SAT

What's really important junior year?

Get the lowdown on grades, extracurriculars and more in our conversation with Teen Life, Dealing with Junior Year StressJunior year is important but, more significantly, it feels important because there is so much going on. Students are juggling a lot -- testing, extracurriculars, campus visits, researching colleges.  But, despite what you hear, applying to college is not rocket science. There is no secret. It doesn't require an advanced degree. Colleges aren't asking 17-year-olds to do anything that 17-year-olds aren't capable of doing.  Applying to college is like any large project, you just need to break it down into smaller manageable parts. Keep that in mind as you start this process.

What three things should rising seniors be doing over the summer?

As we head off into the summer, we asked our experts what rising seniors should be doing this summer. As usual, they've got some great advice about how to rest, recharge, and prepare for a couple of steps in the college application process so you'll hit the ground running -- and avoid feeling overwhelmed -- in the fall. And don't forget, two of the most important and best things you can do this summer are rest and read, read, read... Nothing will prepare you better for senior year. Enjoy all of it!

 

Mai Lien Nguyen
College and Career Center Coordinator
Mountain View High School
Mountain View, CA

 

“Having fun” and “preparing for college applications” aren’t phrases you normally hear in the same breath.  But the summer before senior year could be the golden opportunity to make this happen.  Let’s see how:

 

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.

Trevor Rusert, Sewickley Academy

We want to tell you a story. A story that we think gets to the heart of who most high school college counselors are -- at least the ones every parent wishes for their son or daughter. This is a story about Trevor Rusert and a student named Amanda.

Amanda lives with her father, a single parent. Her family is working class and Amanda had a significant scholarship to attend Sewickley Academy in Pennsylvania where Rusert is Director of College Guidance. But her scholarship didn't cover everything, so Amanda worked 30 hours a week at McDonald's as shift manager -- 6 p.m. to midnight, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then full shifts on the weekend -- to make up the difference. In the summertime, she worked with Sewickley's maintenance crew during the day and was back at McDonald's at night -- 70-plus hours a week.

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. 

Big Changes Coming to the SAT in 2016

A redesigned SAT will debut in the spring of 2016 with more "relevant" vocabulary words, a return to the old 1600 scoring scale, an "optional" essay and new policies to help low- and middle-income students. David Coleman, president of the College Board announced the changes, citing the fact that only 20% of teachers see the test as a fair measure of the work students have done in school.

            The big news?

Juniors, Taking the ACT or SAT? Practice, practice, practice...

The winter testing dates for the ACT and SAT are coming up soon:  the SAT will be administered on January 25th and the ACT on February 8th. For many students, practice can improve scores. But if you're listening to your iPod while you're thumbing through the test or not taking a timed practice test, you probably won't experience that improvement. Here's how to practice so you get results:

                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.

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."

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