Method Learning x CollegeAdvisor: Mastering the SAT and ACT
Ready to master the SAT and ACT? During this webinar, CollegeAdvisor.com Former Admissions Officer, Brian Poznanski, and President & Founder of Method Learning, Tom Ehlers, will share insider tips and best practices on how to set you up for success on the SAT and ACT. This webinar will be a 30-minute presentation followed by a 30-minute live Q&A. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-08-24 – CollegeAdvisor x Method Learning: Mastering the SAT and ACT
Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Mastering the SAT and ACT. Um, tonight’s webinar is a special webinar featuring our partner Method Learning which is a service that provides standardized test preparation, services and packages. And you’ll learn more about it shortly, uh, to orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with the presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar.
You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab. Now let’s meet our panelists.
Hi everyone. Um, I’m Tom Ehlers, the President founder of Method Learning. I’ve been helping students families for the last 24 years with the SAT, ACT, and PSAT and really any test, any, any subject, any grade. I went to Princeton University myself. Um, did the teacher preparation program there. So, um, yeah, my, my entire background is education.
Awesome. Thanks Tom. Um, excited to be presenting with you, everyone. My name is Brian Poznanski. Um, I am a former Admission Officer, um, and worked for six years as an Assistant Director, uh, in the undergrad admission office at Boston University. Uh, two years prior to that, a very small, uh, college outside of Boston called Regis College.
Um, and then while I was at BU I also earned my MBA, uh, with a concentration in public and nonprofit, uh, organizations. Um, I also attended St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, uh, earned my bachelor’s degree in politics. Um, and I’ve been with CollegeAdvisor for a little over a year now. Um, helping out with, uh, advising, uh, students, so excited to be talking to you all tonight.
Yes. And real quick, we just wanna start off tonight’s webinar by asking you, what grade are you currently in? So eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other, and other can be if you’re a transfer student or taking a gap year. And if you’re a parent on call, you can select the grade that your student is in. And while we wait for that, Tom, can you, um, share with students when should they start preparing to take the SAT and ACT.
Sure. So I always tell people, you do not need to start preparing for the SAT or ACT or PSAT before the summer of junior year. Um, many students, um, want to start preparing in the summer before junior year, because we all understand, um, junior year gets extremely busy. Um, students are typically taking many challenging courses.
And so it makes sense to try to get some of your prep out of the way in the summer before junior year. Of course, when students, we, we get asked all the time. Um, can we start, can we start doing prep in ninth grade or 10th grade? And really it’s just working hard in your classes. So put all of your time and energy and focus into getting the best GPA that you can work hard in your math and English classes and all of your classes.
That’s the best preparation for the SAT and ACT and PSAT. Anyway. So short answer is summer before junior year. And of course, if you start preparing during your junior junior year, that’s fine as well. Um, some students know that there’s gonna be a period of time in junior year where they’ll be less busy.
And so if that’s say the winter, because you’re playing a fall sport or you’re in a fall, um, then you can start doing your prep
and it’s 13 12th graders, 42% 11th graders, another 42% graders, and 3% of their, and y’all can control the slides.
Cool. So I’m gonna, uh, kick us off tonight, talking a little bit about, uh, some of the different, uh, factors around standardized testing, uh, when it comes to actually applying to college. Um, so there are a lot, there’s a lot of information out there about, um, you know, whether or not college or universities now are requiring tests and, uh, in their admission process.
So you’re going to hear often a lot of different phrases referred to as test free test optional test, flexible. What does this all mean? Uh, so we’re gonna try to break down a little bit for you here. Test free or test really. It’s just as simple as, as what it sounds you do not need to submit your standardized tests, uh, as part of the application.
And in fact, if a school is saying that they are test blind or test free, They will not review or even consider your test scores in the admission process, even if you do submit them. Um, and, and, you know, quite frankly, most schools have a policy where, um, if they’re reading online, they can, their system can actually wipe the scores from the reviewers, uh, ability, uh, to view them.
Um, and so they, they’re not considered at all. Um, tests, optional, uh, tests are not required as part of the process. Um, and students can choose whether or not to submit their SAT or ACT score. Um, but if you do submit them. They will be used. Um, and they will be a part of your application process. This is definitely, um, a little bit of a, a tricky situation.
Um, and we’ll talk a little bit about, uh, strategy around this in, in another slide test, flexible, um, really means that students are able to often, uh, provide a variety of different tests. Um, and so this might be yes, your SAT or your ACT score, but also in addition, um, instead of an SAT or ACT, you could actually maybe submit AP scores, uh, for review, or if you’re in the international back curriculum, you could, uh, submit your IB scores.
Um, perhaps you could submit a SAT subject tests, uh, in lieu of these standardized, uh, these typical SAT or ACT scores. So that is definitely the most, um, one of the most liberal, uh, policies in that you’re actually allowed to submit other types of tests, um, to be reviewed. Okay. So, um, let’s talk a little bit about how this has impacted the landscape of college admission and, and really how colleges have gone about, uh, reviewing these, uh, different policies.
Um, is it all good news? Um, well, is, is really kind of slightly more complicated than, than that. Um, and, and just kinda saying it’s all good. We no longer have to take tests. We no longer have to submit tests. It’s much. It is a little bit more complicated than that. That’s not, uh, what we’re here to say here, uh, tonight.
So part of, one of the challenges of this and why it is a little bit more complicated is that many different universities have different policies. If you’re applying to multiple schools, as most people do, um, through their college process, um, it’s possible, um, that you may apply to schools that have all three of those previous policies, uh, listed.
Therefore, you know, you probably are gonna wanna take your standardized test. Um, the best piece here to note is to always check with your individual school, what their actual requirements are. Um, and, and to make sure that you double check and, and follow up there. Um, another piece of, of, uh, of this that makes it a little bit more complicated is that if you are in a position where you are not submitting your tests, so you’re either test flexible, um, or tests are not required.
