Posts Tagged ‘Test Preparation’

Juniors, Here Is A List of What To Expect When You Are Expecting to Go To College

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Most college admission officers will tell you, from the spring semester of a student’s junior year through the fall semester of that student’s senior year, they should be heading full tilt towards college.  What does that mean?  It means this is the time for students to get serious about the college selection process.  Here is a timeline, to help you know what to expect when you are expecting to go to college.

February:

If possible, start visiting colleges.  In order to do that, you need to speak with your guidance counselor or college adviser and craft an initial list of schools.  Possibly take the ACT for the first time, if you haven’t yet.  Register for the March SAT.  Prepare for both tests.

March:

Most high schools begin their course selection for senior year.  Remember to take a challenging curriculum.  Register for the April ACT.  Continue studying for both tests.  College Visits!  If you want to play sports in college, start contacting coaches.

April:

Register for the May SAT or SAT II’s.  You will need to take the SAT II Subject Tests if you are applying to some colleges.  If you are taking an AP test that correlates with an SAT II test, then I recommend you take the SAT II in May, as the May test date is right in the middle of AP Exams, and all the content will be fresh in your head.  If you have registered for it, take the ACT test.  Continue your college visits and start to narrow down your list of schools.

May:

Take the SAT or SAT II’s, if you have registered for the test.  Register for the June SAT or SAT II, or ACT.  Study for the tests!  Get your results back from the April ACT or the May SAT.  Decide if you need to take the test again, and what you need to study.  Start studying for your final exams.  Junior year is the last full year of classes that the colleges will see.  Your grades are always the primary factor in the decision whether to admit you to college or deny you.  Start planning what you are going to do over the summer.  If you think might want to have one of your current teachers write you a letter of recommendation, ask now, so he or she can write the letter over the Summer.

June:

Take your high school exams, if you haven’t yet.  Take the SAT or SAT II, or the ACT.  Most colleges are out of session now, so visits might not be as effective as when classes are in session.  But, it is better to visit in the Summer than to never visit at all.  Review your test results and plan which tests you need to retake in the Fall and how you are going to prepare.  Contact college coaches again to let them know which camps, tournaments, etcetera you will be attending over the Summer.

July:

Have a little fun!  OK, now back to work.  Review your of schools and start narrowing it down to the final schools to which you are going to apply.  Start writing your personal statement or college essay.  Work a summer job, go to a summer program, or perform some community service.  Make certain to stay active.

August:

The Common Application becomes available.  Start an account online, and start filling out your application.  Work on your college essay!  The best writing takes abundant rewriting, so be sure to give yourself enough time to write a good essay.  Get a list together of all school requirements for the schools to which you are applying (how many teacher recommendations, extra essays, interviews, et cetera).  Touch base with any teachers you have asked to write a letter of recommendation for you.  You can now provide them with the Common Application’s Teacher Evaluation form.  Visit colleges.  Interview for college.  Decide if and where you will apply Early Decision and or Early Action.  Study for standardized tests.  Register for September ACT.

September:

Keep up your grades.  Put finishing touches on applications.  Continue college interviews.  Request teacher recommendations.  Finalize your college list.  Review the list to make sure you have at least one admission “safe” school and one financial “safe” school.  If you do not have a financial “safety”, use CollegeTreasure.com to find one.  Take ACT again if necessary. Register for October SAT, if necessary.  Study for standardized tests.

October:

Take SAT and ACT if necessary.  Request transcripts from your guidance office.  Finalize and submit applications for your Early Action and Early Decision schools.  Continue visits and interviews.  Send thank you notes to anyone you had interviewed with previously.  Make certain you have requested your letters of recommendation.  Send thank you letters to teachers who have written you recommendations.  Check on financial aid deadlines to the schools to which you are applying.  Register for November SAT, if necessary.

