Posted: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 | Filed under: SAT, SAT exam, SAT prep, SAT strategy | author: By Teddy Bergman
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 | Filed under: SAT, SAT exam, SAT prep, SAT strategy | author: By Teddy Bergman
How do I choose the right test center to take the SAT?
When taking the SAT, it doesn’t matter which test center you choose, since you’ll either know the material or you won’t, right? Well, not quite. While it’s true that you’re not going to magically remember what a function is the minute you set foot on a well-run testing site, a poorly run site can really shake you up. This aspect of taking the SAT is often under appreciated, and you should take it seriously.
At certain public school testing sites in Manhattan, for instance, you’ll have to walk through a metal detector and you may need to wait in the gym for as long as an hour before the test begins. These aren’t the kinds of distractions you want to have on the day you finally take the SAT.
If possible, take the SAT at your own school. You know how to get there, and you’ll be familiar with your surroundings. The SAT is just like football: it’s always best to have the home-field advantage. You’re likely to be calmer and more confident than you would at another site.
If it’s not an option to take the test at your own school, however, don’t worry. Look for a nearby private school site, since these testing sites tend to be quieter and better run than public school sites. There are also a handful public school testing sites that are run well. (For instance, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, in Yorkville, NY, is a great place to take the test.) CATES tutors and administrators have years of experience with guiding students to different sites, and we can help you find the site that’s best for you.
Of course, if you’re going to an unfamiliar school to take the test, make sure to take the time in the weeks leading up to the SAT to make sure you know exactly how to get there. The last thing you want is to get lost on your way to the testing site.
The best testing sites are quiet, organized and without distractions. That’s the environment you want to find.
Posted: Sunday, October 9th, 2011 | Filed under: College acceptance, College Admissions, college prep, international students prep | author: By Teddy Bergman
What do I need to know about signing up for the SAT?
You’ve been working with a CATES tutor, doing Math, Reading, and Writing practice sets in between sessions, and taking advantage of the free CATES mock tests. You’re ready to take the SAT. So where do you go to sign up, and what do you need to know?
The SAT is offered at the end of January and in early March, May, June, October, November and December. The test isn’t always offered on the exact same date, each year, but as soon as it is scheduled, in August, you can sign up for it. In other words, you can sign up for the June SAT as early as the summer before you take it. Don’t wait until the last minute. As soon as you know when you’re taking the SAT, sign up for the test.
Hoping to raise their scores as high as possible, many students take the SAT twice, and it’s not unusual to take the test three times. When choosing which month you’ll be taking the SAT, make sure to give yourself enough time to take the test again, if you’re not happy with your SAT test scores, or you think you can do better. For instance, you may want to take the test for the first time in March of your junior year, knowing you could take it again in June and October, if necessary.
Remember, if you’re applying for extended time, you’ll need a report from a psychologist or a licensed learning specialist. It generally takes about ten weeks for the College Board to process your application, so get it in as soon as you can.
Finally, if you find you’ve waited too long to register, and all the testing centers are booked up already, don’t worry. Go to the test center on the day of the test with your registration form and payment (including the standby fee). If you’ve been approved for extended time, you’ll also need a copy of your Eligibility Approval Letter. If you arrive no later than 7:45 AM, you’re very likely to be able to take the SAT on standby.
Posted: Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 | Filed under: college prep, PSAT test prep, SAT | author: By Teddy Bergman
What are the particular challenges and opportunities for international students applying to American universities?
Since the United States is home to many of the best colleges and universities in the world, it’s no wonder that so many international students apply to American schools. The culture of higher education has changed, however, over the past few decades, and even colleges that were once considered easy to get into and now more competitive than ever. What does this challenging environment mean for international applicants for American colleges?
As mentioned in a previous blog, if you’re an international student, you’ll definitely want to get a jump start on your college applications, since you’re much more likely than an American applicant is to encounter unexpected delays or difficulties along the way. (Even getting a high school transcript that an American admissions committee can read can potentially be a problem.) Also, if English isn’t your first language, be sure to give yourself extra time to prepare for the SAT or ACT exam, which will contain English vocabulary designed to challenge even native English speakers.
Moreover, while few schools institute quotas to limit the number of international students they accept, it’s also true that, for a variety of reasons, it tends to be easier for American applicants to get into American schools. With the odds stacked against you, applying to an American university may seem like a daunting proposition.
Don’t despair. First of all, there’s a flip side to the United States increasingly competitive college admissions market. Many colleges that once seemed middle-of-the-road have developed far more advanced academic programs and boast far more impressive students than they did thirty or forty years ago. Across the board, higher education in the United States is getting not just more competitive each year, but also better.
Secondly, college admissions officers put a premium on diversity. Universities want to bring in students from a variety of different cultures and perspectives. Diversity brings in more points of view into the classroom and exposes students (both domestic and foreign) to ideas and customs that they’d be unlikely to encounter otherwise. The disadvantages you face when applying to American schools are counterbalanced by one major advantage: as an international student, you’re a rare and valuable commodity.
Are you fluent in other languages? Are you proficient in a discipline of theater, dance or music that’s less common in the U.S.? Have you traveled extensively? If you have or you are, take advantage of the fact. Mention it in your college interviews and, in particular, focus on it in your personal statement and your admissions essays.
Also, take advantage of CATES International, founded specifically for international students like you applying to American universities. We have extensive experience preparing students from all over the globe to put together college applications for American schools.
What is the PSAT, and why do I need to take it?
The Preliminary SAT, or PSAT, is taken by juniors during the third Thursday in October. (Some schools actually offer the PSAT to sophomores as well, and if yours is one of them, take advantage of it.) The test is basically a practice run for the real SAT, and since you won’t submit it to colleges, it won’t have any direct impact on whether or not you’ll be admitted.
Still, not only should you take the PSAT seriously, you should join the hundreds of students who get a jump on SAT prep by studying for the PSAT.
First, scoring high on the PSAT makes you eligible for a National Merit Scholarship. The score you need for a National Merit Scholarship varies from year to year, and from state to state. (It’s all about doing exceptionally well in comparison to all the other students taking the PSAT.) If you’re taking the PSAT in New York, for example, you’ll probably need at least a 218 to be a contender for a National Merit Scholarship. Not only does the National Merit Scholarship mean you’ll get extra money for college; it also looks great on college applications.
Second, and even more importantly, the PSAT will give you a strong indication of how you can expect to perform on the SAT. Though there’s no essay on the PSAT, there are Reading, Writing and Math sections, each of which closely resembles its counterpart on the SAT exam. The College Board will send you not only your PSAT score (out of a possible 240, while the SAT is out of a possible 2400), but also a detailed breakdown of
the type and difficulty of each question you missed. Did you nail the sentence completions but falter in the critical reading? Did you miss a couple of easy math problems at the beginning of the section, as you were anxious to get to the tougher problems later on? The PSAT score report will tell you, and it’ll offer major clues to how you and your tutor can tailor your studying to improve your score.
Of course, the PSAT isn’t the only diagnostic test you should take while you’re preparing for the SAT. CATES offers free PSAT and SAT diagnostic tests nearly every week of the year, and studies have shown that the more tests you take, the higher your score is likely to be. However, taking the PSAT is different from taking a practice test. You’ll take the PSAT in school, with your peers, and you’ll know the scores will go on your record. It’s simply a more intense experience, and the best possible indication of how you’re doing in your preparation for the SAT, up to that point. Take advantage of the PSAT, learn what you can from it, and apply those lessons to your preparation for the SAT.