Wednesday, March 23, 2016

ACT vs SAT: Testing Wars Heat Up

The college admissions testing war is heating up. 

The College Board recently launched the new SAT which included pretty significant changes to the test format. Gone is the funky scoring system in which the raw score is calculated by the formula of one point for a correct answer, -0.25 points for an incorrect answer and no points added or subtracted for an omitted answer. Also gone are the Sentence Completion questions that were fill-in-the-blanks to test vocabulary. 

Truth be told, the new SAT seems to be a bit more like the current ACT. Perhaps over the years, the College Board saw many students migrate to the ACT so they felt a rebranded test would lure students back to the SAT. 

But the College Board is not the only one engaging in some friendly competition. 

In an effort to capture some of the practice test market, the makers of the ACT have recently launched the PreACT. The PreACT is designed for high school sophomores to gauge potential ACT scores and prepare students for the ACT in the future. 

The College Board, and its PSAT, have dominated the practice test market for years. Typically administered by schools for sophomores and juniors, the PSAT is a practice SAT. Most schools use the PSAT to get their students ready for the SAT. 

Now that the makers of the ACT have the PreACT, they too seem positioned to target schools and enter the practice test market. 

What does this mean for students? Not much, really. Perhaps some friendly competition between test makers will drive prices down. But in all reality, the strategy does not change: take both tests, find out which one you like better, focus on preparing for one of them and book the best score possible. 

For more test prep news, advice and tips, subscribe to this blog at CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula's go-to resource for test prep and academic tutoring. Contact CROSSWALK here. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Whats and Whens of College Planning

When working with a new SAT or ACT prep student, I frequently initiate a session with the following question: what score do you need to get into the school of your choice? 

The answer to this question generally results in two lessons, the first to determine the ideal schools for a student and the second to figure out what SAT or ACT score the ideal schools require for a student. 

Armed with a specific score, I then work with the student to show him or her how to achieve the desired score. This is the basic concept of planning by beginning with the end in mind

Nevertheless, in the pursuit of college admission, test scores are only part of the equation. There is much more to college planning than booking a good test score. 

With this in mind, a valuable college planning resource was recently recommended to me: The Complete College Planning Calendar. This infographic is an excellent timeline for students and their families to chart out what is needed and when for college planning. 

Whether or not you will have or use a college planner in your process, this timeline is an excellent way to stay on task and on target. It is a useful resource to plan with the end in mind for the college application process. 

If you find you need test prep advice along the way, contact CROSSWALK. We specialize in ACT/SAT test prep for high schoolers but also offer academic tutoring and learning support for students of all ages. We offer face-to-face tutoring on the Monterey Peninsula and Skype tutors anywhere. Determine your path to learning success here