Expert Advice: Estelle Finkel's Insiders Guide to Planning for College Admissions Testing
Now that the PSATs are back it’s time to plan a testing schedule.
Estelle Finkel Center for Learning in Livingston is a full service learning center that offers tutoring, SAT/ACT prep, private school and college advisory, and evaluations. They work hard to help students and offer the absolute best in educational services.
Here, Amanda Patrick, Educational Director of Estelle Finkel Center for Learning, shares her Expert Advice on planning for college admissions testing:
Each year, roughly 1.5 million students take the SAT and roughly the same number of students take the ACT each year as well. Most college bound students need to take one of these tests to showcase their academic abilities and gain admission to the college of their choosing. It’s important to prepare for the PSAT and beyond. (Curious about test optional colleges? Click here.)
Scheduling early and planning your test dates are important parts of the college planning process. We can help make this task easier by pointing out significant factors and important considerations in making a testing schedule that best fits your needs.
Consider the following:
1. When am I free to actually put in the time to study? Do I have extracurriculars like theater or sports that are taking up a lot of my time in certain months? See SAT and ACT upcoming test dates here.
2. Students who take the exams more than once have several advantages. Schedule yourself to take the test at LEAST 2-3 times. Choose these dates based on your schedule and when you have time to prep. You will see the greatest increase after test 1. (Testing schedules can look like this: For example, If SAT- March, June, August or December, March, May… If ACT- Feb, June, July, or Feb, April, June)
3. Choose your course of preparation. Keep in mind that in our area of the state/country our schools are major “sending” schools as we are very competitive and have a high rate of students going to college. The best preparation is the one that is most intensive and will give you the tools you need for the duration of your study time. Students often put in 40+ hours (including prep sessions, homework, practice tests) before their first test.
4. Start early. For high moderate to advanced students you should begin as early as possible. There is a myth going around that says to delay testing. If you have completed Algebra 2 you are ready to go. If you are currently taking Algebra 2, you may wish to start a bit later but keep in mind that the earlier you start, the better in most cases. For average to below average students, waiting until Alg 2 is complete may be the best option.
5. Set goals: Once you take your first test, or after your PSAT, decide on how much you want to increase. Make smaller chunked goals for each testing date based on your overall goal. For example, if you want to improve on the SAT by 150 points, shoot for 50-75 point increase on each test. Break it down by section to make even smaller goals.
6. Finish testing early. Try to wrap up your testing by October Senior year AT THE LASTEST. We advise trying to wrap it up even earlier for most of our students. Data shows that most selective colleges admit the greatest number of students during early decision and early action. If you are serious about a school, don’t wait until general application time, it may be too late.
7. Start looking at schools you may be interested in. Naviance and College Board both have search capabilities that are extremely user friendly and provide the info you need. Type in a few schools that you’ve always wondered about. Take a look at the “applying” section on College Board’s Big Future site. You will see the score ranges for SAT and ACT so you know what to aim for. Also look for what other requirements schools have listed. Do you need the SAT Subject tests? Do you need the SAT or ACT essay?
At Estelle Finkel Center for Learning, they offer the best in preparation for the ACT and SAT exams. Their experienced staff of educators take you from test prep to college admission with our concierge-like service.