Category: ACT

A Seattle Times article debuted this week that highlights the changes and challenges presented by the new SAT.

The article focuses on how the new SAT test requires students to rely more heavily than ever on language abilities to succeed. Though the reading portion is roughly the same length as the previous SAT–3,250 words on the new, 3,300 on the old–and about 30 percent of the math problems are still word problems, analysts say that the way words are used on the new test can be confusing for many students.

For example, the article highlights a question on the new SAT that begins, “An anthropologist studies a woman’s femur that was uncovered in Madagascar.” It’s highly probable that many students won’t know the meaning of the words anthropologist, femur, or Madagascar, and yet those words actually have nothing to do with the question, which asks students to find the length of the bone using an algebraic equation.

If you’re one of the many students who is nervous about the new SAT, Sandweiss Test Prep can help! We help students determine whether they should take the SAT or if they’d be better off taking the ACT.  We provide diagnostic testing that enables us to recommend one test or the other, as well as a course or tutoring program for either the SAT or ACT.

Due to the SAT changing this year, however, there are several obstacles in terms of analyzing and comparing the results against the ACT for current juniors.  The new SAT isn’t being administered for the first time until March and those results won’t be available until mid-late May.  Until the new SAT has been administered a few times to weed out the outliers in the data pool, and to provide concrete scoring data, it’s not feasible to make a direct comparison between the SAT and the ACT.  We can of course make an educated guess regarding which test may be better for you, but the only data that has even been made available regarding the new SAT are the PSAT percentiles from earlier this year, and that test is scored on a slightly different scale than the new SAT.  Also, there are many reports indicating that the PSAT percentile scores have been inflated and are unreliable.  Due to these factors, we are generally recommending that current juniors stick with the ACT.  The ACT is accepted everywhere the SAT is accepted and without preference.

Call us today to learn more about how you can help your student excel in college standardized testing!

Students in the class of 2017 have more options than they can easily navigate. Should they take the old SAT, the new SAT, or the ACT?

There are arguments to be made for each test, and it mostly boils down to the strengths and needs of the individual. Here are a few of the key reasons you might choose each:

Why take the Old/Current SAT?  The SAT has been the standard college exam for many decades, and there is a wealth of preparation materials and strategies out there for how to take and ace this test. If you’re not easily confused by burdened sentence structure and obscure vocabulary, the last administration of this exam – January 23rd – might work in your favor.

Why wait to take the New SAT?  This test will surely have kinks to work out, and there is not a lot of practice material available for students.  There are also many new types of questions that need to be validated over several administrations of the exam.  The norms for scoring have yet to be developed and colleges may find it challenging to interpret the results with the limited sample of students who have taken the exam by next Spring.  In the long run, we are hopeful that this will be a better SAT than the current exam, but we are recommending the ACT for most of the Juniors who work with us this year.

Why take the ACT this year? The ACT has generally been considered to be a very reliable indicator of college readiness and a more straightforward test than the SAT.  It has been accepted equally with the SAT by colleges for many years now.  With the changing SAT, it will be more readily understood by admissions personnel who will already know how it’s scoring relates to their admissions goals and enrollment management needs.

As we’ve mentioned in past blogs, we don’t recommend that students take the new SAT on the first three or so test dates so as to ensure that there is adequate practice material available and they aren’t just the “guinea pigs” of the College Board test designers. For the first few rounds, this new SAT should still be considered a work in progress, but we do believe the result is going to be a much better test, and one that will offer a better potential alternative to the ACT than the current SAT has been.

By now, many people are aware that the SAT is changing.  Starting next March 2016, the redesigned SAT will replace the current SAT for many students in the class of 2017 and beyond.  It will return to its roots of having two main sections:  Math and Verbal, each scored on a 200-800 point scale with the total scoring range between 400-1600.  The essay will be optional and it will be scored separately from the two main sections, similar to the way the ACT essay is scored.  The new SAT will also have another scoring difference from its current version:  There will no longer be a penalty for wrong answers, and there will only be 4 possible answer choices instead of the 5 there are now.

There are several other similarities between the new SAT and the ACT.  The SAT will have science questions, although there won’t be a separate Science section; instead the science questions will be spread throughout the Math and Verbal sections of the new SAT.  There will also be social studies questions throughout the test, including a Reading passage from a U.S. “founding document.”  The ACT has also always had Trigonometry questions in the Math Section, and the new SAT will have them now as well.

So, if students from the Class of 2017 are preparing for these standardized tests early in their junior year, which test should they take?  First of all, we at Sandweiss Test Prep recommend that students take a diagnostic test for the current SAT and the ACT.  We will compare the two sets of scores, and if the SAT is the “better” test, we’ll recommend that the student take the SAT once in the fall and again in the winter, with the goal of completing the SAT prior to March of 2016.  If the ACT is the better test, we’ll still recommend that juniors take the test for the first time as early in the school year as possible, given each student’s after school activities and other time constraints.  For either test, making sure there is adequate time for any necessary preparation is essential for score improvement.

