Demystifying SAT and ACT Scores: Their Role in College Admissions
Are you a high school student planning to apply to college? Do you feel overwhelmed by the SAT and ACT and their impact on your college admissions journey? Don’t let the standardized tests be a source of confusion and stress! Join our webinar, “Demystifying SAT & ACT Scores: Their Role in College Admissions,” and gain clarity on how these tests influence your college application process.
Designed specifically for high school students and their families, this insightful webinar presented by admissions expert Katerina Kulagina will demystify the role of SAT and ACT scores. You will gain a comprehensive understanding of how these scores are evaluated and utilized in the college admissions process.
During this webinar, you will:
- Understand the importance of standardized test scores: Learn why colleges consider SAT and ACT scores and how they factor into the overall admissions evaluation.
- Discover the key differences between the SAT and ACT: Explore the format, content, and structure of each test, allowing you to choose the best fit for your strengths and preferences.
- Gain insights into score reporting policies: Understand how colleges interpret and utilize test scores, including super-scoring, score choice, and test-optional policies.
- Explore alternative pathways: Discover colleges that have test-optional policies and understand how these policies can impact your application.
- Understand the holistic admissions process: Learn how standardized test scores fit into the broader context of your application, alongside other important factors such as GPA, extracurricular activities, and essays.
- Gain expert advice on interpreting and analyzing your scores: Understand percentiles, score ranges, and how to assess your performance relative to college admissions standards.
- Engage in a live Q&A session: Have your specific questions addressed by our panel of experts to ensure you have a clear understanding of SAT and ACT scores and their impact on college admissions.
Demystifying SAT and ACT scores is essential to navigate the college admissions process successfully. This webinar will equip you with the knowledge and insights necessary to approach these tests with confidence and understand their role in your college applications.
Don’t let the SAT and ACT tests overshadow your college aspirations. Join us for the “Demystifying SAT & ACT Scores: Their Role in College Admissions” webinar and gain the clarity you need to navigate the standardized testing landscape effectively. Register now and take the first step towards achieving your college goals!
2023-06-14 – Demystifying SAT & ACT Scores: Their Role in College Admissions
Hi everyone. My name is Stacey Tuttle, and I am your moderator today. Welcome to “Demystifying SAT and ACT Scores: Their Role in the College Admissions Process.” To orient everyone with the webinar timing. We’ll start off with a presentation and then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar.
You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A tab. Now let’s meet our panelist. Hi everyone. It’s wonderful to virtually meet you, although I can’t see anyone. But I feel you, so I feel your presence. My name is Katerina Kulagina. I am a former admissions advisor with CollegeAdvisor.
I actually currently work in the admissions world at a top university, but I have had in my vast experience in higher education, which includes over 20 years, I’ve worked in various roles advising undergraduate and graduate students, working in student services, alumni affairs. So I really know what universities are looking for when they’re selecting their future representative alumni. That’s how I like to think of it. So during the course of the presentation, while we will be obviously chatting about the standardized tests, I do want to draw your attention to the fact that this is only one aspect of your application. So if you have any other questions about the application process in general, I’d be happy to answer those time permitting.
Wonderful. Thank you. So to kick off, we do wanna get started. Just getting to know everybody in the room today in relation to today’s topic. So you’re gonna see a poll up appear in front of you. Now we wanna know which standardized tests have you taken or are you planning to take?
So the SAT, ACT? Both or you’re not sure. And this is a really big question for my high schoolers right now, Katerina, I’m sure. You have this question come up a lot. Which one do I take? Mm-hmm. I ended up taking the SAT in high school for some reason. That seems to be the fan favorite, but well, you know, yeah, it’s debatable because when my daughter was going through this a couple years ago, she took the SAT, she didn’t like the, the format of the test and she ended up studying for the ACT. And so she did well on the ACT. But back then she also had to take the SAT subject tests for some schools, which you are lucky that you are lucky that you don’t have to do that anymore. Uhhuh have those subject.
So I’m gonna close the poll now. It looks like true to what we were just talking about the SAT seems to be the more popular, but we do have a little bit of variety here. Some are taking ACT, some aren’t sure still, and even then there’s who are gonna take both which is a strategy.
So with that, I wanna turn it over to you, Katerina, for the main part of the presentation. And so take it away. Thanks, Stacey. Appreciate it. Now you’re gonna be in the background here. So that’s great. At least I’ll see one face, familiar face. So here is the big question. What is the impact? Why do I need to take this test?
Like, why are colleges asking for this? The, there are a couple of reasons. Students who are coming from different educational backgrounds it’s difficult to present your candidacy for the university to have a, a kind of a standard bare minimum by which universities select candidates, right? So this really equalizes the levels, the playing field, if you will, and universities are really comparing your academic readiness preparedness for college.
