If you are a senior in high school, a parent of a senior, or a college counselor, chances are good that you are swamped with essays, lengthy applications, and impending deadlines. If you aren’t, you should be! This is a busy time, to say the least, for anyone attached to the college application process. This year presents even more challenges than last, with growing numbers of high school students, high school graduates, and college applicants, competition is increasingly stiff. On of the major components of this application process, for better or for worse, is the much-dreaded standardized test. I highly recommend that you take your first SAT or ACT the spring of your Junior year, but if you are a Senior and just approaching your first exam, here are a 10 Standardized Test Facts to ‘inspire’ some serious study time.
1. Whether you are looking at top tier colleges and universities or public schools closer to home, your SAT or ACT scores will be one of the primary factors used by admissions officers in determining your post-high school fate.
2. With a growing volume of applications, the trend by some schools to reduce the importance of test scores has been halted in many cases. A majority of schools now must use test scores as a tool to weed through the first or second round of application cuts efficiently.
3. Along with grades and extracurricular activities, decent test scores open the doors to many scholarship opportunities. As higher education costs continue to rise at a much faster pace than inflation, scholarships and financial aid are more important than ever to many families.
4. Buckling down and studying for these tests is great practice for the study habits that will be necessary to succeed in college.
5. It may seem as a student that you have no free time to commit to test prep, but chances are, you do. Think about this: how much time could you save by forgoing tv, xbox, facebook, the mall, and cell-phone time for a few months?
6. Whether shooting for a first or third tier school, you need to aim for the 75th percentile or higher when compared to test scores for the most recently admitted class. You can find this information on most college and university websites.
7. If you had a less-than-stellar start to high school, your SAT or ACT scores can help confirm for schools that you have pulled things together.
8. If you have an excellent transcript, good test scores are an often essential component to improve chance of admission to your high-hope schools.
9. It is important to remember that while they are a significant factor, ACT and SAT scores are not the only factor in the admissions process. If you have a high test score and nothing else, your odds of admissions at many schools are not good. The point? Study hard, but do not do so in lieu of extra-curricular activities, community service, or scholastic excellence. The admissions world is tough – you need as many ‘weapons’ as possible to succeed.
10. For the vast majority of students, full-length practice tests are the best way to begin the study process. They provide a clear idea of challenges you may face with pacing, specific subjects, and concentration. Start with a full test, taken in simulated test conditions, so that you and your tutor may build a specialized and targeted study plan to maximize your final score.
More soon on choosing between the ACT and the SAT…