There is gonna be an increase, increased emphasis on the other parts of the application, your high school transcript, um, you know, what your grades were, uh, what was the rigor of the curriculum? So what type of courses did you take over the course of your four years, um, your activities, your writing, um, and really just the entire holistic review of your application is gonna have a much higher emphasis in your admission process by nature of not having those test scores to assist in the review of the process.
So, you know, there’s just gonna be an increased focus, um, on all of these things. Um, you know, if you don’t submit your tests, . Um, and also I think that, uh, the inverse of that, um, is that for those, if you do apply to a school that is say test optional, um, and you do submit your tests that may actually, in some cases increase the focus that then your tests play in the process, because you might be, uh, being compared to candidates that have not submitted their tests.
So what it comes down to is, um, really kind of decide. Should I submit my test. Should I not submit my test? We’ll get to that in another slide. Another factor to consider is that some programs are still gonna require tests. Um, there are different schools and colleges at different universities that are gonna require standardized testing.
They might be required for, to be considered for certain scholarships to be considered for honors programs, or in some cases, if you’re applying, uh, for division one, uh, athletics, for instance. So there’s a variety of different reasons, um, that you really wanna check your school policies because it’s not as it cut and dry as it always may seem.
Um, and you really just wanna do your, your due diligence and, and double check.
So, should you still take standardized testing? Um, if applying to a test optional schools, I think the answer to that is absolutely unequivocally. Yes. Um, you absolutely should still sit for either the SAT or the ACT. Um, I actually am an advocate of sitting for both. Um, we’ll see if Tom has some thoughts about that later.
Um, just because they test you a little bit differently, but, uh, it’s completely up to you, whatever you think, uh, fits fits your profile. Um, and again, it could be necessary for some schools, um, and not necessary for other schools. So even if you are applying to a test optional school, you wanna make sure you have that test score in your back pocket.
If you’re applying to a school, uh, that you’re gonna wanna submit it. And again, if you test, well, this could be a position where if you do submit them, that could enhance and strengthen, uh, you know, your application and the review, uh, of your application at these schools. All right. So let’s talk a little bit about standing out, uh, when applying to a test free school.
Um, again, there’s an in gonna be an increased focus on other pieces of the application. Um, the most important thing here, um, is to not really stress yourself out about what you can can’t control, but to focus on what you can, um, and that includes shaping your narrative. Um, what does that mean? Your, your college essay, um, your activities that you put forth, how you talk about those activities.
Um, if there are any, uh, supplemental essays that you have to submit all of that shapes, who you are and, and what you are presenting to the admissions board, um, or your reader, um, when you are applying to a college or university, um, for those of you that are, uh, you know, first year students, sophomores, um, even juniors, um, obviously if you’re in your senior year now, This middle point is, is, might be a little bit out of your control at this point, but try to enroll in rigorous courses.
Um, you know, this is really gonna enhance your application. Um, I know that most colleges and universities are looking for three to four years in all five core academic solids, which would be English, math, science, social sciences, and foreign language. Um, you know, so try to take some rigorous courses, try to enroll in some honors, AP IB level courses where available, where appropriate, um, you know, it’s all a personal choice, um, and you don’t wanna overstretch yourself.
Um, but taking a rigorous course is gonna help enhance your application overall. And then obviously your grades are gonna play a larger role. Um, if you don’t have a standardized test, you know, standardized tests and your grades are the two quantitative metrics in the application process. Um, and so. If you, um, don’t, if you take away tests, um, the only other quant quantifiable metric, um, in the process would be your GPA, um, and your grades.
And so you wanna try to enhance that, uh, to the best of your ability. Um, that may go be, go without saying, um, even if, if, if you are submitting tests, um, but it’s especially true, uh, if you’re not submitting them. So what counts as a beneficial test score, um, that you wanna share? Um, you know, really what is the strategy.
Deciding, if I’m applying to a test optional school, what makes me want to submit a test or not submit a test? And unfortunately it depends. Um, because the best way to evaluate is gonna really be look at the individual school or colleges, uh, academic profile that you’re applying to. Um, and, and the best way to do that is look at the students that have applied previously and been admitted.
Um, most schools are gonna submit, um, and, and make available to, uh, folks. And they posted on their website in many cases, the profile of the mid class, the previous year. And so the main things that you wanna look for are what was the average score of an admitted student. And then some schools even offer what is called the mid 50%, uh, range.
So that’s saying. Of all of the students that were admitted in our class, if the middle 50% of admitted students scored between this range and this range. And so that also means that 25% of the class scored higher than that range. 25% of the class was admitted, scored a little bit below that range. Um, and so an example of this could be okay.
An average test score for admitted class was 1400 and the middle 50% of students that were admitted fell between a 1300 and a 1500. Um, ultimately. Really, if your score falls below one of these ranges, it’s probably not beneficial for you to submit these scores. Now, again, in this hypothetical situation, you know, there probably was some students that scored, uh, by definition, 25% of the class scored below a 1300.
And so you could say, I have a 1280, I have a 1290 that’s close. Um, but you don’t wanna present a score that is by definition below the middle, uh, you know, below, uh, average. And so I tend to, uh, tell the students that I work with in the admission advising process, that if they are above that range, definitely go ahead and, and submit the test score.
Uh, but if not, let’s look to see how we can enhance the application, um, in other ways. Um, so that’s kind of my thought process about, uh, what counts as a beneficial test score. Um, overall. And then I believe this is my last slide here. So looking ahead, um, what do we expect for standardized testing, uh, going forward in the future?
I mean, it really is hard to predict. Um, obviously, you know, COVID really through, uh, college admissions processes for a little bit of a spin and a, in a, in a world. I tend to believe that it’s gonna be hard to return to a pre COVID, uh, world of test requirements where everyone has to submit their tests.
Um, you know, it seems to me in college admissions, in the workforce, in everything we do in, in our day to day lives, flexibility seems to be the rule. Um, and so I think that flexibility is probably here to stay. Um, but again, it’s hard to predict. And ultimately when it comes down to it, different colleges and different universities are gonna have different incentives for themselves.
