How to Help Your Child Succeed on the SAT

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How to Help Your Child Succeed on the SAT

Knowing how to step in and help your child prepare for the SAT can a slippery slope and emotional for both you and your child. They have reached an age of independence and by all accounts are so capable of managing a full schedule and a school load that is beyond what we can even imagine when you were their age. The pressure on our student’s today is unfathomable and there are times like SAT prep that may throw them into a whirlwind of insecurity, anxiety, and confusion. This is absolutely the time when parent’s need to step in to help them succeed on the SAT.

This time in a high school student’s career is beyond challenging with so many life decisions hinging on their SAT score. So, how can you actually help your child succeed on the SAT while keeping everyone’s sanity in check along the way? Try your own PREP – Prepare, Rest, Encourage and Plan – you will see how smooth this process can be if you are prepared going into this season.


Prepare


We all know the old saying, fail to plan, plan to fail, and even though the SAT isn’t a pass or fail test, it is an indicator as to how much preparation was put in to be ready for the rigor of this standardized test. The key to the SAT is to prepare at the beginning of high school, looking at the classes that are offered and making sure your child is enrolled in challenging classes which will naturally build a foundation of higher level thinking and study habits. Since the SAT is a standardized test for students who have attended school all over the world, it is only used to measure a student’s ability to understand and process material in reading, writing and math. If they have enrolled in honor classes and above, they will be laying the foundation needed to be prepared for the challenging questions presented on the test.

Test prep will be a key component in helping your children succeed, nothing beats practice, becoming familiar with the type of questions asked and brushing up on the math/reading and writing concepts they may not have seen for a year or not at all. Unfortunately, so many parents skip this step because they don’t understand the difference between the SAT and tests their children are taking in school every week. The test they take in a classroom covers a topic they have been focusing on for several weeks and it is a measure of their understanding in order for them to be prepared to move on in the class. Most students can master these tests, even cram the night before in order to learn just what they need for that one test. The SAT is a very different model and will require a completely different level of study and preparation, not to mention practice. It is designed to measure a student’s proficiency and skills within a few academic areas, testing their endurance along the way to manage a 4-hour exam. Prep Expert has designed a curriculum with 100 strategies that will help a student manage the test and focus on the type of questions on the test, which is a very different type of preparation than that of a high school exam.

A large part of preparing for the test includes being ready for the actual test day, and that is the largest role a parent can play. All the work has been done, you have registered and know where and when the test will be administered. You have gathered all the supplied needed, #2 pencils, calculator, approved watch, snacks, jacket (in case the room is cold) and now is the time to get your child mentally and emotionally prepared for the SAT test day.


Rest


It might seem impossible to get your teenager to bed at a decent time the night before the SAT, but this should not be overlooked. Try not to succumb to the complaining and let your child talk you out of making them go to bed early, with the goal of getting at least 8 hours of sleep. We all know teenagers do not get enough rest as mentioned earlier. They can stay up all night studying, go take a 45-minute test and be fine. The SAT will not have any grace for those students who do not get enough sleep and they will begin to struggle half way through because they’re exhausted.

This is a test of endurance and if your child doesn’t finish strong, then they run the risk of performing poorly on the last sections, which are equally as important at the first. As encouragement to parents, if your child has spent time preparing, giving them adequate time to learn the material and practice, then the night before the SAT will not be stressful. This is the night they should can go to a school athletic event, enjoy their friends but make it an early evening. It is okay to say “no” to their pleading requests to stay out late and false promises of getting up on time. Another possible way around this would be to create fun family night, find an activity they will want to stay home for and avoid the struggle of getting them home on time and to bed.


Encouragement


Your child wants to please you, make you proud, maybe even follow in your footsteps, simply stated they want your approval no matter what score should arrive from the College Board. Try to avoid statements like “I can’t believe you didn’t know how to do that problem” or “I spent so much money getting you ready for this, you better get a good score”. Kids hang on our words, why not make those words work in their favor. Nagging and sarcastic remarks do nothing for your child’s self-esteem; they will take those words and assumed opinions with them to the test, creating unnecessary anxiety. Now, to balance that, it is also the parent’s responsibility to set the bar high, keeping in mind if they don’t hit it the first time they know you are still their best cheerleader. Limitations tend to live in the mind of a teenager, but you hold the key to unlock those limitations through encouraging words. Do your best to send your child to the SAT with a clear mind and assurance they have your unconditional support. Now is that daunting time you wonder if you did all you could to help your child succeed on the SAT. If the results come back revealing more work needs to be done, then put a plan in place to do that will close the gap.

When they wake up rested, be June Cleaver for the day and have a healthy breakfast ready for them. We all know what the weekday rush looks like and this is not the day to recreate such a scene. It can be quite a distraction when their stomach is growling at hour two and then their focus turns to daydreaming about where they will stop for food after the test.

Now you’ve taken care of all their physical needs yet the most important help you can give your child to make it through the SAT is encouragement.


