Archive for the ‘Test Prep Resources’ Category

Last Chance to Impress the College of Your Dreams

castle-336498_1920You have just enough time left to retake the ACT or SAT before you send off your college applications. With more than half of testers performing better the second time, why not give it another go? Here are our best tips for bumping up your score.

Get Some Rest
Yeah, this tip seems obvious. But it’s true that getting enough sleep leads to better test results. A study conducted by the ACT found that students who slept 7-10 hours before their second test improved their composite score by one full point. Those who got only a few hours of rest only saw composite scores increase by 0.5 points.

Get some exercise the day before and turn your phone off early the evening before the test. That will ensure you get a full night’s sleep.

Eat That Breakfast
Another self-explanatory tip, we know. Students who filled up before their retake saw their composite scores increase one point, according to the same ACT study, while those who skipped breakfast saw only a 0.7 point jump.

Think Positive
It’s not just New Age hippie nonsense – it’s science! A study by University of Toronto professor Adam Anderson shows being in a positive mood increases the amount of information you process, which could be the key to doing well on those reading comprehension questions. Another bonus to thinking positive: A good state of mind makes you more relaxed, and the more comfortable you’re feeling, the more likely you are to perform well and boost your score.

Take a Whiff
Do you smell that? Researchers at the UK’s Northumbria University found rosemary’s scent can improve memory. Dab some rosemary essential oil on your wrists before you head into your testing center and see if it works when you’re trying to recall a math formula.

Bring a Stick of Gum
Here’s an easy way to improve your chances of a better score: chew gum. Pop a stick into your mouth about 20 minutes pre-test time. Researchers from St. Lawrence University found gum-chewing test takers recalled 25 to 50 percent more information than those who didn’t chew. This effect is relatively short-lived, though – the study found the improved recollection only occurred within 15 to 20 minutes of chewing the gum.

As long as you have another chance to improve your score, go for it! Great ACTs and SATs can get you into the college of your dreams, earn you a merit scholarship, and relieve plenty of the stress you feel during the application process.

Comments: No Comments »

3 Ways the SAT is Changing in 2016

C5B83C Answer sheetStudents taking the SAT in March will face a different test than those taking the exam now. By spring of 2016, College Board will finish rolling out the final installments of changes to the SAT Suite of Assessments. The first changes appeared this fall, with the addition of the PSAT 8/9 for middle school students and updates to the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). By understanding how the SAT is changing, you can effectively adapt and mentally prepare for the new test. Here are the three biggest changes to what may be the most important test you’ll ever take:

1. The SAT becomes part of a suite of assessments
Up until now, College Board has provided two tests for high school students as a measure of their preparation for college. These two tests – the SAT, generally taken at the end of 11th grade or the beginning of 12th grade, and the PSAT/NMSQT, taken in 10th grade or the beginning of junior year – will now be accompanied by the PSAT 8/9 and PSAT 10, which are designed for 8th/9th grades and 10th grade, respectively. All four tests will use a common score scale so students can easily track their progress and college readiness from year to year.

Want to improve your SAT score? Here’s how.

2. The test will emphasize words in context, plus other content changes
The SAT is famous (or, you might say, infamous) for its focus on obscure, often archaic vocabulary. In the new tests, there’s a shift toward discerning words in context; instead of spending time rifling through flashcards, you’ll want to hone your critical reading skills. Other key content changes include greater focus on analyzing sources and command of evidence, as well as real-world contexts and analysis in science and social studies. In addition, the redesigned SAT will no longer require essay writing, although it will offer the essay as an optional component. The essay is also scored and submitted separately, so it won’t affect your composite score. Check with the colleges you plan to apply to beforehand to see if the essay is required for admission.

Do you need to retake the SAT?

3. No penalties and a scoring redesign
Traditionally, students have been penalized for guessing – to the tune of a quarter point deducted for each wrong answer. In this new system, students will receive no credit (or deductions) for an incorrect answer, so feel free to use the process of elimination and select your best guess. Additionally, all four tests in the suite will be scored on a common scale, but feature content appropriate to students’ grade levels. Students will now also receive subscores and cross-test scores, so that you (and your parents and teachers) can more easily track your progress across assessments as you move through school, and better identify your strengths and areas for growth.

Many colleges require the SAT as a measure of college readiness on your application, so keep these four changes in mind as you study. You can begin as early as eighth grade, if you like, by taking the PSAT 8/9, and track your progress through the end of high school. Keep an eye out for the new tests, all four of which will be in place by March 2016.

Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, the leading curated marketplace for the top private tutors in the U.S. The company also builds mobile learning apps, online tutoring environments, and other tutoring and test prep-focused technologies.

image credit:

Comments: No Comments »

The Ultimate Guide to the PSAT

psat planMost juniors will take the PSAT at some point, and it’s an important part of the college prep process. But that doesn’t mean everyone understands what it is and what it’s for.

What is It?
The PSAT is a standardized test that covers reading, math, and writing and language. You’ll use your skills in these areas to answer questions about science, history, problems rooted in real-world contexts.

How Can I Prepare?
You can view sample PSAT questions to get a feel for what to expect.

Does it Go on My Record?
The test is designed to get you ready for the ACT or SAT. It won’t count for anything on your school records – colleges won’t ask for this score and it won’t have any impact on your GPA. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously.

Why Do I Need to Do My Best?
Doing your best is critical. Taking the PSAT tells you where you need to improve to do well on the SAT or ACT later on. When you know where you need to study or what subjects trip you up, you’ll be able to prepare better and boost your test scores when they actually matter.

As if that wasn’t reason enough to do well, a great PSAT score can earn you college money. The National Merit Scholarship program is always on the lookout for students who have high PSAT scores – making the cut help you secure scholarships or grants to lower the cost of college.

Most importantly, a strong PSAT score gives you a serious confidence boost. Feeling good about your ability to ace an important test will go a long way when it’s time to take the SAT or ACT.

Talk to your guidance counselor or a teacher to figure out when you’ll take the PSAT. And even though studying isn’t a must, we still recommend it! Check out our top standardized study tips and good luck!

image credit:

Comments: No Comments »