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Category: Test Prep

The 2022-2023 ACT Registration is now open! What now?

For those who check the ACT website often, you’ve probably noticed that the ACT registration is now open for September 2022-July 2023 test dates! Here is a quick guide on when the ACT tests are happening, the deadlines for signing up, and what you should do (depending on your graduation year).

Taking the SAT instead? Check out 2022-2023 SAT registration is opened! Now what?

Not sure which test to take? See our advice on ACT vs. SAT: Which Test Should You Take?

2022-2023 ACT Test Dates

According to ACT.org, the 2022-2023 ACT exam dates and deadlines are shown below. You can register for all of these dates now.

 

ACT Test Date Registration Deadline Last Day for Late Registrations & Changes (extra fees apply)
September 10, 2022 August 5, 2022 August 19, 2022
October 22, 2022 September 16, 2022 September 30, 2022
December 10, 2022 November 4, 2022 November 11, 2022
February 11, 2023 January 6, 2023 January 20, 2023
April 15, 2023 March 10, 2023 March 24, 2023
June 10, 2023 May 5, 2023 May 19, 2023
July 15, 2023 June 16, 2023 June 23, 2023

 

Insight Advice for Rising Seniors (Class of 2023)

 

If you haven’t been able to take the SAT or the ACT at all, you are not alone. Many schools have extended their test-optional policy to the Class of 2023, and you can find out what your top-choice college decides to do in our Test-Optional Colleges HERE. If you are planning to take the ACT, you should start preparing now. Learn how to maximize your score during the summer with our guide on How to Prepare for the ACT or the SAT this Summer.

 

For Class of 2023 who want to apply for Early Action or Early Decision, you need to take your ACT by October 22, 2022. If you are applying for Regular Decision, you should take your ACT by December 10, 2022.

 

Want a strategic, proven way to boost your ACT score? Click here to see our ACT classes!
Taking the SAT instead? Check out our popular SAT classes!

 

Insight Advice for Rising Juniors (Class of 2024)

 

Typically, we see juniors take their ACTs in the summer (June or July) and in the spring (usually after a spring break study crunch). If you already have a score you are happy with, congratulations, you can focus on expanding your extracurricular activities, AP courses, and schoolwork.

 

By preparing for the ACT early, you are giving yourself time to get a head start on your college admissions process next year. This can significantly lower your stress level (and tasks) for your summer after junior year!

 

Just starting your SAT preparation? Our SAT Advantage Classes are designed to give you comprehensive topic review as well as test-taking strategies.

Read more: Why Summer Study Can Be A Great Thing!

 

Insight Advice for Rising Sophomores (Class of 2025)

 

It may seem too early for you to even think about the SAT or the ACT. But it’s not! While these standardized tests are designed to challenge your English and Math abilities, their structures, formats, and timing are very different.

 

If you have already taken Algebra 2, which covers polynomials, trigonometry, and exponentials, you can start considering your test prep strategy! The best way to decide if you should take the SAT or the ACT is to take diagnostic tests for both. Taking both diagnostic tests can help you decide which test you are more comfortable with. You may like the SAT better because it allows for more time per question, or you may be an ACT person if you prefer to always have access to a calculator. Once you’ve figured out your style, you can focus on preparing for that!

 

Want to schedule your ACT and SAT diagnostic tests? We simulate the real testing environment to help you know how you will perform on the big day. Email us ( info@insight-education.net ) today or CONTACT US to find out more!

2022-2023 SAT registration is opened! Now what?

For those who check the College Board website often, you’ve probably noticed that the SAT registration is now open for August 2022-June 2023 test dates! Here is a quick guide on when the SAT tests are happening, the deadlines for signing up, and what you should do (depending on your graduation year).

 

2022-2023 SAT Test Dates

 

According to the College Board website, the SAT test dates and deadlines are shown below. You can register for all of these dates now.

 

SAT Test Date Registration Deadline Last Day for Late Registrations & Changes (extra fees apply)
August 27, 2022 July 29, 2022 August 16, 2022
October 1, 2022 September 2, 2022 September 20, 2022
November 5, 2022 October 7, 2022 October 25, 2022
December 3, 2022 November 3, 2022 November 22, 2022
March 11, 2023 February 10, 2023 February 28, 2023
May 6, 2023 April 7, 2023 April 25, 2023
June 3, 2023 May 4, 2023 May 23, 2023

 

Insight Advice for Rising Seniors (Class of 2023)

 

If you haven’t been able to take the SAT or the ACT at all, you are not alone. Many schools have extended their test-optional policy to the Class of 2023, and you can find out what your top-choice college decides to do in our Test-Optional Colleges HERE. If you are planning to take the SAT, you should start preparing now. Learn how to maximize your score during the summer with our guide on How to Prepare for the ACT or the SAT this Summer

 

For Class of 2023 who want to apply for Early Action or Early Decision, you need to take your SAT by October 1, 2022. If you are applying for Regular Decision, you should take your SAT by December 3, 2022

 

Want a strategic, proven way to boost your SAT score? Check out our popular SAT classes
Taking the ACT instead? Click here to see our upcoming ACT classes!

