Published: December 8, 2016Category: Blog Written by Calli
The highly anticipated PSAT scores will be released next week. Juniors: Class of 2018, here are 5 important things to keep in mind as you evaluate your score:
Your PSAT score will not be sent to colleges. If you scored lower than you were hoping, don’t worry about this interfering with your college admission goals. Use it as a practice experience and move forward with the SAT or ACT in the spring. Colleges will never see this score.
The highest score you can get on the PSAT is a 1520 – each section (Evidence Based Reading/Writing and Math) is scored from 160-760. The SAT is scored on 1600 point scale – 200-800 on each section.
Let your PSAT report be a road map for you as you prepare for college entrance exams in the spring. Your PSAT score will give you a sense for how well you are prepared to perform on the SAT or ACT. If you did very well on the PSAT, this might indicate that the SAT is the best fit for you long-term. If you performed less than you were hoping for, give the ACT a try. We offer a side-by-side SAT/ACT diagnostic for those of you who are still unsure. Contact us for more details.
The Selection Index score determines National Merit Scholarship qualification. The qualification cut-off varies from state to state and often changes from year to year. If your Selection Index is high enough, you will be notified of national merit qualification much closer to senior year.
You still have plenty of time. The majority of testing that really matters is still ahead of you. Study hard, prepare well and plan to do your best on the SAT or ACT in the spring.
Despite the anxiety that surrounds the PSAT, there’s little need to stress. Remember that your grades and extracurriculars matter tremendously to colleges. Your “track record” is a much better indicator for how you’ll do in the admission process. Even for National Merit Finalists, your academic and extracurricular performance will be heavily evaluated. Learn from your PSAT and use it to your advantage as you move forward.
Published: September 9, 2016Category: Blog Written by Calli Christenson
This October brings significant changes to the process of applying for financial aid for college. Beginning October 1st, families applying for need-based aid will complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using data from their 2015 tax return. According to the federal student aid website (StudentAid.gov/FAFSA), families are expected to benefit from the earlier filing in a number of ways, including the obvious benefit of knowing your expected family contribution earlier in the process. In addition:
This last point is especially significant. By learning earlier about the likelihood of qualifying for need-based aid, families can make more educated decisions about college affordability. Knowing what a particular college will cost your family will enable you to tailor your college list and insure that you are applying to colleges you will actually be able to attend. And this earlier filing will allow students to get an early assessment from Early Decision and Early Action colleges about total cost of attendance at that institution.
Published: May 3, 2016Category: Blog Written by Calli
This piece was featured as a Guest Contributor post at Lubbockforkids.com on May 1, 2016.
Standardized Test Prep and the Benefit of a Summer Prep Course
In the increasingly competitive higher education admissions climate, standardized test scores provide a straightforward means for schools to evaluate potential applicants. While class rank, GPA and extracurriculars are important, test scores play a significant role in the admission review process and provide an even “playing field” for colleges to evaluate applicants who come from various types of high schools with varying opportunities and grading systems. A strong test score allows students to stand out and can significantly impact the admission review process.
Furthermore, many colleges offer merit based financial aid that can considerably subsidize the cost of tuition and fees. Standardized test scores are one of the most common metrics used to differentiate between tiers of financial aid. A strong test score will help students to be competitive for scholarships, both from colleges and outside organizations. Junior students who score among the top of their peers on the PSAT have a chance to be designated as National Merit Scholars, which can often result in deep financial aid awards, including full tuition scholarships at many schools.
So, the pressing question is: How does my child achieve a great score? Very few students walk into a PSAT, SAT or ACT and receive a top score without some preparation leading up to the exam. The level of difficulty these exams present result in even the brightest students needing to prepare. We’ve found that the keys to scoring well on standardized exams come down to Knowledge, Strategy and Practice.
Knowledge: Your student’s hard work in school lays the foundation for success on the SAT/ACT, but even students who perform well in the classroom will benefit from subject-matter review and content remediation, if necessary. Filling in the knowledge gaps and reviewing the fundamental concepts is an integral part of maximizing one’s potential on a standardized test. Practicing the large variety of question types for each test is essential, and understanding the content that is present on each exam will give students an upper-hand.
Strategy: Test-taking strategies help students apply their content knowledge to the unique format of the standardized exams. Timed, multiple choice tests pose challenges that students may be unfamiliar with, despite having a lot of success in their high school classes. Test-taking strategies can help students pace themselves appropriately, avoid getting trapped by distractors (wrong answer choices), and make decisions about when and how to guess or skip a question to maximize the probability of choosing a correct answer. Students must be familiar with testing strategies in order to achieve their best score.
Practice: Sound content knowledge and a repertoire of strategies are excellent starting points, but practice is essential in order for students to become familiar with the test questions and format. Familiarity leads to confidence and a reduction in test anxiety, which ultimately leads to better testing performance. Independent practice can be beneficial, especially for highly motivated and disciplined students but, often, guided practice in which students receive review, feedback, and support from an expert tutor is the most beneficial. Practice with an expert tutor will help students overcome the unique challenges the tests pose for different learning styles.
Even with good intentions it can be hard to maintain the discipline to study consistently on your own. There are many great resources for practice available online; however, consistent and focused practice is necessary to take full advantage of those offerings. Tutors who are personally invested in motivating and meeting the unique needs of each student will help produce strong results. A collaborative, interactive classroom is a great environment for filling in knowledge gaps, in comparison to trying to “figure it out” on your own. The summer provides a great opportunity for focused test preparation without the demands of school and homework, and gives students the opportunity to acquire the skills they need to prepare for tests in June or early fall.
More information on our Summer Test Prep Courses can be found by clicking HERE