Considerations When Applying to Your College Safety Schools

A safety school is a college where, due to your grades and test scores, you are almost certain to be accepted. For most students, it is best to incorporate a safety school into their list of colleges during the application process. A safety school can help ease anxiety about the college application process during a time when maintaining grades and completing SAT test prep are still top priorities. While many students apply to a safety school only to have a back-up option if other schools don’t offer acceptance, there are still important things to consider before selecting your safety schools.

Choose Schools That You Like
No one should apply to a college that they wouldn’t want to attend. Make your safety schools worth your time and effort by choosing schools that have something that appeals to you. Just because a school is sure to offer you acceptance, doesn’t mean its program is any worse than a school where admission is more difficult. Choose one with a good program in your tentative major or one with a lot of good extracurricular options. Plan campus visits to your safety schools and take time to learn about them. Also consider where the school is located and be sure it is a place you can actually see yourself living during college. Choosing a safety school where you can picture yourself learning and growing for four years will make it feel like less of a safety school and more of a real option.

Do Your Best Work
While it’s tempting to put more effort into applications for your top choice schools, it’s worth your time to do your best on every application that you submit. In addition to preparing your applications and writing good essays, it is critical to maintain your high school grades and make time for SAT test preparation. A good SAT test prep program will prepare you for the SAT and give you the confidence to do well. If you have a busy senior year schedule, consider online SAT test prep as a good option for SAT test preparation. It will often allow you more control over the schedule and online SAT test prep programs can prepare you just as well as a formal class.

Consider Financial Aid
Before applying to your colleges, consider what would happen if you were offered an exceptional financial aid offer to one of your safety schools. Would it be worth attending your second choice college if they were offering a full scholarship? This answer will be different for everyone and will depend on many factors. The subject of financial aid is an important thing to consider and a good conversation to have with a parent or guardian before you are faced with making a decision under a deadline.

Test Day Checklist

It is extremely important to go into your SAT test day confident, calm, and well prepared. Taking SAT practice tests during your study sessions will help ensure that you are familiar with the format of the SAT and allow you to relax and do your best work on test day. Having all the right tools with you on test day will also help you successfully complete the SAT.

Information
Be sure that you know the exact time and location for check-in. If you are unfamiliar with the area, you may consider driving to the test location once ahead of time so that you know how long it will take. This will be one less thing to worry about on test day. You will also need to print your SAT admission ticket from the College Board website and bring it with you for check in on test day.

Photo Identification
You will need to have a proper form of photo identification with you the day of testing. A driver’s license, state-issued photo identification card, school identification card, or passport are all acceptable forms of identification.

Pencils
A number two pencil is required for the SAT and it is suggested that you pack two pencils to be safe. Pens and mechanical pencils are not allowed. Be sure that your pencils are sharpened and ready for use before you arrive at the testing location. A good eraser is also helpful to make clean corrections to your test.

Calculator
You will want to read the requirements for calculators before the day of the test. For the SAT, a graphing or scientific calculator is recommended. A four-function calculator is allowed, but not recommended. Laptop calculators, cell phone calculators, and pocket organizers are not allowed. It is advisable to put fresh batteries in the calculator before the test.

Snack
While certainly not required, you are permitted to bring snacks and drinks with you for the break. Pack a water bottle and a small snack that you can eat to recharge your energy during the break.

Watch
The testing room will generally be equipped with a wall clock, but it is always helpful to have a watch with you on testing day. Turn off any audible alarms before going into the test. A watch will ensure that you can budget your time accordingly and that you will be able to complete the entire test.

SAT vs. ACT: which should I take?

The SAT and ACT are both tests taken by students in the United States preparing for college. Generally, more students on East Coast and West Coast of the United States take the SAT and more students in the Midwest and mountain states opt for the ACT. While historically the SAT has been seen as the standard test for college entry, the ACT is now recognized by all four-year colleges in the US. The majority of colleges and universities will accept either test, but students with specific colleges in mind may want to consult that college’s admissions office when deciding which test to take.

While the two tests differ somewhat in format and material, each is designed to gauge students’ skills and knowledge. Being well informed about the tests will help students to decide which test to take before they begin their SAT Preparation or ACT Preparation plan.