You always wanna check with your co. Your college or university that you’re applying to their website, your admission officer, always double check. So I believe that that’s the end of my portion of the presentation. Um, and I think we probably have another poll question. So McKenzie turning back to you.
Yes. So, uh, students, which standardized tests are you planning to take the SAT the ACT both? Or are you not sure yet? And while we wait for that, Brian, can you tell us, um, can you tell students, uh, when should they start, um, planning to take the SAT or ACT and, um, oh yeah. When should they start taking it?
Uh, and is anytime too late. Yeah, sure. So, as Tom said, you know, if you’re, if you’re prepping, uh, to take it, you know, summer going to junior year, um, I think anytime in junior year, uh, is, is okay. I tend to see, um, you know, most folks, um, getting really, uh, prepped and ready to go for their standardized testing in the spring of their junior year.
Um, and then it gives ’em another opportunity to take it again in the fall if they wish to try to improve upon a score, um, in terms of when it might be too late. Um, generally we would, I would think about it as when, uh, trying to take a test prior to, um, your application deadline that makes sure that you’re able to receive those scores and then be able to get them to your college or university, um, so that they can review them, uh, in, in an appropriate timeline.
So for instance, if you’re applying to a school that has a January 1st regular decision deadline, probably gonna wanna take, uh, tests on or before, uh, December, November time. Mm-hmm and if you’re applying early, um, you will need to have your test scores a little bit earlier. Those some schools do provide a little bit more leeway, um, depending on their stipulations, like I know Georgia tech allowed for students to submit like two weeks after the deadline, I believe, but that’s like case by case.
Um, so always make sure to read the fine print for each school. And it’s looking like we have 38% are, uh, considering the SAT 17%, the, ACT 38%, both, and 8%, um, are not sure yet. And you can control the slides. Yeah. So just going back to, um, that question that Brian had earlier, SAT or ACT I, I agree with Brian.
I I’ve been advising students for again for 24 years now to take each test the way I’d like to say it is colleges are giving students two chances to be successful. You might as well take advantage of both chances now. The majority of students will score about the same on the SAT or ACT. So for most students, it, it doesn’t matter which test you focus on.
You’re probably gonna end up about the same, and that’s not too surprising because there is so much overlap between the SAT and ACT. Um, there, people like to talk about the differences between the SAT and ACT, and I can go over some of those, but they’re more similar than they are different. They test students on the same grammar concepts.
Um, the math is generally the same as far as math content and concepts, reading comprehension strategies are fairly similar. So it’s not surprising that students score about the same, but if you only take one test, if you only take the SAT or the ACT, you may have been one of those students, about 25% of students who would score higher on one test over the other.
And so that would be a shame. And I also like to say, if you’re preparing for one test, you’re really preparing for both. So. It’s not like you have to take an entire SAT prep program and then take an entire ACT prep program, which would be, um, which would be kind of demoralizing when you’re studying for one test.
You’re really learning the skills, uh, for both. So, um, the slide here, um, as far as my part of the presentation, if you just remember one thing, I want it to be this, these tests are so predictable. They literally test students on the same informa, same concepts and content over and over again. Um, and because they’re predictable, it makes sense to prepare, right?
If they weren’t predictable, it wouldn’t make sense to prepare, but we know exactly what you’re going to be tested on. And when I started tutoring students back in 1998, don’t do the math on that. Um, I, I was just shocked by students were going into these exams without any strategies. They. Understand how to approach the timing on the tests, the timing time constraints.
And in many cases, they didn’t even know what was gonna be on the exam. So they, they were going in just so, so they were flying blind and they were scoring so far below their potential. And earlier Brian was making a few comments about, um, and again, same advice we give, um, submit your scores if they’re higher than, than the average or that middle 50th percentile, uh, middle 50%, I should say.
Um, and, and I’m just so passionate that students can score so much higher because I’ve seen it. So students have wanted to kind of avoid these tests for a long time. And you know, these are not fun exams, they’re grueling exams, but if you’re, if you’re looking to apply to colleges where the middle 50% are between, let’s say 1300 and 1500, and you’re sitting at a 1250.
I’m so confident that you can improve your score and get into that middle range even towards the higher end. And then obviously you’re, you’re making your application stronger, um, by having all the things you already have, plus strong test scores. Um, okay, so, so first point is these tests are predictable.
They are, they are not IQ tests. These are tests you can learn to beat, um, and, and a lot of his just practice and repetition. So our goal for the next few minutes, or my goal has been the same for, for, for again, years and years, which is I wanna help every single person on this webinar use higher SAT or ACT scores to get accepted to more places.
And to have more options, no one wants to apply to eight schools and only get accepted to two. Um, you wanna have as many options as possible. And so we can use higher test scores to, to gain acceptance to more places. And then also to earn more in academic merit aid and, um, colleges, a lot of times, you know, they’ll they’ll, um, or I should say people will call it scholarships or grants, um, merit aid.
Um, but in some ways you could almost just call ’em discounts or coupons at this point, meaning colleges want to entice strong students. And one way to entice strong students is to offer more generous. Academic financial package. And so colleges want to, um, you know, entice the strongest students. They’re going to, um, offer more generous packages sometimes when a student has a higher SAT or ACT score.
So our goal tonight is very achievable. It’s very reasonable, and it’s also very important, right? Um, getting accepted to more places and saving yourself and your family’s thousands of dollars. These are very important goals. And again, they’re achievable goals.
So, um, sometimes I joke if you only remember two things from my presentation, I want the second one to be. So if a student gets just one more question, correct. On the SAT how many points does his or her score often? and most people are surprised to find out the answer is 10 points. And what I mean by that is you can have a student who scored a 1060.
And if that student gets just one more question, correct, their score would now be a 1070. And, uh, the way I like to describe it is if you get five more math questions, five more grammar questions, and five more reading questions that could result in a 150 point improvement on your score. And again, I, I’m very confident.