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Avoiding the Summer Daze: Rising Seniors Use Your Summer Wisely

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Now that the school year is wrapping up (or has already been wrapped up), it is easy to just kick back, relax, and allow half the summer to go by without doing anything to get your self ready for college.  The fall of senior year can be a very stressful time, so I recommend you use the summer to get a jump on your college applications.  Here is a list of things that you need to get done this summer.

  • Finalize Your College List
    —Narrow list down to 8 to 10 schools
    —Revisit your original criteria, has anything changed?
    —Check application requirements at your list of schools
    —Have you met testing requirements?
    —Do you have teachers lined up for letters of recommendation?
    —When are the deadlines?
  • Visit Colleges Again
    —This will help you narrow down the list and come up with your own ranking of the schools
    —Demonstrated interest is becoming more important in the admission process. This is one of the best ways to show interest.
    —If possible, interview when on campus.
  • Prepare for Fall Standardized Tests
    Take practice SAT or ACT tests
    Review performance results from your spring tests, and study up on areas where you are weak
    Consider tutoring, a course, or a book to help you improve
  • Start Your Applications!
    —The Common Application accounts open on August 1, but you can print a draft and get started earlier
    —Write a resume
    —Start your essay!
    —The Common Application has reinstated the 500 word limit on the long essay.
    Work on the Common Application short answer
    Make certain you know your school’s policy regarding transcript requests
  • Develop a List of Financial Aid Deadlines
    —When are the filing deadlines?
    —What forms are required?
    —Do you have a financial safety school?

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5 Study Techniques To Ace Your Next Test

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Studying for a test can be an overwhelming task, especially if it is one you know that you have to perform well on. Some tests can cover so much information it’s hard to even know what to even begin studying, much less how to actually go about doing it. When it comes to studying there is no right or wrong way to go about it, but there are a few techniques that can help you along the way.

1. Active Reading

Rather than just skimming over your textbook you should take the time to actively read it. This means never beginning a reading assignment without a writing utensil in your hand. Active reading involves highlighting important vocabulary, underlining main concepts, and writing notes in the margins. This technique not only helps to emphasize information in your mind, it enables you to stay focused on the material so that you actually understand what you are reading.

2. Note Taking

It may seem like a no brainer, but taking notes is not just something you do to look busy in class, it’s something you do to prepare for a test. Actively taking notes while listening to a lecture, helps you to better process what your professor is saying and understand what is being discussed. Try to put the information in your own words and be sure to write down anything you find significant or intriguing. Remember to not get so carried away with writing notes that you actually stop listening to what the professor is saying. You don’t have to write down everything that comes out of his mouth, just the main points, concepts, and definitions.

3. Regular Review

Take the time to review your lecture notes while the information is still fresh on your mind. This will make you more likely to remember it, as well as understand upcoming information that might build upon previously discussed concepts. You don’t have to spend a lot of time reviewing either, you can glance over the notes that you just took in one class while walking to your next one, or you can spend some time that night reviewing all of the lecture notes from your classes that day. Getting into the habit of reviewing your notes on a regular basis will make it a lot easier when it comes to test time, as you won’t have to cram information from 12 different lectures into your head all at once.

4. Chunking

When the typical college exam covers multiple chapters, the amount if information you need to study can really add up. By breaking it down this information and “chunking” it into smaller parts, you will find that is more manageable. Separate exam content into categories, such as topics, theories, chapters, or methods, and then chunk information into each category. You can then take a day to focus on each of these categories and study the content within each one. It won’t take long for you to realize that by mentally associating information with particular categories, you are not only able to learn information faster but recall it easier.

