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

Improve Reading Speed and Comprehension for the ACT

Read to SucceedReading is a learned skill that builds upon itself. Reading often is the best way to improve comprehension and reading speed.

Reading connects people places and times. It builds on personal experiences and learned knowledge.

A reader can improve reading comprehension by:

  • Selecting reading material of interest.
  • Reading with purpose – reading title page/ copyright and introduction and connecting time and place if given – getting any background available
  • Focusing – shuting out negative thinking and distractions
  • Looking up new vocabulary and concepts as they come up

A reader can improve reading speed by:

  1. Understanding that Speed Reading is basically more focused reading.  The best way to increase reading speed is to read often with focus and concentration.  Continued practice is key.
  2. Gently trying to read faster than comfortable.
  3. Grouping Words
  4. Trying out these free apps/software programs:  

Acceleread App – use the free version of this app for an introduction to the process of and skills needed for speed reading.

Spreeder:  a free online speed reading software where you can copy your own text and practice reading it with custom speed and grouping (set speed and grouping preference in “settings” under the passage) – I have no experience with the paid version of this program.  I think the free version should be fine for practicing. Copy and paste portions of  these Newspapers and Magazines The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Scientific American, The Atlantic Monthly, or The New Yorker into Spreeder and read them for speed and comprehension.  While reading, determine the purpose, main point and tone of each article. . (You may eventually want to copy and paste the article you select into Spreeder to practice reading it at the speed needed for the ACT.)  A reading speed of at least 300 wpm is needed to get through the ACT.  This reading speed is also important to get through the large amount of reading that is required in college.

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, EDNavigators LLC

The Key to Higher Level Reading and Higher SAT and ACT Scores

ReadingHaving taught hundreds of students how to read and having worked with students up to grade 12 on reading, I have found most high school students to be breaking down on reading at the same place in the process.

Background on Reading:

There are four cueing systems of reading:

  1. Graphophonic (Sound – the reader must be able to decode letter sounds)
  2. Syntactic (Structure – the reader must understand the rules of language)
  3. Semantic (Meaning – the reader must be able to relate material read to material already known)
  4. Pragmatic (Purpose -the reader must understand the culture and social purpose for which language is used)

Early in elementary school, most students reach success with the first two components of the cueing system.  When given an appropriate leveled piece to read, they can “read” it.

For higher level reading, students need to master the semantic and pragmatic cueing systems. This is where middle school and high school students often run in to trouble. These skills take time, practice and exposure to many topics and genres. The semantic cueing system requires background knowledge.  In order to find a logical place for the freshly read information in his/her brain, the reader must have a general idea about the topic being presented.  The pragmatic cueing system also requires life experience and strong mental processing. The purpose must be clear. Semantic and pragmatic cueing require higher level thinking and the ability to synthesize and evaluate material while reading. To master semantic cueing and pragmatic cueing, students need life experience, intellectual conversation and exposure to various topics.  It comes with time and practice.

The best way to become proficient with the semantic and pragmatic cueing systems and to become a better reader in general is to read often.

Middle and high school students, try these reading steps to improve your semantic and pragmatic cueing systems and get more out of your reading

  1. Understand that the book/article is assigned for a purpose.  There is something to be gained by reading it or it would not be assigned reading.  – Ask the teacher if the purpose is not clear.
  2. Look at the copyright page and read any introductory information available (back cover, front flap, introductory blurb…)
  3. Search the internet for information about the time period when the book or article was written and the time period when the story takes place.
  4. Do a quick internet search on the author.  Get a feel for where the author is coming from physically, mentally and intellectually.
  5. Download the audio version of the book if the book is a challenge to get through.  Try listening to the book while walking. (physical exercise improves brain function – and keeps you alert and awake)
  6. Pause and think about what is being read.  ask yourself… Can you relate to it?  Do you agree/disagree with concepts and characters?  Is it in line with something you read previously? Do you want to understand more about it?  Do you like the writers style?
  7. Look up unknown vocabulary words and concepts as they come up.  Just like in math, in reading missing one concept can lead to a misunderstanding of what lies ahead.

The next challenge in mastering the reading sections of standardized tests (and college level reading) is reading speed.  Again, this takes practice.  The more someone reads, the faster they get. In my next blog post, I will provide suggestions for increasing reading speed.

Sandy Aprahamian, 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

 

C or T?

BlankI heard the question “C or T?” at Ashley Merryman’s Keynote Address at the IECA Conference earlier this month.  The more I thought about this question, the more relevant it became.  This simple question can be applied to many aspects of life, including standardized testing and the college process.

C stands for Challenge and T stands for Threat.  These words can be applied to the way we approach almost anything in our lives.  The word we choose to follow has a proven impact on our performance.

Is the task at hand a challenge or is it a threat?

  • If it is a challenge, the energy exerted is positive.  The task is approached with excitement.
  • If it is a threat, the energy exerted is negative.  This negative energy can lead to mistakes and panic.

Whether you are sitting for a test, auditioning for a play, applying or interviewing for a job, school or college, playing an important game or match, or walking on stage for a presentation, think CHALLENGE, not threat.

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

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