Tag Archives: test scores

As we ease out of this old year, the new year probably can’t come quickly enough for our friends at ACT, Inc. and the College Board. After all, 2015 has visited seemingly endless plagues upon both of their houses in the form of embarrassing test score delays. What has gone wrong for the test makers? A new electronic score reporting system A new Writing Test A new PSAT (scores expected a month later than usual) Lost or damaged answer sheets Humidity?!? Yes, apparently even the weather conspires against students receiving their test scores in a timely fashion: On Friday evening, colleges received an email from ACT indicating that reports scheduled for release on Saturday would be delayed. “The relatively wet and humid weather has caused issues with our scanning, which is slightly delayed for the December ACT National test event,” writes ACT Customer Care (no name provided). “Your institution could…

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Thinking carefully and proactively about how often to take the SAT or ACT makes a lot of sense; after all, very, very few of us actually enjoy taking these tests (my secret shame!) This common question has two answers, one easy and one a little more complicated.   How many practice SATs or ACTs should I take? When wondering how many practice tests to take, simply commit to as many as needed to prove to yourself before test day that you can earn your target score. Many tests lie between where a student begins and where she wants to arrive. You’ll minimize that number by making sure you take the highest quality practice tests possible, meaning official exams under strictly timed test conditions. Follow each practice test with targeted review of every aspect of your exam to really supercharge its value.   How many official SATs or ACTs should I…

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Change, as Robin Sharma says, is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end. In terms of changes to standardized tests, however, the first wave of test takers never gets to experience the gorgeous parts. Things do get messy though! High schoolers have been dealing with plenty of changes to the tried and true admissions tests that carry so much weight with competitive colleges. Just about everyone by now knows that the SAT is changing this spring, but not as many noticed the significant revision to the ACT Writing Test that rolled out in September. Unfortunately, many teens hoping to submit Early Action and Early Decision applications now see the real impact of changes to the tests. With our focus so squarely on the design and delivery of the SAT and ACT, we rarely take time to consider the exquisite symphony of organization that facilitates the…

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“If you work hard and you do your best, you can do anything.” “If you try to do your best there is no failure.” “You can only do your best. That’s all you can do. And if it isn’t good enough, it isn’t good enough.”   Parents always exhort their children to do their best, invoking effort as the ultimate signal of commitment. And seeing our kids pour themselves fully into the challenge at hand fills us with pride; no matter the outcome, we say, they did their best… And yet, when dedication diverges from success, praise for “doing your best” can feel like a consolation prize. At the upper levels of achievement, doing your best is simply the price of entry, rather than a guarantee of victory. Seth Godin, as usual, sums up the problem with effort alone quite nicely: “By defining “our best” as the thing we did…

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The term ‘mulligan’ is well-known (and often well-used) by golfers to describe a do-over in response to a particularly atrocious or unlucky stroke. Mulligan has, over time, become a generic term for a second chance to perform an action marred by misfortune or ineptitude. The option of Score Choice for both SAT and ACT, along with the proliferation of superscoring in college admissions offices, has opened the door to millions of mulligans, where students have no reason NOT to take the test again. But rarely do we see a do-over triggered by the test-maker’s failures. Students who sat for the June 6 SAT know all about how a tiny misprint in a test booklet can cause major test day chaos. The College Board has assured us that the scores from that compromised test will be valid, even with the exclusion of sections 8 and 9. But even if they are,…

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Success, both in tests and life, comes one small step at a time. Unfortunately, these increments of achievement can sometimes seem smaller than they really are, which leads us to overlook their impact. Evaluating ACT scores reminds us of how deceiving certain scores can be. Today, the ACT is taken by more students than the SAT. Yet, amazingly, people still don’t quite understand how to interpret ACT scores. The problem lies in that weird constricted range: SAT section scores span a full 600 points from 200-800 while ACT section and composite scores cover 36 meager scaled score points. Consequently, test takers can see hundreds of points of improvement from one SAT to another (with the right preparation, naturally), but ACT test takers must content themselves with 2 or 3-point score increases. Which one sounds more impressive? The SAT/ACT Bell Curve But the ACT scale deceives us, diminishing the accomplishment an…

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