So summer is upon us and while many students want to take time off, this can be a dangerous proposition for numerous reasons. One activity that can help you stay sharp over the summer and help you in the Fall, is SAT Prep. While there are any number of SAT Prep options out there, you can always create your own plan. If you are dedicated enough, you can help prepare for the SAT using a variety of free and low-cost resources for help. First and foremost, I would recommend taking a full length test in the early part of summer. One of the best ways to practice for the SAT is to practice. You can take these tests online, using the College Board website (free through My College Quick Start), or you can take an old fashioned paper version from the back of the College Board Official SAT Study Guide (about 12 dollars on Amazon). Once you feel more comfortable with the test, it's time to start the "prep". For the vocabulary section, I recommend boosting your vocabulary by learning some of the most commonly used words. You can find any number of lists online and I like the flashcards sets available for free on Quizlet. In addition, make sure that the next time you are tempted to pick up the latest issue of People, you grab an issue of the New Yorker, The Economist or the New York Times instead as you want to increase your exposure to quality writing. In regards to math, try to refresh your knowledge of Geometry and Algebra by using Kahn Academy's online videos. Once again practice makes perfect, so take a few practice sections, both timed and un-timed, during the week. Once again, the amount of test sections available through the College Board, makes this a good option for accessing practice exams. One final note, make sure you get some rest and relaxation as the worst thing you can do is go into the Fall tests without any break.
As someone who grew up in the Los Angeles area, I had little to no understand of the ACT. However, in my work as a college counselor, I now know the benefits of the ACT and recommend it to all students preparing for college. In comparison to the SAT, the ACT is readily accepted by all major universities, but don't forget to sign-up for the ACT plus Writing, as without the writing component you may miss out on a fully transferable form of the examination. However, once you take both tests, you will end up with very different scores and have no idea as to which score is better. The best option is to speak with a counselor for a score comparison chart or simply visit a website, such as the one located at www.convertyourscore.org for help. Once you understand the difference between a ACT 30 and a SAT 1500, you will know which score is a better option for you. Over the years, I have had students show a significant difference in scores who would have been in bad shape had they opted for one test over the other. I typically recommend that students take both tests in the Spring of Junior year and choose one test to prepare for in the Fall of their Senior year based on the resulting scores.
While I have never been a big fan of SAT Subject Tests or SAT IIs, the testing world has become increasingly more complicated as schools begin to shy away from such tests. For example, there was a time when the SAT II subject tests were required of UC applicants, but that era has passed. While many students and parents breathed a collective sigh of relief, in my estimation this has only complicated the process as many campuses and majors now "recommend" a Subject Test. To make things "easier", the UC System has a published list of recommended tests that you can find here. Failure to take a test can mean a lack of opportunity for applicants so make sure you review all admission requirements or work with a college admission counselor for more help. From my meetings with UC Admissions officers, I have gathered that while not taking an SAT Subject Test will not exclude you from admissions, they can definitely help you in the long run. Plan ahead and include these tests in your testing plan so that you do not limit your options in the future.
As more and more colleges struggle with students who do not meet entry level requirements for Math and English, they have initiated placement and entry tests to determine student readiness for curriculum offered at the college level. The UC uses the AWPE, or Analytical Writing Placement Exam.
You are considered exempt if you score:
30 or better on the ACT Combined English/Writing test; or 680 or better on the College Board SAT Reasoning Test, Writing section; or 3 or above on either Advanced Placement Examination in English; or 5 or above on an International Baccalaureate High Level English A exam 6 or above on an International Baccalaureate Standard Level English A exam.
The requirement can also be met by earning a grade of C or higher in an acceptable English composition course offered by a college or university. If not, the test is offered in May (Saturday, May 12th 2012).
For the CSU system, English Placement Test exemptions are granted for:
\A score of 500 or above on the critical reading section of the College Board SAT Reasoning Test
A score of 22 or above on the American College Testing (ACT) English Test
A score of 3 or above on either the Language and Composition or Composition and Literature examination of the College Board Scholastic Advanced Placement Program Completion and transfer to CSU of the credits for a college course that satisfies the CSU General Education requirement in English Composition, provided such a course was completed with a grade of C or better
A score of “Exempt” or “Ready for college-level English courses” on the CSU Early Assessment Program (EAP) taken along with the English Language Arts California Standard Test in grade 11
For the CSU ELM (Entry Level Mathematics) Exemptions are granted for:A score of 550 or above on the mathematics section of the College Board SAT Reasoning Test
A score of 550 or above on a College Board SAT Subject Test in Mathematics (level 1 or level 2)
A score of 23 or above on the American College Testing (ACT) Mathematics Test
A score of 3 or above on the College Board Advanced Placement Calculus AB or Calculus BC
A score of 3 or above on the College Board Advanced Placement Statistics examination Completion and transfer to CSU of a college course that satisfies the requirement in Quantitative Reasoning, provided such a course was completed with a grade of C or better
A score of “Exempt” or “Ready for college-level Mathematics courses” on the CSU Early Assessment Program (EAP), taken in grade 11 in conjunction with the CST in Summative High School Mathematics or Algebra II
A score of “Conditionally ready for college-level Mathematics courses” or “Conditional” on the CSU Early Assessment Program (EAP) taken in grade 11 along with the California Standards Test in Summative High School Mathematics or Algebra II, provided successful completion of a CSU-approved 12th grade math course that require Algebra II as a prerequisite.