The New York Times has a sneak preview of the changes afoot for the SAT and digital ACT. It's interesting in that it shows what they're thinking. But don't stress! These changes likely won't occur until 2015 or later! Check it out here.
Check out this YouTube video for some great tips about prepping and preparing for Saturday's SAT. You would think these would be no-brainers, but we can't tell you how many sob stories we've heard from students who didn't follow this advice. We'd like to add one thing, though: put some protein in that breakfast for the morning of... And good luck!
We recently asked high school counselor Kelly Dunham what five things juniors should take care of before the school year ends and we thought we'd bring you her great advice here again. BTW, she added a kicker sixth item that is essential for a smooth college admissions process in your senior year!
What are the five most important things for juniors to do before the end of the school year?
Conference with their high school counselor or college counselor
ACT/SAT test prep and take ACT/SAT (hopefully twice)
Ask for teacher letters of recommendation
Have an honest conversation with parents about finances
Online college searches, local college fairs, visit college campuses
And one more:
Be aware of college admission requirements: required high school coursework, GPA, test scores, letters of rec, essays, etc.
For more information about applying to college, see College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, including the recommendations in "Timeline: The Path to College."
College Advisor Sandra Cernobori was sitting at her desk in the College and Career Center of Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, California, when a parent came in to talk to one of her colleagues. She was not a parent at the school, but had some questions about college admission. A few minutes into the conversation, the visitor said to Cernobori’s fellow advisor, “Let me go get my son, I want him to hear this.” Whereupon she brought into the office her 18-month-old child. Yes, you read that correctly, her 18-month-old child.
Welcome to the world of college advising in the heart of Silicon Valley where the college learning curve -- and the pressure -- starts early for some. Founded in 1894, Palo Alto High School, known as Paly, is nationally known for its academically rigorous environment. Its campus, which serves more than 1900 students, sits across the street from Stanford University. “Our students are often from families that are highly educated or highly value education, so expectations are high,” says Cernobori. “But we also have families where the parents have not attended four-year colleges.”
Last week, one of Kelly Dunham's students informed her that he had received notification he was waitlisted at one of the colleges to which he'd applied. He was asked to follow a link to let the university know if he was interested in staying on the waitlist. He selected the link and it took him to a pornography website. "Thank goodness, he is a student with a great sense of humor," says Dunham. "I contacted the university and the link was of course wrong! What are the chances?"
It's all in a day's work for Dunham -- though her days usually revolve around more prosaic problems like academic advising and college lists. As Counseling Department Coordinator for Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado, in the Denver metropolitan area, Dunham is head of the department and also acts as one of ten counselors, who spend most of their time advising students on academics, social/emotional issues, and college. The largest high school west of the Mississippi River, Cherry Creek is home to 3500 students, 95% of whom go on to college.
Students need to check the testing policy of each school to which they're applying and that includes "test-optional" schools. While "test-optional" means a college is flexible about the submission of standardized test scores, that term may mean something different at each school. At some schools, students are no longer required to submit SAT or ACT scores at all. At others, it means students must submit the results of AP, IB, or SAT Subject Tests in lieu of SAT or ACT results. Eligibility to not submit test scores may be contingent on other factors -- for example, you might need to rank in the top 10 percent of your class or have a GPA of 3.5 or above. Sometimes, there are alternative admission requirements such as the submission of graded papers, additional recommendations or in-person interviews. Pay close attention to the policies and practices of each school in order to determine what your testing plan -- and ultimate college list -- should look like. BTW, a full list of schools with test-optional policies can be found here at FairTest.
Second semester of junior year in high school means testing. In addition to the SAT (upcoming on March 9 and May 4) and the ACT (on April 13 and June 8), students may be taking AP exams and SAT Subject Tests this spring. There are upcoming SAT Subject Test dates on May 4 and June 1. Students can take Subject Tests at any time during high school. But there is optimal timing: test as close as possible to when you complete the relevant class so the subject matter is fresh in your mind. For example, if you are completing the highest level of Japanese at the end of junior year, take the Subject Test in Japanese at the end of junior year. Or if you’re in AP Chemistry, take the subject test in May or June while you’re prepping for the AP test. With multiple standardized tests and multiple testing dates, it’s important to take the time to map out a testing plan if you haven't already.
To do well, follow the advice your parents have been giving you since your first standardized test in elementary school:
• Get a good night’s sleep.
• Eat a good breakfast.
What’s a good breakfast? Your morning meal should have three components: protein, a complex carbohydrate, and fat. Some good choices? Bacon, eggs, and whole- grain toast; peanut butter and jelly or tuna on whole-grain bread; even beef barley soup. No doughnuts, Pop-tarts, or coffee— you might crash from a sugar or caffeine high in the middle of reading comprehension.
The winter testing dates for the ACT and SAT are coming up soon: the SAT will be administered on January 26th and the ACT on February 9th. For many students, practice can improve scores. But if you're listening to your iPod or not taking a timed practice test, you probably won't experience that improvement. Here's how to practice so it means something:
Practice under actual test conditions. Both tests require students to perform in a fixed amount of time. Sit down in your kitchen with a test book and your No. 2 pencils and have a family member time you.
Make sure you practice with real tests. The test services call these materials "disclosed" tests -- actual ACT and SAT tests from prior dates. Such tests are available free from the College Board and ACT, Inc. online and in the registration books. If you use a guide from the bookstore or local library, make sure it contains "disclosed" tests.
Timing matters. Preparation is more effective closer to the test date so right now is perfect timing. Don't wait for the days right before you walk into the test center.