Category Archives: Test Prep

Attack the SAT: What to do when your score plateaus By Allyson Evans

You’ve been studying for weeks and you’ve taken multiple practice SATs. You saw improvement on your first couple of practice tests and were feeling great! Then, you scored your most recent practice SAT and your score stayed the same (or even went down a little). What a bummer.

 

The good news is that you are not alone! At some point, almost all students see their SAT score plateau or even dip a little. So, take a deep breath, know that you’re not alone, and read the tips below to ensure your score starts going up again!  

Don’t give up.

You’re going to have ups and downs when you’re studying for the SAT. It’s inevitable. Some days, everything will just click and you’ll get more points than ever! Then, the very next day, you might miss ten questions in a row. That’s totally normal. The thing that’s going to get you ahead of the competition is your perseverance.

 

Take a day or two off to rest, and then get right back to your SAT study schedule. Follow your One Month SAT Study Plan to make sure you are covering all the topics you need to and in the right order.  While you might be tempted to deviate from the plan, now more than ever you need to stay on track. This SAT study plan was designed to help you learn everything you need to in time for the actual SAT when your score really matters.

 

Also, remember to keep your personal motivation in mind. For most students, that’s thinking about their dream colleges and the scores needed to get into those schools. If you’re not sure yet what your dream school is, check out the average NYU test scores or Georgia Tech scores to give you a sense of what some top schools want. Start by reviewing NYU Scores: What You Need to Get In and Georgia Tech SAT Scores, and then start thinking about the school that would be best for you!

 

Now that you’re back on track and holding your head up high, let’s look at a couple of specific steps you need to take to ensure your next practice SAT score is higher.

Analyze your SAT practice test results.

To keep making progress, you need to know exactly what’s working and what’s not working for you. The best way to determine what’s working is to set aside a few hours and review your most recent practice test or two. Go through all of the answers—right and wrong—to make sure you understand what you did for each question. Even for the questions you got right, you need to comprehend your approach so you can do it again next time.

 

For the questions you got wrong, take the time to understand why you got the questions wrong. Did you miss all the Algebra questions? Or did you miss the meaning of vocab questions? By noticing these patterns, you can start to see what you should focus on for the remainder of your study time. You don’t want to keep trying the same approach—now is the time to really hone in on your weaknesses and strengthen them! Find a solid SAT ebook, like the  Complete SAT Study Guide, and be sure you’ve reviewed all the best strategies and tactics for your weaker areas.

 

Also, if the pattern you’ve noticed is that you’re always short on time, the next tip will be crucial to raising your SAT score.

Pick up the pace.

To keep seeing your SAT score increase, you have to work through most, if not all, of the questions efficiently. It doesn’t matter how many times you can get a data interpretation question right if you have thirty minutes. You have to learn how to solve each question in the allotted time you are given. If your score has plateaued, you need to do some timed practice.

 

Set up your timer and try one section at a time in the allotted time. If you’re really struggling to get through all of the questions, keep an eye on the timer to help you remember how much time you have left. (Once you develop a good sense of the time you have for each question, you won’t need to look as often.) Remember to move on when you get really stuck on a problem, you don’t want to miss an easier question down the line because you got tripped up early on in the section. With a little timed practice, you’ll start to notice your efficiency increase and, no surprise, your SAT score, too!

Recap

When your SAT score plateaus, it can definitely be discouraging. Keep your chin up and stick to your study schedule. Once you’ve analyzed your strengths and weaknesses, spend a little time increasing your speed. If you do all of these things, your SAT score will start climbing back up in no time!

 

 


About the Author:

 

Allyson Evans earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and her JD from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been teaching and tutoring the LSAT since 2007, and loves helping students achieve their goals. She currently practices law in Austin, Texas. When she’s not helping students conquer the LSAT, she enjoys traveling and camping.

 

 

Everything You Need to Get a Great Score on the Fall SATs By Kristina Carroll, CollegeWeekLive

The SAT exams are approaching, and you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed. There are many simple strategies you can take advantage of that will help you improve your score, and boost your confidence on exam day. Here are five of our favorite SAT tips and tricks.

 

 

Simplify Your Questions

There will be many instances on the SAT when questions, passages or math problems are so long that you’re overwhelmed immediately upon reading them. This is done intentionally, and there is typically some excess information that you don’t even need in order to solve the problem or find the correct answer. According to Clay Cooper of PrepExpert, one way to tackle this on the English section is to get rid of prepositional phrases that aren’t underlined, because they are often there just to lengthen the sentence and make the error harder to spot. Similarly, for the math section he recommends replacing abstracts with tangibles. In other words, if you substitute variables with simple numbers like 0 or 1, the math problem will instantly become much simpler to solve. For more PrepExpert tips and tricks, view Clay’s SAT webcast here.

