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January 18th, 2018

Planning Ahead: SAT and ACT Registration Tips

While preparing to take the SAT or ACT is undoubtedly a lot of work, sometimes the registration process itself can be stressful. Your ability to plan ahead and closely follow instructions is critical for ensuring that you register for your test correctly and efficiently.

Once you begin preparation, it’s time to register for the test. Here are three helpful test registration tips:

Register early and be aware of registration deadlines. It’s important that you educate yourself about upcoming test dates as soon as possible. Once you create an online account at collegeboard.org (SAT) or actstudent.org (ACT), you can easily register for your test and print your admission ticket. Most experts recommend registering for your test at least 5 weeks before your preferred test date. Be aware that there are stringent registration deadlines!  For example, if you’re one to three weeks late to register, you’ll be charged with a hefty late fee.

Complete photo submission requirements. For test security, you must upload a recent photo of yourself when you register online for your test. It makes sense to do this during the initial registration process even though you are given the option to do this later. If your photo is not submitted at least a week prior to the test, your registration may be canceled. In addition to fulfilling photo submission requirements, you must bring a separate valid photo ID to your testing site on test day. You will not be allowed to test without a printed admission ticket that has your photo on it and a valid photo ID!

Determine if you’re going to take the writing portion. The SAT and ACT writing section (commonly known as the “essay”) is optional and costs extra but definitely should be considered. The requirements and prompts for the SAT and ACT essays are different, so it’s best to prepare accordingly for the test you’re planning to take. Some colleges require writing scores, while others do not. If you haven’t finalized your college list yet, it’s in your best interest to take the writing portion, at least once, so you do not limit your options.

When it comes to signing up for your test, timing and attention to detail is critical. Being proactive about your registration with the tips above can significantly alleviate stress leading up to your official test date.

Do you need support preparing for the SAT or ACT? Test Preps can help! To learn more about our services, contact Melissa Cook at contact@testprepsbuffalo.com or (716) 574-7349.

 

Sources:
https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/act-registration-tips 
https://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/registration.html
https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/inside-the-test/essay
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January 10th, 2018

SAT or ACT: Which One Is Better For You?


With so much information out there about the SAT and ACT, it can be difficult to know which test to take. Both tests have evolved over the last few years, leaving parents and students with many questions. The reality is that there is no “better” test. When it comes to college testing, students should identify the best test option for his or her individual abilities.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

Time constraints vary on the SAT and ACT. Of course both tests are timed, but the SAT allows for more time per question on all sections of the exam. Although this doesn’t make the SAT any easier than the ACT, it may be a better fit for a student who typically doesn’t perform well under tight time constraints. If time management is an issue, the SAT could be a winner. A student’s ability to handle time constraints can be assessed by their performance on the PSAT and practice ACT tests, before they start test preparation.

The SAT math sections are based on Common Core math. When the SAT was revamped in 2016, the man at the helm of College Board was David Coleman, aka the “Architect of Common Core”.  Here in Western New York, many school districts struggled with the transition from Regents Math to Common Core. In comparison, questions on the ACT math section can be solved using more traditional math methods.

One of the two SAT math sections has a “no-calculator” policy, which accounts for 1/3 of the total SAT math score. For students who prefer using a calculator to solve every step of a math problem, the SAT may be challenging. While it’s possible to improve a score on the “no-calculator” section, some students prefer the ACT, which allows calculator usage for all the problems. Depending on a student’s proficiency in solving math equations under pressure, this factor may play a role in a student’s test choice.

The ACT includes a Science section while the SAT embeds science questions throughout the test. We tell our students that the ACT Science is more like a reading section that happens to be about Science, with tables, charts, graphs and some paragraphs.  Questions can be answered by reading and interpreting information; no recalling facts from Biology class required!

ALL colleges across the country accept both the SAT and ACT. Therefore, choosing the option that matches individual testing skills and aptitude is key. Busy teens can then focus their time and energy on one test, not both. Keep in mind that for both the SAT and the ACT, repetition and timed practice are crucial components of effective preparation.

Still not sure about the SAT versus the ACT? Test Preps can help students compare their scores and skill set in order to make an informed decision. Get all your testing questions answered by contacting Melissa Cook at contact@testprepsbuffalo.com or by calling (716) 574-7349.

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December 17th, 2017

Start the Test Prep process during holiday break!

With the holiday break being a time for fun and festivities, test preparation is often the last thing on students’ minds. However, using some of this valuable time off to take practice tests and plan ahead can be instrumental in helping juniors achieve successful SAT and ACT outcomes in the spring.