 

Insight Advice for Rising Juniors (Class of 2024)

 

Typically, we see juniors take their SATs once in the fall once and once in the spring (usually after a spring break study crunch). If you already have a score you are happy with, congratulations, you won’t have to worry about the new digital SAT. However, you will get to experience it first-hand as PSAT in October 2023.

 

By preparing for the SAT now, you are giving yourself time to get a head start on your college admissions process next year. This can significantly lower your stress level (and tasks) for your summer after junior year!

 

Just starting your SAT preparation? Our SAT Advantage Classes are designed to give you comprehensive topic review as well as test-taking strategies. 

Read more: Why Summer Study Can Be A Great Thing!

 

Insight Advice for Rising Sophomores (Class of 2025)

 

It may seem too early for you to even think about the SAT or the ACT. But it’s not! While these standardized tests are designed to challenge your English and Math abilities, their structures, formats, and timing are very different. With the new digital SAT on the way, you may want to take the SAT early to utilize all the resources that are available to help you get ready for the current SAT.

 

If you have already taken Algebra 2, which covers polynomials, trignometry, exponentials, you can start your SAT test prep! The best way to decide if you should take the SAT or the ACT is to take diagnostic tests for both. Taking both diagnostic tests can help you decide which test you are more comfortable with. You may like the SAT better because it allows for more time per question, or you may be an ACT person if you prefer to always have access to a calculator. Once you’ve figured out your style, you can focus on preparing for that!

 

Want to schedule your ACT and SAT diagnostic tests? We simulate the real testing environment to help you know how you will perform on the big day. Email us ( info@insight-education.net ) today or CONTACT US to find out more!

What You Need to Know About Advanced Placements (APs)

If you or anyone in your family are currently in high school, you must have heard of Advanced Placement (AP) classes or exams. From AP tests vs. AP classes to how many APs should you take, in this article, Insight’s Head of College Admissions Counseling Purvi Mody explains all the essential facts you need to know about APs and their role in college admissions.

 

(Prefer to watch a video instead? CLICK HERE to watch Purvi’s interview on all you need to know about APs)

 

Why AP classes in the first place?

AP classes are college-level courses that you can take during your high school years. Taking AP courses is one of the many ways you can show that you are ready for challenging academic materials, as well as your interest in a particular school subject. You can focus on subjects that you may want to pursue in college, such as taking AP Computer Science if you are interested in CS-related majors. Taking AP classes may also be a way to show your talents outside of academic interest. If you really love Psychology, you can incorporate AP Psychology in your schedule. The key is that APs can show your content knowledge and your ability to be successful at higher-level courses.

 

What’s the difference between AP exams and AP classes?

AP exams and AP classes are two distinct things. An AP class is like any class you’ve taken in your high school or online school; the class has grades, a structured curriculum, assignments, quizzes, and tests. The grade that you get from your AP class is on your transcript, and colleges can see these grades.

 

The AP exam is a two- or three-hour long test that you take to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject that you’ve been learning for the past academic year. The AP tests are typically held during the first two weeks of May. These exams are scored on a scale of 1-5, with a score of 3 or higher being a passing score. Unlike AP classes, you can self-report AP test scores. How should you report your AP exam scores then? We recommend our students report their highest AP scores, so report anything above a 3.

 

Need help preparing for your AP exams? Check out our upcoming AP Prep Boot Camps or academic tutoring options!

 

How many APs should I take?

This is the most popular question we get, and the answer is “it depends”. There is no magic number when it comes to AP classes or exams. It varies from student to student, and it also varies from school to school. Some private high schools offer no AP classes at all! The three golden rules to pick the right classes for you are interest, growth, and challenge. You want to pick courses that you are interested in while selecting the classes that you will thrive in. Lastly, your course selection should show that you are continuously challenging yourself intellectually.

 

Read more: How Many AP Classes Should You Take?

 

Now, is it possible to take too many APs?

Yes! The first thing you should know is that AP classes require more study time outside of the classroom. The content is challenging, and suddenly you find yourself with less time. If you find yourself spending most of your time on your AP classes, it’s a warning sign that you are taking too many APs. If your GPA drops, that could be a negative sign to send to colleges. At Insight, we emphasize the importance of finding the right balance, whether it is your course load or your college list.

 

Read more: Balancing Your High School Course Load

 

What if my high school doesn’t offer the AP class I want?

