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Are standardized Tests Monopolizing Real Learning and Education?

By David Greenberg

Is too much stress being put on students these days to perform well on the SAT and ACT? Are standardized tests monopolizing real learning and education?

Theoretically the answer is no; realistically, the answer is yes.

How are college admissions officials supposed to evaluate schools’ report cards? It would be impossible to accurately rate the difficulty of each schools curriculum and assess students’ grades accordingly. Colleges are forced to use a system that
measures students abilities on a single plane.

Standardized tests allow colleges to see how students fare relative to one another. Advanced Placement (AP) Tests and SAT II Subject Tests give students the opportunity to shine in their particular fields.

As the application process becomes increasingly competitive, admissions counselors are going to place more emphasis on candidates’ profiles and less emphasis on their test scores.

“Admissions counselors want to see a well-rounded, yet specialized individual,” explains Ari Smith, regional director of Parliament Tutors. “Great SAT scores are essential; however, science students should be sure to take and excel in the
standardized science exams. Math students should do the same with math, and so on and so on…”

Parliament Tutors is one of the nation’s fastest growing tutoring companies covering all subjects and levels from Kindergarten through the MCAT. They take pride in their state-of-the-art technology to better diagnose student strengths
and weaknesses in regard to the SAT.

More and more students are looking to third parties to get help preparing for the SAT and other standardized exams. Take advantage of all the resources around you and make sure to Practice, Practice, Practice.

About the author:
David is an NYU Graduate and a tutor for Parliament Tutors in New York City.

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Filed under: Admissions, AP Courses, Applications, College Planning, Parental Guidance, single parent families, Students, , , , , , ,

Secrets of the SAT and Ivy League Admissions

By John Dorian Chang

The SAT test is a rite of passage for all high school students. Score too low, and you face an uphill battle to get into Harvard. You’ll spend hundreds of the-college-pros20hours studying for, worrying about, and taking the exam.

Here, I’ll discuss two key questions on your mind.

One, what do colleges like Stanford look for with respect to SAT scores? What is a “good enough” score?

Two, how can I best prepare for the SAT? How do I spend my time and money wisely?

Ivy League schools look for high competence, not perfection

1. A high score. This is obvious – but exactly how high is high?

My recommendation for SAT score is 2100. You should target 700 across each section to be considered for Ivy League admissions. Anything sub-700 will raise an eyebrow.

Of course, the higher the better. But as I argue, at a certain point it’s smarter to spend your time elsewhere.

The best evidence of this is my experience as an admissions officer. I can count on one hand the number of times an applicant has been rejected because a 2100+ SAT score was “too low” (and that’s usually in conjunction with other negative academic qualities, such as a weak course transcript).

But there are countless times – I repeat, countless times – that students have been put into the denial/rejection pile because, despite a very high SAT score (including 2350s!), they simply had nothing else to show.

2. A record of improvement. If you’re like me, and you scored dismally on your first try (I’m not even going to tell you what my score was initially), you’ll want to take the SAT again. But keep in mind:

-You shouldn’t take it more than 3 times total – anything more, and you look desperate and a little stupid unless you get a 2400.

-You need to consistently improve your score. This is very important. If your first score was 2020, second score was 2150, and third score was 2060. Guess which score they’ll focus on? Not your highest one, but the last one. Even if you’re allowed to put your highest per section scores on the Common App, colleges still review your College Board official score reports closely. I guarantee it.

3. SAT over ACT always

While the ACT is a challenging test and in many ways superior to the SAT, you should always take the SAT. When admissions offices have 2 borderline candidates – with roughly identical high school backgrounds and similar caliber of extracurricular achievements – the one who has a knockout SAT score will always look more impressive than one with a knockout ACT

Why? Because significantly fewer people take the ACT – standards are more varied, plus the vast majority of admissions officers took the SAT themselves and not the ACT. They’re familiar with it, and they know how hard it is to get a knockout score…not so with the ACT.

Preparation should be focused on two things – sample tests and an early start

1. Start early. As said before, take the PSAT at least once before the NMSQT. It’s a risk free chance to practice. Take the SAT in 7th grade for the Duke TIP as well.

