Category Archives: Test Prep

The world of education would be so much easier to navigate if all the old tests stayed the same, right? That said, most would agree that positive change means more than passing familiarity. Back in the day, New Yorkers like me never even thought of the ACT, let alone pretests like the PLAN or more recently the ACT Aspire. Today, teens across the Empire State and nation at large toggle freely between the SAT and ACT. Even better, schools have been increasingly taking advantage of the longitudinal assessments attached to those flagship college entrance exams. Hence, the question many parents find themselves asking: “What is the PreACT?” For the sake of comparison, the PreACT plays a similar role as the PSAT in terms of providing a sneak preview into the structure and content of a related admissions test while delivering useful data to students and school districts alike. The PreACT…

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The beginning of December can be a very busy time for anyone connected with test prep or college planning.  Why? That’s when students start to get their PSAT scores back and, consequently, when parents get to see their child’s PSAT scores.  For many families, this marks the official beginning of a year or more of test-related angst and pressure. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re a parent who hasn’t yet learned what these scores mean and what your next steps should be, consider these tips to get you through the initial discovery of your child’s PSAT score: Other than for National Merit and related scholarship consideration, your child’s PSAT score means nothing!  In fact, a 10th grader’s PSAT score is not even used for National Merit Scholarship competition.  While the PSAT does offer a useful baseline to predict future SAT performance, it is, for all intents and purposes,…

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The multiple-choice grammar and writing questions on the SAT Writing and Language and ACT English sections present a wide range of mechanical and rhetorical challenges. Test takers have to be as comfortable connecting subjects with predicates and pronouns with antecedents as they do connecting independent and dependent clauses. Even students who master mechanics still need facility with advanced writing concerns like, among other things, organization, unity, and cohesion. Both the SAT Expression of Ideas subscore and ACT Production of Writing Reporting Category establish organization as an imperative aspect of effective written English. Consequently, Organization questions on these tests require students to be able to place any piece of text where it belongs: — a word or phrase in a sentence — a sentence in a paragraph — a paragraph in a passage Most test takers find Organization questions both difficult and time-consuming. While the latter challenge can be overcome with…

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Don’t let the big tests in life master you.

Once we agree that all tests–especially the influential and high stakes ones–should be prepared for (and they obviously should be) the next questions focus more on methods and means. Considering the wide range of test prep material out there from books to online programs to classes to tutoring, teens and their families can be understandably intimidated by the choice, especially when factors like fit, quality, cost, and interactivity come into play. I answer questions about which types of test prep are best for different students, but rarely are my answers recorded. Luckily, my Tests and the Rest partner Amy Seeley and I were recently interviewed by the unstoppable Linda Abraham. Not only has Linda, as the founder of Accepted, helped countless applicants gain admission to top medical, law, business and graduate schools over decades, she is also a leading educational podcaster. Amy and I had her on our podcast to…

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Are you feeling crushed under the burden of unreasonable expectations, fretting because your test scores reveal flaws in a previously pristine academic career? You’re not the only one: millions of honor students over the years have struggled to reconcile the sometimes canyon-like chasm between their high school grades and their SAT & ACT scores. Why don’t perfect students earn perfect scores? When we think about SAT & ACT scores, we need to get comfortable with big numbers. After all, these tests are the ultimate expressions of the concept of grading on a curve. More people sit for the SAT or ACT in a given year, for example, than ever auditioned for American Idol even at the height of its popularity. If you can recall scene after scene of hopeful stars filling stadiums and crowding streets for a shot at fame, you’d need to multiply those crowds by a factor of…

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