To all students who took the June ACT and did not pay the additional $20 for the TIR, please consider doing so! The TIR is the service that is only offered for 3 of the tests a year (December, April, and June) that mails out a copy of your test and the answers YOU provided. It can be extremely insightful if you didn’t hit the score you wanted, or if you want to make improvements from there. While it won’t allow us to see the actual work you did (it’s a copy of the test, not your actual test), it does provide an excellent window through which to interpret what happened. Did you miss all the questions in the Differing Viewpoints passage on Science? Did you miss question #13 in math (you know, the one you knew how to do so well that maybe you didn’t write anything out for it….)? Did you actually miss all 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 of the last questions in any section or were the mistakes spread out? And of course, it allows you to revisit your mistakes on a test you’ve already taken. All for $20!
If you didn’t sign up for it originally, you can print out this page here (2016-2017 link), complete the information, and mail it and a check in up to 3 months after your test date. If you’re not sure if you signed up for it, check your old receipt either by logging in or finding it in your email records. And of course there is still time to wait for your scores and then request the TIR if you’re unsure if you’ll take it again depending on that score.
I should also note that there is an additional option listed at the back of each TIR as well that allows you to pay an extra $20 to receive a copy of your essay. I have never seen a student take advantage of this option, but the only way to get a copy of your ACT essay is through the first TIR payment and then an additional payment.
Q: Who should be taking the Math Level 2 Subject Test?
A: Students who have at least completed Pre-Calc H and will not be able to take the AP Calc Exam in time for admissions (aka until their Senior year). Also students who need them to apply to a desired school (some schools still require them) or desired major within a school (most often Engineering, but worth checking out yours just in case). And of course students who need further indicators of academic success beyond their GPA or ACT/SAT scores.
Q: When is the best time to study for and take the Math Level 2 Subject Test?
A: When you have the time for it. For many students, this means over the summer and taking it for the end of August test date. Subject tests are a smaller time commitment in general and should be taken close to when the class was given, unless they are the more general subjects such as languages you’re fluent in, Literature (you’ve been in English class for a decade now), or Math (ditto).
Q: What do you recommend for preparing for the Math Level 2 Subject Test?
A: We recommend 12 hours of sessions coupled with approximately 12 hours of homework in between them. This has proven very effective for our students in the past to significantly increase their score and problem solving abilities.
Q: What do you recommend for preparing for other Subject Tests?
A: Always start from the Official Subject Test Book (link) to see where you’re starting. Purchase several subject test prep books, and start with the practice tests. Question topics repeat, so the best way to get better is to take the practice tests and learn from your mistakes. Repeat over 6-10 practice tests, and then follow up with another Official Subject Test if available. For many tests, self study and review is sufficient. For problem based tests (think Math, Chem, and Physics), it can be extremely useful to utilize a tutor to most effectively learn to problem solve the variety of questions and topics. For many students, this means the 12 hour + 12 hour self study program, but for others it may be less.
As a parent so succinctly put it yesterday, there is a lot of chatter around the subject tests about who should be taking what and when. I love that term to describe it because everyone’s saying a lot, but no one really seems to know the value of the subject tests. I myself have heard large amounts of variety of which tests are important and how high a score is high enough.
However, I am of the mindset that there are two general types of students who should be taking the subject tests:
1. The students whose schools or majors require them. This is a very short list in the grand scheme of things. Many test prep companies maintain lists, but I would recommend these only as a jumping off point. Do your homework and be sure to research each school on your list (just in case). Generally speaking, these are the elite schools and the hardest majors to get accepted into (think Engineering @ MIT).
2. The students who want another indicator of academic success. Standardized tests are the safest, most numerical way to demonstrate you’ll be able to hang academically at a top school, whether they’re ACT/SAT, AP Tests, or Subject Tests. If your GPA is lower than the schools you most want to attend, you might want to supplement with successful test scores. If your math is strong but you won’t be able to take the Calculus AP exam until your senior year (and therefore past when you’ll be submitting you application to colleges), you might want to supplement with a successful Math Level 2 Subject Test.
