Ten Valuable Take-Aways from The HECA Conference in Philadelphia June 2016

I met many knowledgeable and caring professionals including other IECs (Independent Educational Consultants), college presidents, college admissions representatives, vendors and authors at the HECA conference in Philadelphia last week.  I toured eight college campuses, attended nine workshops and listened to leaders in the field speak about college admissions, Liberal Arts Colleges, the current and future state of higher education and the Coalition for Access and Admission in Higher Education. The conference was extremely valuable and information rich. These ten valuable take-aways offer only a glimpse of what was offered.

Ten Valuable Take-Aways from the HECA conference in Philadelphia June 2016

(- not all new information, but information that I feel is valuable for my students and families to know)

  1. Checking the box indicating that you are applying for financial aid in the college application can cause your application to be considered incomplete to the college until all financial firms are submitted.
  2. It is important that after registering for any future SAT test, students check the email associated with their College Board account. The College Board implemented a new plan in June 2016. Selected students who register for the test will receive an email stating that they are required to submit a Verification Form by a given deadline. If the form is not submitted by this deadline, College Board will cancel the student’s registration and credit the registration fee back to the credit card. Avoid the surprise of showing up for the SAT only to find that you are not actually registered.  Students MUST check their email often.
  3. There are three different routes to the military: Service Academies, ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) and OCS (Officer Candidate School)  Each path has different requirements
  4. There is a company called New Frontiers in Learning that is full of trained professionals to help students with learning difficulties navigate the transition to college and learn to self advocate.
  5. HECA members as a whole are dedicated, collaborative, extremely caring and knowledgeable professionals in the field of college consulting.
  6. Liberal arts students are in demand: CIC Website For higher ed professionals – LiberalArtsPower For students and parents-  LiberalArtsLife Can you see yourself in this environment- @smartcolleges twitterfeed
  7. Purpose fuels GRIT and experiencing failure is essential to building resiliency
  8. Colleges want to admit students who will succeed there. If there is a concern about that, some colleges give the student a chance to try it out before committing. (Passport Program- St Joseph’s University)
  9. Colleges and Universities have priorities in building their class each year. Their goal is to build a community of students who will help the university continue on its mission.
  10. Each college/university has special qualities just as each student does. The staff and faculty at those colleges really want their students to take advantage of all the school has to offer.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

 

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

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

Standardized Testing and Test-Prep Timelines for Recruited Athletes Graduating High School in 2017

Standardized Testing and Test-Prep Timelines for Recruited Athletes Graduating High School in 2017Testing Timeline for Recruited Athletes

In order to prevent unnecessary scheduling stress, know test dates and test-prep timelines in advance.  With sports, service trips, family commitments and school commitments, the timing can get challenging.

  1. Know the test dates for the ACT  and the  SAT
  2. Check your availability for those dates
  3. Schedule Practice Tests and Test Prep by backing into the test dates – Use charts below as guides for timing (EDNavigators Test Prep includes a Full Retired and Diagnostically Scored SAT, a Full Retired and Diagnostically Scored ACT, and five private test prep sessions to prepare for the selected test of preference. If you choose to take both the ACT and the SAT, we recommend that you prep for the test of preference then schedule an additional test prep session with us to go over format/style/strategies of the other tests.  The content of the SAT and the ACT is very similar.)

Schedule Practice Tests early enough so you will have 6 weeks between the second practice test and the first SAT or ACT you may want to sign up for.

ACT Timeline

If you need to give coaches/schools test scores by the end of Sophomore Year, follow these dates

TEST   DATE    COMPLETE PRACTICE TESTS BY     BEGIN TEST PREP
ACT April 18, 2015 end of February 2015 beginning of March 2015
ACT June 13, 2015 mid-April 2015 end of April 2015

If you need to give coaches/schools test scores by the middle of your Junior Year, follow these dates

TEST    DATE    COMPLETE PRACTICE TESTS BY   BEGIN TEST PREP
ACT Sept. 12, 2015 mid-July 2015 end of July 2015
ACT Oct 24, 2015 end of August 2015 early September 2015
ACT Dec 12, 2015 early October 2015 mid-October 2015


If you want to try to improve your scores from before, these are the test dates available to the class of 2017.