Plan


It is common for students to take the SAT at least two times, so no need to get overly frustrated if you find yourself looking at more hours of test prep and practice. Once you get the scores back from College Board, sit down with your child and go over them together. You will quickly see where they need to focus their attention. The plan may be as simple as hiring a tutor to work on a specific subject area or realizing they need a better understanding of how to take the SAT. Enrolling in a full six-week Prep Expert course will give them clarity now that they have lived through the test and know what to expect. In addition, take a look at their upcoming schedule and determine when the best time will be to carve additional practice and preparation time. The flip side of this scenario is getting the score
your student is thrilled with and you can exhale a sigh of relief. Praise them for their hard work and now get those college applications completed and brace yourself for another round of PREP.

What’s A Good SAT Score? What’s A Bad SAT Score?

At Prep Expert, one of the most common questions we get from students in our online and in-person SAT courses goes something like this: I scored X on the SAT – is that good? Should I be satisfied, or should I take the test again? Or, the same question recast in negative terms: is my score bad? In this post I will explain how you can answer these questions conclusively and for yourself.

First things first: obviously, this question is subjective. Distrust anyone who gives you a simple yes or no answer – unless, that is, you achieve a perfect score, like Prep Expert’s founder, Shaan Patel. In that case, it is safe to conclude your score is good, because it could not possibly be any better.

For the rest of us, the question remains, and the answer is not obvious. It does, however, exist. I will offer you three different ways to determine whether your SAT score is good, and tell you which I think is best.


Evaluate your score against your target schools’ reported numbers


The most obvious way to determine if your you have a good SAT score is to compare it to the test scores of other students who were previously admitted to the schools to which you will be applying. After all, for most students, the SAT is primarily a tool for getting into college. Colleges typically publish on their admissions websites several important statistics drawn from previously admitted classes; among these numbers are three in particular that we will discuss: the 25th and 75th percentile scores and the average score of their most recently admitted class. (Note: the average score is not exactly the same thing as the 50th percentile score, though the difference between these two numbers is, for our purposes, academic, as it were).

For example, let’s imagine you are applying to, say, Arizona State University, my alma mater. The average composite SAT score for ASU’s most recently admitted class was 1210 (on the new SAT, which is scored on a 1600-point scale). The 25th percentile score was 1090, and the 75th percentile score was 1330. These numbers offer a concrete metric against which to compare your score, and can provide a fairly straightforward answer to the question of whether your score is good. Imagine you scored a 1300: you could be confident that you have a decent chance of being admitted to ASU. Certainly, if the other areas of your application – GPA, extracurriculars, etc – are up to par, it is probably more likely than not that you will be admitted. If your SAT score were 1050, however, the situation is less favorable, because you are beneath the 25th percentile number mentioned above – in other words, more than 75% of students in ASU’s previously admitted class did better on the SAT than you did. Similarly, if you scored a 1350 on the SAT, you could be confident in your chance at admission, because you are above the 75th percentile mark for ASU, which means that you scored better on the SAT than at least three quarters of ASU’s previously admitted class.

So, by comparing it to the average, 25th percentile, and 75th percentile numbers for the scores to which you will apply, you can get a comparatively straightforward and concrete idea of how good or how bad your SAT score is. This comparison is typically the first one students make; if I only have thirty seconds to answer a student when they ask me if their score is good, this is the answer I will give. However, I think measuring one’s score this way is unhelpful in the big picture and often even counterproductive. I will now detail two other ways of evaluating your SAT score, each of which I think is superior to this comparison with a school’s published numbers.


Evaluate your score by the effort that went into it


The second way I will offer to determine whether your SAT score is good is based on judging for yourself the amount of work you put into preparing for the test. I think the usefulness of this method is easy for most people to see; hard work in pursuit of our goals is an almost universal value. No student can control the aptitude with which they are born or what exactly will happen when they sit down to take the SAT and clock starts ticking; all we can actually control is the amount of work we put into our preparation. When a student asks me if their score is good, I typically respond by asking them what they did to prepare – and, tellingly, they never ask me why I want to know.

For instance, an unusually smart student might be able to achieve a 1450 without much effort at all – he or she could probably show up on test day totally unprepared and beat the vast majority of his or her peers. That score would give this student a very good shot at being admitted to most colleges. And yet I think most people, myself included, would have more respect for a student who worked tirelessly for weeks to break 1000.

Note that I am not suggesting that you must adopt my values regarding which score is more praiseworthy in this hypothetical situation – after all, I am a test-prep expert, not a moral authority. I simply want to remind the reader of a very simple, meaningful, and trusted measure of success that often seems to get overlooked in the college admissions process: hard work and persistence. Most of the students with whom I work (and, importantly, their parents) agree that the amount of focused work a student puts in to achieve their score is more important than how that score compares to any school’s published numbers – even if we all sometimes need to be reminded.

Some of our more results-oriented readers are undoubtedly rolling their eyes at this point, and I certainly understand. Evaluating a score purely based upon the amount of work that went into achieving it is great, but most of us have real world goals – that is, specific colleges to which we would like to be admitted – that could come down to that next ten points. So, if simply working hard for it is not enough for you to be satisfied with your score, read on. The third method I will offer for judging whether your SAT score is good is, in my opinion, the best answer available.