Let’s take a step back to the rules of course selection. An important factor to keep in mind: think about the skills you want to develop. You may not find AP U.S. History or AP European History all that interesting, but the reading and writing skills you develop during the courses are essential! Of course, this rule applies to regular or honor courses at your high school, not just the AP courses.

 

If you are really limited by your high school’s options, there are accredited institutions that offer online AP classes, so you can take them outside of your high school. In addition, if you are comfortable setting your own timeline, you can skip the online AP classes and grab an AP test prep book and self-study. If you opt for the self-study route, don’t forget to register for the AP test in May to show your result.

 

Read more: Should I self-study for AP?

 

Do I need the perfect 5 on the AP exam?

As we mentioned earlier, a score of 3, 4 or 5 is a passing score in college admissions. Depending on the university and the major choice, you may receive college course credits for an AP score of 3 or higher. When would we advise the student to re-take their AP exam that they got a 3 on? For example, the student wants to major in Biology and got a 3 on their AP Biology exam. If this student doesn’t have any extracurricular or other means of showing subject mastery, we MAY suggest the student retake the AP Bio exam next year. However, it depends on multiple factors. This depends on their current grade, their course load next year, their other commitments during the school years, and more. In most cases, we don’t advise students to retake their AP exams. Use that time to study for your other courses or focus on activities.

 

Want to show your best on your AP exam? Check out Insight’s AP Prep Boot Camps or meet with a tutor to strategically improve your score!

 


Written by Purvi Mody

This article was transcribed from an interview with Insight’s Co-Founder and Head of Counseling Purvi Mody.

Since 1998, Purvi has dedicated her career to education and is exceedingly well versed in the college admissions process. Her philosophy centers around helping kids identify and apply to the schools that are the best fit for them and then develop applications that emphasize their unique attributes and talents.

Disclaimer: Advanced Placement® and AP® are trademarks registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with Insight Education.

ACT vs. SAT: Which Test Should You Take?

Standardized testing remains a key part of the college admissions process. Many students and parents begin their admissions journey by comparing the SAT and the ACT. One of the most commonly asked questions for Insight Counselors is “which test is easier/better?”

The SAT and the ACT generally cover the same topics. Both ACT and SAT scores are used for college admissions decisions and awarding merit-based scholarships. Most colleges do not have a preference for which standardized test scores are submitted. Neither the SAT nor the ACT is harder than the other. The deciding factor is often your preference.

Before you dive in and pick one test over the other because all your friends are doing it, here is our detailed breakdown of both standardized tests. 

 

Insights into the ACT and the SAT

 

SAT

ACT

Purpose

 

Colleges use the SAT test scores for  admissions consideration, merit-based scholarships, and sometimes placement purposes

 

Colleges use the ACT test scores for  admissions consideration, merit-based scholarships, and sometimes placement purposes
Test Structure

Reading

Writing & Language 

Math (No-calculator section)

Math (Calculator allowed sections)

 

English

Math

Reading

Science

Essay (optional)

 

Length 3 hours

 

2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)

3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)

 

Test Breakdown

 

Reading

 – 52 questions, 65 minutes
 – 5 passages or pairs of passages (literature, historical documents, social sciences, and natural sciences)

Writing & Language

 – 44 questions, 35 minutes
 – Focus on grammar, vocabulary in contexts, writing and editing skills

Math (no-calculator)

 – 20 questions, 25 minutes
 – Topics cover Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Data Analysis

Math (calculator allowed)

 – 38 questions, 55 minutes
 – Same topics as no-calculator sections

 

English

 – 75 questions, 45 minutes
 – Focus on grammar, editing skills, and summarization

Math

 – 60 questions, 60 minutes
 – Topics cover Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Statistics

Reading

 – 40 questions, 35 minutes
 – 5 passages (humanities, social science, natural sciences, and literature)

Science

 – 40 questions, 35 minutes
 – Testing your critical thinking skills and ability to interpret data (NOT specific science knowledge)

 

Essay

 

None

 

 

40-minute optional essay testing your abilities to evaluate and analyze issues

 

Test Score System

 

The SAT test is scored on a scale of 400 – 1600

 

The ACT test is scored on a scale of 1 – 36
Test Dates

 

The SAT is typically offered on a Saturday in these months: March, May, June, August, October, November, and December

 

The ACT test is typically scheduled on a Saturday in these months: February, April, June, July, September, October, and December

 

Which should you focus on, the ACT or the SAT?

In our previous article, “Should You Be Taking Both the ACT and the SAT?”, Insight Senior College Admissions Counselor Zach Pava listed these three criteria:

Which test are you most comfortable with? 

Which test is the best fit from a timing perspective?

Which test can you score better on?

He also analyzed a few differences between the two standardized tests (summarized below)

 – The ACT tends to be more straightforward in its questions and presentation of material.