TEST  DATE   COMPLETE PRACTICE TESTS BY    BEGIN TEST PREP
ACT February 6, 2016 mid-December 2016 end of Dec 2016
ACT April 9, 2016 early February 2016 mid-February 2016
ACT June 11, 2016 early April 2016 mid April 2016
ACT September 10, 2016 mid July 2016 end of July 2016
ACT October 22, 2016 end of August 2016 early Sept 2016
ACT December 10, 2016 early Oct 2016 mid Oct 2016

SAT Timeline

If you need to give coaches/schools test scores by the end of Sophomore Year, follow these dates

TEST   DATE    COMPLETE PRACTICE TESTS BY   BEGIN TEST PREP
SAT May 2, 2015** beginning of March 2015 end of March 2015
SAT June 6, 2015** end of April 2015 beginning of May 2015

If you need to give coaches/schools test scores by the middle of your Junior Year, follow these dates

TEST  DATE    COMPLETE PRACTICE TESTS BY    BEGIN TEST PREP
SAT (Anticipated) October 3, 2015 end of July 2015 mid August 2015
SAT (Anticipated) November 7, 2015 end of August 2015 mid Sept 2015
SAT (Anticipated) December 5, 2015 end of Sept 2015 early Oct 2015
SAT (Anticipated) January 23, 2016 end of Nov 2015 early Dec 2015

After January 23, 2016, the current SAT will no longer be offered.  A newly designed SAT will be given.  EDNavigators is recommending that, if recruited athletes choose the SAT as their test of choice, they should focus on the current SAT only.

Standardized Testing and Test-Prep Timelines for the Classes of 2016 and 2017

 

pencil_and_bubble_sheet

Standardized Testing and Test-Prep Timelines for the Classes of 2016 and 2017

Prevent unnecessary scheduling stress by knowing the dates and test-prep timelines in advance.  With sports, service trips, family commitments and school commitments, the timing of standardized tests can get challenging.

  1. Check the test dates for the ACT  and the  SAT
  2. Check your availability for those dates
  3. Schedule Practice Tests and Test Prep by backing into the test dates – Use the charts below as guides for timing.  Dates in Orange are recommended.  (EDNavigators Test Prep includes a Full Retired and Diagnostically Scored SAT, a Full Retired and Diagnostically Scored ACT, and five private test prep sessions to prepare for the selected test of preference.) If you choose to take both the ACT and the SAT, we recommend that you prep for the test of preference then schedule an additional test prep session with us to go over format/style/strategies of the other test.  The content of the SAT and the ACT is very similar.

Class of 2016

EDNavigators recommends that students complete testing by the end of Junior year in order to be in the position to meet all college deadlines (including Early Action and Early Decision) and know where they stand in crafting the college list.

If you plan to take this TEST On this DATE Complete BOTH SAT and ACT Practice Tests with EDNavigators by: Begin Test Prep Sessions By:
ACT Feb. 7, 2015 mid- December 2014 end of December 2014
ACT April 18, 2015 end of February 2015 beginning of March 2015
ACT June 13, 2015 mid-April 2015 end of April 2015
ACT Sept. 12, 2015 mid-July 2015 end of July 2015
ACT Oct 24, 2015 end of August 2015 early September 2015
ACT Dec 12, 2015 early October 2015 mid-October 2015
SAT Jan. 24, 2015 mid December 2014 end of December 2014
SAT March 14, 2015 mid February 2015 end of February 2015
SAT May 2, 2015** beginning of March 2015 end of March 2015
SAT June 6, 2015** end of April 2015 beginning of May 2015
SAT (Anticipated) October 3, 2015 end of July 2015 mid August 2015
SAT (Anticipated) November 7, 2015 end of August 2015 mid Sept 2015
SAT (Anticipated) December 5, 2015 end of Sept 2015 early Oct 2015

**Recommended Dates for SAT Subject Tests

Class of 2017

This will be the first class to be offered the redesigned PSAT and SAT, the full details of which are not yet finalized.  From preliminary looks, these tests appear to be more difficult than the current SAT.  Based on this information, for now, EDNavigators recommends that the class of 2017 aim to take the Current SAT twice before January 2016 (the last date it is offered) OR the ACT.  IDEALLY students from the Class of 2017 should complete practice SAT and ACT tests over the summer of 2015 in order to have a game plan for Junior year and leave the original SAT as an option.

