How Going to a Great High School can Negatively Affect your SAT and ACT Performance

You would think that going to a top-notch public or private high school could only help your performance on major tests like the ACT or SAT. Although having a top-notch high school education is indeed helpful for one’s performance on these tests, I have found that it occasionally can harm students as well!

The problem is that students from top notch schools expect that they should KNOW how to do all the problems. Why wouldn’t they? After all, they have excellent teachers and great academic resources. Many elite private school students with whom I have worked become easily frustrated when they don’t see how to solve things right away. What they need to realize is that the SAT and ACT do not test your knowledge – they test your critical thinking ability. If they tested your knowledge, they would be much more like the SAT Subject Tests or the AP tests. Colleges use the SAT and ACT to see how well students can problem solve with things they haven’t seen before. Having it set up this way gives students who do not attend really good high schools the potential to demonstrate that they have room for academic growth, given the right academic environment.

If you attend a great high school, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t immediately understand a problem or a passage – in your thought process you need to let things happen, not force them to happen. If you do not attend a great high school, know that the SAT and ACT will give you the opportunity to show your intellectual potential. I hope you found this discussion helpful. If so, I would invite you to share it with your friends.

Thanks, Brian Stewart

#MondayMotivation-10 tips to motivate you to study

If senioritis (or junioritis, sophmoritis, or freshmanitis for that matter) is kicking in here are some great tips to help you get motivated to study.

  1. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  So often, we set ourselves up to fail by telling ourselves that we must do everything we can to get a perfect on the test or we may as well not even try.  Procrastination is sometimes a defense mechanism against the possibility of failure. If you put things off, you’ll at least have an excuse as to why you didn’t succeed, whereas if you try and fail, you have no one to blame but yourself.  Don’t fall into this mindset.  Classes in school are very rarely pass or fail.  If you can put in 30 minutes and it can earn you a B but it would take you two hours to earn an A, at least put insometime so that you can have a decent, if not perfect, result.
  2. Studying doesn’t have to be miserable.  Ask yourself what you can do to make your studying experience more pleasant.  Do you like having music on in the background?  Is there a favorite food or beverage that you can reserve for study times?  Is there a relaxing place that you can go?  Figure out what is within your control to make the studying experience more tolerable.
  3. Schedule a clear beginning and end to your studying.  If you have a giant chunk of time when you will be “studying” but you know you will spend most of your time being distracted, you won’t get much done at all.  Start with a clear beginning and a clear end to your studying and even though it seems like you won’t have enough time to finish things, you will be far more efficient and focused this way.
  4. Ask for structure if you can’t get it from within.  If you know that you are unable to create a structured study plan for yourself, enlist the help of others to make it happen.  It’s just like having a personal trainer to help you get in shape!  Here are some ideas:
    • Ask a teacher if you can come into his or her room to study so you won’t be distracted by other students in study hall.
    • Ask a friend or parent to hold your cell phone or video games for you until you get what you need done.
    • Go to your parent’s place of work to get things done after school and then come home when you are ready to have fun.
  5. Get the studying over with so you can enjoy uninterrupted fun.  Realize that you will enjoy watching TV, hanging out with your friends and playing video games much, much moreif you do not have any homework or tests hanging over your head.  Don’t try to multitask by studying a little and having fun a little.  Focus 100% on studying and you will be much more efficient and effective.  Then you can focus 100% on enjoying yourself.
  6. Get big picture perspective from others on how studying affects things long term. If you talk to your classmates about studying, they will probably just enable you by telling you how little they care about studying as well.  Instead, gain valuable perspective and motivation by talking to those who are older than you.  Ask them what knowledge and skills they wish they had later in life.  What you will probably find is that they wish they had learned the stuff that is much more difficult to learn later on:  math and science concepts, foreign languages, better writing and communication skills, etc.  If you chat with people who are further along life’s journey, they may help you see the path you should take.
  7.  Remember that you are learning SKILLS.  The actual content of what you learn will not be nearly as important as your ability to learn.  Will you have to compute the area of a circle every day of your professional life?  No, but you willhave to do analytical problem solving.  Will you need to know the cultures and histories of different countries to make more money?  Probably not, but you willbenefit from being able to put yourself in the shoes of others.  Does it really matter whether you have a good essay on a novel you read in English?  Long term, it probably won’t, but it will be extremely valuable to know how to communicate effectively.  Whenever you feel that what you are learning is pointless, remember that as long as you are learning how to think, read, write, and problem solve, you are indeed preparing yourself for the future.
  8. Surround yourself with good people.  If your friends keep you from achieving your goals and want to bring you down to their level, maybe it’s time to find some new friends.  It is very hardto overcome the influence of friends who pressure you into not caring about things – they will make you feel like a nerd and an outcast if you care too much.  Keep your focus on your long-term goals and surround yourself with people who will help you become the best person you can be.   
  9. Use your boredom to find more efficient methods! Look at being bored as a good thing!  Use your laziness as motivation to find the most efficient method you can to learn what you need in the shortest time possible.  For example, if you can’t stand filling out a review sheet, make a study group with your friends and divide up the review sheet among yourselves and share the answers with one another.  If you hate learning flashcards, use a site like quizlet.com to make your own.  If you hate taking notes while you read, use a site like course-notes.org to supplement your understanding of the text.  Learning what works best for you will help you as you go on to college and professional life, because you will have much greater control over how you structure your studying.
  10. Learn GRIT. No matter what you do in life, there will be times when you need to do something that is not all that enjoyable to do.  The better that you can become mentally tough by having a great deal of personal grit,  the more likely you can overcome obstacles that stand in your way.  Grit is arguably one of the most important life skills that doing homework can teach you.