 – If you’re a student who is generally science-focused, and you enjoy reading, graphs, & data, the ACT may be a good fit for you.

 – The SAT allows students more time to spend on each question and therefore presents fewer timing challenges than the ACT. If you find time management to be a big obstacle, then you may want to consider the SAT.

 – The SAT contains one Math section in which no calculator is allowed. If you are not very confident with your computational skills, this may also be a point for consideration.

Compare your scores – Click here for the ACT – SAT Score Conversion Table.

However, the only way you would know for sure which test is more suitable for you is through experience. At Insight, we strongly encourage students who have not tried either test to take both for practice before making a decision. Doing this will expose you to the style and structure of both exams, and then we can establish which test you are more comfortable with in terms of content and timing, and ultimately which test youre likely to score better on.  From there, we can plan for when to take the exam, which is important because the SAT and ACT are offered on different dates and in some cases, different months throughout the year. We also want to establish a goal score for each student, as well as an end date when we want students to be finished with testing altogetherIdeally, you should be done before the start of your senior year, because once senior fall starts, your college applications truly will become a full-time class away from school, and you don’t want to have to give up valuable weekends preparing for these standardized tests.

 

Want to know which tests you should take? Contact us and schedule your full-length SAT and ACT practice tests today and see your score analysis!

 

Curious whether you should opt for test-optional? Check out our article: To Test, Or Not To Test? and see if your top choice colleges are in our List of Test Optional Colleges 2022 and Beyond

List of SAT ACT test optional schools

List of Test Optional Colleges 2022 and Beyond

The list contains the test-optional colleges that changed their admission policies due to COVID-19. Some have extended their test-optional policies. These policies are for first-year U.S. undergraduate applicants. This list was last updated on August 2022.

Need help improving your SAT scores? Check out our SAT classes here.
Taking the ACT instead? Check out our ACT test prep classes here.

*While we try our best to keep this list complete and updated, please note that this list is not exhaustive.

 

 FAQ About Test-Optional and College Admissions

 

1. Test-Optional vs. Test-Blind

Test optional means that you can still submit your scores (and you should if you can) and universities will take them into consideration. On the other hand, test blind means colleges won’t look at test scores at all. In both cases, test scores may be used for placement purposes, so you won’t have to take a placement exam before course selection. In some test-optional colleges, test scores are required for certain programs, majors, and/or merit-based scholarships. You may also need to submit test scores if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirements. Please see the “Notes from Insight Education” section for specific college admissions requirements.

Have questions regarding test-optional? We can help! Talk to our team by clicking HERE.

 

2. For freshmen and sophomores, should they prepare for SAT/ ACT or wait to confirm or later is test-optional or not?

For now, most popular schools extended their test-optional policies for Fall 2023 applicants. There are colleges that adopted test-optional policies, too. Therefore, it depends on your college list, which can shift and change over the years. Your college list can change until the moment you finish submitting applications! To keep your options open (and stress level low), it’s good to take the diagnostic test and then strategize to see if test scores can give you an advantage. Also keep in mind that certain majors, athletic admissions, honors programs, and scholarships require ACT / SAT test scores, and you can use your test scores in lieu of placement exams.

 

3. Will I have an advantage with ACT / SAT scores?

Yes! From the 2021 and the 2022 admissions results, we’ve seen those who submitted test scores have a higher acceptance rate than those who did not. In some cases, the school may ask you to submit test scores as they are reviewing your applications. Certain colleges require additional essays and/or admissions interviews when you apply without a test score. To learn more, check out our blog on “Top 3 Tips to Prepare You for College Admissions” or “How to Approach Standardized Testing“. 

 

2021-2022 SAT Registration is opened! Now what?

For those who check the College Board website often, you’ve probably noticed that the SAT registration is now open for August 2021 – June 2022 test dates! Here is a quick guide on when the SAT tests are happening, the deadlines for signing up, and what you should do (depending on your graduation year).

 

2021-2022 SAT Test Dates

 

According to the College Board website, the SAT test dates and deadlines are shown below. You can register for all of these dates now.

