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

2016-2017 Essay Prompts Released

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 5.57.15 PMThe prompts are the same as they were for the 2015-2016 application cycle.

2016-2017 Essay Prompts
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

The essay that results from one of these prompts is sometimes referred to as the personal statement portion of the college appliction.  It is one of a few or many essays a student will be asked to write during the college application process.  Since Fall of senior year tends to be very busy, a good time to work on the personal essay is the summer between junior and senior year.

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

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

TimeFinding 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

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 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

2015-2016 Common App Essay Prompts Released

The Common ApplicationThe Common App released the essay prompts for the 2015-2016 application year today.  The five prompts are listed below.

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

For high school juniors who want to get a head start on writing these essays, it is helpful to know the prompts. Students may write their essay at any time then copy and paste it into The Common App when The Common App goes live August 1, 2015.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

Soccer – College Admissions – ESPN – A Connection

Power of Social MediaI recently presented college admission information to a group of Penn Fusion Soccer Academy players and their parents at PFSA’s Fifth Annual College Night . PSFA players are fortunate to belong to a club that is led by such dedicated leaders as Mark Thomas and Tino Mueller who genuinely want the best for each and every one of their players.  At PFSA College Night, players and parents were provided valuable information about the college application process for students who would like to play soccer in college .  A panel of soccer coaches from D1, D2 and D3 schools presented recruiting and admissions information to the audience then candidly answered questions from the audience. 

This morning’s New York Times article reminded me of an important point that was made at Penn Fusion College Night:  Players (and parents), watch what you post on the Internet. A coach’s livelihood rests on your ability to make good decisions both on and off the field. If you come across as a risk, coaches will pass you by.  Your decisions can cost the coach his or her job.  Character and a history of good decision-making count.  As today’s article demonstrates, the consequences for social media decisions continue into adulthood. Think before you type…and again before you post.

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.