I hope you found these ideas helpful.  If so, please share it with your friends!  Thanks, Brian Stewart

Questions on the ACT, SAT, GED, and other Major Tests have only One Definitive Answer

One of the most helpful things for students taking the ACT, SAT, GED, or other major tests is to know that there is one definitive answer for every question.  This can be quite a change if you are used to coming across rather vague questions on school-based tests that indeed could have a couple of correct answers.  The ACT and SAT take significant steps to ensure that they do indeed only have one correct answer for each question.

They do this by testing the questions before they are given on scored tests.  The SAT does this on every test.  Each SAT has 10 sections, only 9 of which are scored.  The 10th section is an experimental section which they use to test out questions for future tests. They want to be certain that the questions are not biased towards any gender or ethnic group, and that the questions are of appropriate difficulty.  The ACT does not test its questions as frequently as does the SAT, but they seem to pick the June test date to add in an experimental 10 minute section for test-takers to do at the end of the test.  In order for these experimental sections to be valid, the test-takers cannot be aware that they are experimental.  Otherwise, students would simply go to sleep and save their energy for the questions that actually impact their score.  The test-makers are quite good at this question experimentation – the last time I took the SAT I thought I had determined which section was the experimental, but when I received my answers and test booklet in the mail, I realized I had been mistaken.
How good are the SAT and ACT at making sure there is only one definitive answer to each and every question?  Very, very good, and if they do mess up, they fix it.  Check out this great New York Times article on the appeals process for questions on the ACT and SAT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/education/edlife/strategy.html

What struck me is that in a 22 year period, no ACT questions were thrown out.  Between 2005 and 2008, only 3 questions on the SAT were deemed to be flawed.  If and when the SAT and ACT do find that they have made an error in a question, be assured that they will take care of it and omit it from scoring.  This is one reason why it takes time for your scores to come back – ACT and SAT need time to make sure that they have not made any errors on the test, and need the opportunity to find any questions they might have to omit.

One potential reason that the ACT has a more of a spotless record is the strong possibility that the test makers repeat some questions.  I do not know this for a fact, but I do know that the ACT limits you to taking the test 12 times in your life while the SAT allows you to take the test as many times as you would like.  (I try to take the tests regularly, and I am spreading out my ACT test taking experiences so that I don’t run out!)  I can see no reason other than the possible repetition of questions as to why they would place these limits on test takers.  Once the ACT knows they have a perfectly worded question, they are in the clear and can use the questions on subsequent tests.  Since the SAT is starting fresh each time, they have more room for error.  Keep in mind that this is all just an educated conjecture on my part.

