ACT & SAT Prep and College Admissions Blog

Dealing with Difficult Reading Passages on the SAT and ACT

Posted by Mike S. on Fri, May 18, 2018 @ 09:00 AM

The SAT and the ACT are not designed to be fun tests. That’s probably really obvious to you already! These tests takes forever, have a billion questions, and will turn you into a zombie for the rest of your Saturday.

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Topics: ACT study plan, SAT test, ACT test, SAT study plan, ACT prep, act reading, sat reading, sat prep

How a College Mindset Will Make You a Better College Candidate

Posted by Mike S. on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 09:00 AM

Many high-schoolers picture big lecture halls and pulling all-nighters with a pile of books in the library when the term college academics comes up. The fact of the matter is that few high schoolers have any idea what to expect from college, and end up pretty shocked for most of the first semester.

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Topics: test prep strategies, study skills, applying to college, improve academic performance, college prep

Common Wrong Answer Choices on the SAT and ACT Reading

Posted by Mike S. on Fri, Apr 06, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

Many to-be ACT and SAT takers absolutely dread the Reading section for a series of totally fair reasons. The passages can be mind-numbingly boring. Questions about tone and author’s purpose seem cruelly subjective. So many of the questions have various answer choices that seem fine.

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Topics: ACT study plan, SAT test, ACT test, SAT study plan, ACT prep, act reading, sat reading, sat prep

ACT Science: Extracting Signals Through Noise to Improve Your Score

Posted by Steve Markofsky on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 @ 09:20 AM

“Ever thought about taking the ACT?”

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Topics: ACT study plan, ACT overview, ACT test, ACT Science, ACT prep

SAT Math: An Overview

Posted by Dhara Shah on Thu, Mar 08, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

Studying for the SAT can seem like a daunting undertaking, but all you really have to do to master it is break it up and take it one section at a time. Today, we will be highlighting the Math section of the SAT.

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Topics: SAT, SAT test, SAT study help, SAT study plan, SAT math

Should You Answer SAT Questions in Order?

Posted by Mike S. on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

 

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Topics: SAT, SAT test, SAT study help, SAT study plan, SAT writing

SAT/ACT English: A Common Language

Posted by Steve Markofsky on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 @ 09:10 AM

As the ACT has come into its own over the past 10-20 years as a fully recognized college admissions test alongside the SAT, students increasingly weigh both of these exams to assess which one may be better suited for them, sometimes opting for both.  Preferences (and rumors) abound, of course: “There are too many trick questions on the SAT math!” or “I'd take the ACT, but the science section is a deal-breaker!”  While these sentiments may (or may not) be true, depending on the student, what's certainly true is that they contribute heavily towards apprehension over which test to take!  There is, however, one section that is nearly identical on each test, and offers a way to kill two birds with one stone in your college admission exam prep.  That's the grammar/rhetoric section, referred to as the “English” section in the ACT, and the “Writing and Language” section on the SAT. CollegeXpress offers an in-depth analysis of the similarities and differences between the two tests.

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Topics: ACT, SAT, SAT study help, ACT study help, ACT/SAT study skills, SAT writing, ACT english

College Essay Applications: Why YOU Need an Editor

Posted by Maureen Adras, TheEssayGal on Wed, Jan 31, 2018 @ 09:29 AM

What are you selling?

When you are preparing to submit your college applications, keep in mind that what you’re selling is YOU. Figuratively speaking, of course. Think of the college app process in the same way as applying for a job. You want to make a great first impression, don’t you? That means taking the time to carefully read about the application process for each school to which you apply. (No. They are not all the same.) Having the required test scores and GPA are the first hurdles. The next hurdle? Choosing a prompt and writing an essay. Or writing several essays. So, how and where do you begin? And how do you know if you’ve written a fresh, unique essay? You need an editor.

A good editor makes corrections on your draft.

A great editor personally invests in you, understands the college application process and the nuances of it, works with you from concept to conclusion, and can guide you through the writing process, capitalizing on your strengths and transforming your challenges.

I’ve been asked many times as an editor, Does the essay really matter?

The answer is a resounding, Yes! Especially to schools where the admissions selection is highly competitive. You must take writing your essay(s) very seriously. That means preparing to write early. As soon as the College Board releases the prompts. Many schools require supplemental essays tailored specifically to them. Don’t wait until the day submissions are due to start writing. You will not do your best work.

