Category: ACT

Everyone knows about the SAT and ACT and the important role these exams play in gaining admission to highly selective colleges, but all too often, too little attention is paid to the SAT Subject tests. These exams are one-hour, multiple-choice tests that measure knowledge of various academic subjects, including Literature, Math, US and World History, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and several different foreign languages. Scored on the same 200-800 scale as the regular SAT, these subject tests can not only contribute positively to the admissions process, but they can also help students save both time and money once they are admitted to college. At certain schools, high scores on subject tests can be used to bypass introductory level and general education courses and, sometimes, to award college credit, thereby reducing tuition fees.

Most schools that require or “recommend” SAT subject tests want applicants to submit scores for two or three different exams. In most cases, the schools don’t have a preference for which exams you submit, but if you are planning to apply to a math or science-related major, or to an engineering program, you will probably want to submit the Math 2 and one of the science exams. If you plan on majoring in a specific foreign language, you will obviously want to submit the Subject Test for that language. Nearly all Subject Tests are administered in both May and June every year, on the same days that the regular SAT is administered. Students are not allowed to take both the regular SAT and a Subject Test on the same date.

More common than the SAT Subject tests are the Advanced Placement exams. These are administered by the College Board, the same organization that produces the SAT and the Subject Tests. Many students are enrolled in AP classes at their high schools, and these classes are designed to prepare students to take AP exams during the second week of May. AP exams are offered in a wider variety of academic subjects than what is covered by the SAT Subject Tests, but the multiple choice content of the AP exams generally covers the same material as the questions on the Subject Tests. The AP exams are scored on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the top score. Many colleges will allow students who score a 4 or 5 on a particular AP exam to bypass introductory classes in that subject, and in some cases, students can also receive credit toward their degrees.

In both cases, SAT Subject Tests and AP Exams do give admissions officers more information about you that may be pertinent to their evaluation of your academic performance, goals, and interests. For example, if you provide test scores for a US History SAT Subject Test and an AP U.S. Government exam, it reveals to the admissions department what you’re interested in—which in turn indicates what area of their school you may be contributing to. It’s particularly wise to provide these test scores if you’re applying to a specific school or academic program at that institution—like a school of communications, pre-law program, school of business, etc.

Another benefit of providing test scores from specific subjects is to offset an area in which you might not be as strong. For example, if your SAT math score is weak because math is something you genuinely struggle with, it may be worth it to take an SAT Subject Test in an area you excel in and want to pursue in order to show the admissions board that you are committed and strong in a particular academic area.

Sandweiss Test Prep can help you prepare for these exams this spring. We offer both individual and group tutoring for most SAT Subject Test and AP Exam topics.  Please contact us today to arrange for diagnostic testing to determine which subject tests you are best suited for, or to obtain more information about our programs.

Your student’s test day is almost here! Aside from the test prep courses he or she has taken with Sandweiss Test Prep, there are a few more steps to be taken to complete the preparation process. The following are some extra SAT and ACT test prep tips.

  • Pack the night before. Life is busy, and you or your student is bound to forget something on test day. To minimize this, make sure that everything is packed and ready to go the night before the test. Then, if someone oversleeps, or other delays occur the next morning your child will still sit down for the test with everything he or she needs.
  • Prepare the correct items. The list of things to bring and things to leave at home has been covered in our test prep courses, but another reminder might be helpful. Remember to bring several No. 2 pencils, of course. Additionally, your child should pack photo ID, the test admission ticket, graphing or scientific calculator, and a watch. Cell phones will not be allowed, so your student will not have access to his or her phone calculator and clock. Some extras that your child might want to bring include a water bottle, snacks, soft eraser, and a book. For a complete list of things to bring and items NOT to pack, click here.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Make sure your child goes to bed early the night before the test. It will do no good to stay up late studying, and is much better for them to get rest so that their brain can function optimally on test day.
  • Dress in layers. The testing room can be hot or chilly, so wear layers on test day. This way, you can add or take off layers to suit your comfort and avoid distraction for yourself and other test-takers during the exams.
  • Leave early. To avoid any delays due to road construction or traffic, leave your home with plenty of time to arrive at the testing location.

We wish your student the best!