How does knowing that there is one definitive answer help in your test-taking and your test preparation?  Two ways:

 1.       Don’t waste time looking for games or tricks on the test.  Spend your time thinking instead.  There is no point in overanalyzing a question to see if there could be two correct answers; this simply isn’t going to happen on the SAT or ACT and if it does, they will omit it from scoring.

2.       Make sure you prepare with practice tests that have definitive answers.  If you are prepping with practice questions that in fact have 2 correct answers on occasion, you will drive yourself insane in overanalyzing the questions.  As a result, you will have a flawed strategy when it comes time to take the test.  So, be sure the materials you are using are high quality.  One great place you can go for solid questions is the website of the test you are taking. You can also purchase actual materials from ACT and SAT.

I hope you found this discussion helpful.  If so, I would greatly appreciate it if you passed it along to your friends.  Thanks so much.

Should You Do Test Prep Before Taking the ACT and SAT for the First Time?

Students and parents often wonder whether to take the SAT and ACT with or without any test preparation the first time.  There is not a simple answer to this, so I will offer you some things to consider when making your decision:

1.  How close to applying to college are you?  If you are in the spring of your junior year or the fall of your senior year and are going to take the ACT or SAT for the first time, I would highly recommend doing some test preparation prior to taking the test.  Because you don’t have much time left you want your first time taking the test to be a solid experience, so do some test preparation beforehand.  If you are in the fall of your junior year or earlier, you may decide to take the ACT or SAT once as a run-through just to see where you stand.  You can then do more targeted test preparation based on the areas of weakness that you find in your test results.

2.  Do you have significant anxiety about testing?  For many students who are quite anxious about testing, having a bad experience the first time around on the SAT or ACT can give them baggage and hang-ups the next time they take the test.  For students like this, it usually makes sense to do some test preparation ahead of time so that the test goes smoothly the first go-round.  However, I want you to consider that once in a while, I see students take the SAT or ACT without any prep and, because the students expect so little of themselves, they are able to truly relax and let their intellect shine through.  For example – I had a young lady who took the ACT after doing some preparation and scored a 27.  Then, she took the SAT thinking that it didn’t matter, did zero prep for it, and scored the equivalent of a 30 on it!  I have found that this may be the case for students who are very bright and pretty anxious.

3.  What is your personal schedule like?  Some students have significant extracurricular commitments during part of the year; they have no time to do any test preparation during those months.  However, they may need to take the SAT or ACT during those times.  If this applies to you, you may want to do your test preparation the summer before school starts so that you have the opportunity to give it your full attention.  If your schedule permits you to do test preparation leading up to a test date, that can be quite beneficial as all the strategies and concepts will be fresh.

I hope that you found this discussion helpful.  If so, I would invite you to share it with your friends.  Thanks, Brian Stewart

How to Increase Your Mental Focus and Endurance When Taking the ACT, SAT, GED or Other Standardized Tests

A common concern that students have when they take a major test, like the SAT, ACT or GED is being unable to maintain focus.  Here are 15 things that can help you improve your mental focus when you are taking a test.