Evaluate your score by the cost of the next ten points


This third and final way of determining if you should be proud of your score is more complicated than each of the first two, but it is, I think, the definitive way to know when your SAT score is good enough. And it applies universally – in all cases, to every student, everywhere. Moreover, it is value-agnostic; you don’t have to accept my platitudes about hard work being more important than results to see the utility of this method.

I think of it as the marginal cost method, and it goes something like this: how much more effort would it require to achieve that next ten points?

Before I explain exactly what I mean by this question, let me back up and explain a couple of assumptions that I will be making. First, let us assume that every student who sets out to prepare for the SAT has a top-end score (or, more likely, range of scores) that represent the best that student could ever realistically hope to do on the test. That score is probably different for each person; if I chose one hundred SAT-takers at random and gave each of them a complete calendar year to study full-time for the exam, the scores they achieved after that year would be spread across the scale. In each case, the score the student achieved would represent what I am calling their top-end score: the best they could ever realistically hope to do on the test. Another week of studying, after a year of it, is unlikely to make that score come up much.

My second assumption is this: that virtually no student is capable of achieving their top-end score without some preparation for the test. In other words, preparation will improve every student’s score, regardless of their starting point. If you are uncertain of this premise, take my word for it: I have seen a lot of test prep in my day, and no one is above benefitting from SAT prep – no matter how naturally gifted or hopelessly lost.

If you accept these two premises, then the question becomes theoretically quite simple. Every student should prepare for the test. When a student’s preparation begins, the score gains that he or she makes will tend to be comparatively easy: a little bit of hard work will go a long way. For instance, the first time a 99th percentile instructor in a Prep Expert course explains to you how to exploit the inherent weaknesses of a multiple-choice math test, your score will probably come up sharply, with a minimum of costly effort and practice. In such a case, economics tells us that the student’s marginal cost of score improvement is quite low.

By contrast, recall the student who has studied full-time for a year. How costly are his or her score gains likely to be? Infinitely costly, or nearly so. In other words, that student could continue to study for another month and would likely improve his or her score little or not at all. That student’s marginal cost of score improvement is extremely high, and few people would continue to prepare in such a situation.

The third method of evaluating whether or not your score is good enough to satisfy you is based on this marginal cost of score improvement. Think of it this way: you should certainly prepare for the test. In the beginning, the score gains you make will be as easy as you can ever expect them to be. As your preparation goes on, these score gains will become increasingly costly in terms of the effort required to achieve them. For the vast majority of test-takers, no amount of work could ever enable us to earn a perfect score.

The wise student will be aware of and expect this increasing difficulty before his or her prep begins. Such a student will know that he or she should be satisfied only when the marginal cost of score improvement becomes more than that student is willing to pay. In practical terms, that student will only be satisfied with the score he or she achieves after he or she has prepared enough that further score gains are unrealistically expensive in terms of time and effort.

Thus, you could say that a student who scored a 1450 without preparing for the test actually has a bad SAT score!

So, should you be satisfied with your SAT score? The marginal cost method of answering this question has this to say: your score could probably be better. Are you willing to pay the cost, in time and effort, of improving your score further? Or have you prepared enough that further score gains are too expensive? That is the point you want to reach; any score you achieve before you reach that point is, quite simply, not good enough – by your own standards.

Thanks for following these explanations. I hope you find them useful (if a bit long-winded). In future posts, I will continue to discuss score improvements, expectations for your own test-prep, and the admissions process in general, among a host of other topics. Until then, study hard!

THE BEST TIME TO TAKE THE SAT

When is the best time to take the SAT? This is the most common question I get asked, especially from parents of firstborn and only children. There is a maze of dates to work through and around, wondering what school year is the best, how many times should you take the test and hoping the advice from the school counselor was right.

Let me put you at ease by telling you the answer is on your calendar and the admission page of the colleges you are applying.

Let’s talk about your calendar and how a closer look into the life of a high school student can help you decide when the best time is to take the SAT.

It is recommended that the SAT is taken no later than June of the Junior year. By this time students have taken Geometry and Algebra II so they are content ready along with a strong foundation in reading and writing. That will allow students to get the scores back and decide if they want to take it again in the Fall. This will give them one last chance to bring their score up before submitting college applications.

Now that sounds like great textbook advice, but let’s look at reality! Anyone who has lived with a high school Junior knows this is one of their busiest years, not only academically but in athletics and school involvement. This seems to be the year students hit full stride and have figured out high school. They are more involved, probably in leadership positions, since that looks good on college applications and performing at their peak athletically because they are being scouted, taking the hardest AP classes and maintaining a healthy social life. Our students are working harder than ever to stay competitive. This is where the calendar takes control in deciding when the best time is to take the SAT, they say numbers don’t lie and those dates will be a clear indication of when a block of time presents itself to take on test prep.

The calendar will clearly show you when you will have time to most importantly prepare and take the SAT. Sit down together and map out the year before school starts, you will quickly see where there is no white space and where you can breathe. Sophomore year is not too early to do this, you may find that the summer before the Junior year is the best time to take test prep and then register for the fall SAT giving you a chance to take it again in the spring after additional test prep and review over the winter break. There are typically 6 tests throughout the school year beginning in September and the last one is in June. Once you see where you have time between sports, student council, band practice, finals, AP testing, college visits, and Prom this is when you need to plan to work diligently on test prep. Test prep is very different than studying for a high school subject exam, you must take several practice tests and study the specific test questions found only on the SAT.