If you are only applying to schools that accept the Common App, you will have a choice of seven prompts from which to choose one. What if none of the prompts resonates with you? Part of what I do as an editor is work with students to guide them in selecting and narrowing a topic and get their creative juices flowing. This process is different for each person. Some of your peers can read the prompts and quickly realize that something speaks to them. Don’t get frustrated if this doesn’t happen for you. You will get there. Sometimes the route from point A to point B is direct and sometimes there are detours with scenery that need to be taken in. The common thread is that no matter your writing skills, you can benefit from a professional editor. Even AP English students and valedictorians need guidance from a professional.

Although I have worked with students at different stages in their writing processes, I encourage you to work with an editor before you have completed a first draft to ensure that you are on the right path.

I know it can be disappointing to finish a draft only to learn that you didn’t address the prompt. If you are considering working with an editor, start the conversation from the planning stage. I offer a 15-minute complimentary consultation, which is a great opportunity to share preliminary thoughts. I can also review a writing sample to assess your writing skills before I even start the clock! Shop around. There are lots of editors out there and, like many services these days, plenty of them can work remotely with you.

Your English teachers should be your best first resource, but you may need to reach out beyond them. Their free time is valuable (I know because I used to be one) and they may not have the luxury of giving your essay the time and attention it needs. Some students hope their guidance or college counselor can provide feedback, but you are probably better served by an editor. You wouldn’t go to a dentist to get an eye exam. Don’t go to a counselor to edit your essay. Same goes with relatives and family pets!

When applying to your dream school, remember that you are presenting the best version of yourself. Why not use the best resources?

About the Author

Maureen Adras is a freelance editor of everything, writer, and owner of The Essay Gal, specializing in assisting high school seniors write and polish their college essays. She lives in Temecula, California where she edits, paints furniture, knits, bakes, cooks, and loves on her family. Maureen has a BA in English Education and an MA in Creative Writing. She published a non-fiction book about her personal experience with endometriosis, infertility, and adoption. Maureen is passionate about teaching writing and feeding songbirds, and she is humbled by people with green thumbs. You can find her at  www.TheEssayGal.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: college advice, applying to college, writing an essay, college essay writing advice, college essays, college admissions essay

Applying to College is a Process

Posted by Kristen Bixby, Campus Bound on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 @ 09:00 AM

You may have heard it said before that applying to college is a “process,” and it really is. Additionally, every student’s process is different. However, there are some typical stages a student may go through to find their ideal college, and in this blog we outline them for you.

Getting Underway

We recommend that students seriously begin the college process during their junior year. If students or families are college-focused, there are things freshman and sophomores can do, but they mostly revolve around earning strong grades and getting involved in activities. Toward the middle of junior year, students can kick- off the college process by determining what qualities they want in an ideal college. Students should consider size, location, major, and other factors to create an initial list of schools.

Exploration

During the next stage of the process, students will research potential colleges online, in books, through campus visits and other ways. By learning more about colleges, students can determine which schools they really like and which ones they don’t. They can also determine which criteria are more important than others (ie, “It’s really important to me that the school has an equestrian program, so I’ll look at schools smaller than I initially wanted.”) During this stage, it’s important that students verbalize their goals and be realistic about their expectations. It’s also helpful when families plan college visits and attend college-sponsored information sessions.

Applications

When it comes time to apply to colleges, the stress level can be at an all-time high. Deadlines, essays, resumes, interviews... the list goes on and it can be a lot for a student to manage alone. Parents, school counselors, admission counselors and college counselors are all helpful resources to help students during this time.

Financing College

At some point, hopefully earlier rather than later, families need to have a conversation about the cost of college and how to pay for it. Honesty is the best policy; parents should let students know what their realistic options are. Students may need to add less expensive colleges to the list, apply to schools where they are likely to receive a grant, and/or apply for scholarships.

Decisions, Decisions

The final stage of the process is usually the favorite one, but it doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Once a student has (hopefully) a few acceptances to various colleges, the family needs to sit down and weigh the pros and cons of each school. Sometimes it’s an easy decision, but occasionally it’s really difficult. Families need to have these discussions and come up with a decision that everyone is happy with.

