Archive for the ‘Test Prep Resources’ Category

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.

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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!

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Do I Need to Retake the SAT or ACT?

If you took the ACT or SAT last year and are relieved to be done with it, don’t put down that No. 2 pencil just yet!

standardized testMost of us won’t magically get perfect scores on the third (or fourth, or fifth) try. But people who test again generally do a little better the second time around. ACT data shows almost 60 percent of students improved their score after retaking it, and more than 55 percent of students who took the SAT as juniors improved their scores by signing up again later.

So, should you retake the test? Here’s what you should think about:

Are You A Nervous Tester?
Test nerves strike everyone at some point. If those butterflies in your stomach got the best of you the first time around, try taking the test again. You have experience now, meaning you may be more comfortable and at ease than you were last year.

Did Life Throw You A Curveball?
Were you sick on test day? Had a family member passed away the day before? Did you get into a fight with your BFF that morning? Unfortunately, it’s all too common to have something distracting pop up just as test day arrives. These things make it hard to focus and can hurt your score.

Work your memory to see if anything kept you from testing well that day. Did a jittery tummy keep you from eating breakfast, but you were starving during the test? Maybe you had trouble with comprehension because you were too nervous to sleep the night before. Try testing again – just make sure you don’t get into the same situation next time!

Did You Study? No, Really.
Do you feel like the only one who didn’t do any ACT or SAT prep? Feeling ready can do wonders for your score. Sign up for another test and make sure you get a practice book or review any concepts you struggled with last time. Remember, cramming doesn’t work, so start studying early on. Our top study tips can help!

Do You Want Merit Scholarships?
Higher scores = more scholarship opportunities. Need money for school? Study hard and retake the test.

What Score Do You Need?
What’s your dream school? Compare your test score to their average incoming freshman’s result (you can use our college acceptance calculator to do that!). If these numbers don’t match up, it’s time to sign up for a retake. And just in case you don’t push that score as high as you’d like it, add a few more schools to your list. You can always reach for your favorite colleges, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few safeties in mind, too.

Good luck!

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