 

SAT Test Date Registration Deadline Last Day for Late Registrations & Changes (extra fees apply)
August 28, 2021 July 30, 2021 August 17, 2021
October 2, 2021 September 3, 2021 September 21, 2021
November 6, 2021 October 8, 2021 October 26, 2021
December 4, 2021 November 4, 2021 November 23, 2021
March 12, 2022 February 11, 2022 March 1, 2022
May 7, 2022 April 8, 2022 April 26, 2022
June 4, 2022 May 5, 2022 May 25, 2022

 

Insight Advice for Rising Seniors (Class of 2022)

 

If you haven’t been able to take the SAT or the ACT at all, you are not alone. Many schools have extended their test-optional policy, and you can find out what your top-choice college decides to do in our Test-Optional Colleges HERE. If you are planning to take the SAT, you should start preparing now. Learn how to maximize your score during the summer with our guide on How to Prepare for the ACT or the SAT this Summer

 

For Class of 2022 who want to apply for Early Action or Early Decision, you need to take your SAT by October 2, 2021. If you are applying for Regular Decision, you should take your SAT by December 4, 2021

 

Want a strategic, proven way to boost your SAT score? Check out our popular SAT classes

 

Insight Advice for Rising Juniors (Class of 2023)

 

While some universities are extending their test-optional policy to fall 2023, many colleges will start to require standardized test scores as part of the admissions process. In addition, many financial aids and scholarships opportunities require you to submit an SAT or ACT test score. The best course of action is to start preparing the summer before your junior year. Typically, we see juniors take their SATs once in the fall once and once in the spring (usually after a spring break study crunch). 

 

By preparing for the SAT now, you are also working on your PSAT, which can potentially lead you to a National Merit Scholarship! CLICK HERE to learn more about the PSAT and SAT.

 

Just starting your SAT preparation? Our SAT Advantage Classes are designed to give you comprehensive topic review as well as test-taking strategies. 

 

Insight Advice for Rising Sophomores (Class of 2024)

 

It may seem too early for you to even think about the SAT or the ACT. But it’s not! While these standardized tests are designed to challenge your English and Math abilities, their structures, formats, and timing are very different. You may want to set aside time in spring 2022 to take both diagnostic tests. Taking both diagnostic tests can help you decide which test you are more comfortable with. You may like the SAT better because it allows for more time per question, or you may be an ACT person if you prefer to always have access to a calculator. Once you’ve figured out your style, you can focus on preparing for that!

 

Want to schedule your ACT and SAT diagnostic tests? We simulate the real testing environment to help you know how you will perform on the big day. Email us ( info@insight-education.net ) today or CONTACT US to find out more!

How to Prepare for the ACT or the SAT This Summer

It’s the beginning of summer! And for many of you, you just finished a tough school year and conquered some AP exams. The last thing on your mind is preparing for another test. You may think, “It’s okay. Many schools are extending their test-optional policies.” But the reality is many admissions offices are overwhelmed by the number of applications flooding in. In this article, Team Insight will answer 4 common questions to guide you through a quick evaluation to see if the SAT or the ACT will help strengthen your college applications!

 

When should I start preparing for the ACT/SAT?

 

Typically, the best time to start your SAT / ACT test prep is the summer before your junior year. In other words, if you just finished 10th grade, you should consider spending part of your summer on the ACT / SAT test prep.

How to Strategize Your SAT or ACT Test Prep Plan this Summer

From Insight’s 22 years of college admissions experience, we know that our juniors usually have more challenging course work and are more involved in their extracurricular activities during their school years. The summer before junior year gives you the flexibility and the time to focus on test prep. Furthermore, preparing for the ACT / SAT helps you build the stamina and study habits to handle the junior year course load. During test prep, you also strengthen crucial skills, such as time management, problem-solving, and analytical thinking. All these skills can help you handle the more challenging academic work in your junior and senior years.

 

Need help boosting your SAT scores? Check out our SAT summer programs here.

 

If you just finished your junior year (rising senior) and last year derailed you from taking or preparing for the SAT/ACT, do not freak out. You are not behind. You still have time to study for these standardized tests over the summer. Yes, you may need to balance the ACT / SAT test prep with your summer program and activities. But it is not impossible to achieve.

 

Taking the ACT instead? We got you covered, too, with our ACT summer boot camps.

 

Why should I bother with test prep now if my ACT/SAT is in the fall?

 

It’s a tricky scenario: a 4-hour test, targeting knowledge you’ve already learned in 8th-10th grade. It’s June and you’ve just finished school. The test date isn’t until August or September. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

 

For at least a century, researchers have debated the impact of “summer learning loss.” According to a recent study, the average student lost 17-34% of the prior year’s learning gains during one summer break. In other words, you probably don’t remember everything you’ve learned in 8th grade as vividly as your previous semester.

 

Get SAT Ready over the Summer with Insight

You may need to devote some time reviewing a couple of years of math and English. What’s the big deal? The challenging component of the ACT/SAT is time management. On the ACT, you have 36-60 seconds per question (depending on the section of the test), whereas you have 47-86 seconds per question on the SAT. During the time frame, you have to break down the question, recall what you’ve learned, and deduce the best answer. How can you achieve that? Like a pro-athlete, it comes down to practice, practice, and practice.

 

Read more: Do you need to take both the ACT and the SAT?