I’m very passionate that every student can do that because I’ve seen so many students do that. And when I share, when I explain it like that, I often see the light bulb go on in the student’s, uh, mind. I, I see them becoming more confident, more optimistic, more motivated because deep down they believe, yes, I can learn to get five more grammar questions.
Correct. I can learn to get five more math, five more reading. So again, it’s a very achievable. If you increase your SAT score, 150 points, um, that that’s a, that’s a significant increase. Um, that puts you in a different category for a lot of schools. The, ACT um, the news is just as good. If you get three or four more questions, right on each part of the, ACT that could be a three or four point increase on your, ACT score, again, a significant increase.
So I just, I want, I want everybody on this webinar and I want really all students and all families to understand that these are tests, that you can make a significant improvement on with the right preparation. So this is a quick slide, just some data points that people like to jot down. Um, so national average for the ACT is about a 21.
People are surprised to hear that they thought the average was higher. Uh, the maximum score on the ACT is a 36. So it’s a completely different scale than the SAT. So national average of 21 maximum scores of 36, when students ask what’s a good score, kind of goes back to Brian, Brian Brian’s points earlier.
Um, it varies by school, right? So you wanna look up the scores that you’re interested in, look at the average scores, and then you wanna score at least in that range and hopefully. For the SAT the maximum score. I’m sure most of you’re aware is a 1600. The national average is about a 1060 or 1070. So, um, again, what’s a good score.
Good is a relative term, 1200 has always been thought of as a benchmark, 1200 is way above average, uh, you know, or quite a bit above average. And then, and then, you know, some students have higher goals than that, which is, which is great. So this slide shares the upcoming test dates, and, um, my eyesight has gone off of cliffs.
Let me take a quick look here. Um, yeah, so just share all of the dates coming up this year. So what would I do if I was a rising 12th grader? Um, and again, Brian kind of touched on this earlier. I, I would prepare for the next exam that I could. So, um, I mean, there, there is an SAT this coming Saturday, some of you may already be registered for.
Um, and then there’s an, ACT on September 10th. There’s an SAT on October 1st. So the nice thing is there are, there are seven exams given throughout the year for each, for each exam for each test, right? So 14 total. So that gives students a lot of flexibility, many options. And then in addition to that, many schools offer a school day test.
Um, so anyway, so yes, if I was arising 12th grade, or if I was heading to my 12th grade year now, and I know in many parts of the country, the school year started, um, I would be preparing for, um, the next test that, that I could, um, is something like the October 1st SAT there’s still time to.
And then what would I do if I was a junior this year? And I know we have quite a few seniors on and quite a few juniors on, so what would I do if I was a, a junior this fall? So many of you may wanna take a screenshot of this slide. There are certain SATs and acts that allow you to pay the college board of the ACT an extra $20.
And they will then show you the questions you got wrong. So you can learn from your mistakes. Um, this is such a valuable service. And in 24 years of doing this, it’s, it’s almost tragic to me that the vast majority of parents and families I talk to were not aware of this service. And the way I like to explain it is imagine taking an SAT or ACT imagine taking a four hour exam, getting a score you’re not completely satisfied with.
And then no one tells you what you did. And then somebody says, Hey, go take that test again. Well, that’s absurd. Why would I take it again when I don’t know what I did wrong the first time? Well, the good news is there’s a better way. And the better way is to focus on these exams. So on the SAT they call it the question, answer service.
When you register for the March or may or October exam, you look for the box. I want the question, answer service. You pay an extra $20. Um, McKenzie mentioned in, in the, in the chat that many students are entitled to fee waivers. And if you get a fee waiver on the SAT ACT, you also get a fee waiver on these services.
Um, so that eliminates the financial, um, hurdle. Um, so, so you check a box, you pay the extra $20. And then two and a half weeks after your exam, you can see the questions you got wrong and you can learn from those mistakes. You know, you’re going to, you’re going to see similar questions the next time you take the SAT.
So, um, these are the tests that my son and my daughter will be focusing on March, may, October, so I can see what they’re doing wrong for the ACT they call theirs the Tiar, the test information release service, and that’s offered in December, April, and June. So, as Brian said, um, when do you take the SAT ACT any time throughout junior year, but these exams would be the ones I would focus on.
And so there are many high achievers who are taking the SAT on a high achieving juniors who are taken the SAT on October 1st, because they wanna see what they’re doing wrong. Now, of course, taking the PSAT in October of junior year is also a good idea. So many students are gonna take both the SAT and PSAT.
Um, Junior, the PSAT was designed for juniors. So in many schools, you know, they kind of recommend, or they have the entire junior class take the PSAT. There’s no reason to sit that out. Um, and then December is a good time to take the, ACT for the first time. So again, you can see what you’re doing wrong.
Yes. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. We hope you found this information helpful. And remember that you can download the side from the link in the handouts tab, moving on to the live Q&A I’ll read through your questions. You submitted in the Q&A tab and read them aloud before a panelist, give you an answer as a heads up.
If your Q&A tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom link sent to your email and not from the webinar lining page. Also known as the website or else you won’t get all the features of big marker. So just make sure you join through that custom link.
And so now we can get started. So our first question is, um, in which grade do you recommend taking the SAT or ACT? Well, y’all have touched on that. Oh, junior year. Um, so I guess we can go into the next question. Okay. So first, well, Mackenzie, I’ll just, sorry, I’ll just say quickly again. So many students say, can I can, I’m ready to take it as a sophomore?
And it just, there’s no reason to take it as a sophomore. So junior year is, is the time. But available to sophomores, they do have the PSAT. So y’all will be able to get the practice version of it, which can help you apply for the, um, national merit scholarship, which is additional money for, um, college.
So if your school offers that they should let you know, some schools even have a pre pre, uh, PSAT um, for ninth graders, I know my school did. So, um, just look out for that from your school counselor, uh, for those seniors that are, um, wondering if there’s still enough time, uh, one student asked in the, what is the best way to prepare in a hurry.