This is just one way to prepare Or, sorry, one way to assess your preparedness Now. Another big aspect is to really understand where your weaknesses and strengths are. So if you’re applying if you’re thinking of applying to a STEM major, Universities will probably take a stronger look at how you did on the math portion of the SAT, right.
And how, or the ACT versus verbal, they might give you a little slack on the verbal. Not to say that you, you know, don’t have to study for that, but I’m just giving you kind of an honest. Honest feedback here. And then of course third aspect is any merit scholarships. Merit means academics.
How good of a student are you? And we don’t look at anything else but your test score and in some cases it’s also your GPA. So, Those are the big ticketed items for colleges in terms of why we’re looking for this. Now, please you know, rest assured that this is not the only measure by which we assess candidates.
And actually, when I was doing my research for this presentation, I was pleasantly surprised that about 80% of universities are now even test optional. And we’ll talk a little bit about. That later down the road. But I hope that kind of gives you an insight into why we’re asking for the, for the tests.
Some colleges require it, it’s an absolute requirement. Others, like I just mentioned, it’s optional for you. And then you have a tough choice to make. Do why I submit my test course or. Do I just go with what I have? You will be assessed in addition to your test score, you will be assessed on your academic performance in high school.
So your GPA, anything else you’ve done outside of academics, such as any extracurricular activities. So volunteering sports, music, anything like that. And of course any achievements honors that you’ve received that could be related to academics or another field. And two more aspects are your letters of recommendation.
And then of course your essay. Essay prompts are really important. So don’t think of this test, whichever you decide to take as being. The absolute deal breaker here. Okay? This is just one aspect, so I want you to get in that mindset that while it is important, it’s not the only thing that matters in your application.
Okay? Moving right along. So, oh, sorry. So as I mentioned, I’m sorry, I don’t know if you’re seeing some things on my screen popping up. As I mentioned, the there are two tests. We have the Scholastic Aptitude Test, which is the SAT and the ACT, which is the American College Testing. International.
I’m not sure if we have any international students in the audience, but if you are an international student, you will be also required to take the, one of the English language tests that’s available on the market to showcase your English language ability. We, we will not be going into detail about that in this presentation.
So between the two tests, I mean, really they. Colleges do not really have a preference which one you submit unless it’s explicitly stated on their, on the admission site that they want you to take the SAT or the ACT, which I personally have haven’t experienced, and in like over 20 years of higher education, I haven’t really seen a college explicitly stating that, but you know, I.
May be wrong but do your research. Definitely do your research. Neither test is harder. Right. Than the other. So the SAT or the ACT is harder than one than the other because they, generally speaking, they, they measure the same thing. Like they wanna make sure that you have basic skillset in reading comprehension in math basic skills that you need to succeed in college.
Right? And so when I, when you’re thinking about whether or not to submit your test to test optional school there are a couple things you should consider. So let’s say you didn’t do well. Or you’re not a, that strong of a student in terms of a g, your GPA, your academic performance, but you know, you’re a great, great test acre and you do it extremely well on the SAT or ACT somewhere in the, like 75th percentile or above.
Well, that’s an. Awesome reason to submit your test to a school because that kind of, that balances out right? Your undergrad, your high school performance. And it showcases the admissions committee. Yeah. You know, I can kick butt on this academic stuff. So definitely in that case, you know, consider submitting now.
If you are also maybe lacking in. Extracurriculars or anything of that sort, that’s probably another reason for you to submit the test. Just because the, the committee will want to know, okay, well they don’t really have much to show for in other areas, but they are a strong student academically.
Or at least, you know, the, the, the test predicts how well you will be. How, how, how well you will perform in college. Basically, that’s what research shows, right? That, so basically if they see that you did okay or well on the test, then okay, we can, we can admit the student let’s give them a chance.
And then of course, additionally, if there any merit based scholarships that the school to which you’re applying. Offers, most of the time they require a test, right? To review your test score. So merit based that, again, merit, they’re need based and merit based scholarships that schools offer.
And we’re just purely talking about the merit aspect of it.
Okay. So just kind of rundown, basic rundown, that SAT it’s a three hour test. You do have breaks. The, the test evaluates math and kind of like. Overarching English language ability. The average score is 1050 as of 2022, and the highest you can get is 1600 on the, I’m sure this is. You know, no, not a surprise.
You probably heard about this already, but the 1600 is the top score for the SAT 1050 is the average score. Now because there are two sections, each section you can score maximum of 800. So 800 plus 800 is 1600. So it is your. Your total score right is the sum of the two sections. So your goal is to score as high as possible on each of the sections.
