Getting the Most Out of a College Fair

College fairs can be a wonderful opportunity to gather information, speak with admissions office staff members, and get answers to your questions all in one place. Plan to attend at least one college fair during your college search process and you will walk away with plenty of new information and resources to aid in your search.

Do your Homework
Plan to attend college fairs well in advance so you can select fairs that have many of your top choice schools in attendance. Find out which schools will be there and make a list of the schools whose tables you want to be sure to visit, as well as schools on a second tier list if you have time to check out more of the tables at the fair.

Be Prepared on College Fair Day
Dress neatly and professionally for the college fair–you don’t have to be formal, but you want to be neat. You can’t go wrong with business casual. Bring along a bag large enough to carry materials you collect at the college fair, a pen, and a notepad to write down things you find out. When you arrive at the college fair, find a map right away and plot out where you want to go first and your plan for the day. Many college fairs can be busy and hectic, so taking a moment to plan ahead will make a big difference.

Ask Good Questions
Spend some time looking at college websites before attending and prepare a list of questions that you have about each of your top choices. You want to ask good questions that you could not answer from the website or admissions materials. This will help you to gather information as you make decisions about college and also help you to stand out to potential colleges. Subjective questions can provide more interesting information than objective questions, like class size, which can often be answered from admissions booklets. Ask the people representing the school about the things that makes their college unique, their favorite traditions, and what college freshmen would say about their first year on campus.

Keep an Open Mind
While you want to be sure to get to all of your top schools, allow some time tat the college fair just to wander and see the other school’s displays. If something catches your attention, stop and ask questions. College fairs can be a great time to add schools to your list and explore options you may have not heard of in the past.

Overcoming Testing Anxiety

Testing anxiety can affect even the best students and have a strong impact on students’ abilities to perform well on tests. Finding ways to overcome testing anxiety will help you to do better in school, stay calm before exams, and perform better on big tests like the SAT too.

There are many causes of testing anxiety. Some students become anxious during the hours before a test fearing that they have not studied enough. The best way to combat this is to start studying early and not leave anything to the last minute. When you feel comfortable with the material, its easier to put the books and notes away knowing that you’ve done everything you can to prepare. When preparing for bigger tests, like the SAT. It is even more important to start early and stay calm. A solid SAT test prep schedule will help you to budget your time and know that you have done all that you can to prepare.

The more tests you take, the better you will become at keeping calm before a big exam. When preparing for the SAT, taking practice tests as part of your online test prep can be a big help to students who are anxious. Similarly, if your textbooks have practice tests or questions to check your work, go back and look at them before a test. This is a good way to anticipate potential questions and identify trouble areas. Answering questions about test material can also help you to feel confident going into the test.

If you have questions, make the time to talk with your teacher. Similarly, if you find yourself experiencing severe anxiety, it may be worthwhile to talk with a parent or guidance counselor about ways to feel better, handle your emotions, and find ways to lessen your anxiety.

The day before the test, read over summaries of the material and then put your books and prep work away. Take some time to relax and be sure to get to sleep at a decent hour the night before a test. Feeling well rested and not spending the evening cramming for the test will help you to relax. Going into the exam calm and confident counts for a lot and will help you to recall information and follow directions on the test.

If you feel yourself getting anxious, try taking deep breaths and reminding yourself of the work you put into studying. Learning how to calm yourself down before a test is a skill that will be useful throughout your academic career.

Is My SAT Score Good Enough?

Looking at your SAT scores can be puzzling for many high school students, especially the first time taking the test. It can be tough to know whether your scores are good enough for your colleges and whether you need to take the test again. What qualifies as a good score on the SAT will be different for every student and very dependent on your future goals for college.

As you go along in your college search process, you want to pay attention to the numbers that you see in college ranking and admissions materials. You’re looking for the 25-75th percentile SAT scores for each college. These will give you a good idea of where most students fall. While there will always be exceptions, both extremely high scores and students who get in on other qualifications even with lower scores, this is a good guideline. You may also inquire about perks for higher scores, such as merit-based grants or being able to test-out of required classes during your freshman year of college.

For example, Harvard University’s 25-75th percentile scores are 2100 – 2380 and Stanford University’s 25-75th percentile scores are 2000-2310. University of California San Diego‘s 25-75th percentile scores are 1700 – 2030. Identifying these numbers before you have to decipher your scores will help you to understand where you need to be to attend your top choice schools. If you have goals in mind, it will be easier to decide if your SAT scores are good enough to be your final scores, or if you need to take the test a second or a third time and try to improve.

If your scores fall right in the average for your top choice schools, you may still wish to improve them in order to increase your chances of acceptance. If you’re well above the scores you need, you may feel comfortable with your current scores and choose to be done taking the SAT.

It’s also worth paying attention to the breakdown between subject areas. Colleges generally want to see people with balanced scores, not extremely high scores in one section and significantly lower scores in another. Some variation between the scores is normal, especially if you have a much stronger interest and talent in one area. If the scores are too lopsided, however, you may want to spend some time studying for your weaker subject and take the test again to improve your scores.