  1. Get Plenty of Sleep.  If you are cramming for a major memorization test, sacrificing a bit of sleep can make sense.  If you are studying for a major conceptual and problem-solving test, however, adequate sleep is essential.  The SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE, GED and most other major standardized tests are conceptual, problem-solving tests.  As such, be certain that you are well-rested for test day.  If you are thinking about staying up late to study the night before the SAT or ACT, please don’t! Get a good night’s sleep instead.
  2. Caffeine Can Backfire.  Caffeine can be a helpful supplement for students who have attention deficit issues (please talk to your doctor about your personal situation).  Most students, though, find that caffeine can make them jumpy and jittery on test day.  The adrenaline you have pumping through your veins will more than be sufficient to make you alert.  You want to make sure you are not accelerating your thinking to the point where you make lots of careless errors.
  3. Don’t Ask Too Much of Yourself. If you only scored in the 50th percentile on practice tests, do not expect that you will score in the 99th on the actual test!  You will have significant focus issues if you attempt to do more problems than you should or if you try to read faster than what is comfortable.  If you give your mind a reasonable task to do, it will comply.  If you don’t, your mind will shut down and think about other things.
  4. Get Medical Help if Needed.  If you notice that you have quite a bit more difficulty focusing on tests than your friends do, it couldn’t hurt to have a doctor or psychologist evaluate you.  I once had a student who told me that every time he took a test, he struggled to focus.  I suggested that he see a doctor since he had never been evaluated for attention issues.  He was able to get ADHD medicine for his test.  He took the test with his prescription, and did well enough to get into the college of his choice.  It doesn’t hurt to look into this if you never have.  If paying for a medical evaluation is a concern, your school psychologist may be able to do an evaluation free of charge.
  5. Control Where You Take the Test.  Don’t just sign up for any old test-center.  Try to take it at a school or facility where distractions will be kept to a minimum.  If you are distracted by large rooms and lots of noise, take the test at a school with small classrooms.  If you are distracted by having lots of people you know at a test center, sign up to take the test on the other side of town.  In any event, think about where you should do it.  As long as you plan far enough in advance, you should be able to have plenty of control over where you take your test.
  6. Declare a Drama Moratorium Leading Up to the Test.  You don’t need to be as extreme as one of my students was – he broke up with his girlfriend a week before the ACT so she wouldn’t be a distraction to him!  You may want to isolate yourself a bit more leading up to a test so that you don’t have the “drama” that your “friends” may often cause.  Plan on going out for a fun evening with everyone after the test is over!
  7. Practice Without Social Media Distractions.  Nowadays, we are almost like cyborgs in how we are constantly connected to our phones, computers and tablets.  If you are practicing a standardized test with the test in one hand and your phone in the other, you are setting yourself up for failure.  Get used to practicing without having the constant interaction of social media so that you don’t experience internet deprivation when you are stuck taking a test for five hours.
  8. Have a Snack During Breaks.  This is one of the easiest yet most helpful things you can do to stay focused during tests.  Almost every major test will give you some sort of a break.  Use this time to get your blood sugar up to where it should be by having a healthy snack:  almonds, banana, jerky etc. Stay away from processed carbs and sugars though as they can make you sleepy!
  9. Wear Earplugs. I have never come across anything saying you can’t use earplugs during major tests.  If you are distracted by the smallest of noises, go ahead and bring earplugs (they only cost a few dollars) and tune out your fellow test-takers.   Just be sure that you are aware of when the test proctor is calling time so that you aren’t ejected from the testing site for continuing work when you shouldn’t.
  10. Eat Peppermint When Studying and When Test-Taking.  I have heard and read from various sources that eating peppermint while you study and then having peppermint while taking memorization-based tests can help you remember things because you are connecting key concepts to your primitive sense of smell.  I have not tried this personally, but I have had students do this and say that it is helpful.  If nothing else, it will have a placebo effect, giving you more confidence in your ability to remember things.
  11. Do Relaxation and Hypnosis Exercises.    Athletes do mental conditioning.  Musical and dramatic performers do too.  Performing well on a standardized test is a major undertaking – why not do some relaxation or hypnosis exercises to help you focus?  If your situation is really bad, you may even consider hiring a professional hypnotist to help you learn to subconsciously tune out distractions and focus on the task at hand while taking a test.  If your lack of focus is more mild, you can do any number of relaxation exercises available in books or online to help you channel your energy when test-taking.
  12. Get Test Anxiety Under Control if Needed.  If you are always distracted by serious worries about your performance when taking a test, address these concerns ahead of time by thinking through how you will handle your test anxiety.  Having a plan in place will actually help to reduce anxiety!
  13. Get Motivated if Needed.  If you are distracted when test-taking because you just don’t care, find motivation.  The best way to do this is to talk to your parents, teachers, or older friends who can tell you why doing well on the test is indeed very important. I can assure you that their advice will ring true for you.
  14. Accept That There is Nothing Else You Can Do During Test Time.  When I go on an airplane ride, I accept that I will not be able to call anyone or use the internet.  I embrace this quiet time and spend it reading or talking with family members.  Use the same mindset when you take a major test.  Let go of any of the other things that could be bugging you during this time because there is absolutely nothing you can do about them during the test.  Given the ever-present media distractions we face, taking a standardized test can be, in a way, a bit liberating!  (I know that’s a stretch, but some of you may be able to look at it that way. . . )
  15. Your Mental Endurance.  If you are about to run a marathon and you haven’t even gone for a run around your neighborhood, you will completely fall apart.  Similarly, if you are going to take a 4 or 5 hour test, it is unlikely that you will be able to focus for this long if you have done nothing to build your test-taking stamina.  If you know you have issues with mental focus, be sure to do some full-length tests leading up to the actual thing.