Now, if you are. Again, I mentioned this earlier, but if you are thinking about applying to a liberal arts college you, you, you know, for a non STEM related major, let’s say in communications then you probably want to showcase your skillset in that area more than the math area Now, If, if you tend to score closer to, let’s say 800 on the test oh, sorry.
On the English portion of the test, and you are Let’s say, I don’t know, you know, 500 in, in on, on math. Well, do I take or do I retake the test? What should I do? That’s kind of the question right? On everybody’s mind. You may want to consider retaking the test and see if you can bump up your math score just to tad higher, because even.
By increasing your score a li by a little bit, that puts you in a different percentile. And so schools will be also looking at that. Okay. How well did you score compared to other candidates? Right? And are you closer to the average or. Perhaps even higher than the average of the candidate pool that’s supplying or the statistics in general of students who have previously applied to that particular university.
So major wise, it may makes sense for you to, you know, consider, okay, what should I focus my attention more on math or verbal? And then, After you take a practice test and maybe another, you know, test, maybe a couple of times you take the test, you’ll, you’ll, you’ll get a feel for it and you’ll understand whether or not you have the capacity and time to focus on a, give an area to increase.
Improve your score. I know that’s a lot of information. I’m sorry, but that’s the nature of the beast is to, is to give you all this information. And then we’ll, again, I I, I’m sure you’ll have questions that we’ll, we’ll go over during the presentation. Okay. So I think I kind of went over this.
So your, your, your raw score is simply the number of questions you answered correctly. So the SAT does not punish you for skipping or getting the question wrong, right? They award you for answering correctly. I kind of like that mentality. I think that’s kind of positive reinforcement in a sense. And so then they.
There’s a whole formula of how that number is then you know, converted into a, a scaled score. I don’t even know how they do it, so don’t ask me how. But the fact of the matter is that you know, your, your test score is as good as. The college you wanna get into. So you, you, you, there are so many wonderful higher education opportunities for students to attend in the United States that Any score that you get on the SAT and ACT will get you somewhere, right?
So if you ask me, well, what’s a good score? Well, where do you wanna go? Like, what’s your goal? Right? So are you shooting for, you know, Ivy Leagues? Well, that’s a different category, right? You different mindset of studying and, and, and, and pursuing your path that way. Are you okay with, you know like 52, a hundred school.
Are you okay with, you know a state school or you know, a local university wherever you, you know, you live? Like that’s it. It, it all depends on what your goals academically and career-wise are, right? So We, you know, a CollegeAdvisor I think would do a good job really talking to students and counseling them throughout their academic journey with us.
That, you know, we really help them kind of select their, their, their pathway and their school list and talking about why do you wanna go to a particular university and what’s your aim? What, what is your aim? What do you hope to achieve anyway? It’s a whole conversation that we have with, with our clients.
But I’m going to move forward since I wanna, I know everybody’s eager to get to the Q&A. So I’m gonna keep this relatively short. So the ACT, the ACT is also roughly 30 three hours. Now the difference is that the ACT is has an optional writing section, whereas the SAT no longer has that option.
And by the way both tests have digital versions. So the SAT will become fully digital in spring of 2024. So if you’re planning on taking the test this year, then you know, study for the pencil and paper version of it. But if you’re planning to study or take the test next year, then. Consider looking at the digital option.
And the ACT has also gone digital, although I’m not sure if it’s completely digitalized all the way or if it’s also converting fully next year. I’m, I, you, we, you may wanna do research on that aspect. And Katerina, sorry just to interrupt. Cause there was a comment in the chat with the digitized version of the SAT I believe it is going to drop from three hours to two hours, so I just wanted to highlight that as well.
Yep. Yep. Thank you for pointing that out. Now that doesn’t mean that you can take it out of the, you know, comfort, comfort of your own home on your laptop. You still have to go to a testing site to do it. They just provide you with a computer. So so cuz I, I often get that question too. All right, so, you know, the ACT maximum you can score is 36 points and the composite score is, it’s the average of the sections in English, math, reading, science, and writing.
So you see that science. Section, which you don’t have in the SAT don’t be concerned or alarmed. It’s not gonna test you on kind of the knowledge about science. It’s more about comprehension and understanding how to interpret data. Not so much knowing like everything about physics or biology, right?
They’re not gonna be testing on you on that. But the, the, the writing section, Some, again, some universities have a required writing section, right? So they, they want you to submit your, your essay to showcase, excuse me to, to showcase your skillset. Others optional. For math questions, they’re roughly arranged in order of difficulty.
So generally you’ll see more algebra questions towards the beginning and more geometry and trig towards the end of any ACT math section. Reading is four different subsections and each of these subsections has either one long passage or two shorter. Paired passages very predictable. I think the ACT is kind of more predictable than the SAT in terms of structure.
