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FAQ'S

 
 
 

Re: THE NEW SAT

Traditionally, students would tutor for the SAT and then transition to ACT tutoring after completing their first official SAT test. Because of recent changes in format and question types on the SAT, as well as the increasing popularity and excellent reputation of the ACT among top colleges, many students now start with ACT tutoring and then transition to SAT tutoring. There are students who score higher on the ACT than the SAT. Conversely, there are students who score higher on the SAT than the ACT. We make sure that your child has a personalized game-plan that maximizes his or her potential on both tests. In the end, we want our students to score as high as possible on one or both tests while also learning important math, reading and writing skills that will help them in high school, college and beyond.

Re: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ACT and SAT?

Today, the ACT is more popular and relevant than ever, and, fortunately, the prep work involved in all four parts of the ACT (Grammar/Math/Reading/Science) will help students on the SAT as well. The only section on the ACT where there is ostensibly no overlap with the SAT is the SCIENCE SECTION. But most students and parents don’t realize that “Science” on the ACT is essentially Reading Comprehension (with the inclusion of graphs and tables), so the transition from ACT prep to SAT prep is not nearly as daunting as many students and parents anticipate.

So basically you can focus on tutoring for the ACT and then shift gears to SAT tutoring after taking your first real ACT test. Please note that given some parents’ familiarity and preference for the SAT brand, students can instead begin with SAT tutoring and then transition to ACT prep after taking their first official SAT. Either way, we help determine if the SAT or ACT is best for your child given his or her skills, needs, and preferences.

Re: WHEN SHOULD MY CHILD TAKE HIS/HER TESTS?

As for scheduling a student’s first real ACT and SAT tests, we recommend that 11th graders sign up for the December ACT and either the March or May SAT as long as they’re able to start prepping in the spring/summer of 10th grade and/or fall of 11th grade. Some parents and students prefer to start by taking the January SAT and April ACT. This also works. Before selecting test dates, take a look at your child’s schedule and try to select dates that will provide adequate time for preparation.

In addition to optimum timing, the December ACT test date offers students the “Test Information Release” (TIR) service, which provides students with a copy of their actual test booklet as well as a detailed score report. This way students can see which questions they answered incorrectly and whether the mistakes were careless or fundamental. It’s an incredibly helpful resource for fine-tuning a student’s game-plan and eliminating careless mistakes as he or she continues with tutoring and testing. Parents should absolutely purchase the services for applicable test dates. For the ACT, the “Test Information Release” ($20) is available for the APRIL, JUNE, and DECEMBER test dates. For the SAT, the “Question and Answer” service ($18) is available for the JANUARY, MAY, and OCTOBER test dates. Again, if your child takes a test on one of the test dates mentioned above, you should absolutely sign up to get the test booklet back in the mail!

Re: HOW DOES THE TUTORING WORK?

Sometimes we start with a handful of tutoring sessions followed soon after by a full-length timed diagnostic ACT or SAT test. Other times we begin with a full-length timed diagnostic ACT or SAT test followed by tutoring sessions. It depends on the student’s needs and preferences, as well as his or her schedule. Either way, as a student gets started we begin our assessment, targeting areas that are weak while developing a personalized game-plan that will help the student score as high as possible.

It’s important to note that students don’t typically score their highest scores on their first real ACT and SAT tests. These initial tests are vital in helping students get familiar with the test, the environment, the pacing, and the overall experience. Not surprisingly, students feel much more confident and relaxed when taking their second and third real tests. That said, we always have students who score extraordinarily high on their first real ACT and SAT tests.

Re: WHAT IS “SCORE CHOICE” AND “SUPER SCORE?”

Students today have the advantage of "Score Choice" on the SAT. Score Choice allows students to send only the SAT scores they want to send to colleges. Colleges will then combine the highest scores from each part of all SAT tests a student takes to reach what’s known as a “Super Score.” So let’s say a student scores very high in Reading on the March SAT…that student can then focus on Math on subsequent SAT tests, knowing that he or she has a high Reading score essentially in the “bank.” The super score not only alleviates intense pressure for students, but it also helps students maximize time and effort during the tutoring and testing process. Many parents and students ask: Do colleges super-score the ACT? The answer is “yes” AND “no.” Some colleges do and some don’t. As you begin scheduling your ACT and SAT and SAT II subject tests, it’s important for students and parents to review the admissions pages on college websites to find out which tests each college requires and how the test scores are evaluated. While this process can sometimes feel a bit confusing and overwhelming, we’re always available to help answer questions and provide you with the best possible insight and information.

Re: WHAT ARE SAT II SUBJECT TESTS?

In addition to the SAT and ACT, some colleges will ask or "highly recommend" that you submit scores from two or three SAT II subject tests. SAT II subject tests are one-hour timed multiple-choice tests that cover specific academic subjects. There are currently 20 SAT II subject tests, including U.S. History, World History, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Math IC and IIC, English Literature, French, Italian, and Spanish, among many others. A student may take up to three subject tests on any given test date. Language tests "with listening" are generally offered once per year (November).

Whether scores are required or "highly recommended," we advise students to prep adequately and take SAT II's that 1) you're most confident taking and 2) cover material you've recently studied. Therefore, students should consider taking SAT II subject tests as early as their freshman or sophomore year. While it's always a good idea to demonstrate strength in Math, Science and a Foreign Language, you should take whichever subject tests can best highlight your academic strengths. If possible, it is also a good idea to factor in your future degree or major, particularly if you're planning on entering fields such as engineering or medicine or finance.

If you're planning on taking SAT II subject tests, it is important that you have a study plan in place and take as many full-length practice tests as possible.

It’s important to note that many colleges (including Boston College, which asks students to submit their SAT scores as well as scores from two SAT II subject tests) will accept a student's ACT score in lieu of both the SAT and SAT II subject tests. This is obviously a great option for students who score disproportionately better on the ACT than the SAT, or students who have limited time to prep for both the SAT and the SAT II subject tests. That said, it is important for students to know in advance the tests that their prospective colleges recommend or require.

Once again, we are here to help provide you with insight and information that helps you navigate the standardized testing and college application waters. Think of us as your lightning rod as well as your lighthouse.