I hope you have found this discussion helpful.  If so, please share it with your friends!  Thanks, Brian Stewart

 

 

The Most Important thing to Focus on for Standardized Tests

When I was a public high school teacher one of the courses I instructed was AP World History.  The AP World History Exam typically averages three out of nine as the median score on its extended responses.  One year, the median for a question was only around one and a half out of nine.  What happened?  The vast majority of students thought the question was asking about countries in “South-East Asia” (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand etc.). In fact, the question asked only about countries in “South Asia” (India, Pakistan etc.).  If a student had simply answered the question discussing what little he or she knew about India, he or she would likely have received a score well above average.

This example illustrates the most important strategy for taking the SAT, ACT, GED, AP, and IB exams as well as any other major test:  you must understand the question!  If you rush through what they are asking you may very well misunderstand the question and you are definitely going to miss it.

This is such an issue because in school we often have questions that are quite simple in their wording:  “solve for x”, “who was the main character”, or “define mitosis.”  Quite frankly, we don’t even need to read the questions much of the time on school tests – if you look at the choices the answer is clear. The questions on standardized tests, however, are far more elaborately worded.  If you skim over them really quickly, you will have no idea what they are asking you to do.  Instead, make sure you read the questions very, very carefully so that you fully understand the task at hand.  Remember that a careless mistake is still a mistake, so don’t let yourself make them by misreading the question.

For any teachers reading this, know that you can help your students quite a bit by giving them questions with more difficult wording.  I was conducting a teacher professional development workshop about the ACT when a math teacher said, “My gosh!  We never have words in our problems – only numbers!”  After our meeting, he made sure to do more word problems on his math quizzes.  I know it takes more time to write questions like these, but even a couple of toughly worded questions on a test will really help your students become better prepared for major tests like the SAT, ACT, or AP exams.  If you feel you are only “teaching to the test” by doing this, know that you are teaching the very important life skill of reading instructions carefully.  I don’t know about you, but I definitely would want my accountant, lawyer, or doctor to be able to carefully read what they are supposed to do and not make careless errors.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, I would invite you to share it with your friends.  Thanks, Brian Stewart

Ten Resources to Help you Ace your School Tests

  1. Online Textbook Resources.  Virtually every major textbook has a companion website, complete with practice quizzes, chapter summaries, and multimedia learning tools.  Strangely, most teachers never have their students use these resources.  Use them yourself!   Try to find the exact companion website for your textbook through Google.  If that fails, try to find a textbook that covers the same topic as your class but which actually has a good companion website that you can use. Here are a couple of great examples:

https://www.mheonline.com/

http://www.thinkcentral.com/index.htm

  1. Khan Academy.  Khan is a wonderful website that has inspired much of what I have created and written.  Especially with Math and Science, Khan can give you in-depth instruction on topics that are giving you difficulty:

http://www.khanacademy.org/

  1. Youtube.   You will find tutorials on virtually any subject – when I taught high school, some of the “philosophy in 30 seconds” videos were remarkable in helping students quickly grasp a difficult concept.  Search for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/

  1. School Resources.  Your library may have access to fantastic subscription databases and study tools that you can use.  They probably paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for these, so put them to use!  If your school library doesn’t have them, check with your public library.  For an article detailing some of the changes that school libraries have made, please see here:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2012/04/01/high_school_libraries_more_than_just_a_place_to_study_these_days_1333162611/