And again, you know, the science section, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s just like with the reading section, it’s not necessary for you to have the specific background and knowledge in all any of these topic areas except for math. You just need the skills to interpret the passages correctly for science.
And on the writing section, the prompts tend to address contemporary issues. For example, pros and cons of living in an increasingly, increasingly automated society, something like that. So just kind of be prepared to, to address that, those type of questions. You will be notified everything, all this the score will be sent to you via email.
You for both SAT and ACT, typically couple of weeks, two to three weeks. And you may take and retake the test multiple times, both SAT and ACT. Okay, so what factors should I consider when deciding which test to take? I, you see, I, I, I, this is kind of what I, I kind of gathered four main points here, but really in depends what I, I suggest.
To take both tests full length when you’re just starting to prepare, right? Just take those practice tests and see what format suits you the most, because by taking a full length test, well, first of all, you’ll understand, okay, this is, you know two to three hour commitment. You know, how, how’s my mindset?
Am I getting agitated? Am I, you know, do I need a. What do, how can I control myself basically in that testing environment, right? That’s the first thing. And secondly you will understand which format works for you the best. Very very important. And then what I would suggest is do not spend time on preparing for both of the tests.
So once you identify which format works for you, Having taken a full length practice test of both, make sure you spend your time wisely and focus on either or. Either I’m preparing for the SAT and I’m going for it, or I’m preparing for the ACT and I’m going for it. Remember that you still have to do well in high school in all of your classes while you’re preparing for these tests, right? You still have to volunteer. You still have to do all of those things that you, you know, make your application stand out. So there’s no logical reason why you would have to spend endless hours on, you know, test prepping for, for both tests.
So when do you, when do most students take the first test? So the college board recommends taking it at least twice. Once during your spring of your, of your junior year and again in the fall of your senior year. Now I know students. Take it more than twice, right? On many, many occasions. But again, if you do well the first time and you want to see if you improve the second time, by all means great.
Take it. You have, you know, Endless opportunities to take the test. Basically both, you know, ACT I think limits to like 12 times, but I mean, that you gotta be crazy to take it 12 times, right? You, I don’t think you’ll have time to do that. So the, the, the rule of thumb is, you know, at least twice is what we, you know, recommend, but that doesn’t count your practice tests.
The PSAT, which is the preliminary SAT. I, I, and I don’t know you know, the audience, like what year in high school you are, but I presume that everybody has heard about the preliminary SAT: PSAT. So you take it as a sophomore or junior and that really Sets, you know, sets you up for when you take the real s a t and, and a nice perk of the PSAT, if you do well, it qualifies you for the National Merit Scholarship Pool.
So don’t I, you know, don’t skip that. Okay.
All right. Best ways to prepare for the tests. So do your research, right? Do your research on what is your goal, what are you trying to hit. Once you, once you take a full practice test, that gives you a baseline of where you are. So then identify the schools that you’re trying to. You know, get admissions into, so, and what are their statistics?
What’s their stats on the average score of admitted students? And try to hit either that average or above. Right? So Practice makes perfect, right? So practice, practice, practice. I, but as I mentioned, don’t over overdo it because you still have to work on other aspects of your application and you still have to do well as a high school student.
All right. You can, you can study on your own. There are obviously many test prepping agencies that can help you or, or tutors, private tutors who can help you prepare for the test. You can invest in really good textbook or study guide. And study on your own. What, what I recommend and what, you know, I’ve heard experts talk about is anywhere between 10 to 20 hours per week, depending on.
How far in advance are you starting to study right before your test date? Typically it’s a couple of months worth of investment for studying for the tests. So just kind of take that into consideration. All right. What are some tips for the day of the test? Well check the test center closing for sure.
I’m sure you know, in this digitalized world, you’ll probably get a message or an email or text if it is closed, but that’s an important aspect. Any safety PR procedures. Be aware of what you can bring and what you cannot bring. To the testing site because the here’s the thing. You gotta bring your admissions ticket, you gotta bring your photo id.
Pencil eraser accept acceptable calculator may wanna bring water healthy snack. Maybe a watch because you don’t, you’re not allowed to bring any, you know devices. So maybe just a watch or, I didn’t even know if a smartwatch is allowed these days, cuz you can download a calculator. I, I, you know, that’s something to check.
But no laptops, no iPads. I mean, that’s, you know, that, that goes without saying So those are the kind, the, the kind of the, the tips that I would kind of give you. And of course the good nights rest because the testing centers typically open at eight 30 and this allows students to come in as early as, as that, or even maybe earlier.
So just make sure you go to bed. On time and get a full night’s rest, get a, you know, eat a nice breakfast and drink a lot of water throughout the whole thing so you will have breaks so you can go to the restroom. All right. Last advice. Okay, well, I think we kind of went through this, but here’s the thing.