So there, there are, there are many ways you can effectively prepare in a week or two. Um, we do offer power classes. Those are four nights leading up to an SAT or ACT. Um, and I guess if you don’t, I’ll put those. I’ll put that in the chat Mackenzie, uh, our power classes, but, um, the bottom line is this, um, even just a few hours of preparation in a couple of weeks leading up to the SAT or ACT, um, can make a significant difference on your score.
Um, Mackenzie’s gonna mention this in a moment, but, um, many, many of the tiers of CollegeAdvisor include access to our self-paced program where it’s all audio and video and students can listen to teachers, go through the common strategies, watch video explanations of common questions. So the bottom line is you can, there are many things you can do, um, to prepare for the SAT stay effectively, even if you’re, even if you’re in a hurry or just a few weeks before the.
Uh, going on to the next question. Um, which strategies are students asking? Are there techniques to help with pacing yourself through the test? Especially since it’s like a short time to take it? Um, do I leave questions blank and come back to them or guess, and move on to the next question. What is the best strategy?
Yeah, so never leave a question blank. There’s no penalty for a wrong answer. There’s no reason to leave a question blank or omitted. If you leave question, if you leave a question blank or omit it, you’re at a disadvantage, you might as well ever answer every question. Um, and then as far as pacing, so for example, the math, uh, sections of the SAT and ACT they go from easiest to, uh, to difficult, easy to difficult.
And so you don’t wanna race through the easy ones because the most difficult questions at the end, um, they’re gonna, they’re going to be very challenging to get correct. So it’s better to, um, yeah, now you have to move quickly, but. It’s better to move methodically and make sure you get all of the easy and medium questions, um, rather than rushing ahead, just to try to, um, to, you know, spend a, you don’t wanna spend a lot of time on those last couple of questions.
If you’ve moved through the earlier ones and maybe made some silly mistakes mm-hmm, , uh, uh, kind of mixing it up from an AOs perspective, Brian, can a low score, heavily impact your application or ruin your chances of admissions. Yeah. So can it impact it? Yes. Um, I never will say that it’s gonna absolutely tank your application, um, because I really believe that most emission offices practice what is referred to as holistic emission review, and that is really looking at all pieces of the application and weighing, uh, things, um, You know, across the board, um, with that said, a lot of people will ask me all the time, be like, whoa, what is the GPA I need in order to make up for a quote unquote, low SAT or ACT score.
Um, and, and the truth there is there that doesn’t really exist. Unfortunately, on there, it’s hard to balance something out, uh, in that way or look at it that way. Um, so yes, uh, a low score does have an impact. Um, it’s typically, uh, it can be a negative impact, um, but it also depends on the type of institution you’re applying to.
Um, and again, remembering those policies and strategies that we talked about earlier in terms of whether or not you should be applying, uh, or should be submitting tests, uh, in the first place, uh, kind of going off of that can a high test score make up for low grades. No, , uh, same thing. Um, you know, and, and I’ll say this, um, I, I, I do believe this your high school transcript is worth more than your standardized test score.
Um, as I used to say, uh, four years of work is worth more than four hours. Um, and so, um, look, the standardized test, if you submit it, it is important. Um, but your high school transcript is definitely in my opinion, one of, if not the most important piece of your college application, mm-hmm, , uh, going on to next question.
And I like to ask the audience to not vote on your questions. It disrupts the order of the Q&A, um, but going on to the next question, I would like to hear from both of y’all, um, cuz Brian, you mentioned taking both, so students are asking, is it better to take one, um, one over the other, would you recommend taking both.
Yeah. I mean, I, I think that, that you should take both and, and Tom said the same. Um, they do test you differently. I mean, notoriously the SAT has the science section. So a lot of people are like, well, if I’m wanna study science, I should take the a, did I say the SAT I meant ACT I should take the, ACT um, that’s not necessarily the way to look at it either.
Um, you know, um, previously one had writing and, and, and the other didn’t. So, I mean, there are a lot of different ways that they test. Um, and as Tom, um, mentioned, the scoring is a little bit different. Um, so I think that, again, as you said, you have two chances why not take both, um, and, and see, see how you do.
Um, I took both and my ACT score was ever so slightly higher than what the equivalent of my SAT is. And that’s the other thing that I’ll just get into real quick, um, is that admission offices know how to. Do what we call a super score or score match. Um, so we know what the equivalent of the ACT is to an SAT and vice versa.
Um, there’s also some questions about how many times you take the test. A lot of times we’ll super score all of your best sections. So if you take the SAT three times, we’ll pull your best section from whatever time you took it, um, and put together the best composite for you. So, um, my opinion is there’s also no disadvantage to taking it multiple times.
Although Tom, maybe you can speak to this. I have heard that after a certain point, your test scores don’t necessarily tend to improve. I don’t know if there’s any, um, studies around that. Well, I think the, the answer is sometimes we have students who their first two or three tests are pretty flat, but then their fourth score, they do much better.
Um, and then other students, so generally, um, generally your score will go up. Um, the most between your first and second times, just because, um, I always like to joke that, you know, students kind of go in the first time and they’re, they’re nervous, they’re anxious, which is normal. It’s a new experience. And then if, if they get a score that they’re a little disappointed by, or, you know, now that they expected, um, students often have a more business-like approach the second time.
They’re like, they’re like, ah, I don’t have to take this test four times. So I’m going to, you know, I’m gonna go in and I’m gonna, um, and I’m gonna try to nail this, so I don’t have to take it another time. So, um, so anyway, the, the you’re right, Brian, most students after they’ve taken the test two or three times, their score’s not gonna go up much, but we’ve seen a lot of students where, um, maybe they just prepared more effectively, um, between like a third and fourth exam.
