Test preparation can often be confusing and intimidating. Many of us remember the SAT or ACT as the test you couldn’t study for, that you had to just go in and take. The sheer volume of test preparation material available now demonstrates that this is fundamentally untrue. The majority of high school students entering the university now get some kind of preparation for the SAT or ACT. As students are ranked on a percentile score which compares them to one another, not receiving the same level of preparation as other students can put your child at a serious disadvantage.
How do I decide which test to take?
Gives you the math formulas: The SAT math is primarily based
on logical reasoning, so the formulas are provided.
Penalizes wrong answers: The SAT discourages guessing by deducting points for wrong answers.
Uses sentence completions: The SAT tests vocabulary through sentence completions.
Splits test sections up: The SAT is split into 25-minute chunks, with a short break after every hour of testing.
Is scored based on a composite: Each SAT section is scaled on a score from 200-800. These scores are added together to make a final composite score.
Requires you know the formulas: ACT math is based on knowledge as much as reasoning. The ACT also requires knowledge of more difficult math (trigonometry) than the SAT.
Does not penalize guessing: Wrong answers do not count against a student on the ACT. Thus, the percentage of questions students answer correctly tends to be slightly higher than average SAT scores.
Does not test vocabulary: Beyond context-based questions in reading passage (which the SAT also uses) the ACT does not cover vocabulary.
Does not split sections up: ACT sections run from 45 minutes to over an hour.
Is scored based on an average: The ACT is scored on a 1-36 average of each of the four sections. This can make it more difficult to increase an overall ACT score.
When should I start preparing?
Taking the SAT or ACT can be intimidating, but with proper preparation these tests can be far less stressful. Ideally a student should begin preparation at least six to eight weeks before the test, and allow themselves time to take at least two if not three tests. Even if you only want to take the test once, this buffer takes away much of the pressure of having only one opportunity to shine on the exam. Again, six to eight weeks is a good minimum prep time, but more can always be beneficial. We have a number of students who begin preparing for the SAT and ACT twelve weeks or more in advance.
When should I look for help?
Test preparation can be effective with most time frames, but the more time you can set aside with a tutor the better. With several weeks of prep time a tutor can help diagnose potential problem areas with a college entrance exam and focus on strategies that will minimize these problems, as well as buffering strengths. (link to finding an SAT tutor article?)
Can you guarantee a score increase?
Because of the focus on student performance on the SAT and ACT, it is impossible for a tutor to guarantee a specific score increase. While we cannot promise a specific result for your student, Tutoring for Success has tutored a number of students who met with great improvement on their SATs and ACTs. We have seen increases of 100 points or more in individual SAT categories.
Take a Practice Test!
Tutoring for Success now offers advising services based on a practice test. Have a PSAT and having trouble making sense of the report? Want to see what the SAT will be like? Take a practice test through Tutoring for Success or send us your PSAT and we’ll send you a detailed analysis. Our trained, experienced experts can work with these tests, find strengths and weaknesses. Other agencies use a computer to give you a series of printouts. We’ll give you a detailed, personalized report written by one of our experts.
Where do I take it?
We’ll send a practice test to you with a return envelope and instructions. You can self-proctor the exam (all you need is a kitchen timer and a quiet space) or use a convenient location near you. Many libraries in the DC Metro area provide this service.
After taking the test, simply put your answer sheet and test booklet in the pre-paid envelope provided and drop it in the mail. We’ll process the test and return it within 3 business days of receiving it, along with our score report and analysis of the test.
What do I get in my analysis?
A Detailed Score Analysis from the College Board for a PSAT or SAT only provides the questions missed, answered correctly, or omitted. The PSAT provides rough guidelines on where to focus studies, but even these can be confusing. Here’s what Tutoring for Success Provides:
A Time Management Analysis. Based on the answers provided we’ll look at how your student works with the timing of the test, and offer tips to make that easier.
Direct Focus for Future Study. We’ll tell you specifically what areas to work on, and suggest materials and texts.
Analysis of Student Strengths: Strengths are important, in that they can be improved to create outstanding scores and can be used to buffer or augment areas that require further practice. We’ll point them out and tell you how to make them work for you.
Discounted Tutoring: Our tutors are highly trained and experienced with test-taking strategies, and will come to you for one on one, personalized lessons using the practice test analysis as a guide. If you decide to use our services after receiving a practice test analysis, we’ll give you a discount of $50 towards tutoring.
No Hassles: Other services will offer a practice test, then force you to make an appointment to receive the results, or pressure you with repeated calls. We’ll send your results back (by e-mail or US mail) and let you make your decision.