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Topics: College Applications, Choosing a College, college advice, college entrance, college admissions process, college timeline, applying to college, Campus bound

The PSAT: Your First Step to SAT & ACT Success

Posted by Method Test Prep on Wed, Sep 06, 2017 @ 11:54 AM

This fall, many high school juniors––and even some sophomores––will take the PSAT. In all likelihood, this will be their first experience with standardized college admissions exams. You may have heard that students’ PSAT results “don’t count” and “don’t matter.” While it’s true for most students that college admissions committees won’t use PSAT scores to gauge their college readiness (that is, after all, what the SAT and ACT are for), the view that the PSAT doesn’t matter at all is both shortsighted and counterproductive. In truth, PSAT scores can provide valuable insight into your strengths and weaknesses; when used correctly, the results can help students take a big first step toward success on the SAT and ACT.
 
But what do we mean when we say used correctly? There are several ways to take advantage of your scores, some more practical and valuable than others. Here are three tips for getting everything you can out of the data on your PSAT report.
 
1. Don’t get too distracted by the overall section scores; instead, focus on the detail. The highest-level scores provided by your PSAT report will be in the form of two numbers, each out of 760: your Math score, and your Evidence-Based Reading & Writing (ERW) scores. (Note that on the SAT, both of these are scored out of 800.) Students and parents tend to obsess over these scores, forgetting about the other numbers the PSAT report provides. While they do suggest something about overall performance, these numbers are not terribly revealing. Instead of focusing on your 540 in Reading & Writing and your 580 on Math, pay closer attention to your subscores, listed on a scale from 0 to 15. These scores reveal more specific areas of strength and weakness. For example, let’s suppose you do score a 580 on the Math. That number alone tells you that you are “above average” (average for juniors is around a 510), but not much else. The subscores, however, can reveal where that 580 came from. Perhaps your “Problem Solving and Data Analysis” subscore was a very strong 12 out of 15, but your “Heart of Algebra” score was an 8. This immediately reveals that you need to direct your focus toward reinforcing your algebra skills, which include interpreting, creating, and rearranging equations and expressions.
 
2. Make a list of topics you need to work on; use the test to isolate examples. It will be easier for you to formulate a prep plan if you translate the information within your PSAT score report into your own summary. Use your subscores to assemble a list of topics that disproportionately impacted your score. Furthermore, take a look at the answer sheet provided on the final page of the report to isolate the specific questions you found difficult. You’ll have your test booklet, so you will be able to see the exact questions you could not answer or that you answered incorrectly. Consider taking pictures of these questions with your phone, or even printing them out and pasting them into a notebook. Now, you have a suite of problems and questions that will form the basis of your prep. And by the way, even if you’re planning on sticking to the ACT, know that the (P)SAT and ACT share lots of content: the subscore categories presented by your PSAT report are just as likely to reveal potential strengths and weaknesses on the ACT.
 
3. Use the scores to establish a baseline and formulate goals. Realistic expectations and goals are are both very important. Assuming you put in a decent effort while taking the PSAT, your scores reflect where you stand without any concerted prep. Now, you can use the report to begin planning. How many topics must you focus on to increase your scores? How much time are you prepared to dedicate to SAT or ACT prep? Do your initial scores suggest you may benefit from a prep course setting (students who score around average are more likely to benefit from multi-student group courses than are students whose scores are on the extremes), or would small-group or private tutoring be more productive? Is your goal to increase your score by 50 points, or by 300 points? On which section can you focus to maximize the points earned for the time spent studying? The answers to all of these questions lie within your report: you simply have to use the data at your fingertips.
 
Remember: though the PSAT may seem inconsequential, the information it provides can be extremely helpful in raising your scores. Using the PSAT to develop positive and proactive momentum can mean the difference between productive, meaningful prep and last-minute frantic cramming. So take advantage of all the PSAT report has to offer––when all is said and done, you’ll thank yourself for doing so.
 
-Evan Wessler, Vice President of Education––Method Test Prep

 

 
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Topics: ACT/SAT, ACT, SAT test, ACT test, SAT study help, ACT study help, ACT/SAT study skills, ACT-Math practice, PSAT