If you’re a high school student, here are two good reasons why you should start the test preparation process during holiday break:

No school conflicts – The burden of test preparation when you have homework, AP exams, mid-terms, sport/musical practices and class projects can be overwhelming. Your mind and schedule are most free during the weeks when you have no school-related commitments and can simply focus on your testing. During the holiday break, pick a day to take a practice test for both the SAT and ACT so you can determine which test you prefer. Dedicating a full day to this will give you the opportunity to take a practice test at home in its entirety with minimal distractions. You’ll then have the time you need to review your initial scores and determine which test is best for you.

Time to create your test prep plan – Once you pick a test, you’ll want to formulate a test prep plan that aligns with your learning abilities and school schedule. Use the holiday break to research your test preparation options, such as small group classes or tutoring sessions. If you’re a junior, you’ll likely want to register for a test prep service (like Test Preps!) that will prepare you for an early spring SAT or ACT. Many students and parents find that having a test prep plan in place before January hits is a significant time-saver and stress-reducer!

While you can certainly get the test prep process underway, it’s important to have fun over the holidays and take a break from the craziness of school work and activities. Once you take a couple practice tests and establish a test prep plan, it’s best to give yourself some time off from everything! Taking at least a few days to simply relax and rejuvenate will give you the mental break you need to put your test preparation into full force in January.

Are you ready to get the test prep process started over break? Not sure if the SAT or ACT is right for you? Contact us and learn how Test Preps can help! You can reach Melissa Cook via email at contact@testprepsbuffalo.com or call (716) 574-7349. Happy Holidays!

November 13th, 2017

Test Prep 101: Evaluating Your Test Preparation Options

So, you’ve signed up for the next SAT or ACT. That’s a great first step! But how are you going to prepare for test day? With many options available, it can be difficult to decide how to use your limited study time most effectively. One important step is to determine the best method of test preparation for your personal learning style.

As you consider your study plans, here are three test prep options to consider:

  1. Small Group Classes: Group sessions are a great option for most students because they cover all the essentials including test format, types of questions, and timing, while teaching specific strategies for each test section. With Test Preps’ SAT/ACT courses, students are placed in small groups by ability, so the pacing of the class can be adjusted to meet the needs of the group’s learning level. Every class reinforces the test strategies taught, utilizing guided practice and interactive drills to cover each section of the test. Homework is assigned weekly and then checked at the following class because targeted practice and self-assessment are critical pieces of the process.  Small groups foster a “we’re all in this together” mentality and encourage peer collaboration and engagement. Most importantly, ability-based small groups create a dynamic setting in which students feel comfortable asking questions or for help with a problem.
  2. Private Tutoring: For students who struggle with staying focused or simply don’t want to ask questions in a group setting, private tutoring can be an excellent option. One-on-one tutoring sessions allow students to have specific content areas addressed and receive immediate feedback to capitalize on testing strengths and address weaker areas. This option is especially valuable for students with learning challenges, or those who cannot attend a scheduled course. Additionally, private tutoring can be beneficial for students who, after completing a course, need further tutoring in one specific testing section.There are other advantages to working privately with a tutor. Some students greatly benefit from the accountability of meeting with a tutor who ensures they complete the required work each week and helps the student assess where mistakes are being made. Extra work in content areas can also be addressed, as needed. Private tutoring is a helpful option for students with busy sports schedules who require a flexible study schedule on a week-to-week basis.
  3. Self-study: Studying on your own requires a significant amount of diligence and self-motivation! This may be a good option for students who are inclined to use online testing tools and take timed practice tests on their own. However, it is a less than ideal option for procrastinators. To make self-study effective, students must be committed to a weekly study routine, dedicating a set amount of time each week to completing sections. Self-assessment is key! Students must be proactive in determining where they are making mistakes and focus on improving their weak areas. In general, most students find that other test prep methods, like small group classes or private tutoring, hold them more accountable to their study schedule.

It’s important to figure out which SAT/ACT preparation method works for you, well in advance of your official test day. You’ll want to consider how you prefer to learn and study, as well as which program fits best within your busy school and activity schedule. Regardless of which method you choose, it’s critical that you take your test preparation seriously and put in the time and effort required to perform your best

Here in Buffalo, NY, Test Preps offers many options to accommodate all types of learners. Want to learn more about our programs? Get in touch with Test Preps’ owner, Melissa Cook, at contact@testprepsbuffalo.com or (716) 574-7349.

September 19th, 2017

Looking For Scholarship Money? High Test Scores Can Help!

