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At Sandweiss, we help prepare students for a variety of tests. We cover a wide range of standardized test preparation and offer tutoring on many subjects customized to your specific learning needs. We also help students who are struggling with their studying process by offering tips and tricks that can boost academic scores and help them feel more prepared for test day. Here are our 5 study tips to ace your tests:

5. Prepare

This is the most crucial step and one that students very often ignore. By preparing yourself for a long-term studying process, you can better organize the material you need to review and still plan time for extra-curricular activities. In a recent New York Times article, researchers reported that students who regularly reviewed and were quizzed on the course material throughout their Intro to Psych course did significantly better on their final exam than did students who only reviewed the material at the end of the semester, just prior to the final. Why?

retrieving facts, formulas or concepts is a threefold mental act: finding the sought-after information in the vast catacombs of the brain; bringing it consciously to mind; and finally, storing it. That newly stored memory will be embedded in a host of additional associations and connections and will be much easier to recall later than if you’d merely read it again. 

The author, Benedict Carey, closed the article by stating: “Testing in all its permutations, subtle and otherwise, convinces the brain that the knowledge is useful, and important. And by varying one’s testing strategies, the actual final exam — the dreaded assessment — isn’t nearly as scary.” Practice tests, quizzes, and reviews of the final material over a long-term period haven been shown to increase final grades and improve memory retention in students.

4. Study Effectively

How much time do you spend checking email, your phone, or social media? It may not feel like much because they’re very quick interactions, but they build up throughout the day. Having the discipline to shut off your notifications and internet connection for a solid chunk of time could be the difference between studying effectively and not retaining enough of the needed information. Give yourself 25-50 uninterrupted minutes of studying, then take 5 minutes to goof around on your phone or get a cup of coffee. Taking breaks is important, but only if you’re truly using your time effectively.

3. Eat Well

The worst thing you can do for your brain and your body during intense reading and information processing is to consume unhealthy food. Soda, sugar, and fats feel like a good way to get a quick, easy burst of energy, but they lead to crashes (which many people counteract with caffeine). Throughout the day, make sure you’re eating fruits, vegetables, and healthy sources of protein and carbohydrates. You’re going to be burning a lot of energy, so making sure your body recovers after a long study session is also important. Think of long durations of studying like you would approach sustained athletic activity. Take care of yourself and your brain and body will reward you.

2. Try Different Techniques

Your brain is a muscle and muscles need different forms of exercise to grow and develop. Even if you have a tried-and-true studying technique, it may be helpful to try different strategies when facing tough material. Word associations, singsongs, or analogies that relate to your subjects may help you to remember complicated acronyms or formulas.

1. Get Help

Explaining the material to someone else and verbalizing complex information can help you understand whether you truly know a subject or are just getting by. Speak with your teachers, parents, friends and tutors if you’re struggling.  Find a classmate who is studying the same material as you and talk about it – or argue about it! Exposing yourself to different opinions on academic subjects can broaden your own perspective and open up different avenues of thought. Just don’t rely on Google to answer all of your questions; the Internet is a hit-or-miss resource for many academic subjects.

Sandweiss Test Prep offers individual tutoring and group tutoring on a variety of subjects. We can help you with your studying process or help prepare you for major exams like the ACT, SAT, or AP and SAT subject tests. Contact us today to discuss your academic goals and find out how a Sandweiss tutor or class can help you achieve them.

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Choosing an area of study is an important step when choosing a school, but it doesn’t have to happen right away. Having a few good choices when you’re college hunting is a good way to remain relatively flexible in your studies. Here are a few majors that pay the most:

5. Physics

NASA, the Department of Defense, and private scientific research firms all scoop up these majors and their starting salaries are generous. Research and development should be your modus operandi – not to mention a whole lot of studying in college.

4. Applied Mathematics

Calculating costs, estimations, predicting outcomes and designing systems are all future projects you can expect out of this career field. A practical degree that can be utilized in many different industries, graduates can expect work in finance, economics, and education among many others.