Once your child has completed their ACT or SAT, it’s time to come in for your free diagnostic review for your SAT Subject Tests! Also, your student should be thinking about whether he or she will need help reviewing for the AP exams coming up.


Stay tuned for more helpful tips and information here on the blog.

The holiday season has come and gone, and now that your student is settled back into this next phase of junior year it is time to get through some more college preparation steps.

  1. Plan and/or Finalize Plans for College Visits: The mid-winter and spring breaks during junior year are an ideal time to visit colleges that your student might be interested in attending. Now is the time to finalize those plans. Check here for helpful college admissions interview tips, important questions to ask, and more.
  2. Register for an Early Test Date: Springtime is fast approaching, and it’s important for your son or daughter to register for an early SAT or ACT exam date. If the first set of test scores isn’t representative of your child’s abilities, there will be plenty of time to retake the test later in the spring if necessary. If the initial score is high enough, then he or she can use the remainder of junior year to concentrate on achieving strong grades and preparing for AP exams or SAT Subject tests. The next SAT test date is March 8, and the ACT is offered on April 12.
  3. Take a Test Prep Course: If your student is planning to take the March SAT, he or she should register for our test prep course, which started last weekend. There is still time to sign up and get registered for the class, and take a make-up class to cover the session your student missed. There is also plenty of time to prepare by doing individual tutoring. For the April ACT, your student should register now for the course beginning February 15th or 16th.

In our experience, it’s important to aim for the early spring test dates instead of waiting until May or June to take the exam for the first time. We hope that all of our students score well enough on their first attempt to make this unnecessary, but it’s only prudent to make plans for a retake anyway.

Remember, scores from the May exam don’t come back until the end of that month, which leaves only about a week to 10 days to address weaker areas and retake the exam in June. We don’t consider 7-10 days to be a sufficient amount of time to prepare well enough to retake the test and achieve a better score. If your student takes the exam for the first time in May, and needs to retake it, he or she will probably have to wait until next October, which means studying over the summer and working extra hard to avoid losing momentum.

At Sandweiss Test Prep, we are strong believers in trying to complete all standardized testing by the end of junior year, so that kids can focus on their college applications in the fall of senior year and not have to worry about more tests.

Good luck!

Featured photo from Flickr User Steven S.

Winter and spring of junior year is the best time to prepare for the SAT or ACT—and if you have a student planning on taking one of those tests, it’s time to start getting prepared! Taking test prep classes is a great option for all different kinds of learners: visual, auditory & kinesthetic.

For the visual learner:

Taking a prep class as a visual learner often works better than “just studying”. Having a teacher in the front of the class gives students something visual to focus on, in order to better help them understand important concepts that will be on their tests.

For the auditory learner:

Auditory learners need to HEAR the material they need to know. Engaging with a teacher and other students in an audible environment can help them immensely. Through discussion, they’re able to speak aloud what they’re learning and hear others interpret it, creating their optimal learning environment.

For the kinesthetic learner:

Class participation and engagement for the kinesthetic learner can mean the difference between merely doing well on a standardized test and truly excelling. Your student will be given strategies for approaching any section of the SAT or ACT that work well for kinesthetic learners.

For any learner:

FEELING well-prepared for the test is an integral part of achieving the best results. Taking a test prep class can instill the necessary confidence that can alleviate the stress associated with the exams.

Many students feel considerable pressure to do well on college entrance exams—and they’re likely well aware that, to an extent, their future could hinge on the test. Register now for one of our upcoming SAT or ACT courses to help your son or daughter reduce test anxiety and to achieve the best possible scores.

Last month, we published a list of helpful college preparation tips. At the top of that list was our suggestion to take a diagnostic test to determine whether the ACT or SAT is a better test for your child. Now is the critical time to bring your child in for a FREE diagnostic test. We are open most days during the Winter Holiday break for diagnostic testing.

As a reminder, our ACT test preparation courses for the February 8th, 2014 exam begin in the first week of January. These courses can be taken on Saturdays beginning January 4th in Bellevue, or Sundays starting January 5th in Seattle.

If the diagnostic test reveals that the SAT is a better exam for your student, he or she can prepare for that test with Sandweiss Test Prep in our SAT prep courses. We have courses to prepare for both the January 25th exam and the March 8th exam.