Almost every parent or student going through the college admissions process is interested in scholarships. The reality is that earning scholarships is a competitive process – even if you’re a straight A student. When it comes to scholarships awarded by colleges, as well as public and private institutions, applicants must possess a strong academic record and high standardized test scores to be considered. So, what does this mean exactly? It means that the better you perform on your SAT or ACT, the more scholarship money you can potentially receive.

Here are three of the top reasons why achieving high SAT or ACT test scores can make you more competitive in the scholarship applicant pool:

 

  1. You’ll be eligible for “automatic” merit scholarships. There are some colleges that automatically award merit scholarships based strictly on numerical criteria, including SAT or ACT scores, and qualifiers like GPA or class rank. With automatic merit scholarships, you do not have to submit any extra application information. However, some colleges require that you apply for admission by a certain deadline to be guaranteed a scholarship. To get an idea of how much merit aid you may be awarded at a given school, you’ll want to check out each college’s net price calculator. Net price calculators allow students to enter their GPA and test scores for an estimate of how much scholarship money they may receive if admitted to the college. Every college website is required to have a net price calculator, so it’s helpful to take advantage of inputting your information as you apply to schools. Check out this list by U.S. News & World Report to access links to the net price calculators of about 300 top national colleges and universities.

 

  1. You’ll be a competitive candidate for many private scholarships. There are thousands of private scholarships available to students through various companies, employers and organizations. And, with endless scholarship opportunities available online, it’s never been more important for students to make sure their academic credentials stand out. Though private scholarships are based on many factors, a high SAT or ACT score can increase your odds of being considered – simply because your test scores will outshine those of many other candidates vying for the same opportunities.

 

  1. You’ll enhance your admissions profile for program-specific scholarships. In addition to becoming eligible for colleges’ standard merit scholarships, an impressive score will open doors to many other scholarship opportunities. For example, most colleges require students to meet a specified testing threshold to earn scholarships pertaining to certain academic programs (i.e., a STEM scholarship). Or, if you are hoping to earn a scholarship through admittance to a college’s honors program, a high test score will be favorable in your admission to the program.

As you can see, performing well on your SAT or ACT is important not just for admission, but for your wallet. Taking test preparation seriously will help you get into the college of your dreams AND earn you free money to attend it. It’s a win-win!

Is scholarship money a priority for you? Achieving a high SAT or ACT score requires dedication to the test prep process. Enroll in one of Test Preps’ programs today by contacting Melissa Cook at contact@testprepsbuffalo.com or (716) 574-7349.

August 12th, 2017

Getting The Most Out Of Your College Visits: 3 Great Questions To Ask Your Tour Guide

It’s that time of year again when many families make room in their late summer schedules to visit colleges, even incorporating them in family vacations and weekend getaways. However, what most people forget is that asking the right types of questions is critical for getting the most out of college visits and making informed decisions about college choices. There are many basic inquiries you’ll want to have addressed regarding academics, cost and dorming – but there are also some questions you may not have thought to ask.

Whether you’re a parent or a student, here are three of the best questions to ask your tour guide during your college visits:

1. What types of internship programs are available to students? With the workforce now more competitive than ever, it’s imperative to inquire with each college about internship placements. Students should know what types of internship programs are available, as well as what percentage of the college’s students get internships during and after their degree programs. Because internships have become a key component to securing full-time employment, having this information is essential in making the best college decision for future career opportunities.

2. Do many students go home on the weekends? Just because dorming exists at most colleges does not mean there’s an active residence life on every campus. There are many colleges often referred to as “commuter schools” where students who dorm on campus tend go home frequently on the weekends. If you’re visiting a college far from home, you’ll likely want to pick a school in which students are regularly engaged in campus activities during the weekends. Get a sense of the residence life culture during your visit by asking your tour guide and students on the campus for their thoughts.

3. What is your graduation track record? The whole point of going to college is to earn a degree you can use for your future, right? Well, you’d be surprised as to how many people fail to ask about graduation rates! Be sure to ask each college about their respective four-year and five-year graduation records. This is important, as it will give you an idea about the quality of each college’s academic advisement and how equipped the students are in completing their degree programs on time. Remember, the longer it takes to graduate, the more money and time you’ll spend in college!

These are just a few of the many important questions to keep in mind during college visits. By planning your questions ahead of time, you can make the most out of your visits and ensure you have all the information you need to effectively evaluate the colleges on your list.

In addition to college visits, is SAT or ACT prep part of your plans? Enroll in one of Test Preps’ programs today by contacting Melissa Cook at contact@testprepsbuffalo.com or (716) 574-7349.