2. Be wary of SAT courses and prep programs with exaggerated promises. I took a Kaplan course back in high school – about the only thing I remember is creative flashcards that minimally improved my vocabulary. My parents were out a few thousand bucks. Sit in on sample classes before you commit.

Looking back on the whole experience, I got the most by far out of books available at your local library. The good thing about a class is that it forces you to study and practice, but if you have the self-motivation (and I’m hoping you do), you can save significant time and money with cheap and/or freely
available resources.

3. Do as many sample tests as possible. More than anything else – this is what makes the difference. The more practice problems you answer, the more comfortable you will be. Do them all – from Princeton Review to Barron’s, love your local Barnes & Noble.

4. Don’t forget online resources. New companies online are doing amazing things with online, interactive learning. Google is your best friend. The best part is, it’s free or very very cheap.

5. Practice with friends. Oddly enough, I did very little of this. But the few times where a friend and I studied and took practice tests together were incredibly helpful. Their perspective will be different, and teach you much more than if you study alone for weeks on end.

Don’t practice in large groups – you’ll be completely unproductive and you know it. Study with one other person who’s serious and committed, and solve problems together. 2 brains is far better than 1.

About the author:
Hopeless To Harvard is a former Admissions Officer’s account of how to get into Stanford, Princeton, and Ivy League schools. Click here to break into the school of your dreams! Read Ivy League admissions advice now.

Filed under: Admissions, AP Courses, College Planning, High School, Home Schooling, Ivy League Schools, Students, , , , , , , , , , ,

College Placement for today’s students

College Planning Specialists the-college-pros7By: Dustin Hubbard

It is so easy to go through high school and never think about what college or university you want to attend. In fact probably over 60% of high school students don’t even begin to think of where they want to go for college until their senior year. And if the parents were anything like me, they had no idea of the ins and outs of college placement. This includes what the best colleges are to apply to that fit your child’s performance in high school according to their grades, extracurricular activities, their goals and interests. And to take those schools
that do fit the grade and match them up to what your child is actually looking for in a college or university. To say the least, college placement is a very detailed process. If you can do all this on your own, that is great. Your local high school counselors and college center are there to help as much as possible as well as work- shops at your local community college. There are other ways to get the help you might need and that is through education consultation firms. Most of these college placement consultant firms have done this process a lot and have your child’s interest at heart. They are there to help find the right college for each student based on their needs and qualifying specifics. This allows the consulting firm to help each client or student show their most positive attributes on their admission applications and to also guide the way to
producing a college essay that is well prepared and shows a good example of their skills to the admissions office at the college or university. A College placement consultant service can also show potential student and their parents the various ways to get offers for financial assistance. The financial aid process at times can be daunting and any help is usually appreciated in this area. It is also helpful to students that need to access and apply to appropriate graduate and professional school programs.

By employing such a consulting service it can reduce the amount of stress related to the admissions process of the colleges and universities and enable the potential student to have a positive experience at a crucial moment in their lives.

Some points to remember when looking for college placement are that most colleges and universities accept students with wide ranges of GPA’s and test scores. Each college will usually say what their cutoff score is for admissions. If you know your score is below the cutoff point this information allows you to hire a tutor and take test preps in advance to help boost your final score.

1.Begin preparing for college no later than January of your junior year of high school. This will be after you have received your final PSAT score and are now ready to take either the SAT or ACT.

2.Do your college visiting on a school day. This lets you see exactly what happens on campus during class time.

3.Ask your high school counselor or teacher to write you a recommendation letter. Most will be more than glad to do this for you.

About the author:
The mission of UGrowU is to be a one-stop solution for Entry Level Recruiting, internal employee growth, and expertise while establishing a professional growth network, and job opportunities for students and early career professionals. Visit

Filed under: Admissions, AP Courses, Applications, Bay Area, Campus Lifestyle, Career Path, Career Search, College Financing, College Planning, Consultants, High School, Students, Universities, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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