Stay Calm

One of the biggest things you can do to ensure you get a great score on the exam is to prepare ahead of time and stay calm. If you wait until the day before the test to start studying, not only will you be less likely to retain the information you’re learning, but you’ll also have much more anxiety come test day. Here are some helpful tips from our friends at Noodle Pros to help you take the stress out of the SAT exam.

Take It Multiple Times

Very few students are able to reach their target score after taking the exam for the first time. It’s much more typical for students to take it two, three, or even four times before they feel like they’ve done their best. This is because the SAT is unlike exams most students are used to, and it takes some time just to get adjusted to the testing style and structure, nevermind the content. Therefore, it’s best to start taking the exams as early as possible, so you have plenty of time senior year to retake them. Check out this webcast hosted by Urvashi Keown of TestRocker, to learn how to improve your score and use it to maximize your scholarship winnings.

 Be an Active Reader

Kathy Rogers of Score at the Top recommends active reading as one of the best strategies for tackling the reading section of the SAT. This means you should read at a slow pace, underline key words, and circle important nouns, names and trigger words. At the end of every paragraph, summarize what you read, so that you’re not zooming through the passage and accidentally missing the most important parts. With so many passages, it can be very easy to start daydreaming and skimming the text rather than focusing intently on it, so it is very important to stay focused the entire time. And for more tips on raising your score, check out her webcast.

Practice Timing

The timing of standardized tests is something that affects a large amount of test-takers.  Spending several minutes on one question could actually harm your score significantly, because it will cause you to have to rush at the end, and potentially not finish the exam. Each section is timed separately, so it’s important to time how long it takes you to do certain questions in a practice test, so you have an estimate of how long it will take you on the real test. Then, look at how long you get for each section, and compare that to the number of questions in the section to get an average amount of time per individual question. Signet Education tutor Ellie Campisano’s advice for those who are taking above the recommended time per question is to not force yourself to stick to the time limit when first starting to practice. For example, if typically takes you three minutes to answer a math problem but you only get a minute and a half, don’t start practicing under that minute and a half window. Instead, work yourself up to it by starting at the time that you’re comfortable with, and practicing until you reach your goal time. For more of Ellie’s tips and tricks, check out her webcast here.

 

 

The ACT vs. SAT: Which Exam Should You Take? By Kristina Carroll, CollegeWeekLive

Standardized testing is an important part of college admissions, and it is often dreaded by many high school students. From choosing which test to take, to trying to get to your target score, mastering the SAT and ACT exams is no easy task. Should you take the ACT, SAT, or both? Before answering that, it’s important to know the main differences between each exam.

 

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Active Reading Strategies for the GRE By Chris Lele

This post originally appeared on the Magoosh GRE blog.

 

Prepping for the GRE exam? In addition to GRE practice tests, learn these active reading tips, then allot yourself plenty of time before the GRE exam date to put them into practice. Read the following passage and then we’ll sync back up:

 

 

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Learn How to Prepare Yourself for the ACT in the Fall By Kristina Carroll, CollegeWeekLive

Are you planning on taking the September ACT? Don’t forget to register today if you haven’t already!

Once you register, it’s all about preparing! The ACT exam may seem intimidating, especially if you’re new to the test. However, if you spend enough time studying and go into it with the proper strategy, you’ll have no problem getting a great score.

 

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Prepare Yourself for the August SAT By Kristina Carroll, CollegeWeekLive

Today is the last day to register for the August SAT exam, so if you want to take it without the added pressure of the school year and college applications, now is the perfect time to do so! But, once you register, your work is far from over. A good amount of studying and preparation is needed to ensure you’ll get your target score.

 

 

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What is the Highest ACT Score? By Thomas Broderick

This blog post originally appeared on the Magoosh high school blog.

So you’ve come to learn about the highest ACT score? Welcome! First thing’s first: What is the highest ACT score? 36. 36 composite (overall), and 36 in each test (or section). Still reading? That’s awesome! Most people, once they learn that the highest ACT score is 36, go on their merry way. But if you’re seeking to raise your ACT score to such sky-high levels, read on for some tips and tricks to reach the top of the ACT score charts.

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Admissions Tests for International Students

This post was brought to us by Study in the USA.

IELTS for the USA

International English Language Testing System

What is IELTS?

IELTS is the International English Language Testing System, a test designed to assess the language ability of non-native speakers of English for admissions into higher education and other purposes. IELTS tests all four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

 

 

 

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Graduating Debt-Free: Earning Credit with CLEP Exams Save Time. Save Money. Earn Credits with CLEP.

This article was brought to us by the College Board.

Matt Frame’s parents didn’t want him to graduate from college with mounds of debt, so they encouraged him to start earning credit, inexpensively, while still in high school. Matt soon learned about the College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP®) and how earning a passing score on a CLEP exam could earn him 3 or more credits.

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