June 27th, 2017

What You Should Know About Test Optional Colleges

 

 

Though standardized testing has been considered a critical component of the college admissions process for years, you may not be aware that “test optional” colleges do indeed exist. For a few different reasons, many colleges throughout the U.S. have opted to drop the SAT or ACT requirement as criteria for admission. This 2015 New York Times article on “The Test-Optional Surge” discusses some of the many reasons colleges are taking the test optional route. Here are answers to three common questions regarding test optional policies:

 

  1. How do I benefit from a test optional policy?

Students who perform very well academically, but who score below average on the SAT or ACT, tend to benefit the most from a test optional policy. Though most colleges take a holistic view of each student, test optional schools look more heavily at applicants’ grades, essays and extracurricular activities in making admissions decisions. Therefore, a student with a strong academic record who is simply not a good test-taker may find test optional colleges most appealing.

  1. Should I still submit my SAT or ACT score to a test optional school?

The whole point of pursuing a test optional college is to avoid the submission of a low test score. However, there are certain factors to consider before deciding against a test score submission. Many test-optional schools still require the submission of SAT or ACT scores for certain circumstances, such as qualifying for merit scholarships or playing a sport at the Division 1 or Division 2 level. Always check with admissions officers about the individual policies of their respective institutions.

  1. Can I just avoid taking the SAT or ACT?

If you are strongly considering test optional schools, it may be tempting to completely forgo taking standardized tests all together. However, it’s best to take a practice SAT or ACT at least once. This will give you an idea as to what test you’re best suited for, as well as your test-taking abilities. Once you get a sense of your test scores, you’ll be able to plan accordingly and decide if you should only apply to test optional schools.

Even though test optional schools can be a great option for some students, taking the SAT or ACT will provide the most flexibility as you explore and visit many different colleges. Remember – no matter how you perform on a standardized test, there is a college option for every student.

For more information and a complete list of test optional colleges, be sure to visit www.fairtest.org.

Do you want to learn more about the role of standardized testing in the college admissions process? Contact Melissa Cook, owner of Test Preps, at contact@testprepsbuffalo.com or (716) 574-7349 to have all your questions answered.

June 19th, 2017

Summer Is The Perfect Time To Relax, Reflect & Complete Your College Essay!

With so many facets involved in the college admissions process, it can sometimes be difficult to know when to start completing certain application tasks. The summer presents an ideal time to focus on the college essay, without the pressures of school, homework and extracurricular activities. In fact, many students find that they’re more inspired and motivated to write their essays during the summer when they have more time to reflect on possible essay topics.

Remember, writing your college essay is a personal task and much different than a school assignment. It’s critical that you make the time not only to write your essay, but think about what you want to write about. Choosing a topic can within itself be a process, so it’s best to start early – before the next school year gets into full gear. Here are three reasons why it’s in your best interest to complete your college essay during the summer:

1) Brainstorming.

The idea that performance is best under pressure does not ring true when it comes to the college essay. Formulating a well-written, high quality essay requires significant amount of time and thought. In fact, you may want to take a couple weeks just to review the Common Application’s 2017-2018 essay prompts as you decide on a topic for your essay. Many students brainstorm essay topics with a couple prompts in mind as they consider different ideas.

2) Receiving feedback.

With the fall being a busy time for everyone, it’s in your best interest to receive feedback about your essay from teachers, tutors or other trained writing professionals during the summer months. Always be sure to have at least one or two people whom you trust review your essay and provide their thoughts. It’s especially helpful to seek feedback and insight from others who have experience reviewing many college essays, as they will be able to provide the most valuable insight. How you decide to make changes is up to you, but having an outsider’s perspective is critical to producing the best possible essay.

3) Editing and rewriting.

Chances are you’ll have to rewrite your essay several times until you have a finished product. The summer is a stress-free time to work on your essay and make changes, without having to worry about completing other academic tasks. Because you won’t be on a set deadline, you’ll be able to take a couple breaks in between your re-writes and revisit your drafts at your own pace.

Being proactive about completing your college essay this summer will take a lot off your plate this fall, giving you more time to focus on completing other college application requirements. Plus, you may even enjoy the essay process more when you can relax a little and write at your leisure.

Are you ready to get a jump start on your college essay this summer?

Check out Test Preps’ College Essay Workshop this August in Williamsville, NY. And, if you have any questions about the college essay, please contact Melissa Cook, owner of Test Preps, at contact@testprepsbuffalo.com or (716) 574-7349.

May 30th, 2017

Is SAT or ACT Prep Part of Your Summer Agenda?

 

Summer may be around the corner – but, like it or not, standardized testing doesn’t take a break! This year, for the first time ever, College Board is offering a summer SAT on August 26th.  Next summer, ACT also announced a July 14, 2018 test option. It’s best to make your testing arrangements ahead of time, and because schedules are often less hectic in the summer – many students find it easier to buckle down on their study plans during July and August.