You may decide to take the test in your sophomore year and if this is when you have the most time to dedicate to preparation then this is the best time, likewise you may find waiting until your senior year, when life has settled down and you’re coasting through school. The key is to look at the calendar, select the best test date for you, then count back 6 weeks, that’s when the test prep begins. You do not need to learn a semester of Algebra, you need to learn how to take a standardized test. Prep Expert has 100 strategies we teach students to maneuver through the test without all the intimidation and stress. Dedicating time to test prep and selecting the best time for you to take the SAT is key to your high school success. The test score that you earn on the SAT will be a true reflection of your hard work and planning.

College Admission due dates will also help you decide the best time to take the SAT. It is so important to teach high school kids responsibility, expecting them to meet deadlines, keep their rooms clean and be in by curfew. We want them to think like adults, make rational decisions and listen to tasteful music, according to teenage brain research this isn’t humanly possible. Teenage brains, although learning at peak efficiency are not very efficient when it comes to attention, task completion and self-discipline. This is not a news flash to a parent of a teenager and this when you must step in helping your child manage the imposed schedule of college applications. What does that have to do with when to take the SAT, just about everything since going to college is the reason for taking the SAT.

Colleges will have a regular decision application due date which is typically in January and February, while many of the competitive schools will offer an early decision application date in November and December. This is an added layer to the answer of when you should take the test because now you must consider the application due date, back that up from when you will get your SAT scores, allowing time to retake the test if needed and then submit them with the application. All this requires that you look back to look forward. (rear-view mirror)

Parents need to get involved helping the student manage all this information, and it will take a steady hand at the helm to guide them through the uncharted waters of meeting deadlines outside of their English project. A typical plan many students have followed in order to allow adequate time to improve the score is to take the test in the spring of their sophomore year, evaluate the score, get enrolled in a test prep course with practice tests and focused instruction, leaving time for one or two more tests junior year. Building in preparation time for both the SAT and your college applications is key to obtaining the goal of attending your dream school.

Keep in mind you will not improve without taking time to learn more, test scores do not typically continue to go up just by taking the test over and over. Actual test prep becomes necessary to shatter that stubborn score you can’t seem to get past. You never want to back yourself into a corner without room to make the necessary adjustments ensuring you have done everything possible to show a college you deserve to attend their school.

Outside of buying a calendar today and mapping out the high school years, have a discussion with your child. Find out what they are aiming for, what schools do they want to attend, how can you best help them prepare for the SAT. If they are over busy and can’t seem to find time to work on test prep, then help them figure out what they can cut out of their schedule. We all make time for those things that important to us and this is the pinnacle for a high school student, they just may not realize the importance yet. Nothing that can replace hard work, but if they are just busy they may not be running the around the actual target of a high SAT score, colleges are not looking at how many hours a student spent at school but how those hours translate to a score that is a benchmark of academic achievement.
Challenge your student today to look at what they are focusing their time on and when they see there is time on either side of busy, hopefully they will choose to invest it in themselves. The SAT is something they must to do on their own but not without the help of those with experience and wisdom gently guiding them.

So, go buy a calendar, check out the 2017-18 SAT test dates, plan your test prep and enjoy a lively conversation as you plan your journey to the best SAT test date for you.

NATIONAL MERIT PSAT CUTOFF SCORES: CLASS OF 2018

Last year, we accurately predicted National Merit Scholarship PSAT cutoff scores within a couple of points in every state. This year, we think we’ve got what it takes to do even better!

The National Merit Scholarship Program is run by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, boasting a mission “to promote a wider and deeper respect for learning in general and for exceptionally talented individuals in particular.” As such, ever since the Scholarship Program was brought to life in 1955, it has continuously shined the spotlight on incredibly gifted students as a result of their success on the PSAT taken during their junior year of high school.

Working at Prep Expert, we know the importance of testing. Not just for college admissions and future success, but also for scholarships, accolades, and general achievement. Standardized tests are a major component of getting into college and pursuing your dreams.

Success on the PSAT is also a great indicator of success on the SAT. If you don’t think you performed well on the PSAT, we highly recommend checking out more of our tutorials and resources, or signing up for one of our SAT prep courses!


Commended Students, Semifinalists & Finalists


Commended Students

The difference between commended students and semifinalists is straightforward enough: commended students are recognized on their academic performance, but do not advance in the formal competition for National Merit Scholarships — that is, scholarships officially given out by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

Semifinalist Students

Semifinalists, on the other hand constitute a smaller group than Commended Students (about 15,000 students instead of 35,000), resulting in the highest-scoring test-takers in each state. These Semifinalist Students are then qualified to become Finalists by completing their application to the NMSC by showing that they meet all academic standards required by the organization. This required information is provided by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation at the same time students are notified of their Semifinalist status. Most of it is fairly straightforward; a full, completed application, an extremely solid academic record, a letter of recommendation, an essay, and taking SAT with a similarly strong score thus confirming PSAT performance.

