Tag Archives: test prep

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

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!

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

 

 

Need a boost to your college admissions success?

Schedule Your 1-Hour College Planning Session

Best Way to Prep for PSAT? Study for the SAT!

The Preliminary SAT, also known as the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), is a part of the SAT suite. This test is offered annually to students in the 10th and 11th grades. You can only take the PSAT once per year.

 

What’s the Big Deal?

Your PSAT scores won’t get you into college or affect your GPA. But if you are a junior, a high PSAT score can make you some money! As implied by the name NMSQT, you can qualify for a scholarship if you receive a high score. Approximately $180 million dollars are awarded to students each year!

 

How Do I Study for the PSAT?

The smart way to do it is to combine your PSAT with your SAT prep. The two tests are almost identical. Just like the SAT, the PSAT breaks down into four sections: evidence-based reading, writing and language, no-calculator math, and calculator-allowed math. The slight difference is that the two tests have different timing; specifically, the PSAT is 15 minutes shorter than the SAT. The PSAT does not have an essay section and is scored on a different scale. But the question types and knowledge areas for both the SAT and the PSAT are the same. Thus, by prepping for the SAT, you are studying for two tests!

 

The Advantage of Combining your SAT and PSAT Prep

 1. Study Smart

We usually recommend that students start their prep for the SAT (or ACT) during the spring or summer before junior year. Setting the time to study in the winter break is a smart move if you are planning to take the PSAT and then the March SAT. And if you need a boost, the Insight SAT Prep Programs will help you systematically improve your scores on both the SAT and PSAT. 

READ MORE: Ready, Set, Take the Test!

 2. Feel Confident for the SAT

Because the two tests are similar, you will walk into your March SAT test knowing exactly what to expect. For the same reason, the Insight Test Prep Boot Camp includes 10 full-length practice tests, so you feel in control during the real SAT and PSAT.

 3. Time and Money Saved on Prep

Combining the two prep means you only need one set of study material. The Insight Test Prep curriculum is designed by elite tutors and test makers. By enrolling in our class, you will receive our SAT Binder designed to strategically help you excel on both the PSAT and the SAT.

 

Sounds Good, But What if I’m Planning to Take the ACT?

Your ACT prep also covers similar content and provides a good foundation for the PSAT. Test-taking skills, such as time-management and analytical thinking, will apply to every standardized test that you encounter. If you want to feel more confident before your PSAT, consider meeting one of our tutors for tailored PSAT strategies.

READ MORE: Should You Be Taking BOTH the SAT and the ACT?

A Summarizing View of SAT vs PSAT

  PSAT SAT
This Test is Good for… Scholarship opportunity  College admissions and merit-based scholarship 
Test Structure / Time

 Reading / 60 minutes

 Writing / 35 minutes

 Math (No Calculator) / 25 minutes

 Math (Calculator) / 45 minutes

 Reading / 65 minutes

 Writing / 35 minutes

 Math (No Calculator) / 25 minutes

 Math (Calculator) / 55 minutes

 Essay (Optional) / 50 minutes

Total Exam Time  2 hours and 45 minutes

 3 hours (without essay)

 3 hours and 50 minutes (with essay)

Score Structure    320 – 1520   400 – 1600

The Art of College Admissions

The Art of College Admissions

What are College Admissions Looking For? What might be the future impact Covid-19 has on the admissions policies? Join Insight Education’s webinar on “The Art of College Admissions” to learn from Insight’s 21 years of College Admissions Experience and What it Means for Students Navigating the Age of Covid and Social Upheaval Nationwide.

 

A FREE Community Webinar for high school students and families hosted by INSIGHT EDUCATION! 

Date: August 30, 2020

Time: 10:00am – 11:30am

Location: Online via Zoom

Please note: due to the high demand of this webinar, we recommend you reserve your spot early.

 

The College Admissions landscape has changed drastically over the past 21 years since Insight Education was founded.

 

Since 1999, Insight Education has advised thousands of students and their families as they embarked on their college admissions journey. Our dedicated team of education professionals is committed to providing personalized and comprehensive guidance through every facet of the high school experience and college admissions process.

