The simplest icebreaker has been somewhat of a torture question for me over the years. “What do you do for a living” (or some semblance of that question) and you’d elicit the same conversation I’ve had countless times. “I’m a tutor”, which gets the same response: “Oh so you are a teacher”.
What do most people care most about in life? For obvious and innumerable reasons, their children. We want to give them the very best we can and everything that we can to help them be successful and happy. Education is, for good reason, one of the best avenues for achieving this. But, here are three unconventional ways you can give your kids an automatic advantage:
There is no “one size fits all” answer. But here are some general guidelines. Two years ago, the advantage went to taking the SAT because 95% of colleges superscore the SAT, and, at the time, hardly any colleges superscored the ACT. Today, still only about 40% of colleges superscore the ACT, so, in this respect, taking the SAT still has an advantage.
Every student should take the ACT and SAT “optional” essay at least once. There are many schools that require the essay score for a student’s application to even be considered. But should students take the essay every time? Short answer: probably. Here’s why.
When I walked into the testing room and handed my admissions ticket to the proctor, there was an immediate chorus of laughter. No surprise: I am old (at least to a high schooler), and I am taking the SAT. Why? I could say it’s because I own a tutoring company and thus it’s my job to do so, but I mostly take it because I genuinely enjoy taking the test. Taking the tests also gives me otherwise unavailable insights:
One of the most difficult aspects of taking the ACT is timing, particularly on the Reading and Science sections. In order to improve on these sections, students need a lot of practice (preferably from the real tests), the right strategies (skim for key terms on the reading and science, when to read/skim/skip the science reading passages, etc), and a foundational knowledge of scientific principles. All of those take time. And we all love shortcuts. If only there was…
The new SAT scores are confusing (even more so than one would think). Let’s clear up the ambiguity. For the sake of consistency and clarity, one would think the Collegeboard would keep the scoring for the old and new SAT the same. Unfortunately, like other decisions that the Collegeboard has made this year, they decided to make an incomprehensible change: they inflated the grading scale. For example, a score of 700 on the new SAT Math is only equivalent to a 670 on the old SAT Math.
End of the Year Plan for Juniors Haven’t taken the SAT or ACT yet? You’re not alone. Here’s what YOU should do: Sign up for the SAT in May Select the “Question and Answer Service.” If you pay for this service, the Collegeboard will send you a copy of the test back. While this is always helpful, it is imperative given that it is the new SAT so that you can see how you did. The SAT in June does not provide this option, which makes the May test better for taking the new SAT.
If your child is a junior, then they should be taking the ACT this year. Even if they have done no prep at all, it is to their advantage to sign up for the April ACT. You might ask with some skepticism and doubt, “What if they do poorly? Won’t colleges see that score?” The short answer is “no.” Not only does the ACT allow you to pick and choose which test dates to send to colleges but the ACT also allows students to DELETE any unwanted ACT scores.
You may have heard the conventional wisdom “Don’t take the SAT or ACT more than three times.” That was then. This is now: Not only can you pick and choose which ACT test dates to report, but you can even delete ACT scores from a student’s academic record. For this reason, there is no downside to taking the test multiple times, only the upside of scoring higher even if only on one section.