If you are still concerned that after taking and retaking and practicing it, that you’re still not performing well, Focus on other aspects of your applications. You know, strengthen your extracurriculars, strengthen your your letters of recommendation. And by that I mean your relationship with your teachers who you wanna ask to write you letters of recommendation, right?
Make sure that you’re having those conversations, you’re being helpful, you’re volunteering for the teacher, you’re doing extra assignments, you’re being active, like all of that. If you feel like you’re not. Going to perform well, or you’re not a great test taker, make sure you have other aspects that will help you get to, you know, across that finish line adjust your college list.
So maybe after taking and retaking and you’re like, you know what? Maybe Harvard is really, you know, a long shot for me. So let’s, let’s, let’s think of maybe, you know, maybe Georgetown is a good fit or maybe, I don’t know, UNC Chapel Hill or you know, you can, you can go down the list and see wherever you live.
I mean, there are so many great institutions in, in the United States that don’t limit yourself to, you know, the, the test being You know, a barrier for you to enter the you know, to enter higher education. And as a matter of fact one of the reasons why institutions are getting rid of testing or making, not getting rid of, sorry, are making test optional, is because of access.
To education. So we want to make sure that all students have the opportunity to attend if they’re a great candidate, right? So if you have other aspects of your application that you want to highlight and you, we know that you can bring it to campus and you’ll be a stellar contributor to the community outside of your scores.
Heck yeah. We’re gonna admit you, you know? So that’s Look at that, look at the look at your college list. And, and then consider taking the other tests. Like I said, if you were focusing on the SAT, you’re like, yeah, darn it, that’s just not right for me. Well, maybe the ACT is a good fit. So and then, and then lastly, you know, if you want to improve your scores so.
The plan for about 10 hours of studying for each point, you want to improve on the ACT or 30 points on the SAT, right? So keep that in mind as you are taking and retaking and practicing your, for your tests. Oh, I think this is Stacey, I’m turning it over to you. Is that right? Yeah. Thank you Katerina.
That is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab. We’re gonna move on to the live Q&A part of the presentation now. I’ll read through the questions you submitted in the Q&A, paste them into the public chat so you can see them, and then read them out loud so that Katerina can give us an answer.
As a heads up, if your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you join the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page. So, first question for you, Katerina has to do with. Aggregate scores. So if you take the test multiple times, you, I know you alluded to this earlier in the presentation as to kind of how your total SAT score is calculated.
Are schools looking at one score individually, or are they taking the highest of. Section of each of the tests that you took. So if you took the s a t three times and you got a really great English section score here and a great math score here are the schools collectively adding up your highest scores?
I mean, that’s a great question and that, that’s where you have to do your research. Because most of the times, you know, the admissions committees will either have it posted on their website, on their, you know, admissions. Sites, or you may have to, you know, call them or email them and find out how they, how they do this.
There’s no one formula for, for schools. But what I do wanna say is that, again, depending on the major that you’re selecting, right, so schools may be looking more closely Either on how well you did on the math portion or the English portion, right? So also, keep this in mind. The, there’s some schools that they’re not considered, you know, top tier, but they, they have a niche program that is more competitive.
The admissions rate is more competitive for that one program than, I don’t know, Harvard’s overall admissions rate, right? Like 3% admissions rate. So, If you are applying for a niche program at a particular school, then make sure you understand how they, how they determine, how they look at those tests if you do wish to provide them.
Again, and also make a note of this, if you’re applying to a test optional school and if you. Decide to submit your scores. There’s no way of going back. There’s no way of of saying, oh, but I really didn’t mean to, you know, if your test scores are not, you know, that great as you had hoped. I’m like, oh, please don’t take your, I you were test optional.
Please don’t look at my, no, like you submitted them. It’s part of your application, you know? We’re reviewing them, so I’m sorry. So just keep that in mind as well. All right. And then and I, what I forgot to mention also is generally the score that’s higher than the middle, 50%. Of scores increases your chances of getting accepted to a more competitive college example.
And I’ll use Georgetown University because I used to work there. So half of the students accepted to Georgetown score between 1370 and 1530. On the SAT or the equivalent of the ACT is 31 to 34. Now this is much higher than the average SAT national score of 1050. Or 20 on the ACT. So you should aim for your test score to be in that rage.
Okay. If you wanna get admitted. Thank you. That was a really comprehensive overview, so I really appreciate that and I’m sure there’s gonna be some questions along the way. I do see somewhat related question, are there disadvantages to super scoring? So I think for some school schools you have the option of just submitting like all your scores and saying here they are, versus submitting the highest.
