Q&A on Testing: - Cary Academy

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Q&A on Testing: - Cary Academy

Testing Q&A for Juniors, Class of 2010Q: When should I take the SAT? How many times should I take it?A: We recommend that students take the SAT between 2-3 times total, at least once in the junior yearand once in the senior year. Research indicates that scores tend to plateau after the 3 rd testing, so werarely advise a student to take the SAT more than 3 times. Almost all students, however, will take theSAT twice, as most students see an improvement on at least one section between first and second testing.As many colleges indicate that they like to see a senior year score, it is generally advisable to take theSAT a final time in the fall of 12 th grade.Q: How do I register for tests?A: Students must register for the SAT and/or ACT themselves. We cannot do that for students. CA isnot a test site for the SAT or ACT, so select the test location that is most convenient for you. Onlineregistration is preferred: www.collegeboard.com and http://www.actstudent.org/index.html CaryAcademy‟s school code is 340601.Q: Do colleges receive all SAT scores?A: The College Board changed its reporting options in the spring of 2008. This change will affectreporting options for students in the Class of 2010, but NOT for the Class of 2009. Effective the March2009 test date, this new policy will give students the freedom to send the scores by sitting (test date) atno additional cost. Previously, the College Board sent all scores from all sittings. For completeinformation, please see the College Board information http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/satreasoning/scores/policyIf a junior takes an SAT before the March 2009 test (for example, if a student takes the January 24, 2009SAT) what happens? According to the site above, “Any student who has taken an SAT prior to thepolicy launch or who registers for the SAT after launch will be able to take advantage of this new policy.The students who have taken tests prior to the launch can use the score-reporting feature retroactively.Additionally, this new score-reporting feature will be optional to students. If a student chooses not toselect their scores, all of their scores will be sent.”Q: When should I take the SAT in 11 th grade?A: That depends on your schedule and commitments. Our advice, in general, is to sit for the SAT for thefirst time in January or March of Grade 11. However, you should review the test dates for the SAT thisspring and decide which date works best for you and which gives you the best opportunity to prepare.For a calendar with dates and information, go tohttp://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/calenfees.htmlPlease note: The March 14, 2009 test date is in the middle of our trimester break.Also, if you are in Algebra II this year, conventional wisdom is to wait until March or perhaps May totake the SAT, as the test covers math material through Algebra II.Q: Who takes the SAT Subject tests, and when should I take those?A: Not all colleges require the SAT Subject tests, and not all students take them. It is generally the moreselective colleges that ask students to take these tests. None of the UNC system colleges, for example,requires the SAT Subject tests for admission.If you are interested in applying to more selective colleges, then you should plan to take 2-3 SubjectTests on the May 2, 2009 or June 6, 2009 test date. The tests are 1 hour in length, so students may take


up to 3 tests in one sitting. Please see the complete list of Subject tests offered here.http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/about/SATII.htmlAgain, not all students will need to take the Subject tests. The college counselor will discuss this withthe juniors during individual meetings in the winter/early spring. Students can look at college‟s websitesto see what their requirements are.Q: What is the ACT? How is it different from the SAT?A: The ACT is accepted by virtually all colleges and universities in the U.S. The ACT is a subjectbasedtest, and it differs from the SAT in a few ways:1. The ACT includes a section on Science, which is not on the SAT.2. The ACT also has sections on English, Math, Reading, and an optional section on Writingwhich virtually all colleges now require.3. The ACT is scored on a 1-36 scale.4. The ACT does not penalize for incorrect responses, while the SAT deducts a fraction of apoint for wrong answers.The ACT seems to be a better test for students who have consistently high grades in CA classes, butwhose PSAT and SAT scores are not at the level one would expect. There is a wealth of information(more than we can include here) on the ACT at their website, including test dates, test tips, etc.http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/index.htmlQ: If I take the ACT, when should I take it?A: Calendar of ACT dates: http://www.actstudent.org/regist/currentdates.htmlIn past years, we have recommended either the February or April test date for juniors. However, nowthat juniors are not on World Language trips during the June test date, the June 6, 2009 test date is alsoan option. But again, consider your own schedule and commitments in planning. If your PSAT scoresare strong and you feel comfortable with the SAT, you do not need to take the ACT as well. It is simplyanother option.Q: How should I prepare for the SAT and/or ACT?A: All students should take some time to prepare. At a minimum, students should review their PSATScore Reports in preparation for the SAT. Students should also take at least 1 full-length practice testbefore taking either the SAT or ACT. Most of the test prep businesses offer free full-length practicetests which simulate an actual test. They will score it, and although they will obviously try to sellfamilies a program after it, there is no obligation to sign on. Visit the primary test prep websites (Kaplan,Princeton Review, etc) and look for “FREE” prep information.Q: Should I take a prep course?A: That is an individual decision for families, based on time, expense and personal preference. TheCollege Board has some information regarding effects of „coaching‟ on their websitehttp://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/highered/ra/sat/coaching.pdfSome students want a structured environment in which to review. Others will take time to do review ontheir own. Again, it‟s a personal decision and one answer is not right for all students. Prep courses takeconsiderable time and can cost a lot. Families should consider the pros and cons of the time and moneyinvested in making their own decision.Q: Any test day tips?A: Yes, both the SAT and ACT are nearly 4 hours long. Get a good night‟s sleep before the test and eatbreakfast before going. Also, take a snack and some water. Parents, drive your son/daughter to the test


site, so that they are not stressed by parking congestion, etc. Review other tips on the many onlineresources, as well.Q: Do all colleges require the SAT or ACT?A: No! A number of highly selective colleges in the US are SAT/ACT optional. Wake Forest Universityrecently became one of these. Many others are smaller, private colleges, such as Hampshire, Bates,Holy Cross, Mount Holyoke, etc. For more information, please see http://www.fairtest.org/ and checkeach colleges‟ websites.

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