Finalist Students

Typically, about 95% of students who are National Merit Semifinalists go on to become Finalists, so making that Semifinalist list is really the biggest achievement that very often predicts Finalist success. While Commended and Semifinalist Students may still receive “Special Scholarships” sponsored by external businesses and organizations, only Finalists receive official NMSC scholarships.


Scholarship Awards


Of the roughly 15,000 Finalists, around 8,000 will receive Merit Scholarships and various awards. These Finalists are chosen statewide based on a combination of skills, potential for success, and above all, academic achievement.

The NMSC is very poignant about this as well, stating that: “All winners of Merit Scholarship awards (Merit Scholar designees) are chosen from the Finalist group based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments—without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.” This is an important note for those of you competing for these awards; it’s something I paid a lot of close attention to when I was preparing for my PSAT!

The scholarship opportunities that the winning group of students receive is substantial. The total number of scholarships is just shy of $35,000,000, which is around $4,500 per student selected, and comprise less than 1% of the total group of students who took the PSAT.


Class of 2018 NMSC Semifinalist Predictions


The chart below highlights our predictions for 2018 National Merit Semifinalists in each state. These predictions are made based on a variety of Prep Expert metrics and analysis.

These Semifinalist scores are important because they offer the best prediction of success for an NMSC Scholarship. Roughly 50% of students who are National Merit Finalists go on to achieve a significant scholarship from the Corporation.

Please note that we have included both PSAT scores (out of 1520) as well all corresponding National Merit scores (out of 228) in our 2018 ranking analysis.

For a complete list of final results, we’ll update this when the actual scores are released in a few months!

State Class of 2018* Class of 2017 Class of 2016 Class of 2015
Alabama 210 or 1390 212 209 207
Alaska 211 or 1400 210 206 210
Arizona 216 or 1430 216 215 213
Arkansas 208 or 1380 209 204 206
California 222 or 1470 220 223 222
Colorado 214 or 1420 216 215 213
Connecticut 219 or 1450 218 220 220
Delaware 215 or 1430 216 216 215
Washington DC 221 or 1470 221 225 224
Florida 213 or 1420 215 214 211
Georgia 219 or 1450 217 218 215
Hawaii 215 or 1430 215 214 214
Idaho 209 or 1390 212 208 211
Illinois 216 or 1430 218 215 215
Indiana 215 or 1430 214 213 212
Iowa 210 or 1390 212 208 207
Kansas 210 or 1390 214 213 213
Kentucky 212 or 1410 213 210 210
Louisiana 209 or 1390 213 211 208
Maine 214 or 1420 213 211 212
Maryland 222 or 1470 219 222 221
Massachusetts 223 or 1480 220 223 223
Michigan 214 or 1420 213 210 210
Minnesota 212 or 1410 215 214 215
Mississippi 210 or 1390 212 209 207
Missouri 211 or 1400 212 209 209
Montana 205 or 1350 209 204 206
Nebraska 209 or 1390 212 209 209
Nevada 210 or 1390 213 211 208
New Hampshire 215 or 1430 214 213 212
New Jersey 220 or 1460 221 225 224
New Mexico 215 or 1430 212 208 210
New York 218 or 1450 217 219 218
North Carolina 218 or 1450 216 215 212
North Dakota 205 or 1350 207 202 201
Ohio 214 or 1420 216 215 213
Oklahoma 210 or 1390 212 208 206
Oregon 218 or 1450 216 215 217
Pennsylvania 217 or 1440 217 217 216
Rhode Island 215 or 1430 214 212 212
South Carolina 210 or 1390 213 211 209
South Dakota 204 or 1350 207 202 203
Tennessee 215 or 1430 214 212 212
Texas 218 or 1450 218 220 218
Utah 212 or 1410 210 206 208
Vermont 213 or 1410 215 214 213
Virginia 220 or 1460 219 222 219
Washington 219 or 1450 217 219 219
West Virginia 205 or 1350 207 202 201
Wisconsin 212 or 1410 212 208 208
Wyoming 204 or 1340 207 202 204

Additional Program Information


If you’ve yet to take the PSAT and want to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship, remember that in order to do so, you must:

  1. Take the official PSAT no later than in your junior year of high school.
  2. Be fully enrolled in high school with no issues and a normal path towards graduation (keep in mind this can involve being homeschooled).
  3. Be a citizen of the United States or have an application for residence in America with the intention towards attaining permanent citizenship.

There are also ways for students who are not citizens of the US to start the application process. For these students, please visit the NMSC’s website and browse the qualifications for the Scholarship Program.

Are you interested in improving your SAT or ACT test-taking abilities? Check out some of our other articles for additional assistance or give us a call at (877) 345-7737 and speak with one of our customer service representatives about our courses and tutoring packages! We’re working around the clock to make sure you receive the help you need to succeed on standardized tests.

6 Time Management Tips for Online SAT Prep Students

Online SAT prep courses give students an incredible amount of flexibility with their schedules, but with this kind of freedom, some students may find it difficult to stay on track. It’s easy to put off coursework without deadlines, but in online SAT courses this habit can dramatically affect your final score. The following are some methods for self-discipline and time management.

Create a weekly schedule on paper.

