Will The New SAT Be Easier? Not Likely…

by Cristiana Quinn, GoLocalProv College Admissions Expert

Wednesday, the Collegeboard released more details and sample questions for the new SAT that is currently in development. Scheduled to be released in 2016, the test creators have promised to make the test more relevant, eliminating rarely used vocabulary words and focusing more on questions that relate to the real world. Will they succeed? That remains to be seen, but from the sample questions released this week, the test certainly doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. Here is what we can glean from the sample questions:

• Thematic changes focus on asking students to analyze things more, whether it is reading passages to ascertain the meaning of a vocabulary, interpreting historical speeches or understanding a scattergram.

• The Math section will focus heavily on Algebra, linear functions, data analysis, reading charts and problem solving. What time the “train left the station and when it will arrive” has been replaced by translating rupees into dollars and analyzing the percentage of fees incurred for pre-paid charge cards. Note that parts of the Math section will not permit the use of calculators.

• The Critical Reading section will become the Evidence Based Reading and Writing (optional) section and will focus on the analyses of texts not just from literature, but also from scientific, historical and social science sources.

• Assuming that most competitive colleges will require the Writing section (based on precedent from the ACT), students will go from writing for 25 minutes and taking a personal stance on an issue, to writing for 50 minutes and analyzing text.

What’s the Good News?

• Students won’t lose points for wrong answers

• A computerized version of the test will be offered

• The Collegeboard is partnering with Khan Academy to provide free online prep courses

• Fee waivers for college applications will be more accessible for low income students

How to Prepare

• Put away the vocabulary flash cards and read, read, read. Exposure to a variety of texts, the ability to interpret passages, and the recognition of words in a variety of contexts will be key.

Read more via GoLocalWorcester | Lifestyle | College Admissions: Will The New SAT Be Easier? Not Likely….


This is How the New SAT Will Test Vocabulary

“This Is How the New SAT Will Test Vocabulary” by Katy SteinmetzThe Redesigned SAT 2016

A redesigned SAT due out in the spring of 2016 will no longer reward students for the rote memorization of semi-obscure word definitions, but instead emphasize “high utility” words they’re more likely to encounter in life.

Graduating seniors can throw their flash cards on the celebratory bonfire next year. When students sit down to try their pencils at the redesigned SAT in spring 2016, the questions about vocabulary are going to be different — remodeled and revised, and for champions of obscure words, perhaps transmogrified.

Students will no longer be rewarded for the rote memorization of semi-obscure definitions. Instead, the words that the SAT will highlight in vocabulary questions will be “high utility” words that students are likely to encounter in life and reading beyond those four hours in the testing location. Even the most studied students won’t be able to breeze through vocab sections, matching a word with definition B by reflex; they’ll have to read and gather from the passage exactly what a word means.  Read more via This Is How the New SAT Will Test Vocabulary | TIME.com.

Click HERE to see a sample vocabulary question (released by the College Board 3/2014)  for the redesigned SAT.


ACT Pilots First Digital Version of Its College-Entrance Exam

“ACT Pilots First Digital Version of Its College-Entrance Exam”  by Caralee Adams

The first wave of students took a computer-based version of the ACT this past weekend, marking a new era in college-admissions testing.

ACT Inc., based in Iowa City, Iowa, reports that 4,000 students at schools in 23 states took the test on computer on April 12. The schools had been selected by ACT and invited to participate in the pilot. Content of the exam is the same as in the traditional paper-and-pencil version, and the new digital scores are considered official for students to submit to colleges.

“The administration went very well overall,” Jon Erickson, the president of education and career solutions at ACT, said in a press statement. “As always at this stage, there were some technical issues, and we learned a great deal. We appreciate the participation of the students and high schools and their extra efforts during the process.”

The move to a digital version of the test is an effort to “meet young people in the world where they already live,” said Erickson. After the pilot, ACT plans to officially launch the digital version in selected states and districts in the spring of 2015, with expanded release in the spring of 2016. The option will be available only to districts and states that administer the test to all students on a school day, according to ACT officials. ACT Inc. has no plans to discontinue the paper-and-pencil version of the test, officials say, and will continue to offer it for as long as there is a demand.

As the result of research on testing methods, students who take the digital ACT are given five more minutes than in the paper-and-pencil version to complete both the reading test and the science test, adding 10 minutes total to the exam period. ACT officials may make adjustments to the time allotment after reviewing the pilot administration.

The College Board announced last month that it plans to offer a computer-based version of the rival SAT in the spring of 2016.

via ACT Pilots First Digital Version of Its College-Entrance Exam – College Bound – Education Week.


