Your Fall Test Scores

Your Fall Test Scores

As summer is winding down and summer reading, college applications and essays are all starting to weigh on your mind, it’s time to also consider when or if you’ll be taking the fall SATs or ACTs.

Among the advice for Seniors shared by CollegeView, “57 percent of students improve their ACT score on the second attempt,” although they also caution that “test prep—and test taking itself—can distract you from completing applications and maintaining those crucial senior-year grades that many colleges will begin requesting in January.”

Another thing to keep in mind is if the repeated attempts will negatively impact your application. If you are taking the ACT, the colleges and universities you apply to will never know how many times you’ve taken it, whether it was just once or their max of 12 times. This means you have little to lose (other than precious time) by taking it again.

However, if you are taking the SAT, this can be quite a different discussion altogether. Many schools still refuse the ScoreChoice option, so taking it again and scoring lower could impact your chances at a school. Of course if you score higher, it would only help. But there is also the likelihood of your score staying the same, or even dropping a little, in which case it might be best to focus your energies on other ways to improve your application.


Tip File: Starting your college essay

Because your personal statement is a major opportunity to come alive on the page for the collage admissions officer reading your application, drawing the reader in from the first sentence is essential.

That’s where your “lead” comes in.

Read your first sentence to yourself. Does it tell a story? Does it say something strong about who you are? Most importantly: is it possible or likely that someone else could be starting his or her essay in the same way?

If the answer to that last question is yes, scrap your first sentence and start again. Make sure your first sentence isn’t one that has been done before. You only have one chance to hook the reader. Use it to your full advantage!


Common App Introduces New Word Counts for 2013-2014

In addition to new essay prompts, the Common Application this year has introduced new word count maximums for its personal statement essay.

Up from the previous word count of 500 words, the new essay will require a 250-word minimum and 650-word maximum, and they promise to be enforced strictly.

Writes College View’s Lisa Mader:

“Essays now carry a 250-word minimum and a 650-word maximum, an increase of 500 from last year. Additionally, where in the past students would aim for somewhere around 500 words, the 650-word maximum is now enforced. The essay box will keep a running tally and cut off at the maximum. As a result, word choice and concision will be essential.”

Have you started your personal statement for your applications due in Fall 2013? The new prompts will go into effect in August. Check out the prompts.


US News: 8 Strategies to Launch your College Application into Full Gear

It’s almost July. Have you started your college search yet? Whether you are still in the process of narrowing down your list of potential schools or if you have honed in on the “short list,” there are several tips and tools that can help your application process move swiftly and smoothly—rather than turn into a race against the clock.

Writing for U.S. News and World Report, college admissions veteran Peter Van Buskirk this week lists his 8 strategies for starting the process. From visiting campuses to starting a resume and researching financial aid, Van Buskirk hones in on what best to do this summer as students gear up for fall deadlines.

Find out how to get started now. View the list.


Admissions Officers on Application Dos and Don’ts

From deadlines to follow ups, the New York Times took a recent survey of college admissions officers to find out what they wish they could tell every applicant. 

Among their tips: Choose wisely and parents need not apply. 

“Put yourself on the mailing list. Contact a current student, alumnus, or admission representative. The more you know about the university and what it offers academically, socially, and financially, the better informed you will be. This also helps you set and manage realistic expectations concerning the university that you ultimately choose,” Linda Sanders-Hawkins, director of admission for Howard University told the Times. 

Read the article for the full list of tips


Common App Essay Prompts: 2013-14

The Common Application updates its essay prompts each year. The 2013-2014 prompts are as follows. Remember word count maximum is 650 words!

Choose one:

• Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

• Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

• Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

• Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

• Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.