Section or having the school consider the highest section, is there a disadvantage to saying, these are actually my highest section scores, as opposed to just laying it all out on the table, in your opinion? You know, this is so much like of a science and an art. It’s so hard to say, because yeah, one year schools may be doing things one way another year.
They’re like, ah, we’re gonna change things completely. They’re not gonna notify the whole world of how they’re changing their policy. So I mean, I, I would say if you are already in that process, Make sure that you speak to a counselor who can assist you right to, who can really guide you and maybe who has already worked with that particular school and has had students admitted to that particular school.
Another suggestion I would have is don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call them. Them, meaning the admissions office, to wherever you’re applying to get that information. They are there to provide information. They are there to help you. Right? And so they any phone call or email or interaction that they have.
With a prospective student they take seriously. And so please utilize those contacts. Admit, you know, admissions fairs at your school or just picking up the phone and calling the school directly and finding out all those questions because really, you know, I can tell you one thing, but then, you know, for one school and then another university is like, no.
What are you doing? Why are you doing this? You know? So just I would say really take initiative and, and, and do the research. I’m, I’m, I’m sorry to put it on you. You know, I, I know you want me to give you the answer and, but there’s many questions that I probably can’t give you a straight answer because there’s so many different ways of doing them and I can give you general information, but it is really on the applicants also to take that step and, you know, Take that step to adulthood and really finding out all these answers, right on your own.
Yeah. And I will say, you know, it becomes a little bit more of an easier bite for the student if you research colleges ahead of time and come up with your college list. So you know exactly which colleges are important to you, especially like your top three choices. It’s probably gonna be really important to look into how important those scores are and what their ranges are so that you can aim for those ranges when it comes, and if they’re test optional.
Because that will drive whether or not you with the range and whether or not the test optional will drive whether or not you submit probably your test scores at all, depending on what scores you get. Right, Katerina? That’s right. That’s right. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Okay, so moving on to the next question.
This has something to do with the digitization of the tests. So, because this coming year is such a pivotal year in that transition process, what are you, what is your recommendation in terms of preparation? Should students really focus on just taking that digitized test in the spring? So they’re only studying for the digitized version of the test, or should they.
Take a stab at the paper test in the fall and also do the digitized test in the spring. What are your thoughts? So hard to know. Oh, Katerina, I think you might be frozen.
Let’s give it one minute. If not, I can help answer this while we wait for Katerina’s connection.
Okay, so actually while we’re waiting for Katerina to come back and reconnect, are we back? Oh, we are back. Do you mind if we just take a quick moment, Katerina. I’m gonna take a quick moment to talk about this opportunity for advising sessions and then we’ll turn it back over to the question. Yes.
So just to give time for the internet to recalibrate. So for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know how overwhelming the admissions process can be. Our team of over 400 former admissions officers and admissions experts can readily help you and your family navigate. All of it in one-on-one advising sessions.
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So that’s a really great opportunity there. And now we can get back to the Q&A. That QR code will stay on the slide. So cater, I’m not sure if you heard my last question in terms of like prioritizing. Taking that pa final paper test while it’s available versus just waiting to take it all in a digitized format.
Yeah. Do you have any advice? Yeah I do. If you are, if you are just starting from scratch, if you’re starting the process from scratch and you know that you’re. You know, the first time you’re gonna take the test is gonna be in the spring. Don’t, you know, waste your time on spending on, on prepping for the paper based test, right?
So study already for the digital test, if you are in the middle of the process meaning that, you know you’ve already taken it and your, the last time you’ll take it is probably this fall, then study for the, the format. Which works for you, meaning like you probably study for the paper-based test.
So keep on studying for that and take it in the fall, right? So it depends where you are in, in your cycle, in your testing prep prep cycle. I think that’s really good advice, and this is a really strange transition year. So it, it is gonna be kind of a partial personalized approach in that way. This is a unique question.
What calculator do you recommend? Oh my gosh. Do you have a recommendation? I, I would always recommend standard TI84, but yeah, I mean that’s what that, that’s, that’s the only one that I know. Ok. I just curious I think it’s a really good question actually, and all you remember to bring that calculator when you’re allowed to?
Yeah, but I think they’ll give you guidance also, right? Yes. They might, they might give you what’s acceptable when you sign up for the test. So, Yeah. Yeah, no, that’s, that’s absolutely, that’s absolutely true. Can we talk a little bit more Katerina while we have time about test optional? Can we talk a little bit more again about how to decide when, I know I alluded this to this a little bit more, and you’ve talked about it already.
But can, can you summarize again maybe in a few sentences when you should submit for a test optional school versus not? I’m seeing a few questions in this regard. Yeah, sure. So okay. So one scenario is, let’s say, You are very active in your school life. You’re very active in, you know, volunteer service outside of school.