We must recall too, that time is zero-sum, as in: you can’t do everything. If you are already doing great things (you’ve started a club, you have a unique hobby, you’re a leader in your community, etc.), or maybe you’re taking too many APs already or just want to spend more time with your family or friends, then you’re maybe trading one asset for another, and not actually doing much for your application or life. While it might add value to your application, it might take away something else. (By the way, this is a GREAT question for a guidance counselor or Independent Education Consultant).
However, if you like math or any of the other subject test subjects, and another high score will only help your chances of admission, it’s a great test to be studying for over the summer, when you have the time and energy to spend on it.
And if you are one of those two types of students who could benefit from taking the test(s), it is highly recommended you do well on them. After all, what’s the point of even sitting in a high school classroom for one hour on a Saturday if you’re not going to do well? That’s wasted time and energy (and money). If you’re going to take it, do well.
We are happy to announce a new edition of our ACT Intensive! Right in time for the June test, we’ll be hosting a 9 hour program to give you that final push for the last official test of the school year.
In alignment with our philosophy, we’ll offer short, high energy sessions in a small group environment (2-3 students per instructor).
Our goal is to cover the most relevant, commonly missed material with the highest point value impact.
When? May 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 30th
June 4th, 5th, 6th
*Note: this skips Mother’s Day (Sun) and Memorial Day (Sun and Mon)
Times? Sessions run Sundays at 11am, Mondays at 3:30pm, and Tuesdays at 3:30pm
Where? 11772 Sorrento Valley Rd, Suite 160, San Diego, CA, 92121
*Financial plan available. Ask for more details (email@example.com)
To sign up, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
11772 Sorrento Valley Rd, Suite 160, San Diego, CA, 92121
Don’t like the ACT? Completely unsure which to take? Maybe you need to look at our 10 Reasons to Take the SAT instead!
We compiled this as a followup to our 10 Reasons to take the ACT post. As we said in our last post, please use this advice in conjunction with proper guidance counseling and keep in mind that what works for many may not work for you.
And if you’re really unsure, email us at email@example.com to sign up for a Saturday practice test (or two) to try one out!
Without further ado:
1. There’s a summer SAT this year! August 26th 2017 is the official summer SAT date. For some schools this is still after school has started, but for many it is before your summer homework is due and Junior/Senior year classes have begun.
2. Khan Academy gives away plenty of practice material, and the practice tests are all available free online at collegeboard.org.
3. You’ll be able to compare your score to your parents – the test has returned to a 1600 scale so your parents may actually know what your score means.
4. The test is common-core aligned in the math, which may mean it’s easier for you.
5. The math section is more algebra focused than the ACT, so if you’ve done well in classes, you may find it easier than the ACT with vectors, matrices, pre-calc, probability, and statistics.
6. The passages read more similarly to AP Lit and AP Lang passages, so if you are taking an AP English (or equivalent), the reading may be easier.
7. There is less of an emphasis on the grammar portion of the English section, so less new material to master to get a perfect score.
8. The math counts more heavily into the total on the SAT, and there’s no Science.
9. You have already started practicing if you’ve taken the PSAT. (And if you haven’t, you easily can by going to Khan Academy!).
10. The SAT is developed by ETS, the same company who develops the CAASPP, the GRE, the AP tests, and the PSAT. While all of the tests are different assessments, there will be some level of overlap, i.e. preparing for one will help you prepare for the others as well.
Deciding between tests? Not sure which one is the one for you? Common knowledge of the differences between the SAT and ACT abound (the ACT is faster, the SAT doesn’t have a science section), but it can be hard to separate the fact from the fiction. As with anything we say, be sure to use this in conjunction with proper guidance counseling and a look at what works best for you individually.
1. It’s easier to improve your score because it’s more content dependent, i.e. you can learn the content and your score will go up.
