Last week, on Getting In: a College Coach Conversation, host Sally Ganga and guests Kara Courtois and Kathy Ruby discussed the ins and outs of submitting standardized test scores to colleges, took an in-depth look at the essay questions for two popular institutions—University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin, Madison—and talked about the various deadlines for financial aid.
If you’re a rising junior who’s just starting to think about how to approach the summer of test prep, look no further than last week’s episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation. As an admissions educator myself, I feel I have a pretty good sense of the ACT and SAT and the differences between the two exams. But I was blown away by the amount of detail provided by Sean Quinn, a tutor with ArborBridge, a College Coach partner.
My sister-in-law is a great example. She’s a Vice President at a well-known university, handles very serious situations that affect the health of the university on a daily basis, and is exactly the person you’d want in charge of those situations. She was a top student in her high school class and, in her words, “my SATs were awful.” In the 80’s, low test scores was much more of an issue and that limited her college options.
If you’re a high school junior who just received a copy of your March SAT scores, chances are good that you’re pretty pleased with the results. Students from across the country are reporting higher than expected outcomes on the redesigned SAT exam, in some cases boasting 100+ point improvements from the PSAT to the SAT. All of this sounds like great news, right? Why shouldn’t students be thrilled that their March SATs now put them within range for some of their more competitive “dream” colleges? Unfortunately, it’s not quite so simple. If you really want to know what your March SAT scores mean, you’ll need to check out the newly released SAT Score Converter – a handy little tool that shows exactly how your new scores compare to the “old” SAT scale colleges currently employ. (And for those folks looking for additional information, I advise you to dig into this document from the College Board, which gives a number-by-number comparison for all varieties of SAT scores.)
Over the last half year, there have been major changes in the world of college admissions testing. The SAT returned to the old 1600-point scale, did away with the mandatory writing section, and made it optional instead. The ACT changed the scoring scale for its own optional writing exam and the resulting scores caused an uproar among test-takers that has yet to die down. As an admissions counselor here at College Coach, I’ve had countless students ask me about the importance of the writing score, and I’ve seen a lot of stress over lower-than-anticipated scores on the writing section of these tests. Below is the advice I’ve been giving over these last few months.
By Sean Murphy, Curriculum Manager at Revolution Prep
About the PSAT
PSAT stands for Preliminary SAT and it is organized, in part, by the College Board, the same organization that runs the SAT. The PSAT is also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). At its heart, the PSAT is a practice version of the SAT, so the two tests have many similarities. These similarities include a no-calculator math section and “rights-only scoring” (i.e. no guessing penalty). Even if you think your child might end up taking the ACT, the PSAT is valuable – by taking it now, they will have already had great exposure to a long standardized test, and can take a lot of their experience with them to the ACT.
Who takes the PSAT and why do they take it?
by Ian Fisher, former admissions officer at Reed College
When students find themselves at the edge of their college application deadlines, I find they tend to whip themselves into a frenzy over every component of their applications. Many students are concerned that test scores may not arrive in the hands of colleges and universities on time. And this is a reasonable concern. For the vast majority of schools, you need standardized test results to be submitted by the testing agencies in order to receive a decision from colleges.
At this late date, many students are still submitting scores to places like the University of California or the University of Washington and wondering what to do to get scores submitted on time. Our resident Common App expert and jack-of-all-trades, Elyse Krantz recently placed a call to the College Board—administrator of the SAT and all its derivatives—to get answers to the most frequent questions from our students.
by Abigail Anderson, former admissions officer at Reed College
You just hit submit on your last college application and now, the rest is up to everyone else. Your teachers are sending in their recommendations, your parents are working on the financial aid application, and the college counselor is taking care of your transcript and the school report. Time to kick back and watch some Netflix, right?
Submitting standardized test scores is also your responsibility, not your school’s. While some high school transcripts include test scores, most colleges and universities require official score reports directly from the testing agency.