Um, and then, yeah, just going back to, oh, oh, I wanted to make a comment that the, just to kind of piggyback on what Brian said about taking both the SAT and what I found interesting is a lot of times students will put more effort into one. But then they’ll actually score higher on the other one. And I, I think the reason why is students are they’re, they’re preparing a lot for one of the exams and they’re putting a lot of pressure on themselves on that exam.
And they’re taking the other exam just on a Lark, just, you know, Hey, I might as well take it just to see I do. And of course, a lot of times in life, when you go in without the weight of the world on your shoulders, you’re going to score higher. So that’s another reason to take each test once. Um, and, um, yeah, I mean, just a couple of quick differences.
I know, I think that question’s gonna come up is the ACT you get less time per question. So you have to move very quickly. I mean, you have to move quickly on both exams, but you have to move even more quickly on the ACT. So, um, like many of you my are, and maybe everyone here on this panel, my parents taught me, you know, double check, triple check, everything, you know, when you’re taking a test, you can’t operate that way.
Um, uh, on the SAT or the ACT, but certainly not on the ACT you just have to go with your first instinct and move on. So, um, so, so that, that’s a difference, less time per question, on the ACT um, and then Brian brought up the science reasoning part of the, ACT, but it’s really a reading comprehension section.
They’re giving you most of the information, the charts, the graphs, the tables. Um, so, um, yeah, I know there, there, there’re always McKenzie a lot of questions around this topic. So, um, just wanted to mention a few other things. Yes. And then kind of just going off of that, how does, how does a student know which one to take, uh, is one preferred over the other is one easier?
Like how can they sort of gauge or should they just take both to. Yeah. So, um, I will share that there’s only one book to buy for each exam. Uh, the, for the SAT it’s the large blue one published by the college board. It says the official SAT study guide. So, um, that’s the only book you would ever need to buy.
You can take a practice test in that book. And then for the ACT it’s a large book with a red cover, it says the official ACT prep guide. Again, that’s published essentially by the ACT, and those are the only books with the authentic exams. So you, you could take a practice exam in each of those. Um, and then, um, again, CollegeAdvisor students, um, in, in, uh, most of the tiers of CollegeAdvisor have access to my self-based program.
Methodized and methodized has an SAT diagnostic and an ACT diagnostic. So, um, and we keep those as short as possible because we know, um, we wanna make sure students can complete both diagnostics. So that would be an easy way to get a sense of which test may be the better test for you. Mm-hmm , uh, going off of that, Brian.
And, um, how does, how do the standardized tests play into the overall application? Like what is their purpose in the admissions process? Yeah, so, um, I kind of talked a little bit about this earlier in the sense that it’s a quantitative aspect of the application, right? So, um, that quantitative metrics can be helpful.
Um, especially when you’re working at a university like Boston University that gets, you know, over 60,000 applications, you know, how do you measure the, how do you measure that many students it’s really, really hard to do that on a qualitative, um, you know, metric, uh, qualitative scale. And so the quantitative pieces, your GPA, um, you know, your SAT or ACT score can really assist a reader in that process.
Um, But really it’s another piece of it, of information. It’s another data point, um, in the application, um, it’s a piece of, you know, it’s a piece of the admission review pie, admission review puzzle. Um, I don’t even always, you know, mix it up as, okay. Grades are 25% test scores are 10%, you know, your essay is temp.
Like that’s not really how schools are looking at it either. Um, it’s a piece of the puzzle. Um, it’s evaluated, it’s it’s used. Um, but while we use it, as often as a quantitative metric, it’s hard for me to actually what percentage like weight, we, uh, uh, an admission reader would uh, give it in the overall, uh, decision.
Um, let me put it another way. Um, when it comes down to, you know, really deciding between, uh, similar students. It’s rare that one thing is ever gonna be the final reason that you are not admitted or are emitted, uh, to the, the institution. Usually there are a variety of factors, strength of application across the board.
um, that are being considered. Yes. And we know that the admissions process is overwhelming for parents and students alike, especially with trying to make the strongest application possible for all of the Ivy league schools or your dream schools where you’re really trying to go. And this is a very, uh, stressful and can be very anxious time, especially for students who aren’t used to like having to present themselves.
So we really do highly recommend signing up for CollegeAdvisor.com, um, where you’ll get access to one-on-one advising sessions with a personal advisor who will walk you through every part of the application process, no matter where you are in that process. And they will show you, um, they will work with you.
How. Um, work with you on your application and, um, getting it to the best place it can be from working on your essays and making sure that your voice and your story is really being shown clearly to the admissions officers, to, uh, getting your activities list together, to really show what your involvements are beyond school, figuring out who your best letter, um, recommenders will be.
Um, so that it all really comes together into a strong application, as well as. In addition to our, um, one-on-one advising you also get access to our wonderful milestone team, such as the financial aid review team and the college list building team, as well as the essay review team who will help with spiffing up your essays or making sure your college list really has the programs and the things that you are looking for and figuring out your family’s financial situation in order to make, um, in order to give you the best options for paying for school.
So, um, we do highly recommend going to app.CollegeAdvisor.com and signing up for a free account with us or by scanning the QR code on the screen. Um, you’ll be able to, um, take charge of your family’s college admissions process and sign up for a free 15 minute strategy session with an admissions expert using, um, again, this QR code, or I believe it was a 45 minute, um, Strategy session with an admissions expert.
Um, and then also, um, by signing up for CollegeAdvisor, you not only get access to our wonderful network of advisors and admissions officers and these web, uh, webinars, but you also, um, get, uh, you get some great, um, connections with, um, method learning where if you are under our elite platinum or IV plus package, you receive, you can receive the free, um, self-paced package.
Um, um, self-paced online, ACT and SAT course from method learning. Um, but with that in mind, Tom students are really wondering what makes method learning, uh, different from other, uh, test prep, materials, and resources, and what really makes it a great resource. Yeah. So one thing I always say, Mackenzie is we’re trying to help students get the highest possible score in the most efficient way, efficient from a time perspective and also from a cost perspective.