  • The courses for the January 25th exam are condensed, due to the quickly approaching test date. These can be taken by Seattle students starting on January 4th, and Bellevue students begin on January 5th.
  • For the March 8th exam, your students can begin the full-length SAT prep course starting on January 11th in Seattle, or beginning January 12th in Bellevue.

If you have not yet scheduled a diagnostic test to determine the best college entrance exam for your student, now is the time to do so! Here are the next steps toward successful test preparation:

  1. Register for the February ACT, or for either the January or March SAT.
  2. Get your student registered for his or her test preparation courses with Sandweiss Test Prep. Also keep in mind that we offer both individual and small group tutoring if your child needs more targeted preparation help or if the course schedules don’t work with your availability.
  3. Finalize your college visit list. Last month, we recommended that you and your child plan college visits – have you started that list? It’s time to get those trips on the calendar! Mid-winter break and spring break are usually excellent times to visit campuses.

Check back here on our blog for more college preparation and testing tips in the future. We hope to help guide your student smoothly through the testing and college prep process.

Happy holidays from Sandweiss Test Prep!

Is your high school junior on schedule with the necessary college preparation steps? Now that your son or daughter is settled into the school year, winter break is an optimal time to determine which big college entrance test your child should take.

It’s important to keep in mind that all colleges will accept either the SAT or ACT. We offer free diagnostic testing for both exams in order to determine which test is best suited for your child. In addition, we will provide a recommendation about the appropriate preparation options, how long the process will take, and the approximate cost.

Here’s a list of to-dos and helpful college preparation tips to get your student ready for a productive junior year.

  • Take a diagnostic test. Now is the time to take diagnostic exams to determine whether the ACT or SAT is the better test for your student. If your child took the PSAT in October, you will not receive results until January, which is too late to begin our courses to prepare for late winter test dates.
  • Based on the diagnostic results and our recommendations, register for either the February or April SAT, or the March ACT. This will allow sufficient time to re-take either exam later in the spring if necessary.
  • Think about college visits. Winter break or mid-winter break are the ideal times to plan college visits, since classes will be in session and your student will get the best sense of campus life. Begin thinking about a list of colleges that your son or daughter might be interested in applying to. Click here for College Board’s interactive college search tool. As you plan your child’s college visits, consider visiting different kinds of schools in the area. Your child can get an idea of what his or her experience might be like at a school with or without fraternities/sororities, a private school vs. a public school, an inter-urban school vs. a rural school, etc.
  • Now is the time to get as much information about colleges as you can. Visit your local public library (or our Sandweiss Test Prep office!) to look at college guidebooks. Check your high school counselor’s office and/or their newsletters to learn about college representatives who might be visiting your high school. You should be ‘window shopping’ for colleges as you and your child put together the list of places he or she might be interested in attending.

Stay tuned for more college preparation tips here on our blog. Remember that while test prep is important, colleges put more emphasis on grades! Study hard and focus on keeping your junior year grades at their best.

Greetings Students and Parents,

This newsletter is being sent to all high school juniors who have participated in a Sandweiss Test Prep class or lesson. We want to help you get the most out of your junior year and stay on track for college.
Here are a couple important and/or interesting topics for you to consider.



Many of you are planning to take the ACT or SAT in the next few months. With all the pressure to perform you may be looking for some fool-proof test taking hints or tips. Don’t be too eager believe everything you hear though. Take the article below, for example.


The Huffington Post – Research Debunks Common Standardized Test Taking Strategies

It is true that some test taking strategies are simply not helpful, like choosing C if you’re unsure of the answer. But unlike the author of this article, we’re less eager to dismiss strategies like underlining and taking notes. A lot of students have trouble concentrating on the reading passages. Underlining or taking notes forces them to engage. It is beneficial for holding their attention and provides a visual reference when they are answering the questions. We also recommend summarizing to identify key points and the author’s purpose or tone. This is a strategy many students find helpful.


The article also addresses the fact that test takers are often reluctant to go back and check their answers. This is something you will learn with practice, but it really depends on the type of question. It is important to notice the patterns. If your first instinct is typically correct on vocabulary questions, for example, then you should trust the answer choice that feels right to you. But if your first answer choice on questions requiring you to identify the main topic or purpose of a reading passage often turns out to be incorrect, then don’t be afraid to go back and consider changing your answer on that type of question.