 

Beyond test scores and GPA, we seek to foster curiosity and intellectual rigor in our students. Our values emphasize building sincere relationships with our families, anchored in trust, honesty, and a commitment to purposeful, compassionate listening.

 

Our rich history and experience, along with our understanding of high schools and the holistic approach colleges employ as they evaluate applicants, sets Insight apart in our ability to help students and families realize their educational goals. As our students transition into adulthood, we prepare them to leave Insight with the tools to engage in the lifelong learning process wholeheartedly, and to benefit from all that college has to offer.

Our Presentation will Cover:

* What has changed over the past 21 years and what that means for students today?
* How to pick a major and why it matters?
* What does “Holistic Admissions” really mean?
* What do colleges truly want to see on the application?
* How to balance extracurricular activities and academic profiles?
* How can modern-day students prepare for success in life after college?
* Debunk the most common college application myths and more.

 

We will be recording the event for use on social media and promotional activities in the future. By registering and attending this event, you are giving Insight Education LLC permission to record and produce footage that you may be a part of through live Q&A or Chats. 

 

It’s not just the destination that matters – it’s how you get there. We’re here to help you make the most of high school! We look forward to meeting you.

 

Thank you,

The Insight Team 

SSAT Prep

About the SSAT

The Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) is an admissions test used for private and independent schools. The SSAT is administered at three different levels: Elementary, Middle, and Upper. Your current grade will determine the test level. 

The SSAT has a total of 170 questions total and an unscored essay prompt. The test has four sections, which are writing, verbal, reading, and math. The SSAT will take approximately 3 hours to complete with a couple of short breaks built-in.

Class Agenda
July 6 – July 27  (total 8 days)

*Classes will be hosted online from 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm on the following days

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
     

1

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6*

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Virtual Insight SSAT Prep

> The perfect balance between the small study group and instructor-led test prep class: Insight expert teacher breaks down test strategies and reviews fundamental concepts.

> Real practice: with Insight’s test-like practice, you’ll become familiar with all the question types and directions, so nothing can throw you off on the big day. 

> Please note instructors listed for this class are subject to change. 

> Not sure which class is the best fit for you? We offer diagnostic testing bundles to allow students to see where they are scoring before deciding on a class. Please email us at info@insight-education.net to learn more! 

 

Have questions about virtual classes? Contact us to learn more about how we’re supporting students during COVID-19 and our virtual learning philosophies 

Insight counselor Jenny H shared her lessons learned from preparing for ACT tests

Standardized Testing: A Reflection

I feel like there are certain activities that will always make me a little—okay, very—nervous.  These include riding a roller coaster, watching a horror movie, and lastly, taking standardized tests!

 

Standardized testing was not my forte, and I felt like this was the most daunting aspect of the college admission process in high school.  For those of you who feel the same way and/or are in the midst of studying for the SAT / ACT test, I am motivated to write this blog post to reflect on my experience. In doing so, I hope that you will gain some insight into how to better prepare for these tests moving forward.

 

Insight counselor Jenny H reflected on her studying for the ACT test prep

 

What I Did Adequately

Even though there were some parts I would have done differently, there were a few things I feel like I did adequately.   

 

1. Be Determined

If there’s one thing I am at peace with, it’s that I was determined and worked hard to do “well.” My desk was piled high with practice books, and you would constantly find me in the library furiously scribbling into a notebook for hours.

For the majority of us, determination is a crucial component in doing well on the SAT / ACT. This is also the attitude you will need to succeed in college and beyond, so I hope that you will continue to develop this mindset while studying for the SAT / ACT.

2. Be Prepared on Test Day

On test day, I had everything ready: multiple pencils, an eraser, a calculator, etc. Even though I was nervous about the test, I knew I had everything I needed which at least alleviated a little bit of stress. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to come equipped with all materials on the day of the test!

If you are taking the test in-person, I also recommend visiting the testing site before test day if possible.  In case of unexpected circumstances—heavy traffic, you wake up later than expected, etc.—you’ll at least know where the testing site is instead of frantically searching the day of.

 

3. The Score Doesn’t Define Me

I wasn’t the best test-taker which reflected in my score, but I didn’t believe the results implied that I was a failure or predestined to fail in college.  I chose to be proactive in my studies and present on my college campus which wouldn’t have been possible if I’d given up because of my standardized test results!