Finally, we generally recommend against taking the new SAT on the first three or so test dates.  This is to insure that there are adequate practice tests available, as well as other practice material.  Also, the questions on the new test have not necessarily been proven to be a reliable indicator of college preparedness as they are generally designed to be.  Instead, students taking the new SAT in the first three test dates will sort of be the guinea pigs of the College Board’s test designers.   Since the new PSAT will be in the new, redesigned format, students will get a chance to sample the new SAT.  If they absolutely need to wait, and must take the SAT or ACT in the Spring of their Junior year, we can use that new PSAT from the fall to compare with the ACT.

With the next ACT National Test date coming up on April 18th, 2015, students should be preparing for the exam a little bit every day leading up to the day of the test. For students wanting an extra edge or are worried about what to expect from the test itself should consider taking an ACT diagnostic test from Sandweiss Test Prep. Here are three reasons to consider extra ACT test preparation outside of your normal studies:

Ease Test Day Jitters

Preparation is everything. You can fake confidence, but if you don’t know the material on test day, it won’t help your cause. True confidence in yourself comes from hard work, preparation, and diligent study to ensure you know the test criteria and what to expect. After taking an initial diagnostic test, many students consider their results and then enroll in a Sandweiss ACT Test Prep Course to ensure they’re prepared for the real thing. 

Maximize Your Admissions Potential

Higher standardized test scores look great on college admissions forms. Anecdotal evidence suggests that structured test preparation for months and weeks before standardized test dates have the potential to boost test scores up to 20 percentage points. That’s a significant bump that can help lift you above other students and make you look good on admissions tests.


Practice doesn’t make “perfect,”” as the old adage suggests, but it does make “better.” Taking a free diagnostic test at Sandweiss will help you identify your areas of focus for future study and highlight your strengths in different subjects. As part of a Sandweiss ACT Course, there are three additional practice tests over the duration of the course to help you track your progress as the test date gets closer.

To learn more about a free diagnostic test, click here. The Sandweiss ACT preparation course for the April 18th, 2015 starts Saturday, February 28th in Bellevue and Sunday, March 1st in Seattle and it’s not too late to enroll. Find out more about our ACT course or contact Sandweiss Test Prep.

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There’s only a month until the next ACT exam but it’s not too late to get help with your studying and practice tests! Sandweiss Test Prep is currently offering two condensed ACT courses – one for Bellevue and another for Seattle.

Here are the details:

Full ACT Course – $599

Verbal Portion Only (Includes Practice Tests and Reviews) – $415

Math and Science Portion Only (Includes Practice Tests and Reviews) – $475

Condensed Course (February Exam) – $499

Bellevue ACT Condensed Course Schedule:

Instructor: Duncan Hussey

ACT 0215B Condensed Course – Bellevue for the February 2015 Exam

English & Essay & Reading Saturday, Jan 3rd 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Science & Math I Saturday, Jan 10th 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Math II Saturday, Jan 17th 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Practice Test I Saturday, Jan 24th 10:00am – 1:30pm
Test Review I Saturday, Jan 24th 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Practice Test II Saturday, Jan 31st 10:00am – 1:30pm
Test Review II Saturday, Jan 31st 2:00pm – 3:30pm
ACT Exam Saturday, Feb  7th Good Luck!

Seattle ACT Condensed Course Schedule:

Instructor: Steve Sandweiss

ACT 0215S Condensed Course – Seattle for the February 2015 Exam

English & Essay & Reading Sunday, Jan 4th 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Science & Math I Sunday, Jan 11th 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Math II Sunday, Jan 18th 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Practice Test I Sunday, Jan 25th 10:00am – 1:30pm
Test Review I Sunday, Jan 25th 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Practice Test II Sunday, Feb 1st 10:00am – 1:30pm
Test Review II Sunday, Feb 1st 2:00pm – 3:30pm
ACT Exam Saturday, Feb  7th Good Luck!

Our instructors design each course to maximize your opportunity to ask questions, learn effective study strategies and testing processes, and ultimately help you improve your final score.

The best part? The class size is limited to 12-15 students, so you know you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get the attention you need. If you feel more comfortable learning in a private environment, we offer tutoring services that will give you the individualized support you want.

You can easily enroll in our condensed ACT courses by clicking here. If you want more information about our services, don’t hesitate to contact us. It’s not too late to prepare yourself for the February ACT exam!

