Greetings Students and Parents,
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