 

A strategic method to prepare for the SAT/ACT involves reviewing concepts, going through different exercises, taking full-length practice tests, and improving weak points. None of these can be accomplished in one day or even one week. It takes discipline, grit, and endurance. (And can you think of other things in your life that also take those three qualities?)

 

How can I build a successful test prep or study plan?

 

Just like any project in your life, big or small, if you want to complete the project, you need a plan. Build your test plan with a solid timeline and realistic goals. Ask a friend or a family member to check in on your progress and keep you honest. Include methods to evaluate your knowledge and your progress. In this case, you can take a practice test every day and a quiz after every review session. When you take the ACT or SAT practice test, you want to simulate the real test environment as much as possible. That means no music and no texting. Wear a mask and time yourself.

 

Read more: Studying in a group is scientifically awesome.

 

If you want to submit SAT/ACT scores to colleges, here are some first steps towards making a solid study plan:

 

  1. Take a full-length previously administered SAT or ACT exam, under realistic conditions – a quiet space, each section timed, wear a mask
  2. Figure out which aspects or sections are giving you the most challenge – timing, multiple-choice format, language arts, math, etc.
  3. Make a plan to address how you want to improve your score based on how you are doing on the practice questions

 

How to Prepare for the SAT or the ACT over the SummerAfter each practice test, remember to learn from your mistakes. Go over your SAT or ACT practice test again. Check your mistakes. Work on those questions again. Be sure to figure out if you need to adjust your goals. You may need to work on your geometry or do more word problem drills. Or you may simply need to improve your speed. Much like sports, athletes devote practice sessions to work on their pitching stance or landing a quadruple jump. After every test review, you need to be honest with yourself and work through the tough parts.

 

Psst! Insight ACT / SAT Boot Camps offer daily diagnostic test to keep track of your progress. After the test, our expert instructors lead you through detailed test review sessions to help you learn from your mistakes. Check out our ACT boot camp schedule or the SAT boot camps.

 

Who benefits from preparing and taking the ACT/SAT?

 

Ultimately, you are studying to enrich yourself. Don’t look at standardized testing as just another assignment. The SAT and the ACT are designed to evaluate your academic college readiness – your ability to combine years of language arts and math knowledge, recall the concepts, and apply them accurately in a given time frame.

Best Ways to Study For Your ACT or SAT over the Summer

From the college admissions standpoint, having a strong test score may help your admissions chance even for test-optional colleges. Recent data has shown a higher chance of acceptance rate for those who submitted test scores than those who did not submit. Many scholarships and funding opportunities may also require test scores. More importantly, you want to provide as many, if not more, positive data relative to your peers.

 

Remember that your test score is just one piece of the puzzle. And as you work on each aspect of your academic profile, you are helping admissions officers understand you better. Have compassion for those in the colleges and universities to which you are applying! Let your test score support and verify the trustworthiness of your transcript – your hard-won grades.

 

 

Want to meet with an Insight Counselor?

Schedule Your 1-Hour College Planning Session

GPA Test Prep College Admissions

Top 3 Tips to Help You Start to Prepare for College Admissions

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to every aspect of our lives, from how we socialize to how we learn, and of course, to how we need to prepare for college admissions. If you are still unsure about which path to take on your college admissions journey, don’t worry – you’re not the only one.

 

While we don’t have the superpower to predict the future, Team Insight has been keeping a close monitor on the latest college admissions news and making projections that can help keep your options open as we gear up for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.

 

Now, let’s dive in!

 

Insight Advice #1: Provide Positive Data (as much as you can).

 

A solid GPA, a progressively challenging curriculum, and well-written college essays – all of these are considered positive data about yourself. College admissions offices want to see that you can handle the academic work, but they also want to get to know you. What are your values? How do you spend your spare time? What are you devoting your time to during the summer?

 

In addition to GPA, academic profile, college essays, extracurricular activities, and awards, another positive data you can provide on your college application is test scores. A strong ACT or SAT score adds value to your college application, even for test-optional schools. In 2021, more than half of the applicants chose to submit their test scores. From the data, those who included their test scores have a higher chance of acceptance. Approximately 60% of the students who applied for Rice University submit a test score. Of the students accepted by Rice University, 80% submitted an SAT or an ACT score.

 

Insight Advice #2: Stay Informed. Prepare Ahead.

 

While we are uncertain whether test-optional admissions policies will continue, what you can do is research thoroughly into the school of your choice. Stay informed about their testing policies. Check the admissions website and their emails to see if there are any changes in test-optional policies. Most importantly, don’t wait till the last minute! It takes time to prepare for the ACT or the SAT, so plan enough time for test prep.