Chances are that if you’re a junior in high school or are the parent of one, you’re probably starting to seriously consider college options. A great way to be more appealing to college admissions departments is to boost those SAT/ACT scores.

Why take the tests so early? Giving yourself time to get results back and allow for the possibility to retake them again in the spring will only help with your peace of mind and free you up to focus on other activities.

Students that aren’t prepared for either test shouldn’t feel rushed into taking one. Allowing time to prepare and seek any instructional guidance in advance is better than taking a test multiple times hoping that your score will improve.

The next SAT exam dates are December 6th and January 24th. The ACT tests are on December 13th and February 7th. If you’re going to be taking next available test and you haven’t been studying or you don’t feel prepared, consider enrolling in one of our test prep courses. Courses are still available for the ACT sections and we’re currently offering a condensed SAT course starting Saturday, November 1st for the December 6th exam for $499.

All course prices include a textbook and other study materials as well as access to our weekly Study Hall – perfect for a flexible homework help session! And if you’re unsure which test you should take, we offer diagnostic tests for both the SAT and the ACT. From there, you can prepare for the test that’s best for you.

Totally lost? Here’s a video that explains the differences between the SAT and the ACT tests.

Contact Sandweiss today to discuss your test preparation options and get a head start on the upcoming SAT or ACT tests. Don’t put this off until the last available date – these tests are important and could help determine a student’s future.

So, you got your test results back and you’re not happy with the score. Take a deep breath, there’s no need to panic! College hopefuls can retake the SAT and ACT until they reach their ideal score. Depending on the requirements for your target colleges and your position in high school, retaking these standardized tests may be the right decision. Although it is possible to retake the ACT up to 12 times and the SAT as many times as you want, it is recommended to keep retakes to under 3 times for the sake of how it looks on your applications.

Besides the test fee, there isn’t any penalty to take the test again. It is common for students to take the SAT or ACT for the first time their junior year of high school and again during their senior year. Colleges will look at the best scores from each section of the tests when considering your application, and seeing an improvement after re-takes can be an indicator of your work ethic.

According to the College Board, 55 percent of high school juniors who retook the test as seniors saw an improvement in their scores, while 35 percent had score drops and 10 percent had no change. The lower a student’s initial score, the more likely the score will improve. Juniors who retook the test as seniors saw an average of a 40-point improvement in combined writing, reading, and math scores.

The ACT administration reports that 57 percent of students increased their composite score when retaking the test. It is common for students to take the ACT twice, generally once as a junior and again as a senior.

Another factor to consider are SAT subject tests. These hour-long exams focus on specific areas of study so that you can showcase your strengths and interests to colleges. Many colleges recommend or require subject tests for admission and course placement, or you may choose to take one to showcase a specific area of knowledge. These are the only national admissions tests where you can choose a subject that best fits your achievements. Click here to register for an SAT subject test.

Click here to register for the next ACT on September 13th.

Click here to register for the next SAT on October 11th.

Sandweiss Test Prep offers SAT and ACT prep courses, as well as free diagnostic tests. Contact us to register!

Most high school juniors have taken the SAT or ACT by now, and it’s time to focus on the next steps in college preparation. The top things juniors should be focused on through the spring are:

 1. AP Exams and/or SAT Subject Tests (if applicable to your student)

This May, students will have the opportunity to take AP exams to determine their eligibility for college credit and/or placement beyond prerequisite introductory college courses. Now is the time to enroll in AP reviews and classes, or to prepare for the exams and SAT Subject Tests with individual and/or small group tutoring.

2. Finishing junior year with strong grades

Good grades should be at the top of your student’s list of academic goals this season, since junior year grades are probably the most important ones for the purpose of applying to college. They show colleges that you have learned how to be a good student, particularly if they are stronger than your grades from 9th or 10th grade. Colleges will look at your first semester grades from senior year, but won’t have a chance to do so if you choose to apply Early Decision or Early Action, and have to submit your application by November.

3. Retaking the SAT or ACT (if needed)

If your student received a less-than-desirable score on the SAT or ACT, it may be wise to retake the test now in the late spring of his or her junior year, or later in the fall of his or her senior year. Click here for data on students retaking the SAT, or click here for data on retaking the ACT. We have SAT and ACT test prep courses coming up in late spring. Our SAT test prep course for the June 7th exam is starting next week on April 26th in Seattle, or 27th in Bellevue. Sandweiss Test Prep’s ACT course for the June 14th exam is beginning April 26th in Bellevue and 27th in Seattle.

Remember, the time to finalize the “college list” will come in the fall. There is still plenty of time to visit colleges throughout the spring and summer, and even in late August, when many colleges begin their school year. If your junior waits until this fall when he or she is a senior, there will likely be more access to dorm stays and campus interviews, since most schools only extend this option to seniors.