to understand what is being taught and some have behavior problems because they are simply bored with the subject material.”
  3. “Does your child regularly say they hate school?”
  4. “When working on homework assignments, does it seem to take your child longer to finish them than you would expect?”
  5. “When confronted about unfinished schoolwork, does your child makes excuses as to why it is not finished?”

(Article by Leann Mills)

NPR’s 2015 Education Predictions

Check out the full article from NPR by clicking here for yet more predictions and details related to those provided below.

A few of the highlights:

  1. Blending on-site (classroom) learning with distance (technology-based) learning.
  2. Greater scrutiny of and concern related to student data.
  3. © Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationThe renewal of or substantive departure from No Child Left Behind.
  4. More online and game-based teaching practices.
  5. The introduction of Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEAs).

In 2015, education systems will cut through the clutter and invest the needed resources to develop and administer developmentally appropriate KEAs and thus improve instruction for young children.

— Rhian Evans Allvin, Executive Director, National Association for the Education of Young Children


Further/Related Reading Suggestions

Education News Update: Are Standardized Tests Getting the Axe?

 

Close your eyes for a minute and daydream about a world without bubble tests. Education Week recently reported that some Republican Senate aides are doing more than dreaming — they’re drafting a bill that would eliminate the federal mandate on standardized testing.

– Anya Kamenetz, NPR

(To read the full Education Week article by Alyson Klein, please see: “GOP Senate Aides Working on Draft ESEA Bill That Could Ditch Annual Testing”)

Ever since the passing of No Child Left Behind,  teachers, administrators, parents, students, and policy experts have been working to understand—to definitively know—whether or not it’s done more harm than good (or vice versa). Well, when the issue recently came back before Congress for renewal, Senate Republicans released their new vision for U.S. public education in 2015: Instead of renewing the federal mandate for annual, standardized testing, they “would leave decisions about testing schedules up to states.

And while The Council of Chief State School Officers, national teachers unions, many traditionally Democratic groups, and many of the country’s largest school districts have come out in favor of reducing or doing away with standardized tests—as NPR’s Anya Kamenetz explains in “What Schools Could Use Instead of Standardized Tests”—what’s still missing from this conversation is what might replace annual standardized tests.  To this end, Kamenetz suggests four possible options:

  1. Sampling: Keep standardized tests, but just reduce the number of them.
  2. Stealth Assessment: Use software provided by major textbook publishers in order to invisibly monitor and assess children’s learning.
  3. Multiple Measures: Rather than just test scores, data on everything from graduation rates to demographics to workforce outcomes ought to be collected and considered. Schools could even begin issuing surveys to consider elements like “grit” and “optimism,” or games to help assess a student’s creativity and other higher-order skills.
  4. Inspections: Perhaps in addition to some or all of the above measures, the government could also create a team of inspectors who function for schools almost the same way that health inspectors function for restaurants. These officials might observe classrooms, examine syllabi, evaluate student projects, and interview students, staff members, and faculty.

(To read Anya Kamenetz’s full article, visit: “What Schools Could Use Instead of Standardized Tests”)

What are your opinions on standardized testing? Do you think we should keep annual exams? If not, what might you suggest in substitute?