Category Archives: Test Prep

After a long pandemic period of testing uncertainty and compromises, I was thrilled to proctor live and in-person at the Fairport Public Library this weekend. We’ve worked with Rochester and Syracuse libraries for a decade to offer the highest quality proctored practice tests free of charge to anyone who wants them, and our COVID-era online tests lost their luster for some families fairly quickly. This is not to say we aren’t still offering those Zoom tests–we proctored one of those this weekend as well–but nothing feels quick like the real SAT or ACT as sitting in a room with ten to twenty equally nervous test takers… at least for now! I was also impressed by the turnout at all of our practice tests over the last week, which happened to be Winter Recess. New York State students (and their families) enjoy not one but two long breaks during the first…

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What if I told you that you could become a virtuoso piano player in just one hour a week? Would you believe me if I promised you could play college basketball if you only work at it in the spare moments between more pressing commitments? How about fluency in a foreign language without ever having to practice? I hope, for your sake, that you find these claims dubious at best and, more likely, delusional. Clearly, nobody achieves greatness in any challenging endeavor with minimal effort or practice. Yet, every day, I encounter students, parents, and even other educators who imagine that amazing test scores can be earned with just one hour of instruction a week, whenever they can fit it in, without ever taking a practice test. For most students, this simply will not suffice. Sure, some high schoolers may ace the SAT without any prep, but these are usually…

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That the SAT changes substantially every ten years or so is not news. College Board’s newest announcement, however, takes the test into entirely new territory: With input from educators and students, College Board is adapting the SAT® Suite of Assessments (SAT, PSAT/NMSQT®, PSAT™ 10, PSAT™ 8/9) to ensure we continue to meet their evolving needs. The digital SAT will allow every student—regardless of where they go to high school—to access opportunities and scholarships. While the SAT is largely optional for college admissions, we want it to be the best possible option for students to show their strengths. Considering that ACT added computer-based testing for international and some school day testing years ago, the idea of a digital entrance exam is hardly novel. But ACT’s experience with unrealistic deadlines and operational challenges suggest we consider College Board’s timeline as more aspirational than assured. Last year, I listed a number of questions…

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Whether you’re a high schooler or the parent of one, you probably have hundreds of good questions about the SAT and ACT. Here are some of the most common: What are the benefits of taking the ACT or SAT? Are the ACT and SAT accepted by colleges equally? How can you find out which test you are best suited for? When should you take the ACT or SAT? What are the best ways to practice and prepare for the tests? Are all prep methods equally viable for all students regardless of learning style or motivation? Everything about taking the SAT and ACT has become more complicated and nuanced, from the subject matter to the test format to the when, where, how, and why of getting a great score. That’s why we’ve been publishing articles every week for the last 13 years on the Chariot Learning blog and elsewhere, speaking at…

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For students and parents accustomed to their high schools’ grading scales, standardized test scores can feel inscrutable. Bad enough that every exam adopts its own arbitrary scale, but the test scores they produce show little relation to the number of questions a tester may answer correctly. Even more confusing, test scores and school grades are not at all aligned. Perfect grades definitely don’t translate to perfect or even excellent test scores, depending, of course, on the complex interactions between students, teachers, and assessments. Yet, if understanding what a given test score means is difficult, comprehending the magnitude of an increase from one score to another can be exponentially more challenging. How should someone who isn’t an educational professional recognize that a 2-point improvement is outstanding on an AP exam, good on the ACT, and too low to measure on the SAT? Obviously, the easiest way to appreciate the impact of…

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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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