Category: High school

This past spring, the College Board announced major changes to the SAT. The changes will be implemented in the spring of 2016, so those who will be entering their junior year of high school in the fall of 2015 will be the first to have the opportunity to take the new SAT.

Test prep businesses and academic organizations of all types have been buzzing about the changes and what they mean for students and colleges. The exam’s math section is one area where the new SAT will be a little bit different.

As before, the math section will measure a student’s familiarity with concepts typically covered in high school math courses up through sophomore or junior year (depending on when a student takes Algebra 2). Two significant changes are that the new SAT will place more emphasis on algebra (and correspondingly less emphasis on geometry), and students will only be able to use a calculator on one of the math sections.

Students should now focus on studying algebra with extra attention, knowing that it will be more heavily featured on the exam. The no-calculator portion of the math section will be worth one-third of the math score for the exam. The purpose of this change is to test a student’s ability to recognize how certain math problems can be solved more efficiently by utilizing a logic-based approach, rather than relying primarily on a calculator to perform routine computation.

The College Board has decided based on research that problem solving and data analysis  are the most important aspects of mathematics  to prepare students for higher education and for the workplace of the future, so we can expect the new SAT to place more emphasis on quantitative reasoning skills and less emphasis on memorization and rote learning.

If you are interested in more of the changes coming for the SAT, check out this video from Sandweiss Test Prep.

Sandweiss Test Prep specializes in test preparation, academic tutoring, and admissions consulting. Visit the Sandweiss Test Prep website for more information about our services.

Featured photo from Wikipedia Commons

Last month, we recommended summer internships as an excellent option for your student to make the most of his or her summer (Here’s some more reporting on the topic, if you are interested). Today, we would like to articulate some of the best ways for students to find a valuable and fitting high school summer internship, and to gain the most education and experience possible.

Find a Valuable Internship

Research is key to finding internships that will meet student interests and provide adequate learning and hands-on opportunities. Start by asking your student to consider his or her goals with an internship, with some of the following questions:

  • Do you have a specific career or profession in mind, which you’d like to learn?
  • Are there certain skills or lifestyles that you are curious about?
  • What do you like to do for fun, and that can be accomplished in a modern-day job?
  • Are you looking more for education and learning from your internship, or hands-on experience with a job or industry?

After you and your child have a general idea about what you hope to get from your internship, begin researching the possibilities using tools like,, or Idealist. Meet together with your child’s high school counselor to gain additional insight, and consider people in your network whose careers may align with your student’s interests. Click here for some other ways to approach finding an internship.

Gain Maximum Benefit

A good college internship should provide your son or daughter with valuable work experience and training, a real-life perspective on how the workplace functions, and hopefully a boost in the college admissions process. During the course of an internship, ask your son or daughter to make the following items a priority:

  • Take advantage of opportunities to explore various jobs within the business in order to get the most from your experience. If you can, try to ‘shadow’ as many different positions within the company as possible, to learn the full scope of everyone’s job.
  • Consider this a chance to learn everything there is to know about a job that might be turn into a career someday. Remind your child not to sit on the sidelines; if the internship supervisor and other management is open to it, encourage your child to offer his or her own creative solutions and ideas on how to make the job better – respectfully, of course!
  • Ask lots of questions. No matter what type of internship or business your child works for this summer, asking lots of questions and taking note of the answers is going to be vital to the experience and education the internship provides.

If your student works hard this summer in a high school internship, he or she will certainly learn a lot – not just about a particular  business or industry, but also about the adult world and how things work within the workplace.

Featured photo from, labeled for reuse. 

When school’s out and the sun is shining it can be difficult to focus on pre-college preparation. Don’t forget that summer is not a three-month break when it comes to your applications—colleges want to see that you spent your time doing something useful. You can make yourself appealing to colleges while still having plenty of time to enjoy the dog days of summer. Here’s how:


Seattle and its surrounding areas offer an endless amount of volunteer opportunities for people with all types of interests. Community service is a great way to get involved in your community and give back to those in need. These types of rewarding experiences will give you inspiration for college essays and provide lifelong character building.

College Prep

Get to know your dream schools before it’s time to start the applications process. Visit college campuses, research the academics offered, look into housing options. Many universities offer pre-college programs for incoming freshmen. Check out the services we offer at Sandweiss Test Prep if you need to re-take or study for an exam.


It’s never too early to get your foot in the door. Don’t rule out internships before college—if a company offers positions to high school students, apply! An internship is an important way to start building your network while learning about a career path that could influence your academic choices.

Summer job

Summer break is perhaps the best time to save money, and you’ll be glad you have some savings once school comes around again. Don’t fret if your job isn’t necessarily glamorous—a steady job shows college admissions advisers that you are devoted and hard-working.


A traveller knows that a trip can be so much more than relaxing vacation time. Some of the best life experiences come from travel, as well as increased cultural awareness and self-realization that can aid in your college admissions essays.

Personal Project

Now that you have some spare time, work on something that interests you. Want to learn a language? Paint? Build something? Now’s the time! Following your passion is a reflection of your character and provides a vital foundation to future endeavors.

Featured photo from, labeled for reuse.

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It’s that time of… life. It’s the time when you and your parents (or you and your student, parents…) hit the road and visit the schools you’re interested in. That may mean a trip across the country, or just up the street, but either way there are a few things you should be sure to fit into your trip so you get the best “view” of the school possible. Here are a handful of tips for planning your college visit to ensure you get the most of your visit:

Learn as much as you can before you go on your trip.

Perusing the school’s website and reading campus blogs will help you get a grasp on things that you really like about the school—and things you’re iffy about before stepping foot on campus. This will help you be prepared to ask any necessary questions, voice concerns and know what you’re heading into. Write down questions you have so you don’t forget to ask!

Take the trip while school is in session.

While summer trips are convenient, visiting the campus when it’s empty isn’t the best time to do it. Go during spring or fall when the campus is teeming with students and activity so you can get an accurate representation of campus life. Many high schools will even count missed school days for college visits as educational trips, rather than absences.

Make a schedule.

You probably have a few schools you’d like to see—so plan them accordingly. If your budget is limited, focus on your priority schools. If you’ve got a little more flexibility, start close to home, and expand out. Save the best for last—as you’ll learn how to best tour schools to get the most from your visit during your early trips!

Set interest meetings.

Seek out specific faculty members, staff, and/or students whose interests align with yours. For example, if you play the oboe and wish to play in the college orchestra, you should arrange a meeting with the orchestra director. Or if you have written for your high school newspaper and wish to work for the college newspaper, you should check out the newspaper office and meet with one of the editors. If you are interested in majoring in anthropology, you should meet with one of the anthro professors. It’s usually possible to arrange these meetings in advance, and often the admissions office will help you do so.

Take the campus tour… then explore.

The campus tour is a GREAT way to learn the highlights of the school. This is the school’s “best foot forward” moment, and you’ll likely learn a lot about the academic, athletic, and student activity “core” of the college. What you won’t learn, however, are the downfalls, dodgy areas (and every campus has them), student culture and intricacies of campus life. Once you’ve been on the campus tour, spend some time exploring and adventuring around campus to get a better feel for the geography and student culture.

Be a student for a day (and night, if you can!).

A lot of colleges and universities have programs where you can attend classes for a day, or even spend a night in a dorm with an existing student for a night or weekend. It’s a great way to REALLY understand how the school operates and feels.

And don’t forget—if you’re taking the SAT this March and missed getting in on our current classes, sign up for our Condensed SAT Test Prep Course now!

Featured photo from Flickr user NIExecutive, labeled for commercial reuse.

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.

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.