  1. Past Tests.  Talk to your teacher about using past tests for practice, or try to borrow them from other students (without cheating of course!).  Using these will help you see how the teacher generally asks questions so that you will know how to focus your studying.
  2. Course-notes.org.  They have a great collection of subject notes, particularly for AP exams.  Great to use as a supplement to your textbook:

http://www.course-notes.org/

  1. Powerpoint Search.  There is no need for you to learn from a terrible powerpoint in class – there are PLENTY of powerpoints out there that you can use free of charge.  Simply go to google, type in the term for which you want a powerpoint, and then type in “ filetype:ppt ”.  When I taught high school, I often used this to save time in making lecture notes for my classes.
  2. College Help Sites for their students, (especially with writing).  Many top-notch colleges have compiled outstanding resources for their struggling students, and you can access them for yourself!  Here are two of my favorites:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~writing/materials/student/toc.shtml

  1. Ask students in same class at other schools to share what their teacher has done.  If you are in an Advanced Placement or Honors Course, reach out to your friends in other schools. Those schools may have teachers of the same course you are in is doing a much better job than your teacher.  See what resources, notes, and old tests you can check out from them.
  2. Purchase the teacher editions and AP resources yourself.  As long as you are not cheating by looking at a test bank that you know a teacher is using to generate test questions, I see nothing wrong with supplementing your learning by acquiring the textbook teacher editions and resources for yourself.  If several of your peers are in a similar situation, pool your money and purchase the book together.  You can find the teacher editions for most textbooks on amazon.com.  If you would like access to teacher resources for AP courses, here is where you can find them:

https://store.collegeboard.com/sto/enter.do

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with your friends!  Thanks, Brian Stewart

Schools that Superscore the ACT Test

Superscoring the ACT is when you take the best subscores from multiple test dates (i.e the best English, best Math, best Reading and best Science) and take a NEW average for the composite score.  Here is a list of many of the colleges and universities that superscore the ACT.  As always, double-check with the college directly to be certain as to their ACT scoring policy.

College/University Name If BLANK, they superscore the ACT. If they do something different, the policy is clarified.
Albion College
Amherst College
Babson College
Baylor University
Bates If a student chooses to submit ACT scores, we look at the highest composite score and  highest scores in each subsection.
Beloit College
Boston College
Boston University The Board does not superscore the ACT; however, if you send in scores from multiple test dates, the Board of Admissions will consider the scores from each of the subcategories, noting the highest scores achieved for each.  For this reason, we encourage applicants to submit scores from all ACT test dates as well.
Bowdoin College Applicants also have the option to select some test types and not others for review (for example, a student might choose to include SAT Subject Test scores but not an SAT score). These choices are communicated via the Bowdoin Supplement.

Bowdoin will not review selected sections of an SAT or an ACT score (for example, just the Science portion of the ACT). If an applicant chooses to include scores for a specific test type, Bowdoin will review the complete score for that test type.

Brandeis University
Butler University
California Institute of Technology When we review your application we have all of your test scores available to us. We will look at all of your scores, paying particular attention to the general pattern of scores and emphasizing the highest score for each individual exam.
California State University System Does not include the University of California, but the other schools in the system.
Colby College
College of Charleston We do not superscore the ACT for scholarship purposes.  However, we do want all ACT scores to be sent to us so that if superscoring would help the student in the admissions process, we can determine that.
Colorado College Yes, we do superscore the ACT and/or SAT (both by subject and overall score).

Regarding our testing policy, we require that applicants submit either the SAT Reasoning Test or ACT test, or elect a third option (the Flexible Testing option) including three exams of the applicant’s choice chosen from a list of acceptable exams:

 

Three Flexible Testing Options

  1. The College Board SAT Reasoning Test

or

  1. The American College Testing (ACT) Assessment Test

or

  1. Three exams of your choice, which must include at leastone quantitative test from Category A, at leastone verbal or writing test in Category B, and a third test of the student’s choice among those tests listed in Category C.