Six Words of Advice for Parents of College-Bound Juniors 

One group is more anxious about this year’s college admissions decisions than the parents of this year’s seniors — and that’s the parents of next year’s seniors. Junior parents love their children, and they would welcome any advice colleges could offer that would give their child’s application an inside edge.

To support that effort, here’s what a college admissions officer told me when I asked for advice I could give to junior parents:

“Let your child drive the bus.”

The explanation she offered for this counsel, combined with long-standing conventional wisdom, gets to the heart of the college application process, and shows what admissions officers are looking for in a successful applicant beyond the numbers:

Initiative.  From start to finish, a college application has to send the message that applying to this school was the student’s idea, and the student is excited enough to do something to bring that idea to life. This is why so many colleges want students to visit campus or meet the admissions representative at a local college fair; it shows the student is serious about their application.

That seriousness is questioned when the application is completed in what is clearly the handwriting of an adult, or when parents call the admissions office to ask questions. This is particularly true if the parent starts the call by saying “We’re applying to your college next year.” If the student wants to start building a meaningful relationship with the college, they make the calls, and speak in first person.

Read more via Six Words of Advice for Parents of College-Bound Juniors | Patrick O’Connor.


Tips for taking the ACT | from ACT Student

Tips for Taking the ACT The ACT

  • Carefully read the instructions on the cover of the test booklet.
  • Read the directions for each test carefully.
  • Read each question carefully.
  • Pace yourself—don’t spend too much time on a single passage or question.
  • Pay attention to the announcement of five minutes remaining on each test.
  • Use a soft lead No. 2 pencil with a good eraser. Do not use a mechanical pencil or ink pen; if you do, your answer document cannot be scored accurately.
  • Answer the easy questions first, then go back and answer the more difficult ones if you have time remaining on that test.
  • On difficult questions, eliminate as many incorrect answers as you can, then make an educated guess among those remaining.
  • Answer every question. Your scores on the multiple-choice tests are based on the number of questions you answer correctly. There is no penalty for guessing.
  • If you complete a test before time is called, recheck your work on that test.
  • Mark your answers properly. Erase any mark completely and cleanly without smudging.
  • Do not mark or alter any ovals on a test or continue writing the essay after time has been called. If you do, you will be dismissed and your answer document will not be scored.
  • If you are taking the ACT Plus Writing, see these Writing Test tips.
  • Practice…
  • via Tips for taking the ACT | ACT Student.

Visit http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/ for sample test questions, calculator tips, a Questions-of-the-Day, and more.


3 Tips for Building an SAT, ACT Spring Break Study Schedule

(The next ACT is April 12; the next SAT is May 3.  A few spots remain in our next class.  Register & get ready now!)

Vacation may seem like the worst time to study, but blocking out time for SAT or ACT prep can give students a leg up on test day.

If you, like many high school students, put off studying for the ACT or SAT because the prospect of college seems distant, you aren’t alone. When students take on schoolwork, extracurriculars, athletics and a whole host of activities, it can be challenging to find the time or energy to review for standardized tests.

Spring break may seem like the worst opportunity to increase your preparation time, but there are several advantages to using that week of vacation to study. You will be able to study during typical class times as well as have a reprieve from extracurriculars and a change of scenery, even if it’s simply escaping your high school.

You will likely have a full week of break plus the weekends before and after to study. But even this is not unlimited time, which means that you must devote yourself wholeheartedly to readying for a spring or summer test date. Follow these suggestions to maximize the days you do have.

1. Gauge your learning needs: Completing a full exam under realistic testing conditions is a task you will need to cross off your checklist on the first day of your break. Knowing from the outset where you stand on the various sections of the test will aid you in developing your spring break study plan.

If your first day off is a Saturday, purchase a study guide before that date and sit for a practice exam on Saturday morning. You will need several hours to do so.

Once you complete the test, grade yourself. Grading is just as important as taking the test. You only grow from mistakes if you know you committed them and take steps to learn what the right answer should have been.

Read more via 3 Tips for Building an SAT, ACT Spring Break Study Schedule – US News.


Read the College Essay That Got Kwasi Enin Into All 8 Ivy League Schools

Kwasi Enin [is] the 17-year-old Long Island student who was accepted to every Ivy

League school and whose own essay is now public, thanks to the New York Post. It is very much a college essay — flowery language, Big Ideas, lessons learned — but it also worked.

Enin writes about his love of music — he plays violin, bass, and has a good voice, too — stretching the refined extracurricular into a story about leadership, community, and bringing joy to the world by singing and dancing in a production of Guys and Dolls. “Music has become the spark of my intellectual curiosity,” he writes. “I directly developed my capacity to think creatively around problems due to the infinite possibilities in music.” (Don’t be jealous.)

Read the essay & more via Kwasi Enin College Essay Worked on Every Ivy — Daily Intelligencer.