Maybe you play a sport in addition to that, or maybe you play a musical instrument. You have that going for yourself. You’re, you know, you’re great well-rounded student. Your GPA is, you know, it may not be four. Oh, that’s fine. It may be, you know, somewhere in the middle. And you are. Contemplating whether to submit your SAT or ACT and let’s say you, you, your score is kind of in the middle, 15th percentile of, of the school that you’ve selected to apply to, to which you select to apply.
So in that scenario, I would suggest to still submit even though, right, so you’re hitting the 15th percentile, meaning that about half of the students who are admitted to that university actually get accepted with that test score so that it’s good statistics for you. But keep in mind that You know, the higher the percentage, obviously the better you do, the, the better you know the, the better it is.
Right? It’s in your favor. The lower your test score From that 50th percentile, it doesn’t mean that you’re not gonna get admitted. They’re still gonna look at you and if they love what, what you, what they see your test score, even if you decide to submit it and if it’s like 25th or 30th percentile may not play that of an important role.
Compared to everything else that they’re seeing, right? So even if you’re afraid that you’re submitting your test score to a test optional school where you’re not confident that your test is kind of quote unquote strong enough Make sure that all other aspects of your application are stellar.
Okay? So if you’re a sophomore, if you’re a junior, or if you’re a freshman, you know, that’s a great time to start thinking about this as a freshman, but especially sophomores, juniors, you know, you have time still to get your application. To kind of the next level. So start thinking start. Don’t be sitting there and just waiting till the last moment thinking that, oh, you know, I just hope and pray that nice test score is great.
And you know, no, you gotta like start planning. You gotta be active now you gotta prepare for that because you never know. What may happen with, with, with your testing on the test day. So I know it’s not the answer you wanted to hear again, but I, I told you that there’s no one magical answer, right?
There’s so many scenarios and very individualized cases. And you know, again, at CollegeAdvisor. That’s what we do with students. We talk about these scenarios. We talk it through with students. You know, what’s, what’s your progression and what, you know, what do we suggest based on what we see? Based what you share, you know, based on what you share that, the information you share about yourself with us.
So it’s very individualistic, you know, individual, one-on-one case, case by case, basically. Yeah. Hi again. Highly recommend taking advantage of the free consultation session here using that QR code. Another, this is actually a two-part question for you, Katerina. So is there a chance that, or is there a disadvantage, if you will if you were to try to take the test multiple times?
I know you said there’s a max of 12, right? And the recommended two. Is there actually a disadvantage in your opinion to taking it. Multiple times trying to get a better score continually. And secondary to that question is at what point? Is it not worth, like if you’re seeing, you know, 1500 versus 1550 versus 1450, when, when is it not worth the extra points to keep retaking it?
Does that make sense? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So it’s definitely worth taking it at at least a couple of times. Right. But like we said, we recommend taking it a couple of times for sure. But let’s say you are. You keep scoring great in math, like the math section is no problem for you, but your verbal is suffering.
Well then in between tests, make sure that you study for that and maybe you can increase by 30 points. Well, that, that will bump you up. Your, your composite score will, will, will increase by 30 points Will. Which will put you probably in a different percentile. You know, therefore you’ll be more competitive as a candidate.
So it will make sense for you to study and take the test for the third time. Right. But if you are not seeing results like if you’re consecutively in your practice tests, and if you’re, if, if you’re kind of. Stuck and you’re maybe improving one time, maybe you’re going lower. You know, if you’re just kind of, then I would say just don’t spend, don’t, I don’t wanna say waste.
I, that’s, that’s not the wrong, that’s the wrong word to use, but you know what I’m saying, like, don’t spend your time on. On taking and retaking the test. If you, if you can improve your overall app application in other areas. I mean, I can’t stress to you how important it is because universities are looking holistically.
It’s called a holistic approach to the application process where we look at candidates from all angles. Not only are there academically savvy, but like, you know, what do they bring to the table as a well-rounded student? So at, at, at, at some point you just gotta say stop, you know, I, I’m, you know, I did the best that I could, you know, I took it like, I don’t know, three times.
I, I did a bunch of practice tests. I’m just, that’s where, that’s where it’s at. You know, fine. Focus on, on another. Area. I did wanna say don’t study too far ahead, too far ahead of time because you’re gonna, you’re not gonna retain all the information. A, a good rule of thumb start studying maybe two to three months before the test date.
Excellent. Thank you so much. Another set of questions we have here have to do with financial aid and merit scholarships. One is specifically about the National Merit Scholarship. I believe you have to submit the PSAT, not the SAT. Yes. To be considered for this. Is that correct? That’s right. So as a similar question is how, how important are.
I guess not similar, but it’s tangentially related. How important is, is a test score when assessing for scholarships and financially, and I know you, you mentioned earlier in the slides that it, it was important. But how critical is that? Yeah. In the decision? So you have to decide if you need financial aid when you apply to college.