 

Connecticut College
Denison University
DePauw University
Dickinson College For the ACT, the composite score is given the most weight.
Drexel University
Duke University For students who choose to submit the ACT with writing, Duke will consider the highest composite score and highest subscores on each section, regardless of test date, but will not recalculate the composite score. Students who take the ACT are not required to submit SAT or SAT Subject Test scores.
Duquesne University
Eckerd College
Elon University
Florida Atlantic University
Florida State University
Georgia Tech We use all three portions of the SAT and/or the three equivalent parts of the ACT, as outlined below. We do not use the ACT Composite score nor the Science or Reading score.

  • SAT Critical Reading = ACT English
  • SAT Math = ACT Math
  • SAT Writing = ACT Combined English/Writing

Only your highest section scores from either test will be viewed in the evaluation process. Additionally, your highest combination of scores may come from tests taken on different dates. For example, your high test scores may include SAT Critical Reading from March, ACT Math from October and ACT Combined English/Writing from December. Each time you submit new scores to us, we will update your record with your highest scores.

Gettysburg College
Hamilton College Our applicants are best served by being provided with a variety of ways to meet our standardized test requirement.  They include:

  • The SAT Reasoning Test; OR
  • The American College Testing assessment test (ACT); OR
  • Three exams of your choice, which must include a quantitative test, a verbal or writing test, and a third test of student’s choice.  The following tests satisfy Hamilton’s quantitative and verbal/writing requirements:

Acceptable Quantitative Tests:  SAT Math; SAT Subject Tests in Math, Chemistry, or Physics; AP Computer Science, Chemistry, Economics, Math, or Physics; IB final exam results for Chemistry, Computing Studies, Economics, Math, Physics, or Physical and Chemical Systems

Acceptable Verbal/Writing Tests: SAT Critical Reading; SAT Writing; ACT Writing; AP English Language and Composition; IB final exam results for Language (A1, A2, or B English); TOEFL or IELTS (for International students ONLY)

Note:  It is Hamilton’s policy to select the testing options that will serve you best.  We strongly encourage you to submit all of your testing to Hamilton and we will choose the best scores for you.

 

Harvey Mudd College
Haverford College
Hawaii Pacific University
Hendrix College
Hollins University
Indiana University Bloomington
Ithaca College
Kalamazoo College
Kenyon College
Kettering University
Lafayette College
Lawrence University
Loyola University in Maryland
Middlebury College
MIT They do superscore the ACT. All applicants must complete one test from each category:

 

  1. SAT or ACT with writing or TOEFL
  2. Math Level 1 or Math Level 2
  3. Science SAT II Subject Test: Biology, Chemistry or Physics

 

Millsaps College
NCAA Clearinghouse
New York University We do not super-score the ACT, but we will see the individual subscores in addition to the overall composite. We can also see test scores from multiple test dates, so while your highest composite is ultimately what we will use to evaluate you, we can see whatever you send us.
Northeastern University
North Carolina State University
Pepperdine University
Pomona College Consistent with the ACT standards for acceptable use of ACT test scores, the admissions office will record the test date reflecting the highest composite score. We will consider all sittings and having all test scores from all dates permits the admissions deans further consideration of peak or higher sub-scores from other test dates as skill sets and performance are evaluated in our review process. Please be aware that Pomona requires a full testing history, so if you have taken any components of the SAT and the ACT, you are required to submit the results from all test dates.
Purdue University If you submit multiple ACT tests that you have taken, we always take the highest score from each of the sections and we take the highest composite.
Regis University
Rhode Island School of Design They do superscore although they do not refer to it as such.
Rice University Rice does not superscore the ACT. We only record the composite score. That being said, we do ask applicants to send all of their ACT test results. The reason for this is that we consider subscores in our admission committee discussions. If a student has received high subscores on any of the ACT tests they have taken, we will discuss those higher scores in our discussions. It is to the applicant’s advantage to submit all ACT test results.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Scripps College We take the best overall composite score as the student’s “official” score and review all the subscores.
St. John’s University
Stanford University For the ACT, we will focus on the highest Composite and the highest Combined English/Writing scores from all test sittings. We will also consider individual subscores.
Swarthmore College
Syracuse University
Trinity College
Trinity University
Tufts University
United States Naval Academy
University of Arkansas For admission purposes we do superscore. (Check with Arkansas with respect to scholarships).
University of Chicago
University of Colorado – Boulder
University of Connecticut We encourage students to take the SAT and/or ACT more than once. We will accept the highest scores from your combined test dates.
University of Dayton
University of Delaware
University of Denver
University of Georgia
University of Illinois We do what I like to call sub-super scoring where we take the highest overall composite and each highest individual scores even if it was on a lower composite exam. We will always use this to the students advantage. This is why we ask all scores to be sent to our office.
University of Louisiana – Lafayette We only take the highest subscore from each test to determine your eligibility.
University of Maryland
University of Mary Washington We do not superscore the ACT, however we will see all of your scores.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of North Carolina
University of North Texas For admissions requirements, we do superscore. Now for scholarship requirements we do not.
University of Pittsburgh
University of Puget Sound We consider the Composite, English, and Math sections of the ACT, and we do Superscore.
University of Rochester
University of South Florida
University of Tampa
University of Tennessee
University of Vermont
Valparaiso University
Vassar College 
Virginia Commonwealth Unviersity
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest University Wake Forest will only consider the highest score in each category, regardless of when it was achieved.
Washington University – St. Louis
Wellesley College Does not superscore but recommends that students submit all scores so that they may see best subscores.
Wesleyan University
Wheaton College
Williams College
Xavier University