5. Mnemonics

Mnemonics are memory techniques that help you learn and remember important information. Some popular types of mnemonics involve creating words or phrases. You can make up acronyms, which are words that are formed from a combination of the initial letters in a phrase or series of words. For example, the acronym PEMDAS stands for the sequence of steps involved in solving a math equation; parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction. You can use acrostics to help you recall larger amounts of information. An acrostic is a sentence or phrase that is made up of the first letter of each word that symbolizes what you need to remember. For example, the popular phrase “Every Good Boy Does Fine” is an acrostic to help one recall the treble clef notes, which are the notes of E, G, B, D, and F.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Olivia Coleman, who writes on the topics of online colleges and universities.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: olivia.coleman33 @gmail.com.

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SAT or ACT: Which One Should I Take?

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

The SAT and the ACT both essentially serve the same purpose: to give colleges a means of comparing students from vastly different schools, regions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. This is very important when trying to decide between, say, a poor student at a small, rural Midwestern school, and a wealthy student at a large, New England boarding school. They may both have a 3.8 GPA and plenty of extracurriculars, but it is difficult to tell which is more “qualified” for the intense academic experience of college, so dissimilar are the circumstances in which they succeeded. In situations like these the colleges will turn to the standardized test, which, by virtue of being standardized, acts as an equalizer of the two very different students. If the rural student scores much lower than the boarder, then admissions officers are likely to assume that the rural school is not a very intense one and perhaps the student will be unprepared for their college. On the other hand, if the rural student scores much higher than the private school student, then the college will assume that he is the real deal and that perhaps the New Englander is a hard worker but not as bright as they thought. This may sound unfair, and it is an imperfect system, but it’s what the colleges have to work with.

Some people may be under the impression that colleges on the East and West coasts require the SAT, while those in the middle of the country require the ACT. Although that situation may have prevailed for decades, it is not true today. Most colleges now require either the SAT or the ACT, with no preference given to either. (In a curious loophole, many selective colleges that require both the SAT I and also two or three SAT II subject tests will allow an applicant to submit the ACT in place of all four of the SAT I and SAT II tests. That doesn’t seem quite fair, but it’s a situation you should consider taking advantage of.) The choice, therefore, is yours, and you should be sure to submit your best test score possible, whether it be from the SAT or ACT.

So which one should you take, the SAT or the ACT? Before we attempt to answer that question, it is important to understand some of the differences between the two tests. (For a detailed and enlightening history of standardized testing in America, see Nicholas Lemann’s The Big Test, from which the following details were taken.) The SAT began in New England as an aptitude test for identifying high-caliber minds in order to give them college scholarships; the ACT, created in response to the SAT, began in Iowa as an achievement test for the “guidance and placement of the many” average, primarily public school students. We can, then, glibly say that the one has elitist origins, while the other’s roots are democratic. This generalization is not necessarily true today, for the present tests are very different than they once were.

What are the two tests like now? As you may have heard, the ETS (Educational Testing Service, the organization that administers the SAT) has recently overhauled the SAT, getting rid of analogy questions and Quantitative Comparisons and adding several higher math concepts and an entire writing section complete with a timed essay so that the new perfect score is not 1600 but 2400. These changes have brought the SAT and ACT closer together, as the ACT has had a writing section for a long time. The SAT currently consists of Critical Reading, Math, and Writing sections, while the ACT includes English, Math, Reading, and Science, with an optional timed essay. The Science section is the major difference in substance between the two tests. In it, you are presented with experimental results in the form of tables, charts, and graphs, and are asked to answer questions about the data and about hypothetical situations such as, “In Experiment 1, if the scientist had added nitric acid with a concentration of 50 ppm to a sample of marble with a surface area of 24 sq. cm, approximately how much marble would have been lost after 24 hours?” Finally, while your SAT score is broken up into three scores of 800, the ACT gives you a score out of 36 for each of the four sections, with your composite score simply being the average of the four and rounded to the nearest whole number. The way that these scores are computed is different; the SAT takes ¼ point off of your raw score for each question you attempt but get wrong, whereas the ACT only credits you with questions you get right. That is, there is no penalty for guessing on the ACT but there is on the SAT. (So when you take the ACT never leave a question unanswered!)

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