Test Success Tips

Test Success Tips

Test Success Tips: a note from Ken


Students are reminded in my office that they are not their SAT or ACT scores. The college application process consists of a variety of factors, only one of which is the SAT or ACT. Factors such as GPA, course selection, recommendations, activities, the essay, the interview, and legacy, are many times, more important criteria for admission than test scores. During my program, I constantly reinforce such information in order to help students put the whole testing/college admissions processes in perspective.

--Students don’t always do their best first time out (March SAT – junior year). In addition, it is a rare person who does his/her best even earlier - (in Dec. or January) of junior year. Students do better the second time around - (May/June junior year). Taking the SAT or ACT multiple times is not frowned upon by colleges, and is expected. Seniors taking the tests in September/October/November (which are not too late test dates) do the best. 95% of all students score better than their PSAT score during their first SAT round (whenever they take it). A handful of students do not, but upon taking the test again, those students not only score better than their first SAT score, but also score better than their original PSAT score. Likewise, juniors taking the April ACT typically get a mark, and then improve on that mark in June of their junior year. Again, seniors always do best.  It is not uncommon to have students score a 24 ACT junior year, and bump it up to 32-33 senior year. This all is a process…miracles do not always happen overnight – it takes practice, practice, practice. Click here for upcoming SAT and ACT test dates.

--For many students, one or the other test is the better test for them – SAT or ACT. Many students do not know that as of March 2007, all colleges in the country now accept the ACT! Most students think that they “have to take” the SAT. Not true. I believe that it is in students’ best interest to take both tests – the SAT and ACT. Many colleges mix and match different parts of the students’ best performances. For example, a young lady with whom I worked, scored better on her SAT Math sections and better on her ACT English and Reading sections, and Washington University in St. Louis, (a top tier school), combined her best scores and thus she was admitted.

--On a side note, Richard Atkinson in 2001, as president of the University of California System, announced he was recommending elimination of the College Board’s SAT I college entrance examination as a requirement for admission to the University of California. Students, he argued, should be tested on what they had actually achieved academically, and not always on the basis of “ill-defined notions of aptitude.” His challenge inaugurated a national debate on the relative merits of aptitude versus achievement tests and led to major revision of the March 2005 SAT. That test, however, is longer and incorporates higher-level mathematics and a written essay to reflect the quantitative and writing skills students need for college-level work. Now another major revision to the SAT is coming about in March 2016. Students taking the SAT between 2014 and 2016 will be given an experimental section which does not affect their score.

--Before students commit to my program, (students may need only a few sessions, while others may need several more,) and one which offers flexibility regarding the students needs and schedules,  students should note that they get out of this program what they put into it. Homework assignments are given weekly: typically Critical Reading passages to read and for students to practice timing and reading strategies, and scoring of results. In addition, math problems and vocabulary words are also assigned. Questions regarding reading and math questions and a short verbal quiz on vocabulary words are addressed during the next lesson.

--During my program, we will cover all areas of the SAT and ACT, including sentence completion, short reading passages, grammar (writing skills), essay writing, and all areas of math. We will not have time to complete a whole pre-test, post-test, given the time constraints. Students are encouraged to do such full-length tests on their own at home. Rather though, several sections of various actual, real tests given by SAT and ACT will be reviewed and discussed weekly. This tutoring format has worked since 1998 with students achieving score improvements of 150 to 400 points.

--SAT/ACT test prep is not an “exact science”. However, with consistent “practice, practice, practice,” significant gains can be made. Here is more information about the SAT, ACT, PSAT, and AIMS.

--I use the best resource materials available –official ones put out by the actual test makers – SAT and ACT, not unofficial ones like Kaplan or Princeton Review.  The Official SAT Study Guide does not have answers to its 10 tests explained, however. It takes a trained, knowledgeable professional with years of experience to decipher those tests and present the information, answers, and further examples to lock in those points thoroughly to students in easy-to-understand language and terminology, again, with “practice, practice, practice”.

--I have seen such significant improvements in scores through the past 16 years that have resulted in students not only being admitted to the college(s) of their choice, but also of receiving extremely generous academic scholarships because of their test scores/GPA. Testimonials on my website and hundreds of thank you letters serve as proof. See a list of clients’ elementary and secondary schools and clients’ college acceptance schools here.

--Your faith must rely in me and my best effort. Likewise, I rely on students to put forth their best effort. Together, through time, we can make this work…

Ken Krueger, M.Ed
Educational Guidance Services

Click here to download this letter as a pdf