Outlining your normal activities and marking times to dedicate to study and coursework. Successful online students report that they dedicate 2-3 hours of their time to the course for each hour of lessons they have.

Use a course calendar to mark coursework deadlines.

If the course or the instructor doesn’t require deadlines for any of the material, set deadlines for your coursework and stick to them.

Use extra time during the day to work on studies.

There are always moments in life when you’re sitting idle. Bringing study materials along with you to find opportunities like lunch hours, waiting in lines or offices, commuting, work breaks, and so on for extra study time.

Try to work ahead.

Keeping up with coursework and working ahead can give more flexibility if and when life events interfere or emergencies occur. If nothing else, getting ahead will give you some moments to relax towards the end of the course.

Make study time at least a half an hour long.

This length of time without interruptions will encourage more in-depth learning and retention of material. To keep from interrupting yourself with peeks at the clock, you can set a timer for the length of time you’ve dedicated to study.

Don’t battle problems

If a section of coursework is giving you trouble, put it away and try again later when your mind is fresh. If it’s still giving you problems, don’t waste time chewing it over yourself. The instructor and your fellow students are valuable sources of information and assistance.

Online SAT courses take dedication to be successful. Students may have the interest and motivation to excel in a certain online course subject, but without good time management, they may still find themselves under performing. Keeping these time management tips in mind can help students stay on the road to obtaining the perfect SAT score.

Pencils Up: The Origin and Evolution of the SAT

A question: Which historical exams played a role in the development of the SAT?

[A] U.S.A. Military Army Alpha IQ exams in World War I
[B] IQ tests administered to children in 1905 France
[C] The U.S.A. Army-Navy College Qualifying Test during World War II
[D] A and C
[E] All of the Above

E is correct and worth one point. Before 2016, selecting any other answer would result in a ¼ penalty. But in 2016, a wrong answer yields neither penalty nor point gain.

Once upon a time, it began life as an acronym: SAT stood for “Scholastic Aptitude Test” and later the “Scholastic Assessment Test.” It has existed for eight decades; it hung around the Great Depression and partook in two World Wars.

The family tree of the SAT can be traced back to its ancestral roots overseas in 1905 France. French Psychologist Albert Binet established the Binet-Simon IQ standardized test to evaluate the mental ages and capacity of children to distinguish the gifted and those left behind in their studies.

A Princeton psychology professor, Carl Brigham, took notes from Binet. Brigham would integrate the Binet-Simon methods into the American framework. Brigham experimented with Binet’s studies through the U.S. Army Alpha Test, proto-SATs, to sort out the best military recruits during World War I. Perceiving its application to academia, Brigham adapted his test for the classrooms (“Where Did The Test Come From?”).

Thus, in 1926, the College Board debuted Brigham’s SAT, the Scholastic Aptitude Test to 8,040 students, departing from the traditional written exams (Jacobsen). Having experienced the quintessential four-hours-plus exam of today, modern students might find it amusing that the first SAT was 90 minutes with 315 questions of vocabulary and basic math and fill-in-the-blank analogies.

The SAT was a rising academic presence. Like an intrigued talent scout, Harvard University saw potential in the SAT in 1933. Harvard president, James Conant assigned his dean assistants, Henry Chauncey and Wilbur Bender, to find a means of selecting the best students for admission into Harvard. By 1934, the SAT was deemed to be the solution and Harvard required all applicants to take the SAT.

In 1943, the Army-Navy College Qualifying Test, a variation of the SAT, was distributed to 316,000 high school seniors. This verified that it could be mass-produced and administered to a large number of students. In 1948, Henry Chauncey founded the Educational Testing Service (ETS) with Conant as chairman of the board and the SAT as we know it today was born.

In 1957, a milestone was checked off: over half a million of students had taken the SAT that year. To organize its flood of applicants, the University of California eventually made the SAT mandatory in 1967 under Chauncey’s recommendation. From then on, nearly all private universities followed suit.

By offering a standardized measurement of intellectual ability, the SAT helped minimize potential biases in the college admissions process. In the pre-SAT days, universities picked students from elite private schools without a test (“The History of the SAT”). But Chauncey encouraged the selection of applicants based on merits rather than one’s background (Woo, 2002). No test is perfect, but it was closer to the goal of objectivity, a chance to circumvent obstacles created by a student’s economic and social background.

Then emerged the ACT in 1959. Professor Everett Franklin Lindquist designed the ACT to be the answer to perceived shortcomings of the SAT. The ACT, once called the American College Test, bore similar blueprints to the SAT with a few major distinctions: it covered classroom subject material rather than measuring one’s IQ, and it covered science and social studies. If the SAT was about general logic and critical thinking, the ACT focused on the knowledge contained in school text books (Fletcher, 2009). As a result, the ACT has been viewed a favorable alternative to the SAT.

Despite being competitors, the SAT and ACT aren’t hostile archenemies. In fact, the established differences in what these tests measure, ultimately led to their co-existence. By 2009, the College Board established the “Score Choice” policy, which allowed students to pick their best score to send to their desired colleges (although, exceptions like Cornell University, require all scores be sent). An SAT-taker could also take the ACT as a safety net, or vice-versa. Students opt to endure both ACT and SAT to further their chances of college acceptance, strategically submitting their most attractive scores (Lewin, 2013). If anything, a student’s calculated practice of both exams can render themselves a launch pad to future prospects.

