Standardized testing

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.

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…


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?

Say it ain't so... the SAT QOTD email is riding into the sunset...

Oh,  noooo... We received the following message in our inbox this morning: We hope The Official SAT Question of the Day™ has been an engaging and successful part of your SAT® practice plan. We are developing new digital student resources, and the SAT Question of the Day daily email will be discontinued later this month.

In the future, your test results are life and death...

Every year the United Commonwealth reviews the achievements of the graduates in all eighteen colonies. The top students from that pool of graduates are brought to Tosu City for testing to attend the university. Being chosen is an honor. The graduates of the university are our greatest hope -- the ones we are all counting on to help regenerate the earth and improve our quality of life. They are the future scientists, doctors, teachers, and government officials.  YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE TESTING.

Juniors: Know what test-optional means

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.

Juniors: Create a Testing Plan

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.


Juniors, One more piece of advice on testing

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.