There is a lot of debate around effective test taking strategies. Students are looking for miracle solutions that will improve their scores without much effort, but as this article correctly states, the best, most proven strategy is practice. Taking practice tests and reviewing those tests is the best way to implement what you learn in your tutoring session or in your class lessons. It may take some time, but it is probably the only thing that works well for every student.

For more advice see: Timing Tips for the ACT and SAT from The New York Times.


The Washington Post – College Board markets midweek SAT testing to schools

Last year more US students took the ACT than the SAT for the first time in history. We like to advocate the ACT as an equal alternative to the SAT, so this is good news for us.


The College Board, on the other hand, is understandably not enthused to hear that the ACT is now more popular than its test. Fewer SAT test takers means less money. The College Board has started to push mid-week SAT testing in schools (the SAT and ACT had previously only been administered on Saturdays). Not only that, but the SAT is being offered at a discounted rate or even for free in some areas. The College Board wants the SAT name to be synonymous with college-readiness, especially in the untapped lower income, lower achieving areas (a market where the ACT has been especially successful).


How does this all affect you and your family? Well, more competition between the SAT and ACT could be good for test-takers, if it leads to better tests, lower fees, and more exam dates.


Choosing a College


Juniors, just in case you didn’t already have enough on your plates this year with getting impressive grades, becoming more involved in your extracurricular activities, taking the ACT or SAT, SAT Subject Tests and AP Exams, it’s also time to start seriously thinking about where you want to go to college.


You should emphasize finding the right fit above all else. As Frank Bruni says in his op-ed piece for The New York Times, “How to Choose a College”,


“[I worry about] secondary-school students who […] possess the economic and intellectual good fortune — and the hard-won transcripts — to entertain a wealth of alternatives, because I think we let them get too distracted by rankings, ratings, brands. We don’t point them toward assessments and dynamics that are arguably more meaningful.”


Keep this in mind when navigating through college guides and college matching websites. Just because a school has a strong “brand name”  doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right choice for you.


If you’re ready to do some research, read the following article that is packed with some awesome links, advice and other resources:

Sevens Steps to Putting Together a Great College List


If you put together a solid college list now, you should be able to visit some of your favorites during Spring Break. Related reading: Juniors: Start your Planning for College Visits.


Also, check out the White House College Scorecard.

We offer more than just test prep. We can be your partner through all aspects of your decision making process

Let us give you some free, low-hassle advice. If you have a quick comment or question about your college application process just post it on the Sandweiss Test Prep Facebook page and we’ll respond ASAP.
If you’ve ever received a service from Sandweiss Test Prep please share your opinion: Review Us on Yelp!
Has your family visited a college recently? Help us build a dynamic, social database where students can interact, share stories and give each other tips, recommendations or warnings about different colleges.
Do you have feedback on this newsletter? Please let us know if you’d like to be taken off the mailing list, or if you have any other feedback.
Susie Coffaro


Greetings Students and Parents,

This newsletter is being sent to all high school juniors who have participated in a Sandweiss Test Prep class or lesson. We want to help you get the most out of your junior year and stay on track for college.
If you’re wondering what you can work on during winter break, here are some ideas.
Make a list of your top colleges

Now is the ideal time to seriously think about where you want to go to college. It may seem like you have plenty of time, but before you know it you’ll be working on your application packets and writing your admissions essays. Keep in mind that your final decision is just over a year away. Remember: consider all your options, and be aware of any misconceptions you might have about choosing a college. Picking a college is all about finding the right fit.


Right now you should be soaking in as much information as possible. Ask everyone for advice, talk to your teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, family friends, distant relatives, etc. And don’t be shy about it. People love giving advice to high school students. The more opinions you get, the more information you’ll have and the easier it will be to make the decision that is best for you.


US News – Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Offers Advice on Choosing the Right College


Also, request information from any colleges you’re considering. Collect pamphlets and info packets, consult guidebooks and college comparison sites. Your school’s guidance office can be a great resource if you don’t know where to start.


For a detailed and comprehensive online college guide visit College Confidential.
Plan your campus visits

The most popular time to tour college campuses is during spring break. Do your family a favor and start planning that trip now. Most college tours do not require reservations this far in advance, but there’s a lot of demand for spring break tours and it never hurts to sign up early. You can also start looking at campus tour calendars (here’s the UW calendar for example) to start planning your own itinerary.

