Category Archives: Test Prep

When one considers the many reasons why students fail to earn their test scores, each factor seems susceptible to a chemical solution. Depressants might take the edge off anxiety, whereas stimulants and study drugs could provide the boost needed to power through tough questions. Considering how complex and challenging some test questions can be, couldn’t the mind-expanding properties of psychedelics be a potent secret weapon. In a word, NO. Sure, you may say, some people sit for high stakes tests while drunk or high. Chelsea Handler famously admits to taking her SATs on acid, and things turned out very well for her. Then again, she didn’t even go to college. In fact, I couldn’t find any evidence of beneficial outcomes of controlled substance use during standardized testing. Even vaunted study drugs and cognitive enhancers hurt rather than help test performance. Non-prescription use of prescription drugs like Modafinil or Adderall impairs…

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The College Board administers the SAT in August, October, November, December, March, May, and June. ACT, Inc. follows suit by offering the ACT in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July (everywhere but New York). So if students can only take the SAT or ACT during the school year, why should they prep during the 2.5-month summer span when they can’t? The answer is obvious: because there’s no school! Today’s college-bound high school students are busier than ever before. No, that’s not a cliché. As admissions standards spiral ever higher (along with tuition), students strive to differentiate themselves through advanced classes, sports, clubs, jobs, and every other activity they can fit into each overscheduled week. This frenzy of activity reaches its peak in junior year, from the beginning of fall sports until the end of finals. Considering how many important commitments students are asked to juggle, why not try…

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In most of the United States, the ACT is administered seven times. In New York, however, the ACT is only administered six times. Historically, this has meant that no test centers have been scheduled in New York for the July national test date, July of 2020 proved an exception to that otherwise ironclad rule, but, then again, a summer test date when most schools were still shut down by the pandemic was hardly the biggest surprise of the year. Why does the Empire State stand alone without a July ACT? Blame the Truth-in-Testing Law: The “truth in testing” law, known formally as the Admissions Testing Law, was adopted by the State Legislature in 1979 after lobbying by consumer, civil-rights and other groups. The law, which took effect in January 1980, requires sponsors and manufacturers of college admissions examinations to offer test takers the right, at the time scores are reported,…

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Of all the test administrations of the year, the ones in June present the most problems. Many high schools have already flipped the CLOSED sign while others are facing finals and other culminating tests. Even worse, students have to contend with a host of other distractions: Playoffs and championships for spring sports Prom Exhaustion That summer feeling wafting through the classroom windows… Clearly, the odds of a student earning his or her best SAT or ACT scores in June appear unfavorable to say the least. No wonder we strongly recommend that high schoolers take the tests as early in junior year as makes sense based on preparation and extracurricular commitments. Yet, a case for the June SAT & ACT can and should be made. Three different groups of students benefit from blocking out the first two weekends of the month for testing: 1. Juniors who have already prepped but haven’t…

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While most standardized tests break section scores into smaller subscores, ACT aligns its flagship college entrance exam along Reporting Categories that serve the same general function of sorting content into discrete categories. College admissions officers show no interest whatsoever in student achievement in specific ACT Reporting Categories, but that doesn’t mean these categories have no value. On the contrary, the blueprint by which the test is designed tells us a great deal about the knowledge, skills, and strategies each section of the ACT rewards. For example, delving into the ACT Science Reporting Categories reveals a shocking truth about the test: its primary purpose is not to evaluate science knowledge. Instead, certain core skills are valued much more than discrete facts and figures. The three ACT Science Reporting Categories each focus on a specific competency area in the understanding and practice of scientific inquiry: Interpretation of Data The ACT Science Test…

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The last several years may have heaped one indignity or tragedy after another on our reeling world, but the 21st century to date is marked by major innovations as well. Not only do we enjoy 3-D printing, blockchain, and online streaming, but finally threw off the tyranny of reporting all test scores to colleges in favor of more sane score reporting policies. Many schools will accept a student’s single best SAT or ACT score rather than looking at every test score. Even better, more and more schools will superscore tests, taking the single best score of each SAT or ACT section to create a better composite than a student earned naturally… and honor that score without bias. Not every college accepts superscores. Additionally, more schools currently accept SAT superscores than ACT superscores, primarily because ACT used to strongly oppose superscoring. However, in 2019, ACT released the results of several studies…

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