Posts filed under ‘tests’

Harvard’s admissions advice

From a Harvard admissions counselor:

  • Harvard's freshmen dining hallThe essay is meant to be a personal statement, not a personal statement.  Try to let them see the real you.  It should be something that only you could have written.
  • SAT scores and grades are used to answer the question of whether you can hack it academically.  That’s a yes or no question, not one of degrees, so inching the numbers up isn’t going to matter.
  • “Well rounded” does not mean you can check off boxes in the athletics, community service, leadership, and extra-curriculars categories. It’s not backwards-looking into your past performance, it’s forward-looking.  It means you’ll have something you’ll want to do at Harvard other than studying, something that you’ll contribute to the community, something that interests you that you can continue to pursue at Harvard.
  • They want to make sure their applicants will make good roommates.

September 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

Hit the Scholarship Jackpot with the PSAT

Scoring in the top 1% on the PSAT test can be hugely beneficial to high school juniors. In addition to qualifying for the $2500 scholarship that the College Board awards to National Merit Scholars, these high scorers can expect (a) higher acceptance rates at the nation’s elite colleges and (b) lucrative scholarship offers, ranging as high as full tuition, room and board.

How can your child get on this gravy train?

Continue Reading September 3, 2009 at 10:06 pm Leave a comment

SAT or ACT: more to consider

SAT/ACT tips from Dr. Sheila Griffith, founder of Knowsys Test Prep:

  • If you are weak on vocabulary, you might do better on the SAT.  The ACT embeds difficult vocabulary into the reading passages, so, if you don’t understand the vocabulary, you may miss the meaning of the passage.
  • If you need frequent breaks, take the SAT.
  • If you are weak in math, but good with graphs or visual problems, take the ACT.  The “science” section of the ACT is really data interpretation using graphs with scientific terms or applications.
  • If you have already had trigonometry, you’re ready for the ACT’s math section.

Successful essay writing varies by exam.  For the ACT, include contra-arguments.  For the SAT, pick a side of the issue and stick to it.

April 28, 2009 at 6:54 am Leave a comment

Take the SAT subject tests seriously

Although the vast majority of schools don’t require the SAT IIs, those that do tend to be the highly selective schools. The Ivy League schools weight the SAT IIs equally with the SAT (or ACT) in triaging applications.

Continue Reading April 14, 2009 at 6:24 am Leave a comment


Q. Which test should a student take, the ACT or the SAT?

A. Whichever one the student will do better on.

Yeah, I know.  The next question is…

Q. Which test will a student do better on?

A. A student who is not strong is math might do better with the ACT, which includes a science section.  Leastways, that approach worked for both my husband and my daughter.

Q. Since the tests have different grading scales, how can you tell which score is better?

A.  Use the SAT / ACT Concordance Chart.

Q. So what strategy should we use?

A. Take both the ACT and SAT during junior year and see which one yields the highest score.  Continue to take that test at least once more.

March 18, 2009 at 2:40 pm Leave a comment

SAT subject test strategies

To partially answer my own question…

  • Students should take the foreign language SAT subject tests after completing 3 years of language classes.  Don’t wait until finishing the AP course.  The subject tests cover grammar, not the literature that is the focus of the AP classes.
  • Math students should take the SAT subject tests after completing algebra, geometry, and trigonometry / pre-calculus.  It doesn’t cover calculus, so don’t wait to take it until you’ve taken calculus, as you might forget some of the material that is on the test.

(From a book I browsed while waiting to talk to the high school counselor.  Sorry, I didn’t write down the title.)

February 25, 2009 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment

SAT subject tests: what’s your strategy?

Some of the colleges we’ve checked out – but by no means a majority – require SAT subject test scores.

This is a topic on which our high school counselors have given no guidance and I don’t find it in the guidebooks, either.  So what should a student’s strategy be?

The elite math/science focused schools expect 2-3 SAT subject test scores and one has to be the tougher Math 2 test.  I’m surmising that the Math 2 subject test is tougher or requires more advanced math than the SAT or the AP Calculus BC test or both…but I don’t know that to be true.

  • Should a student take both the AP test and the SAT subject test in the same subject?
  • Are the subject tests for the subjects where he did NOT take the AP class or test?
  • Are they tougher than the AP tests?
  • What scores are considered good?
  • Should a student study for the subject tests?
  • Are they just for placement or do they figure into the admissions decision?

It amazes me that, with all the advice out there on college admissions, I’m finding almost nothing on this topic.

February 15, 2009 at 8:16 pm Leave a comment

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