If you plan to take this TEST On this DATE Complete BOTH SAT and ACT Practice Tests with EDNavigators by: Begin Test Prep Sessions By:
ACT September 12, 2015 mid-July 2015 end of July 2015
ACT October 24, 2015 end of August 2015 early Sept 2015
ACT December 12, 2015 early October 2015 mid-October 2015
ACT February 6, 2016 mid-December 2016 end of Dec 2016
ACT April 9, 2016 early February 2016 mid-February 2016
ACT June 11, 2016 early April 2016 mid April 2016
ACT September 10, 2016 mid July 2016 end of July 2016
ACT October 22, 2016 end of August 2016 early Sept 2016
ACT December 10, 2016 early Oct 2016 mid Oct 2016
SAT May 2, 2015* beginning of March 2015 end of March 2015
SAT June 6, 2015* end of April 2015 beginning of May 2015
Redesigned PSAT/NMSQT(Anticipated) October 2015 n/a n/a
SAT (Anticipated) October 3, 2015 end of July 2015 mid August 2015
SAT (Anticipated) November 7, 2015 end of August 2015 mid Sept 2015
SAT (Anticipated) December 5, 2015 end of Sept 2015 early Oct 2015
SAT (Anticipated) January 23, 2016 end of Nov 2015 early Dec 2015
Redesigned SAT(Anticipated) March 5, 2016 n/a n/a
Redesigned SAT(Anticipated) May 7, 2016 n/a n/a
Redesigned SAT(Anticipated) June 4, 2016 n/a n/a

*Though we do not usually recommend standardized testing sophomore year, students in the class of 2017 who are very busy during the fall season should seriously consider taking practice tests in March and April 2015 to see if the current SAT is their test of preference.  If the SAT is the test of preference,  they should take it in May and/or June of 2015.  These May and June SAT dates should also be considered for SAT Subject Tests.

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

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

WILL THE NEW SAT BE EASIER?

New SAT - Graduation CapToday the College Board released more information about and sample questions for the New SAT.

While all of the details are not yet released, my gut reaction to the New SAT is positive.  The New SAT looks like it will address the skills necessary for and relevant to college success.

As a test-prep tutor and educational consultant, I am frequently asked to compare and give educated insight into the SAT and the ACT.  A few common questions and answers pertaining to the ACT, the SAT and the New SAT are below.

Will the New SAT be easier than the current SAT?

The buzz amongst high school students is that the new SAT will be easier than the current SAT.  In one way, that is true.  By removing the wrong answer penalty students do not have to worry about whether or not to guess.  Other than that, absolutely not.  This test will be difficult for students who are not prepared.

  • The essay is significantly more involved than the current SAT essay.
  • The reading section will require the student to identify both the correct answer AND why it is correct.
  • The math will include more involved word problems.
  • Interpretation of science charts and tables will now be included.

Is the New SAT more like the ACT?

Yes, because it is now more achievement based like the ACT.

No, because the format and structure of the two tests differ significantly.

  1. The ACT essay, like the current SAT essay is a persuasive essay. The New SAT essay will require critical reading, analysis of a persuasive essay and analytical writing.
  2. The New SAT has a “no calculator” section.  The ACT allows calculators for the entire math section.
  3. The New SAT will measure understanding and interpretation of social studies and history.  The ACT includes these subjects but does not include their measure in the test results.
  4. The New SAT will integrate science into the reading, writing, math sections. The ACT has a separate science section

What do I like about the New SAT?

  1. It will include more critical reading, something that I believe is essential to success in college.
  2. It will incorporate real life scenarios in math, making it more relevant to life situations.
  3. There will be a significant focus on algebra and its application – the foundations of higher level math.
  4. No calculator will be allowed for portions of the test. I have found that today’s teens rely too much on the calculator.
  5. Vocabulary tests will be more relevant.  Student will analyze the words used and how they affect meaning. – No more memorizing words that will most likely never be used again after the test.
  6. Science, history and social studies are integrated into the test and knowledge of these subjects is reflected in the score results.

I will post more details about the New SAT as they become available.

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, Independent Educational Consultant, EDNavigators

 

How to Access Free SAT Math Test Prep on Khan Academy

Next week, on April 16, the full blue print and sample questions of the New SAT will be revealed. We were told in March that Khan Academy will be providing free SAT test-prep. Khan Academy has already loaded SAT prep to their site. Khan Academy is a valuable tool which I recommend that all of my students take advantage of.  Fifteen to thirty minutes of independent practice a day goes a long way.
This two-minute video shows how to access Khan Academy and use its free online SAT Math preparation materials.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators