College Board

Sample Questions, More Details on the Redesigned 2016 SAT

The College Board today released some 250 pages of specifications for the redesigned 2016 SAT, including sample questions. According to Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment for the College Board, today's information includes "everything a student needs to know to walk into that test and not be surprised." However, the College Board announcement stressed that all the information about the redesigned test is in draft form, "not a full reflection of what will be tested," and subject to change.

College Admission reported the major changes in the redesign last month -- Big Changes Coming to the SAT in 2016:

·        The essay isn't gone, but it's optional and will be scored separately. Students will be asked to read a passage and analyze how its author used evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements to build an argument. The essay will be scored on the strength of that analysis, as well as writing ability.

Juniors: Do you know what "test optional" means?

There have been a lot of headlines lately about standardized testing. There is no question standardized testing is in a period of evolution. As a result, you will be hearing more and more about schools that are "test optional."

In recent years, many colleges have looked more closely at the use of standardized test scores and some have adopted a “test- optional” policy. That means they are flexible about submission of standardized test scores. But it's not as obvious as it sounds. At some schools test optional means students are no longer required to submit SAT or ACT scores. At others, however, it means students may be asked to submit the results of AP, IB, or SAT Subject Tests in lieu of SAT or ACT results. Eligibility to not submit test scores may also be contingent on other factors— for example, applicants might need to rank in the top 10 percent of their class or have a GPA of 3.5 or above. Furthermore, applicants can sometimes be required to meet alternative admission requirements such as submission of graded writing samples, additional teacher recommendations, or in- person interviews. You will need to check the testing policy of each school to which you are applying.

Financial Aid Checklist for Decision Time!

It's decision time! Your financial aid award letters will usually arrive with your letters of acceptance, or soon thereafter. Even though you will be celebrating and contemplating your choices, you will also need to be focused and diligent about evaluating your financial aid offers. College advisor Alice Kleeman is back with advice and answers for your questions during this important time.

 

·        You will often receive financial aid offers (also called "financial aid packages" or "financial aid award letters") with your admit letter or shortly thereafter.  Review these offers carefully. Ask questions at your College and Career Center or Guidance Office if you don't understand your letters.

·        Colleges vary tremendously in their cost of attendance, present their costs in different ways, and offer different amounts of financial aid in different combinations. This can make it difficult to understand which combination of price and student aid award is best. Here are some tools for comparing financial aid awards:  

                      US Department of Education College Affordability and Transparency Center

                      College Board Big Future

The Perfect Score Project: The story of a mom, her son and seven SAT's

Debbie Stier thought she could motivate her son if she climbed into the SAT trenches with him. But what started for Stier as a scheme to rescue her son from "sliding by", became an obsession to superscore her way into the 97th percentile.  One small traffic accident, a television purchase, an apology note written in "SAT words," a crisis in which her children moved out to live with their father and a large dose of humble pie later, Stier's enslavement to the SAT bore fruit.  Most importantly, she was deemed by her son to be "the best SAT mom in the whole world." And seven -- yes, 7! -- SAT's later, she wrote The Perfect Score Project to share all she had learned -- from test prep and "bubbling" techniques to the secrets of snacking. But it's more than a book about standardized testing -- it's an intimate story of a family, a self-help book and a tale with a happy ending. We're a sucker for that combination.

Stier joins us today to answer our questions about her journey down the rabbit hole of answer sheets, the best free resources for preparing for the SAT, test day tips, the funniest thing that happened to her on the way to a perfect score and more…

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes... for the SAT

 

Jane Kulow, aka Dr. StrangeCollege, has a great roundup on her blog covering the upcoming changes to the SAT, including reactions and analysis from the likes of Chronicle of Higher Education's Eric Hoover (the best higher education reporter out there) and DePaul University's Vice President of Enrollment Jon Boeckenstedt (a straight shooter and data master). Head over here to find out more about the change that's gonna come. 

Seniors: Apply, apply, apply… for financial aid!

The single biggest mistake families make in the college application process is failing to apply for financial aid. So, apply! Even if you think you won't qualify, apply. You may be pleasantly surprised. And sometimes you need to apply for federal aid to receive state aid or merit scholarships.

How do you apply? The FAFSA is required for any student seeking federal and state financial aid, including grants and loans at all colleges in the country.   It can seem complicated, but there is help available -- and it's free.  One of the best resources is College Goal Sunday, an information program that brings together financial aid professionals from colleges and universities along with other volunteers to assist college-bound students and their families complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  Calendars for their national programs, as well as state-by-state events can be found at their website here.

Misty Whelan, Conestoga High School

Misty Whelan has lived the college admission process from both sides of the desk, so to speak. True, she worked early in her career at Bryn Mawr College. But that's not what we're talking about. Now a counselor at Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Pennsyvania, Whelan has also navigated the college application process as a parent. Her 16-year-old daughter, Sarah, is taking her first steps in the process and her 19-year-old son is now attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The view from the parental side of the process has been invaluable for Whelan.

"It has really, really helped me immensely as a professional in terms of sympathizing and empathizing with families as they go through this process," says Whelan. "And the other thing it validated for me was letting my son do the work and not to do it for him. He did the bulk of the work. I learned a lot about how to center him and not have him panic or get too stressed out. Luckily, he knew what he wanted and did not have too many schools on his list.  I also learned a lot about financial aid and the scholarship process. That was the biggest eye opener for me -- how colleges fund students."

Juniors: Let Them Show You the Money

Juniors, part of researching colleges is understanding the cost of a college education. It's not too soon to start investigating what your family may be asked to pay for college. To do that, start with the net price calculators (also called financial aid calculators) that every college and university are required to have on their website. (Calculators can also be found through the College Board at collegeboard.org and on the Federal Student Aid website at fafsa4caster.ed.gov.)

This online tool will give you a preliminary understanding of the amount you may be expected to pay out of pocket, as well as aid you may be eligible to receive from the federal government and the colleges themselves. Over the coming weeks, sit down with your parents and take a look at the net price calculators on the websites of some of the colleges in which you're interested.

In 2012-13, $238.5 billion in financial aid was distributed to undergraduate and graduate students in the form of grants, Federal Work-Study, federal loans, and federal tax credits and deductions, according to the College Board's Trends in Student Aid. There is money out there to help you finance a college education. But you have to apply for it. 

 

Students with a Learning Difference: Should you write about it in your essay?

Educational psychologist Jane McClure, who is widely respected for her work with students with learning disabilities, returns this month with more advice on the college application process for students with a learning difference or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Read on for her excellent advice on when and where students should write about a learning difference or disability in their college essays, including guidance on how to effectively write such an essay.

Will Cardamone, Manlius Pebble Hill School

William Cardamone grew up in New York State, the youngest of ten children. His father was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals and his parents pinned their hopes for a lawyer from the family on their youngest son, the only one of the ten who seemed interested in the law. Cardamone obliged -- in his own time -- graduating from Hamilton College and spending three years in the West as a wilderness guide before attending Vermont Law School.

But then he took another detour, teaching social studies for four years to 11th and 12th graders at Woodstock High School in Vermont's capital. He returned to the law for a few years, practicing employment and education law at a firm in Utica, New York. Until he visited a former advisor at his alma mater of Hamilton and spent the next eight years in their admission office, rising to Associate Dean of Admission.

While his wife, also a "recovering attorney," says Cardamone, rose in the ranks of her family's business which she would eventually lead, he found his true calling, As he worked with independent high schools in the region, recruiting for Hamilton, he said, "That's the job I want." In 2006, he joined Manlius Pebble Hill School in DeWitt, New York, as Dean of Students, eventually becoming Director of College Counseling in 2010.

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