So, um, we, we all understand there are many, many, um, test prep options out there. Um, and so when people ask what makes method learning different, we offer a range of options. So everything from our self-paced program, um, that’s um, again, included with many CollegeAdvisor packages, but for families that, um, families can just purchase methodized, it’s a one time cost of $250.
And once you pay that $250, you have access through graduation. Um, and you have obviously it’s available 24/7. So, um, again, we’re trying to be as efficient as possible. Um, and then. The quality of our instruction. So we have a small tutoring team where, you know, we’re not one of these, you know, massive companies.
Um, so because we have a small tutoring team, um, we’re able to control the quality. Um, so, and then we do offer a lot of private tutoring. Um, so again, families like the fact that we offer a really the entire range of options from a self-paced program to classes, to private tutoring. Um, and, um, couple of the student is kind of, people are messing to me, um, different questions about the methodized program, but, um, for this QR code, everybody, so we offer what we call advantage classes and we just use that designation.
It means it’s a comprehensive class. If you take an advantage class with. You’re going to learn every trick, every strategy, every technique, um, for all parts of the exam. So for folks on this webinar tonight, um, we are offering a special coupon code. It’s just AUG24. Um, today’s date. And that coupon will save you $75 off the cost of one of our classes.
And in advantage class, again, we try to price it as repetitively as possible. Um, so we have 18 hour classes that are $499, and we have 12 hour classes that are $325, and then you’ll save $75 off of that, um, by using that coupon code. So I’ll put McKenzie, I’ll put the, um, the link to our SAT advantage classes in the chat.
And that’s, if you, if you scan this QR code, You know, you’ll, you’ll have access to the same thing. And then, um, just quickly I’ll do the same for the ACT so, um, yeah, I don’t know if they’re, I dunno if questions have come in like follow up questions on that McKenzie, but, um, I will look for them as they come up, but I am seeing some questions about international students and how they get access to standardized tests.
Um, your home country should, um, have different centers or ways, um, in locations for you to take the exam and then you would register online and then find the locations near you. Um, if not, I’m seeing that one student is saying that the SAT is offered more in person where they’re from. Um, but the ACT is more limited.
Um, so they’re asking if there is any options, um, to take it online, or how would they go about that? Uh, do either you have any knowledge on that.
Yeah. So, um, your answer was exactly correct. Um, so based on your country, there are gonna be different centers and different policies. Of course, the, um, SAT is going digital, as many of you have heard. Um, and so, uh, this coming spring for international students, um, so that hopefully will make it easier.
And I think it will in many places to take the SAT uh, going on to the next question, another student is asking, does the amount of times you take the SAT or ACT matter is a person who gets a good score the first time, better than a person who gets a good score after many attempts? No, and I’ll, I’d like Brian to jump in too, but.
From what I understand, colleges are just looking at your best scores. Um, they, and again, they’re going to scoop super score, take your best math and your best English. So it’s not like a student who gets their best score on the first time is going to, uh, have an, you know, is good. That’s not going to, um, give you a different sort of waiting than if you score higher your second or third time.
Yeah. And, and, um, I saw a couple questions about this. I’m glad that, um, we’re able to address it. Um, my understanding is that, um, there are, I don’t know of any schools or, uh, universities that, um, you know, kind of disadvantaged you from taking it multiple times or would look, you know, badly upon you doing so on, you know, in most cases, you also are able to submit, you know, what scores you want.
Um, and you know, I, so submitting your best scores is obviously to your advantage. And even if you did submit, you know, hypothetically, you, you submitted, um, you know, you took it four times, you submitted all four. Again, most schools have that. Every school that I’ve an admission officer I’ve talked to, um, you know, does that super score policy where they’re pulling the best sections and, and look, here’s the other side of this.
Um, here’s the, the secret about admission offices. Um, they’re looking for reasons to admit you, um, they want to accept you. Um, so we’re not trying to be mean, we’re not trying to disadvantage you in the process. We’re not trying to trick you. Look, it’s, it is competitive. Yes, it is competitive, especially at some of, you know, the top tier institutions.
But, um, we’re not trying to disadvantage you in the process. Um, for me personally, I took the ACT once in eighth grade and then another time in 10th grade, um, I just took it blind in eighth grade just to see what it was like. Um, if you take it in seventh grade, you can actually, um, apply for the Duke tip.
Um, Scholars program or something. Um, but, uh, I didn’t really like my score. So I took the sat my senior year before applying early for Cornell and Howard University. And I got a 1330 on the first try and was pretty good with that and just submitted the one score. I didn’t even bother submitting my ACT scores.
So it does vary person by person, what you submit, what you don’t submit, and you do get more options in how you submit. But super scoring is always taking the exam multiple times and giving yourself that room does help with, um, being able to submit the best score possible because you do get the option to super.
Uh, going on to the next question. Another student is asking, um, oh, um, for TA, uh, the student is asking, is it March, May and October for next year or this current year that you have access to those SAT questions. When you mention that you get to see, um, what you got wrong. Yeah. So that’s every year. So for, for any October exam, you can pay the $20 and see what you’re doing wrong and learn from your mistake.
So it’s it’s for both this year and next year. Going on to the next question, I’m seeing a few students say that they struggle with the math portion of the, um, exams and they’re asking what are some ways they can prepare for that? Just let on know most, um, I think both exams, they only go up to pre-cal. Um, but it’s usually the basic form of pre-cal and nothing fancy.
It isn’t calculus or anything higher. So that is like the highest level. And I remember it being more algebra two than pre-cal, but yeah, and actually it’s, it’s mostly algebra one. Um, and so most of the questions on the SAT most of the math questions in the SAT. Test you on concepts that you’re going to even start learning in, you know, seventh grade, eighth grade, but certainly ninth grade and 10th grade.
Now there is, there is some geo geometry, there’s some algebra two, uh, there’s a little bit of trigonometry, but again, they really stick to the basics of those higher level math courses. What’s more challenging is how the questions are worded. And they’re often worded in a way that’s a little different than what students are used to seeing in, in school.