3. Medicine

Doctors and nurses are always in high demand, as it’s a major that’s science-heavy and requires lots of hands-on training. The specific fields of study are diverse in both career paths and get more specialized as you go further. Nurses with a bachelor’s degree could specialize in neonatal, family health, surgical, and geriatric care, for example.

2. Computer Science

Focused on the interaction between humans and computers, this admittedly broad field of study could translate into a career in several industries, notably computer system development, software publishing, research, video games development, or mobile application system development.

1. Engineering

Basically any specific area of engineering you study, you’ll probably wind up with a pretty spiffy salary. Some engineering fields include: biomedical, software, mechanical, electrical, industrial, aerospace, computer, nuclear, chemical, and petroleum engineering.

Ready to take the first step towards a rewarding and high-paying career? Contact Sandweiss Test Prep to help set you on the right path towards your college major.

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.

With college admission rates continuing to decline at the nation’s more selective schools, many students are taking advantage of Early Action programs. There’s a higher chance of acceptance to a higher education institution if the student applies early, but there are several important things to consider before applying for an Early Action plan.

First, there are two types of Early Action programs: restrictive (binding) and non-restrictive (non-binding). Restrictive Early Action allows candidates to apply to only a single Early Action institution. Non-restrictive Early Action permits candidates to apply to multiple schools on an Early Action basis. With both types of programs, the applicant is still permitted to reject offers.

Next, Early Action usually requires students to submit an application by November 1st or 15th of their senior year. If you’re a senior and are considering applying for Early Action, October is the month to complete it.

In order for SAT or ACT test results to reach the schools in time, applicants must take the exam no later than the October or November test date. Program specifics vary from school to school, so be sure to ask the admissions office what their policy is on the submission of test scores. Some schools will consider test scores received after the application deadline provided that all of the other application materials have been submitted on time.

Though the timing for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is not ideal for Early Action applicants, you can still complete the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, which will detail your family’s financial circumstances. Some schools require that profile as early as October.

Another benefit of Early Action is the opportunity for students to apply elsewhere if they are denied admission at their top-choice school, or if the amount of the financial aid award isn’t sufficient even if they are accepted. Some schools that reject applicants for Early Action will place those students in the general admission pool and consider their applications again prior to the April 1st notification date.

If you have questions about how to prepare for early action admissions this month, contact the individual institutions or to get prepared for testing, contact Sandweiss Test Prep today!

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So, you made it past all the applications, tests, and preparation that go into applying for college. Congratulations! Now time to think about logistics—how are you going to pay for your higher education? While many college-level students are lucky to have financial support from their family, many are not as fortunate. Attending university is expensive, so it’s important to know your budget and understand your payment options. Luckily, financial aid is available in a few different forms. The most common types of financial aid eligibility applications (excluding scholarships) are:

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): This federal form determines a student’s eligibility for federal aid. It’s required by most state and college financial aid programs because the majority of student financial aid in the U.S. each year comes from federal funds. Students can begin filing FAFSA forms January 1, 2015.
  • CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: This online service allows students to provide a complete financial profile and family circumstances so that colleges can dispense aid to the most economically deserving students. Some colleges may require the PROFILE as early as October.
  • State & Institutional Forms: The process of granting financial aid varies from place to place, so some colleges may require specific state or institutional forms that are different from the FAFSA.  These forms may also be necessary for scholarship applications.

While student aid and non-federal loans for full-time equivalent students has increased by 33 percent over the last decade, the total student financial aid has decreased every school year since 2010-2011. The government’s share of student aid decreased from 74 percent in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years to 71 percent in 2012-2013.

For more information on financial aid, visit studentaid.ed.gov. If you are not eligible for any financial aid, remember that student loans are also an option. For local financial aid assistance, Sandweiss Test Prep recommends Paula Bishop Financial Aid for College Advisor.