 

Read more: How to approach standardized testing this summer

 

At Insight, we use the term “relative to your peers” as a guide. What does it mean? In the case of testing, if your friends are planning on taking the SAT or ACT in the fall, it may be a good idea for you to take the test, too. When the admissions office evaluates your college application, they are comparing you to those similar to you, such as your high school’s graduating class. In addition, if you are applying to a competitive school or program that may have many applicants with test scores, you should also prepare for the ACT/SAT.

 

Need help improving your SAT test scores? CLICK HERE to see our summer programs

Taking the ACT instead? CHECK OUT our ACT summer boot camps

 

Insight Advice #3: Research. Research. Research.

 

The biggest 2021 college admissions trend we’ve noticed at Insight is the rise of virtual sessions. Learning about your potential school is now as easy as tapping a few keys. Attend virtual college tours. Ask your questions at virtual info sessions. Use different websites to gather information about a school of your choice. At Insight, our counselors guide students to conduct college research starting in May or earlier, and we continuously revise their list with them.

 

Read more: How to conduct virtual college visits?

 

Another trend that has been accelerated during this time is more students are applying to selective schools, which leads to decreasing acceptance rates. For example, the acceptance rate at the University of Pennsylvania in the 90s was 39%; the acceptance rate in 2021 for UPenn was 9.9%. So be practical when building your college list. Remember, every college on your list, even your safety school needs to be a school you can see yourself in.

 

Read more: Why is it important to find your Best-Fit college?

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

Even if your top schools remain test-optional, remember that test scores may still be required for scholarships or other funding opportunities. During transitions like this, you want to remain flexible and keep your options open. This may mean spending part of your summer doing test prep, but the upside is that you will not be scrambling to take the SAT or ACT at the last minute. Keeping your options open may also mean joining a virtual tour of a college you have not heard of, but you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. As always, we are here for you! Reach out if you have any questions!

Top 3 Tips to Help You Prepare for College Admissions

 

 

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To Test, Or Not To Test?

In a land, devastated by famine and drought, shimmering pools of water and images of plenty tempted travelers and visitors. Were these hallucinations? Oh dear reader, these visions are inspired by the financial waves crashing on colleges – I was using a metaphor for the feast and famine landscape higher education institutions are facing thanks to the pandemic. Namely – some schools are financially “feasting” while others are facing enormous revenue shortfalls. Not all colleges and universities are in the same boat!

 

Consider this. The Wall Street Journal recently stated, “Binding early decision applications rose by 22% at Brown University, 23% at the University of Pennsylvania, 29% at Dartmouth College, and 49% at Columbia University. At Yale University and Harvard University, applications under the restrictive early-action option jumped by about 38% and 57%, respectively.”

 

Chart showing increase in number of college applications

 

Outcomes from Early Applications from the Class of 2021

 

The pandemic accelerated the shift in testing policy, leading to drastic changes in the college admissions landscape. In just a few weeks in the spring of 2020, over 95% of selective four-year colleges and universities announced their decisions to be test-optional for 2020-2021. Many seniors did not have an opportunity to take the SAT or ACT in 2020 before their application deadlines. Those who had planned for testing early (such as our Insight students) had the option to choose to submit their scores. With the barrier of testing removed for many students, they suddenly imagined the possibility of an acceptance offer from a school that might have been a dream previously.

 

This year is pivotal as students who are disadvantaged or discouraged by testing will have more possibilities than ever before. In fact, many highly selective schools such as Amherst, Boston College, Colgate, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, UPenn, Rice, UVA, and Williams have recently extended their temporary policies to 2021-2022 application cycle; most others are expected to follow suit by spring.

 

A word of caution before you decide that the SAT or ACT will be gone forever – it is important to point out the wording of these testing policy announcements for additional insight into the school’s attitude toward testing. For example, Brown’s announcement started with “the extraordinary circumstances that continue to face students this year.” Stanford’s note in responding to Covid on standardized testing outlined that “if you have already taken the ACT or SAT…, then you are welcome to self-report them.” And Princeton’s statement included its process for determining academic rigor. “When considered in context and in conjunction with other academic factors, testing such as the SAT or the ACT can be very helpful in assessing a student’s preparation for Princeton’s curriculum.”

 

Without the barrier of test scores, many colleges are seeing surges in number of applications this year, as we saw with the Wall Street Journal article. Harvard saw applications rise by 42% overall and the University of California system by 16%. However, admissions offices are also delaying decision releasing date or making more use of wait lists due to the volume of applications. Overall, many top colleges showed a decrease in acceptance in the early admissions stage.

 

Chart showing drop in acceptance rate in popular colleges

 

 

Class of 2022: Keeping Your Options Open in a Competitive Context

There are so many colleges that changed their policies in light of the pandemic – you can read our very comprehensive and helpful list of test-optional schools here – that it becomes difficult to sift through the actual changes specific colleges make, the changes that College Board or ACT make, and the realities that colleges face – to figure out what you yourself want to do!!! Jeff Selingo tweeted about the practical limitations that admissions offices face – they simply cannot “add more days to the reading calendar,” which is why standardized tests are still useful as a “governor on apps.” If you were managing an admissions office, would you use tools that helped you make your work more efficient? Probably.