 

 

New Concordance Tables for SAT and ACT Score Conversion

The College Board has just released updated concordance tables so that students can compare scores from the ACT to the SAT.  Students can also use the tables to compare scores from the old SAT to the new SAT.  Here is a link to the new tables:

https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/higher-ed-brief-sat-concordance.pdf

The college board has also created an app for smart phones that converts scores among these different tests.

Use these resources to compare your scores to determine whether the ACT or SAT is a better fit.

Guest Blog Post

How To Squeeze The Most Value Out Of An ACT Practice Test

As a tutor, I have many students who take lots of ACT practice tests before they take the real ACT. That, of course, is a good thing. The more experience a student has with official ACT practice tests, the more familiar many of the questions will look on the real test.

However, I don’t think most students are really getting all the value that they can from each practice test. Typically, after taking a test, a student will correct it and try to understand the questions that he missed or had trouble with. In addition to this, though, it’s important that serious students go a little further.

The main principle is this: a student should be able to explain a question to another person. This goes a step beyond being able to get a question right. In fact, many of my students get questions right but still don’t really understand what the question is testing, or how to defend their answer to it.

In light of this, I have some specific advice for each section of the ACT:

English: Students should be going through EVERY question and identifying what concept the question is testing. Certain questions will test grammar or punctuation; others will test rhetorical skills. Additionally, students should look at the wrong answers for a question to see WHY they’re wrong. I know that this process takes a long time, but it will pay off very well on future English sections.

When students come across concepts with which they’re unfamiliar or concepts they’re consistently having trouble with, they should practice the concept several times in a row.

Math: Students should revisit questions to identify the most EFFICIENT way of doing the question. Sometimes, students will find a way of completing an ACT math question, but often, there is a faster or easier way of doing it. Students should be redoing any questions they miss until they can answer them easily.

Like the English section, conceptual knowledge is key for the Math section. When students find concepts they’re having trouble with, these concepts should be practiced until they’re easier.

Reading: In the Reading section, it is all about students being able to JUSTIFY their answers. It’s important to be able to precisely identify WHY the right answer choice is right, and which part of the passage supports it. Similarly, students should think about why answer choices are wrong. Additionally, students need to think about what skill is required for the question: understanding a paragraph? locating a detail?

Science: Like the Reading section, students should spend time thinking about the path to the answer. They should retrace their steps, thinking about what each question is testing their ability to do, and what the best path is to the answer. Sometimes, it can be better to work backwards from the choices; other times, reading the passage is essential. By analyzing questions in this way, students will better be able to handle new questions when they encounter them.

Overall, students should generally spend at least as much time reviewing a section as they spend taking one. Students with the discipline and patience to do this will improve at the ACT much more quickly and efficiently.

Vince Kotchian

vincekotchian.com