Over time, demand for better test scores by parents and students has led to the emergence of test prep companies such as Kaplan, Prep Expert, and the Princeton Review. Parents enroll their children into prep courses to attain the skills necessary for beating these tests. Skills such as time management and deductive reasoning tricks, will bolster scores and collegiate prospects (Wasson, 2014).

Nowadays, the SAT has relinquished its identity from the old words in its bygone acronym, but remain synonymous with academic rites of passage. Scott Jeffe, a spokesman for the College Board in New York, said, “The SAT has become the trademark; it doesn’t stand for anything. The SAT is the SAT, and that’s all it is” (Applebome, 1997).

Shortly thereafter, controversy boils over, as low-income students struggle to afford testing fees. Many debated that the exam was not in sync with the actual grade point averages or a child’s intellectual abilities. The adage, “You’re more than a test score,” caught on.

As a result, the College Board has addressed those concerns, promising more fee waivers and extensive revamping. In the words of the College Board President David Coleman,

“We must confront the inequalities that now surround assessment, such as costly test preparation. It is time for the College Board to say in a clear voice the culture and practice of test preparation that now surrounds admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country.” (“College Board announces SAT overhaul…”)

By 2016, the SAT had undergone extensive revisions to accommodate the paradigm shift noted above, adopting a few cues from the ACT in the process. The Writing Section, a 2005 add-on, became optional, the 2400 score reverted back to the old 1600, and students were no longer penalized for wrong answers. A wrong answer now being equal to an unanswered question.

For many, the recent revisions are not justification to not prepare or to skip the exams entirely. The SAT remains the key to admissions and scholarships. Colleges will continue to court high-scoring students, offering up millions in merit-based academic excellence scholarships. Thus, the absence of an SAT score would lessen the probability of college admission or the acquisition of scholarships, or financial aid.

In addition, a decent SAT score can diminish the unattractiveness of a low GPA. The standards may have loosened, but that doesn’t mean it negates the challenge of quality SAT or ACT score.

The SAT should not be construed as an accurate reading, the One True Perfect Determinator, of an individual’s academic fitness for college. It still provides a measurable examination that complements the qualities of a student. At best, it does not reduce a child to a test score number, but rather, offers strategic fodder and a buffer in one’s college application.

This writer’s takeaway: The SAT might change, but the needs of an organization to vet their student applicants, and those of the student to stand out from the crowd, have not.

That said, number 2 pencils are still going up.

Work Cited
Applebome, P. (1997, April 2). Insisting It’s Nothing, Creator Says SAT, Not S.A.T.
Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1997/04/02/us/insisting-it-s-nothing-creator-says-sat-not-sat.html?_r=0

Bruno, L. (2006, April 4). USATODAY.com – More universities are going SAT-optional.
Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2006-04-04-standardized-tests_x.htm

Cheng, A. (2015, January 15). What does ACT stand for? The Complete Story –
PrepScholar. Retrieved October 23, 2016, from http://blog.prepscholar.com/what-does-act-stand-for

College Board announces SAT overhaul to address inequality … (2014, March 5).
Retrieved October 25, 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/college-board-announces-sat-overhaul/

Fletcher, D. (2009, December/January). A Brief History of Standardized Testing – TIME.
Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1947019,00.html.

Hickey, R. (2016, February 1). How to choose between the ACT and SAT | College Choice
Retrieved October 23, 2016, from http://college.usatoday.com/2016/02/01/how-to-choose-between-the-act-and-sat/

Jacobsen, E. (n.d.). A (Mostly) Brief History Of The SAT And ACT Tests.
Retrieved October 25, 2016, from http://www.erikthered.com/tutor/sat-act-history.html

Lewin, T. (2013, August 2). More Students Are Taking Both the ACT and SAT – The New.
Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/education/edlife/more-students-are-taking-both-the-act-and-sat.html

The history of the SAT. (n.d.).
Retrieved October 23, 2016, from http://www.manhattanreview.com/sat-history/

Timeline of SAT Changes | College: Admission Possible. (n.d.).
Retrieved October 25, 2016, from http://www.kaptest.com/blog/admission-possible/a-timeline-of-sat-changes/

Wasson, J. (2014, September). Top 3 Benefits of PSAT, SAT & ACT Test Prep.
Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://www.doorwaytocollege.com/blog/top-3-benefits-of-psat-sat-act-test-prep.

Where Did The Test Come From? – History Of The Sat – A … (n.d.).
Retrieved October 25, 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/sats/where/timeline.html

Woo, E. (2002, December 5). Henry Chauncey, 97; Pioneered Use of SAT in College.
Retrieved October 25, 2016, from http://articles.latimes.com/2002/dec/05/local/me-chauncey5

6 Effective Study Habits When Preparing For The SAT

You have sat down at your desk, with those piles of books and study notes staring back at you. You turn a page, start to read and by line 5 you are lost, your mind thinking about what’s for supper.

This won’t do. You have to focus. You have to get all this information into your head or your SAT exams will be toast!