You should also think about booking hotels and flights in advance. This will not only offer you discounted prices, but it will also save you the stress of trying to plan last minute.

Use spring break to visit out of state colleges. You can tour local colleges over long weekends or during winter break.


The Choice Blog – How to Make the Most of a College Visit

Register and prepare for the ACT or SAT
By now you’ve probably decided whether you’re taking the ACT or SAT. Remember, colleges will accept either test; neither is better or more impressive than the other.

Here at Sandweiss Test Prep we recommend you take the ACT no later than February or  April, and SAT no later than March. This will leave you enough time to retake the exam in June if needed. You don’t want to end up in a position where you need to take the ACT or SAT again during the fall of your senior year when you really should be thinking about your college applications.

If you haven’t already registered, here are the upcoming ACT and SAT test dates:
ACT Test Date         Registration Deadline

February 9th                 January 11th

 April 13th                      March 8th
 June 8th                        May 17th
Sandweiss ACT Class
Starting February 9th or 10th for the April 13th exam
SAT Test Date         Registration Deadline

January 26th               December 28th

 March 9th                   February 8th
 May 4th                      April 5th
 June 1st                     May 2nd
Sandweiss SAT Class
Starting mid January for the March 9th exam
Get good grades
When you submit your college applications, admissions officers are going to pay close attention to the classes you took and the grades you got during your junior year. It’s the most important year of your high school career. That means you should be taking AP and honors classes, getting good grades, and being generally impressive. Don’t take on more than you can handle, but colleges want to see that you’re pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.
If you feel like your course load is too easy, you still might be able to sign up for a second semester AP or honors course. AP Government and AP Environmental Science, for example, are sometimes offered starting mid-year.
Prepare for AP exams and SAT Subject Tests
Since you’re probably already taking one (or a few) AP classes, you know AP exams are coming up at the end of the year. You may just be taking an AP class for the GPA boost, or because it looks good on your transcript. Maybe getting a 5 on the exam is not your top priority, but as you probably know, many colleges will exchange AP exam scores for college credits, and the most selective schools only accept the highest scores.
Even though it might seem like a lot of work to study hard for AP exams on top of all your course work, consider the fact that earning college credit could literally save you and your family thousands of dollars. So pay attention in your AP classes and study hard for your AP exams.

Students taking advanced classes should also consider taking SAT Subject Tests. We encourage you to take the SAT Subject Test of any AP class you’re already taking (ie if you’re taking AP Chemistry, take the Chemistry subject test as well). If you’re unsure how the AP exams and SAT Subject tests compare, explore the official College Board site. Sandweiss Test Prep also offers free diagnostic tests for SAT Subject Tests allowing you to see what the real test would be like.

A handful of schools now consider SAT Subject Test scores as part of your application. You can show off your knowledge in one or two of your best subjects, which is helpful if your SAT or ACT scores are low or average. Additionally, many selective colleges now require any two subject test scores along with your traditional SAT or ACT scores. Other schools will allow you to submit your scores from two of the following tests: SAT, ACT or SAT Subject Test. For a fairly up to date list of colleges that require, recommend and consider SAT Subject Tests, check out this link from Compass Prep.

Remember, Sandweiss Test Prep offers individual tutoring and practice exams for all SAT Subject Tests and AP exams. Now is the perfect time to start studying!

For more reading: December College Checklist for Juniors from The New York Times The Choice Blog

We offer more than just test prep. We can be your partner through all aspects of your decision making process

Let us give you some free, low-hassle advice. If you have a quick comment or question about your college application process just post it on the Sandweiss Test Prep Facebook page and we’ll respond ASAP.
If you’ve ever received a service from Sandweiss Test Prep please share your opinion: Review Us on Yelp!
Has your family visited a college recently? Help us build a dynamic, social database where students can interact, share stories and give each other tips, recommendations or warnings about different colleges.
Do you have feedback on this newsletter? We’re planning on starting a semi-monthly newsletter of this sort. Please let us know if you’d like to be taken off the mailing list, or if you have any other feedback.
Susie Coffaro
Sandweiss Test Prep