Featured photo found here.

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!

More than 500 colleges and universities throughout the United States accept the Common Application for evaluating students for admission. Students can complete the one Common Application, and submit it to as many schools as they wish, along with their supplemental essays (specific to the school). This makes the college application process slightly more efficient.

However, the Common App essays do require a lot of thought and hard work. There are five essay options provided on the Common Application (click here to review them). Students applying to college through the end of the summer and into the fall should take extra care as they craft their Common App essays.

With the expertise they practice in college admissions counseling, Sandweiss Test Prep recommends these tricks for writing Common App essays:

  • Tell a story about yourself. All of your credentials are included in the application, itself. In your Common App essays, share an anecdote (short story) about something you experienced or did that exemplifies your character or personality.
  • Reveal something about yourself that is not otherwise evident. Your ACT score is meant to tell admissions officers how academically prepared you are for college. Your GPA shows them how hard you have worked and/or succeeded in high school courses. But your Common Application may not show admissions officers how deeply that semester studying abroad influenced your desire to pursue medicine as a career. Share that extra depth about yourself in the essays.
  • Be honest about your achievements. Do not inflate your accomplishments or make up titles for yourself to embellish your essay – be truthful. As much as plagiarism is detrimental to your high school record, lying or exaggerating the truth can hurt your college experience, and may exclude you from acceptance if caught early.
  • Choose your words carefully. Remember that college admissions officers are reading through hundreds of essays, and likely will not appreciate a wordy, long-winded essay. Remove extra words and be clear and concise in each sentence.
  • Remember to entertain. The college admissions officers reading your essay have read (or are reading) many other students’ essays in the short time they have to make a recommendation. To make your essays stand out, include an element of entertainment – serious, funny, inspiring, or quirky.

Sandweiss Test Prep offers college entrance and standardized testing preparation classes, academic tutoring, college admissions guidance and coaching, and more. Contact Sandweiss Test Prep for more information, or to schedule a consultation for your student.

Featured photo from Flickr user davedugdale

The College Board recently announced significant revisions to the SAT exam. In our last post, we told you about upcoming changes to the writing section. Today we will outline the changes to the Critical Reading portion of the exam. The current version of the SAT contains three scored Critical Reading sections and three scored Writing sections (an essay and two multiple choice sections). On the new SAT, both reading and writing will be combined to produce one score on what will be called the “Verbal” sections of the exam.

The new reading questions will be focused on evidence-based responses to expose students’ factual reasoning and contextual understanding. This means that as they answer questions on the reading portion of the exam, students will be asked to use evidence to support their answer choices. The goal is to measure a student’s ability to analyze the components of an author’s argument and identify the relationship between an author’s claims and the supporting information used to justify those claims.

Additionally, test-takers may need to reference and cite certain parts of a passage in order to demonstrate the ability to recognize ways in which authors support arguments.  The new reading portion of the ‘Verbal’ section is designed to allow test-takers to analyze and reference sources in a variety of disciplines, including literature, nonfiction, natural science, humanities, and social science.

The other major change to the Critical Reading component of the current SAT involves the dreaded Sentence Completion questions, which test vocabulary that students have not and will not likely ever use in their college studies, profession, or day-to-day lives. Students preparing for the current test will often memorize vocabulary for no other reason than to score higher on the SAT. Instead, on the new exam, the vocabulary-based questions will test words people actually use on a regular basis and/or words that most students will encounter in their college curriculum. 

Sandweiss Test Prep recently released a video explaining this and some of the other changes to the SAT. The first students to be affected by the new SAT are going to be juniors in the fall of 2015 who will take the exam in the spring of 2016.

 

Sandweiss Test Prep specializes in exam preparation classes and tutoring, college admissions counseling, and academic tutoring for students of all ages. Visit the Sandweiss Test Prep website for more information about our services.

Featured photo credit Flickr user beggs.