Not everybody needs financial aid. Maybe you are fortunate enough and you know, your, your family is able to afford. College and a college education, college degree, well then there’s no need for you to focus on that. Other students, however, may find that, you know, they do need financial assistance to pursue bachelor’s degree and that’s where a task comes handy, basically, because some schools have.
Some schools designate scholarships specifically for students who are not only showing financial need, but in combination. They are great students academically, so they wanna attract those students, right? So it is, it, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s depending on your case, depending on your situation. The school aid is different from what you’re going to be applying through government loans.
That’s a whole different process. So that’s a, that’s a, you fill out a federal aid application for that. And it, it has nothing to do with your test scores, right? It only has. It takes into account your financial, your, your family’s financial situation. But schools on the other hand have donor based scholarships.
It’s typically alumni who donate to the school to establish scholarship funds. And that’s, each fund has a stipulation saying, I. A student or, you know, with I don’t know, like a 30 or above a ACT and a such and such gpa, or like they can be very particular in who they’re looking for to attract. But they may also be looking for students who are, who need financial assistance.
Many combinations play into this. Scenario, many scenarios. So but definitely if it’s merit-based scholarship, then you, it’s to your advantage and it’s a requirement in most cases to submit your test scores.
Great. Yeah, that’s, that’s my understanding as well. It’s, it’s hard, especially at these test optional schools to know, you know, what they really are considering when it comes to the merit and the financial aid components of the application process. But you know, it, it goes back to researching at the individual school level on that topic.
Do you happen to know if the ACT versus SAT yields more financial aid? I personally have never seen anything like this in the research. But Katerina have you? No. Yeah, I don’t think it really matters. Yeah, because you can compare the scores, right? So there’s a formula if, if the school says, you know, you must.
Have like, I don’t know, whatever, SAT score to be eligible for this, but you only have an ACT score. They can, they can compare those scores. There’s a table that can compares the, you know, how comparable each score is to each other. So there’s no in, in my opinion or in my experience, I don’t think there’s you should be worrying about that.
Yeah, I, I agree with you. Another question here, can we talk to a little bit to the students who may feel that they’re just not good test takers and they’re feeling really overwhelmed with. Prospective taking the test. What advice would you give to those students? They have a hard time studying to the test, et cetera.
Yeah, so I think it’s really dedicating yourself to the process setting. Maybe, you know, if you keep a calendar or if you don’t, this is a good time to start setting aside one or two hours a day. If you’re a morning person, just block off, you know, a time slot in the morning before school or, you know if, if you’re that kind of an early person morning person or after school to study for the test, and you have that dedicated time where no one’s bugging you, you know, this is your time and that’s, What you do.
Also it might be worth Looking into getting some, some some help, right on those test taking skills if you feel like you can do it on your own through purchasing a textbook and or guide, sorry, it’s not textbook, it’s the guide test prep guide. Then try to do it that way. If you still feel like, nah, this.
It’s not doing anything for me. Well, maybe you need a personal tutor, right? Or, you know, any other company that’s out there that helps prepare students for these test prep skills because it is a, Skill, you gotta navigate. You’re navigating time, you’re navigating your nerves, you’re navigating, it’s not so much, yeah, there’s knowledge involved, obviously.
There’s knowledge involved, but it’s not, you know, rocket science knowledge. This is, it’s, it’s, it’s something that you’ve already covered in, in, in, in school. So this is really in some cases it’s about test. Taking skills. How well can you guess, you know, if you’re down to two ounce multiple choice answers, like, do your best to guesstimate the, the best out of the two.
Best choice. You know, like they talk to you about that, they walk you through all of those scenarios. You know, when you’re reading a passage, you know, do you read every single word or do you, you know, start in the beginning, kind of skim through, then go to the end, like, you know, all like. Those are the things that you have to, or do you read the questions first and know what to look for in the passage before you start even reading it, you know?
So really kind of try to understand maybe for for yourself what method would work for you, self-study or a personal tutor or signing up for like a group. Session through a company, right. And I, I mean, I know it’s a lot of time and money, financial investment. But if, if that’s what, you know, if you’re concerned about that, then maybe it’s worthwhile investing in, in those, you know, in those things.
Great. We’re right at the nine o’clock mark. So I do wanna close out the session here today. Thank you all so much for coming out tonight and thank you to our pa panelist Katerina. That is the end of the webinar. We had a really great time telling you about Demystifying SAT and ACT scores, their role in college admissions here is our June series for webinars and I hope everyone has a great night.
Thank you. Bye Katerina. Thank you. It was nice to meet you everybody, and we hope to see you as a student with CollegeAdvisor.