So, how can one make preparing for the SAT easier? We have a few tricks up our sleeve, on making these all-important pre-entry tests to college that much more doable.

Preparing For The SAT

Before you even embark on that treacherous journey of studying, preparing for the act is paramount. And what we mean by this is actually living and breathing all that encompasses a studious lifestyle.

Tip 1 – Read Read Read

  • You should never get enough of reading.
  • Upping your vocab skills can be the make or break with most things in life.
  • Whether it’s that interview for your first job, that conversation you will have to have with your girlfriend’s father or a SAT exam.
  • Just read everything and anything you can get your hands on.

Tip 2 – Write Write Write

  • We are so used to texting and typing that the physical action of writing with a pen can actually be the tipping point to disaster.
  • Practice writing whenever you get the chance.
  • Be it that love letter to your boyfriend, that sneaky note to your bestie during class or just a “I will be out” note to Mom before going out to visit friends.
  • You will get those hand and finger muscles flexing and bending. And believe me, you will thank us once you actually sit down for that exam.

Taking The SAT

Taking the SAT can be a nerve-racking experience, but if you have taken the time to prepare for the SAT, remind yourself that you have taken every measure you can to succeed on this test. Now simply clear you mind and allow everything you have learned to emerge.

Tip 1 – Preparation is Key

  • It seems like an obvious one, but many don’t prepare ahead of time.
  • Know when your exam date is, plot your workload out into weeks and days.
  • And know that you simply cannot cram it all in over one night.

Tip 2 – Test Yourself

  • Being in the moment of an exam environment, with the quietness, the contactlessness (no that’s not a real word) and the simple use of pen to paper, will do you well as a practice beforehand.
  • Tell your family and friends you will be offline for an hour, at least, that you don’t want to be disturbed and try and simulate the entire episode of that exam day.
  • We have many online SAT Prep Course offerings that can help you mimic that dreaded day.

Tip 3 – Key Words

  • Key words are vital.
  • When it comes to pages and pages of words that you need to some how retain and then regurgitate, you will find your brain will overflow and feel like it’s going to explode.
  • Learn how to choose the important key words out from segments of text. Not every word is useful.
  • Flashcards are a good way of remembering key words. Read an entire paragraph and then pull out the words that give that section meaning.

Tip 4 – Say it Out Loud

  • When it comes to learning, the simplest trick can be to say it aloud.
  • Reading words and words inside your head can make you go mad after a time.
  • Take a few pages and read them aloud. Be sure you are alone of course and not holed up in a corner of the library or at the dinner table.
  • One step further could be to record yourself and play this back whilst driving, bathing or when having a quiet moment on your bed. There is something to be said for the spoken word.

Preparing for the SAT need not be a daunting task at all, take a deep breath and remember what you’ve learned.

Good Luck!

New SAT Guide By Shaan Patel Is #1 On The Amazon Best-Seller List

The New SAT Guide by Shaan Patel was recently ranked #1 on the Amazon Best Seller List earlier this month!

You Can Purchase The New SAT Guide Product Here: http://amzn.to/2ciAYqc

We would like to thank everyone that helped to make this possible. Please take a moment to watch a video from our Owner & Founder Shaan Patel himself.

SAT Success – Student Scores 1500 On SATs

Just this summer, a graduate of our Online SAT Prep Class, Riley W., scores a solid 1500 on his SATs. He wrote to tell us about his experience and his plans for the future. Please take a moment to read Riley’s letter below.

Hi Shaan,

My name is Riley W. and I was a student in one of your online SAT prep classes earlier this year. Inspired by entrepreneurs like you, my classmates and I organized a local speaker series in Portland, Oregon on business and entrepreneurship. As we listened to our speakers onstage, we realized our speaker series model is scalable, and formed Tile.

Tile is an organization that provides all of the resources necessary for high schoolers to start their own speaker series anywhere in the world. People can set up a chapter in their community and use our techniques to book speakers and secure event spaces. Currently, we have chapters in Portland, South Dakota, and on the Purdue campus, and aim to add many more and make the knowledge of successful entrepreneurs accessible to everyone.

Since you’ve influenced my classmates and I in our journey to become entrepreneurs, I was wondering if you could give us a shout-out on your blog or connect us to someone who would be interested in what we are doing.

Thank you,

Riley W.

Thank you Riley for the kind words, we wish you the best of luck on continuing your education and the new organization you have founded, Tile. We look forward to seeing and hearing great things from you!

Forbes Named Shaan Patel #5 of 10 Shark Tank Entrepreneurs To Look Out For In 2016

Shaan Patel, President & Owner of Prep Expert was named number five on Forbes’ list of top ten Shark Tank Entrepreneurs to look out for in 2016 and we couldn’t agree more. Prep Expert has grown leaps and bounds since Shaan first started teaching students the secrets to increasing their SAT and ACT scores. He’s no longer the only teacher and our in-person courses have been popping up all over the country.

Our prep system is attracting a lot of attention and people are responding, maintaining our momentum with all the growth presents the greatest challenge, but Shaan is confident that the improvements being made to all of facets of Prep Expert will propel this brand to new heights leading into 2017.

Read Article: 10 Shark Tank Entrepreneurs Age 30 And Under To Watch In 2016

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