If you’re a rising junior and would like to start the testing process early, this summer you’ll want to take SAT and ACT practice tests to determine which test you prefer. Or, if you’re heading into your senior year, you can take advantage of the summer to prepare for some final testing opportunities offered in the fall.

For optimal testing results, you must make testing preparation a priority – even when it’s more appealing to go to the beach with friends. Keep these 3 preparation tips in mind:

Stick to a strict study schedule. Summer vacation can undoubtedly be distracting for many students, which is why it’s critical to maintain a strict weekly study schedule. Whether your study preparation method is self-study, small group classes or private tutoring sessions, it’s critical that you’re vigilant about reviewing content and completing practice tests under timed conditions each week. This will help to ensure that you’re covering all necessary test prep material.

Know all your deadlines. Making yourself aware of all test dates is important not just for preparation purposes, but to ensure that you meet all registration deadlines. Additionally, rising seniors must keep track of all college application deadlines. You’ll want to take the SAT or ACT early enough so that your scores will arrive before final college application deadlines. You can check the official SAT and ACT websites for approximate score release dates.

Check for scheduling conflicts. Before spontaneously signing up for a test, be sure to check your upcoming school and activity calendar(s) first to make sure there are no potential conflicts on or around your test date. For example, if there are hockey tryouts during the time of the September ACT, you may want to consider choosing another test date in which you will feel more focused and prepared. And, once you do register for your test, be sure to avoid scheduling any big commitments during the couple weeks leading up to your test date.

Using the summer to plan for an upcoming SAT or ACT will be one of the most valuable uses of your time during the college admissions process. If you balance your schedule properly, summertime test prep can be very effective.

Make sure you’re fully informed about the 2017-2018 SAT test dates and ACT test dates and learn how Test Preps, based in Buffalo, NY, can help with your testing preparation!

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May 12th, 2017

Conflicted About College Standardized Testing? We’re Dispelling Five Common SAT & ACT Myths!

In the past few years, college admission standardized testing has changed quite a bit, and you may have come across many conflicting opinions about the SAT and ACT. With so much new information about both tests, it can be stressful and overwhelming to get the facts. As you start this process, it’s critical that you have all your questions answered so you can make well-informed decisions about your testing options.

Below we are dispelling five of the most common SAT and ACT myths:                                                            

  1. Colleges prefer the SAT over the ACT (or vice versa). False! Because the SAT used to be more common in the Northeast, many people assume it’s more widely accepted than the ACT. You’ll be happy to know that both tests are equally accepted at colleges across the country, no matter what region or geographic area.

 

  1. You must be good at science to do well on the ACT. If you’re not strong in the sciences, don’t fear! The ACT’s science section does not evaluate your academic science knowledge, but rather includes science-based questions and passages to assess your critical thinking abilities. By honing your test strategy skills, you can master the science section in no time!

 

  1. The ACT is “easier” than the SAT. Some students perform better on the ACT while others achieve higher scores with the SAT. Your performance will be heavily dictated by your test-taking abilities rather than the test itself. That’s why it’s important to take ACT and SAT practice tests to determine which one is a better fit. All high schools offer the PSAT in October. Check with your district to see if they will be offering the Pre-ACT this year!

 

  1. The math on the SAT is harder. The mathematical material is comparable on both tests, requiring a solid foundational understanding of arithmetic, algebra and geometry. However, the SAT math section is heavily common-core based, having a narrower focus on algebraic problems to test knowledge of mathematical concepts. Another notable difference between the two tests is that the ACT allows use of a calculator on all math questions, while the SAT only allows calculator usage for certain parts of the test. Therefore, students who are highly dependent on their calculators to solve even basic equations are likely to find the SAT’s math section to be more difficult.

 

  1. The writing portion doesn’t matter on either test. Though the essay portions on both the SAT and ACT are optional, it’s a good idea to complete the writing section regardless of which test you take. Certain colleges will evaluate your writing score, so you won’t want to hurt your admissions chances by skipping out on the essay.

Remember, your testing success will be determined by your effort and preparation – not the type of test you choose to take. It’s important to evaluate your performance on each test and choose the one that’s best for your individual testing abilities. It may not be necessary to prepare for both tests.

Are you ready to start preparing for the ACT or SAT? Get in touch today with Test Preps, a Buffalo-based test prep services company offering SAT/ACT small group courses and private tutoring services. We’re happy to answer all of your questions. Let our team get you on the track to success!

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