Thus, if you don’t do “well” on the SAT or ACT test, don’t give up on yourself. Work hard in college! Consequently, identify and cultivate your gifts so that you can better yourself and serve your community. 

 

What I Could Have Done Better

However, there’s more to getting a “good” SAT/ACT score than just determination. The following is what I feel like I could have done better prior to the test and after receiving my score.

 

having structure and strategy for your test prep is key

 

1. You Sure About THAT Test, Jenny?

In retrospect, I wasn’t as mindful as I could have been when deciding which standardized test to take. If I had done a more thoughtful job, I might have gotten a score that more accurately reflected the effort I put into studying for it.

Thus, choose the test that you’re taking with careful consideration; one way to help you decide is to take both the SAT and the ACT diagnostic tests. At Insight, we offer both ACT and SAT test assessments so you can know which test is for you.

 

2. Don’t Just Study! Learn HOW to Study

As I mentioned, I had the determination to succeed. However, besides whatever guidance was offered in the practice books, I didn’t understand how to strategically approach each problem. If I could rewind, I would enroll in an SAT / ACT class to acquire these skills.

I recommend reaching out to a trusted individual in your support system who is skilled in taking standardized tests, as they might be able to offer some advice. Even better, if you have the financial means, I encourage you to take a class or find a suitable tutor who can offer valuable insight on creating a study plan and how to effectively navigate taking these tests.

We offer SAT and ACT test prep classes at Insight. The instructors not only review the topics and concepts, but they also walk you through test reviews and time management. You can click here to find out more.

 

3. Make an Action Plan

Given that I self-studied, I was fully responsible for learning all the materials before test day. I vaguely remember that I created a general plan, but I should have had a more elaborate schedule with more definite deadlines to ensure that I was completely prepared before test day. 

Consider making a schedule if you feel that it’ll help keep you accountable. I recommend using a planner so that you can refer back to the milestones you set.  Appropriate deadlines include noting when you plan on taking a practice test or reviewing vocabulary words. By breaking the task into smaller ones, it could make studying for the SAT / ACT feel more manageable.

Note: It’s okay if you occasionally veer off schedule! You might find yourself having a busier week than you originally anticipated, and instead of compromising your health, you can always adjust your schedule to make up for any material you missed. Remember, your well-being should always come first!

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Ready, Set, Take the Test!

4. Take Practice Exams That Replicate the Testing Environment

Besides lacking the tools to successfully attack the exam, I also took practice tests in conditions that did not fully reflect an actual testing environment. As a result, I question if this was an effective way to study in hindsight. 

When taking a practice exam, it’s important to replicate the testing environment: don’t eat snacks, listen to music, play with your phone, and give yourself ample time to solve the problems (In other words, use a timer that reflects the time constraints you have on each section when taking the actual test). In doing so, you will ideally grow more accustomed to the conditions you will experience on test day.

 

5. Find Other Opportunities to Highlight Strengths

Given that my score could have been better, successfully highlighting my strengths were even more crucial when I applied to colleges as a senior in high school. While I tried to do so at the time, I’m now more aware of different opportunities, like working a part-time job or starting personal projects, that I could have participated in.

Everyone has strengths including yourself. If you are struggling with standardized tests as I did, I encourage you to find safe and reputable opportunities to showcase your strengths and interests on the college admission application. Your Insight counselor can provide some resources as well!  

 

Concluding Thoughts

In essence, it’s not only important to have the heart to study but the knowledge on how to study for these tests.

However, know that your SAT/ACT score is just one data point that colleges will consider, so it is not the end all be all. Remember, the SAT/ACT is something, but it is not everything. Moreover, a mediocre SAT/ACT score does not suggest that your doomed to fail nor does a stellar SAT/ACT score guarantee a perfect GPA in college. That’s partly influenced by your attitude and work ethic.

So work hard, study wisely, and good luck! You got this!

 


Written by Jenny Huang

This article was written by Insight Counselor Jenny Huang.

Jenny graduated from UC Berkeley after transferring from UC Santa Barbara. Her unique “inter-UC transfer” experience inspired her to become a mentor and a college admission counselor.