Um, I, sometimes I say that the SAT and a, and ACT, there are almost like a foreign language. You have to learn to speak the language, but, um, but when you learn to speak the language, you start to recognize patterns and, and the questions all kind of, again, they, they can be wordy, but they ask que they ask the questions, um, in similar ways over and over.
But just to go back to the original question there, McKenzie is as far as like, what’s the best way to prepare, or if you struggle in math. And so a lot of times people wanna talk about. Test taking strategies or like tricks and things like that. And look, there are some, there are strategies and there are, there are some, you know, shortcuts or tricks, but more it’s really about understanding the content, right?
Understanding exponents rules of exponent, slope, linear equations. Um, and, and again, the stuff that you need to know for success in high school and college and beyond. So that’s one of the things I’ve always liked about my job is that whenever I’m helping a student prepare for the SAT or ACT, I’m not helping them beat a test, I’m helping them reinforce skills that they need to know anyway for high school college.
And it’s, it’s the fundamental math and fundamental, um, grammar and reading comprehension. So, um, yeah, it’s a really important question. So I didn’t want to give a two second answer, hopefully, um, that answer was thorough, thorough.
Uh, going on to the next question. Now student’s asking, is it possible to be preparing, um, for a test for too long and be losing more than you’re gaining? I, I think there is something I think there’s, you know, burnout right. Can happen in, in any aspect of life. So I don’t want students, you know, I don’t want this, these tests to dominate a students junior in half of their senior year.
So I think it’s better to be more strategic. Um, you know, do most of your prep in the two months leading up to your exam? Um, or just do a little bit every week, but, but yes, I think, I think, um, you know, certainly there are many, many students where they spend too much time and, and, and, um, and, and, and burnout.
So I don’t know, Brian, if you have another thought there. No, I agree. Um, and you know, look spring of your junior year, follow your senior year are really busy times. You got a lot of other things going on. Um, you know, if you’re balancing, you know, rigorous course load activities, you know, you got a lot going on.
Um, so, uh, I agree a hundred percent. It’s important to balance. I know plenty of people that, um, you know, we’re planning to go in for their third or fourth test and we kind of alluded to this earlier. Um, and they’re like, you know what? I am so stressed right now that, and, and busy that going and sitting for the test, like it’s better for my mental health to actually just not do it.
Um, and that happens too. So it’s important to know, um, know yourself and, and know what your best, uh, what’s best for you. Uh, kind of to close things off as students asking, do harder questions, give more points or are they wait, all waited the same and then, uh, can y’all give any closing remarks or advice or tips for students.
Uh, all questions are weighted the same. That’s why I always tell people, focus on doing very well on the easy and medium questions. Um, cuz you’re gonna get just as many points for those. And as far as one, um, I mean there are probably many closing thoughts, but um, but one closing thought, I just wanna piggyback off what Brian just said.
Um, so, uh, when people ask me how much time should you put in preparing for the test? I like to use the number two and a half hours per week. Um, I think that’s very reasonable. Um, we’re all busy, but if something’s important to you and again, as Brian and I have both said, um, SAT and ACT scores can be important if you can score really well on these.
um, you, you do increase your chances of acceptance. At many places, you increase your chances of a larger, um, um, academic, uh, you know, scholarship package. Um, so, so two and a half hours a week is, is achievable. You have to put it right into your phone, just like you would a job or a, a sports commitment or, you know, anything it’s gotta be non-negotiable.
And, and so I like to say two and half hours, cause I’m not telling anybody put in six hours a week. That’s not, that’s not appropriate. So two and a half hours a week, and you can make a very significant difference on your score. Um, and I guess Mackenzie, my, my last thought will just be everybody. Keep in mind.
Each question you get, right, could be 10 more points on your score. So if you can spend the next couple of weeks, learn how to do five more math, five more grammar, five more reading. You can make an enormous difference on your. And I just, I know we’re, uh, out of time basically, but I just would say, um, and this is especially, uh, I say every webinar I do, uh, the admission process can be a stressful process.
Uh, but it doesn’t have to be, this is especially true about standardized testing. It’s an individual process. And so I often tell folks to, you know, really run your own race, only focus on yourself on nothing more prevalent than the true, uh, applies this true than the SAT or ACT a member review day, uh, or, you know, test a result day.
And everyone’s like, what’d you get, would you get, you know, friends, family everyone’s at doesn’t matter. Um, all it matters is what you did, um, in your personal, uh, so, you know, kind of focus on yourself. Um, and, and I think that that will help a lot, um, and, and not compare yourself to others, but ultimately what you, uh, get out of the process.
Yes. And in terms of paying for the SAT and ACT, I know I saw a student that asked if there’s a maximum amount of times, you can take it. Um, there isn’t a maximum amount. You can take these exams, but the financial restrictions may impact how many times you can take it. So do check out what your school counselor, your college counselor, um, what options are available to you?
I know. School, they provided students, every student with two free sat and two free acts, um, your senior, junior and senior year. And you just had to go ask, but a lot of people don’t know about that. So always just be on the lookout for what your school is offering in terms of resources. And so that is the end of our webinar.
I hope you found this information helpful. And remember, again, you can download the side from the link in the handouts tab and this webinar is being recorded. So you’ll be able to view it again, uh, later on our website at app.CollegeAdvisor.com/webinars. Thank you to our wonderful panelists and to method learning for joining us, um, for this webinar on mastering the SAT and ACT, uh, here’s the rest of our August series.
Where we have various webinars on different colleges and college panels, the best one being Cornell University, of course, uh, and different parts of the application process as well as different, um, admission strategies to help prepare you to make the best application possible. Please do check those out again on our website as well.
We have blogs and other resources within CollegeAdvisor, but we always recommend signing up for CollegeAdvisor and method learning of course, to prepare for the standardized testing. Uh, so thank you everyone for coming out tonight and goodnight. Bye everyone.