2. True score choice (choosing who to send your reports to) is built into the ACT. Schools only see what you send because the score reports are stored separately from each other. On the SAT, all of them are stored under your student name/ID, so you have to actively suppress scores from schools if you don’t want to see them. Which leads me to my next reason…
3. You can remove your test records if you really don’t want colleges to see them.
4. The Science counts equally with the Math, so if AP Bio and Chem were strengths for you, this may be the best option.
5. The English portion is more grammar dependent on the ACT than the SAT, so you can learn the grammar rules and improve your score more. For a free resource, see Meltzer’s blog (http://thecriticalreader.com/complete-sat-grammar-rules/), or purchase her Ultimate Guide to the ACT English.
6. The test is faster, which means the questions can’t possibly be as difficult as the SAT questions. This translates to an absolute necessity that the questions are inherently more straightforward.
7. Students scores tend to go up each time they take the test as concluded by ACT’s own research (see http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/2016-Tech-Brief-MultipleTesters.pdf).
8. Some schools still require the Subject Tests if you take the SAT, but not if you take the ACT.
9. There is a bigger “top tier.” If a 30 matches up to a 1390-1410 SAT score, then the “top tier” can be considered all the scores above that threshold. However, 30 sounds better! This is admittedly the worst reason on the list, but appearance of your score is a real thing.
10. The ACT Profile career matching tool is available for free on the website as part of the EOS, and has been said by several to be one of the best tools out there for determining future careers. (Although it looks like you can still use it for free even if you don’t sign up for an ACT.)
Peter and I have been feverishly brainstorming a new kind of bootcamp for the SAT, set to start this summer. We will be incorporating the same rigorous standards we bring to our sessions in a fast, engaging pace based on research from the cognitive science field. The classes will be designed to take advantage of a small group setting.
Interested families can join our mailing list here (https://goo.gl/forms/BlkFaHcFBSn8vXO92). Future details will be released first to the interested list before being featured on our monthly newsletter.
Thanks to a tip from a parent, we’ve noticed that it looks like more and more California schools are accepting the December ACT test results if they’re received by December 31. If all goes well, both the SAT and the ACT will have the score results back in time for the applications. Last year, not all did go well, but we believe this was due to circumstances that only applied last year.
Recall: the SAT was about to change. They generally were giving themselves longer timelines to return scores and sometimes (like in the case of the PSAT), didn’t even hit those deadlines, missing that deadline by about a month. This year, they have been hitting their deadlines, and have even moved up the return date so that the scores are in to schools on time.
Also, the ACT revamped their essay entirely. The tests were scored, but the essays weren’t graded yet, delaying the full score report until it was too late. As the essay format has not changed since then, we have no reason to expect that the scores will come back behind schedule.
All that being said, with the UC’s and the Cal State’s almost universally accepting the December test date, and assuming the tests come back on time as promised, they still might not make a difference. The UC and Cal State systems close Nov 30, so it is possible they will have finished reviewing your application by the time you send your newest test score in.
So – is it worth it? Perhaps. If you think you can get your score up and you want to try anything you can to do so, it might be worth it. But if you feel like you’ve done a pretty good job and your time would be better spent elsewhere (essays, classwork, heck, even with friends and family), then it may be wise to skip it.
Congratulations seniors, you’re almost there!
P.S. Please reach out if you have any further questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As originally reported in Reuters, a massive data leak of not-yet-administered SAT questions (21 reading passages with ~12 questions each and over 160 math questions) has occurred.
While CollegeBoard has pledged to remove all leaked materials (so no students taking the exams this fall will be affected) prior to the administration, the news is still extremely important as this has been the first time that future material has been leaked, and especially on such a large scale.
Immediate effects beyond the removal of the material are not currently known, but speculations range the gamut from “little impact” to “beginning to question the entire integrity of the SAT.” No such data leaks have been reported for the ACT.
Read on for more speculation and information in this Washington Post article (link included).
Have you spent some time trying to figure out which major you should be? Perplexed at if your major “even matters?” Here’s an awesome visualization to help you answer some of those questions.
Ben Schmidt’s What are are you going to do with that degree? offers us common degrees on the left hand side, common jobs on the right hand side, with all the attached connections between them.
You can also click on individual jobs or majors to see all the streams going out or in.