And something for applicants to consider is the behavior of one’s classmates – do you think others in your graduating class will skip the opportunity to take these tests? All things being equal, students who have scores to report retain a potential advantage over those who don’t. Having the option to send scores—to all colleges, to some colleges, or to no colleges—is a path we can help you plan.

As we continue to carefully monitor trends, we will continue to analyze the data available to us and share our insights on the impact of flexible testing policies. We’ve already seen that a relaxed testing policy does not make a highly selective school less competitive. In reality, it can boost a college’s desirability, continuing to limit the available spots and demand for them. Universities that were already in demand reached record high levels of interest in 2020, especially in their early application rounds, resulting in record low early admit rates.

 

Wish to improve your test scores? Check out Insight’s upcoming SAT / ACT classes here.

 

In the coming years, we will see if applicant and admission profiles at competitive colleges alter and what role testing policies have in that change. Please continue to follow Insight Education through social media as we update you on the latest in college admissions or schedule a 1-hour college planning session with our experienced counselors to personalize your academic and testing strategies. 

 

Read more: Ready, Set, Take the Test!


Written by Meilin Obinata

This article’s main contributor is Insight Senior College Admissions Counselor Meilin Obinata.

Meilin Obinata is a Senior College Counselor who enjoys learning from her students. She believes education is a creative endeavor and creates a space that allows students to explore new ideas. As a Bay Area native who grew up in Santa Cruz, she is familiar with the local schools. Read her full bio here.

College Board is Dropping Subject Tests and the Essay Portion of the SAT: What This Means For You

Quick Summary: 

  • The College Board said on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, that it will stop administering the SAT Subject Tests. It will also eliminate the optional essay-writing component after June 2021.

  • In their statement, the College Board shared that the pandemic “accelerated a process already underway … to reduce and simplify demands on students.” It also plans to pursue a “more flexible” SAT that could be delivered online.

  • There are other ways for you to demonstrate your writing skills – English classes, AP exams, and college essays.

  • Dropping the SAT subject tests places more emphasis on the AP tests. For those who have their subject test scores, college admissions offices have yet to announce their decision regarding those scores.

 

Insights into the College Board’s Decision 

Today, the College Board made the shocking announcement that it will stop administering the SAT Subject tests effective immediately in the US and effective after the June 2021 administration internationally. The College Board will also be dropping the Essay portion of the SAT after the June 2021 administration of the test. For many students, this changes how they might approach course selection, testing in the near term, and a longer-term strategy intended to show their academic strengths. The ramifications of these changes are not completely obvious yet because how the colleges will interpret these changes in the admissions context remains to be seen. But let’s talk about what this means for you:

 

Let’s start with the easy piece – the SAT Essay. The essay has realized a diminished value over the last few years. While it used to be a required portion of the test and the admissions process, it has increasingly become optional from both the College Board side and the university admissions side. There are so many ways in which students can demonstrate their writing abilities – English grades, AP exams, college essays, or graded writing samples, to name a few, that this change is really of little significance. It will allow students to focus on the multiple-choice sections as well as to reduce the overall length of their exam. So really, this change is important but won’t have a significant impact on Insight students and their planning.

 

Now onto the harder question discussing the impact of dropping the Subject Tests. College Board stated that it was dropping these exams because the Advanced Placement (AP) Exams are becoming more accessible to all students and as a result, students shouldn’t have to take both exams. Now whether or not we philosophically and professionally agree with this statement, we have to make sure that we adapt to this changing environment and provide the very best advice to you.

 

How Will The Universities Responding? What Does This Mean For College Admissions?

Last year, the UCs went test-blind for SAT and ACT as part of the admissions process, but they still allowed students to enter their Subject Test Scores and AP Scores on their UC Applications. Other universities dropped the use of SAT Subject Tests, but they still gave the students the option to submit AP Exam, SAT, or ACT scores. It is very possible that some or many colleges will still welcome students to submit these scores.

 

If you currently have Subject Test scores, we will have to wait to hear from colleges about what they will and will not allow. If you do not have Subject Test scores and were planning to take them this year for the first time, do not worry. Many students are in this same situation and you will NOT be penalized.

 

We are going to keep on top of this major change with colleges and make sure our advice is updated and accurate. If you’d like to meet with a counselor and get help navigating the rapidly shifting college admissions landscape, please do not hesitate to contact us and schedule your 1-hour college planning session, in which our experienced counselor will tailor your college admissions strategy based on academic performance, testing options, extracurricular activities, and more!

 

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