It’s not a secret that the SAT and/or the ACT are important. However, most people don’t understand why it is so important to focus on these tests. Your SAT/ACT score is the only thing that is still completely in your control. By the time you are a junior in high school, raising your GPA significantly is mathematically impossible, and improving class ranking has you relying on other people’s failures. With the right amount of studying though, you can see a tangible increase in your SAT/ACT test score. As a high school student trying to help pay for college the number one way to make money for college is by improving your SAT/ACT scores. This can generate thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars in savings.
It all goes back to the rankings, such as those done by US News and World Report or the Princeton Review. A large part of the rankings is the academic profile of the incoming freshman classes. The logic is simple, if a lot of smart kids are attending a certain school, it must be a good school! And though there are a lot of problems with standardized tests, it is still the one thing that is a level playing field across the nation. A GPA of 4.0 might be the equivalent of a 3.8 at a school across town, a 2100 on the SAT is the same from Hawaii to Maine. As a result colleges are continually trying to get kids with better SAT/ACT scores in order to move up the rankings.
Increasing your test score does more then increase your chances of getting scholarships at the schools on your list; it increases the number of schools where you would be a good fit. Applying to schools where you are a good fit is absolutely critical. So how do you improve your test score?
Determine which test is right for
you. The two tests require two different test-taking strategies; the way you
study for the SATs will not equate to the ACTs. If you end up taking both tests
two times you'll invest a lot of extra studying time. To make the most of your
study time and thus improve test scores, take a diagnostic test. We have a
diagnostic test at our office and this is how it works: it is a 3 ½ hour test
that will determine at which test you are stronger and breaks down each section
to show you where you need to improve. You can then focus all of your efforts
studying for just that one test - SAT or ACT!
If you are a sophomore or junior, now is the perfect time to take the Diagnostic Test, schedule your test date and start studying. If you are a senior it’s not to late, you still need to know which test you are strongest at and study! Once you’ve determined which test is your strength, and you are a junior, we suggest you schedule your SAT/ACT test the first time in early spring/winter (Dec/Jan) and then again in late spring (March/May) to improve your score if you are not happy with the first one. If you are a sophomore, once you've determined your test strength start studying for that specific test and schedule your testing dates as early as the Fall of your junior year. When the award letters start rolling in, you’ll be happy you put forth the effort!
If you would like to learn more about how you can have your student take the Diagnostic Test give us a call at (425) 329-2609.
Crystal Anderson is the president of Crystal Clear College Planning, which helps Seattle-area families plan financially and academically for college. Learn more about our free local workshops on planning for college.