Subject Areas

The ACT is based more on curriculum that students have learned in school whereas the SAT is designed more to test critical thinking and reasoning skills. The ACT is a multiple choice test that covers English, mathematics, reading, and science. The ACT Writing Test is an optional section in which test takers must plan and write a short essay. The SAT begins with a required essay section. It is then made up of writing, critical reading, and math sections. While the SAT has multiple choice sections, some of the math questions will require test takers to produce answers on their own.

Logistics

The ACT is administered on six national testing dates in the United States. Students may take the test up to twelve times total and only once on each testing date. The SAT is offered seven times each year in the US. Students may take the SAT as many times as they wish, but all scores will be visible to colleges. Not including instructions and breaks, the ACT takes two hours and 55 minutes and the SAT takes three hours and 45 minutes.

Scoring

ACT scores are determined by adding up the correct answers in each section. Scores for each section range from 1-36 and the results are averaged to produce a final score. Incorrect answers do not count against the final score. On the SAT, however, incorrect multiple choice answers receive a small penalty. Each correct answer receives one point and each incorrect answer deducts one-fourth of a point. Scores for each section are on a scale of 200-800. A perfect score on the SAT is 2400 points and a perfect score on the ACT is 36.

Preparation

ACT Preparation and SAT Preparation are critical to success on both tests. Taking the predictive tests, the PSAT and PLAN, can help students prepare for the actual test’s format. Preparation courses and practice tests are the best way of determining trouble areas and helping students enter the test prepared and confident.

The SAT Exam Unveiled

The SAT exam is a student aptitude test which has selected the mediums of math and English in which to test intellectual ability. The SAT is a three hour and forty-five minute test, however, only three hours and twenty minutes count towards your test score, since the practice section takes twenty five minutes and is not graded.

The SAT exam is broken down into ten sections. The reading part encompasses three sections of the exam. In the reading section, there are nineteen questions of sentence completion problems, and forty-eight reading comprehension questions, which is a total of sixty-seven questions in all. The writing part is also three sections of the exam, and includes forty-nine grammar questions and one essay. Discounting the experimental section, the math section encompasses the last three parts of the test. In it are forty-four multiple choice questions and ten grid-in questions, making a total of fifty four questions. In short, the sections are as follows:

- Reading
1. Completing the sentence (19 questions)
2. Reading comprehension (48 questions)

- Writing
1. Short Essay
2. Identifying sentence errors*
3. Improving sentences*
4. Improving paragraphs*
* In the writing section there is one short essay question. The other three sections can be divided up as the test writer sees fit, but all are focusing on grammar.

-Math
1. Multiple choice, encompassing basic math and equations (44 questions)
2. Grid-in, such as plotting graphs and lines (10 questions)

-Experimental section
The experimental section can be contained within any part of the test, on any subject. It usually contains harder questions, but these questions aren’t scored. They are being considered for use on next year’s SATs. So if you run into questions that are especially harder or more confusing than the others, don’t worry- they may be the experimental ones.

The three sections of the SAT test are scored independently, which means that students will receive a reading score, a writing score, and a math score. Each score can range from 200 to 800 points, with a total test score of 600 to 2400 points. The total average score for students is 1500, or about 500 on each section.

But how do you achieve these scores? The key is to pace yourself and to practice. Pacing is important on the SAT because, though time is strictly limited, many of the questions require careful analyzing and consideration. Many students make the mistake of reading too quickly in hopes of gathering the gist of the question. They answer confidently, but are startled to find later that they answered incorrectly because they have misunderstood the directions or missed subtle points within the question. This of course means that it is important for students to take as much time as possible and to be confident in their answers before moving on to the next problem.

In order to perform to the best of their abilities, it is crucial for students to undergo SAT test preparation. Test prep is proven to raise test scores because students will be prepared not only for the type of questions listed within the SAT exam, but they will also be comfortable answering a large amount of questions in a seemingly short time limit. SAT practice books are readily available, but the most cost effective way for a student to practice is to visit an SAT test preparation website and practice taking the test online. Bline Test Prep is an excellent website for test preparation- it is affordable, easily accessible, and chock full of up-to-date data and questions for the SAT test preparation courses.

Taking the SAT can be an ominous task. However, it is of vital importance to any student wishing to be accepted into the majority of colleges. With the proper practice and resources, the SAT is not as foreboding as it may seem upon first glance. All it takes is a little practice and a bit of knowledge about the test and the sort of questions found therein. Online SAT test preparation sites such as Bline Test Prep will give students the confidence they need to do their best on the SAT test and succeed at getting their best possible scores.


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