Team Sports and Learning Life Skills

Being part of a team in high school can be a good way to learn many skills that will be applicable down the road in college and in your career. Team sports provide a great way to stay active and be social at the same time, giving teams a built-in social circle that can be extremely helpful to high school freshmen and provide a great way to meet people throughout the four years.

Team sports offer leadership opportunities and give high school students the chance to take charge and be responsible for their own group. Serving as a captain or co-caption teaches planning, cooperation, and the skills necessary to be a fair and skilled leader.

Participating in sports also give high school students experience planning out their own schedules and making time for multiple commitments. Learning to balance extracurricular activities with academic work is a skill that will be critical to your success in college. College students must create schedules that allow for plenty of study time, along with extracurriculars, part-time jobs, and other responsibilities. Having a busy schedule in high school can be the start of a lifetime of involvement in things that you enjoy.

Even the closest and most compatible teams will have occasional conflicts. Teammates may disagree about something on or off the field and need to work through a difference of opinions for the good of the group. This is a valuable learning experience that is applicable in many areas of life. Friendships, study groups, and relationships are all built on the ability to disagree amicably and solve problems as a group to move past conflicts.

Teams experience wonderful wins and disappointing losses together. No matter which side is most common for your team, you’ll learn a lot in the process and develop skills to help you celebrate in the good times and handle losses with dignity. These skills will be valuable far beyond high school and help you to become a mature and adaptable person.

Sports not exactly your thing? There are plenty of teams out there for you. Consider joining an academic-based team like debate or the school paper. School musical organizations also provide a similar setting that teaches cooperation, leadership, and commitment to participants. There’s a team out there for everyone to match each individual’s interests and preferred time commitment.

Being part of a team in high school is a valuable experience that will stick with you throughout your life. There are many options to choose from and many ways to get involved and enjoy being part of something special.

The Value of the SAT

Everyone knows that the SAT is important, but in recent years, its value has only increased. Close to 1.6 million students graduating from high school in 2010 took the SAT, this is a higher percentage of graduates than ever before. Minority participation in the SAT is also up compared to past years. The SAT is increasingly becoming an assumed part of the high school to college transition and can be a valuable resource for college admissions.

Studies have revealed that performance on the SAT is an excellent predictor of college readiness. High school grade point average and SAT scores are of equal value in predicting students’ first year college grade point average. By looking at the combination of the two, colleges can get a fairly accurate reading of how prepared a student is for college coursework.

While having a strong knowledge base from high school classes is certainly part of good SAT scores and being prepared for the college, the SAT tests a lot more than that. By taking time to study for the SAT through SAT prep and online classes, students can demonstrate their ability to prepare for a big test and retain information. These are skills that will continue to serve students well in college and contribute to better grades and a higher likelihood that they will finish college.

SAT scores matter, now more than ever, and college admissions offices will be looking at them for a glimpse into how well a student will handle college-level work and how well students can budget their time, follow directions, and prepare material for a test.

In 2010, 80.8% of the students graduating who took the SAT also took the PSAT. The PSAT can provide an opportunity for students to see how the test day will work so that they feel comfortable for the SAT. PSAT scores are also a good way to get a better idea of which areas of the test will need the most work during SAT prep.

The College Board anticipates that upcoming studies will reveal the impact that SAT scores have on college performance after the first year and college retention for all four years. This is valuable information that can be gleamed from test performance early in student’s academic careers.

Getting Back on Track After the Holidays

Going back to school after having time off for the holidays can be a tough readjustment for many students. Going back to the school day schedule and back to responsibilities like homework and SAT preparation can be overwhelming after vacation. A few simple tricks can help you to better segue way back into your routine.

Readjust Your Time
Try not to get too far off your normal sleep schedule over winter break. This means trying to wake up no more than an hour later than you normally would for school. Keeping yourself close to your routine will prevent the shock to your system when you have to start waking up at your normal time again. If you do get off schedule, start the transition a couple days before you go back to school, waking up a little earlier each day to help you adjust to the hour.

Think Through Your Schedule
It’s smart to spend some time working out a schedule while you’re on break and have some extra free time. Map out your planner for the next few months, setting goals and filling in all of your information. If you use a calendar on your computer and one on the wall or in a planner, be sure they are all up to date. Take an afternoon to clean your room, clean out your backpack, and organize your school files. This will help you to go back to your school routine feeling prepared for another semester.

Cross Some Things Off Your List
Whether its finally finishing up the last of your college applications or getting through some extra SAT prep work, winter break can be a time to get ahead of schedule. Having some things checked off your to-do list will make the transition back to the school day a lot easier. Plus the extra time is a great way to devote extra hours to your study plan. Anything you can do over break to help relieve some stress later on is well worth the time and effort.

Plan Some Fun
Make plans to get together with friends the first weekend after you go back to school or plan a shopping trip or dinner for one night during the first week. Having some things to look forward to in that first week back to school will make the last few days of break a lot less painful. You can focus on schoolwork again while knowing you have fun things planned on the horizon.

Top 10 Ways to Flunk the SAT

There are many ways to improve your SAT scores, you can take practice tests, create a study plan, and budget your time accordingly leading up to test day. If that doesn’t sound like much fun, there are also some surefire ways to flunk the SAT.

1. Forget answering the questions, use your time to make elaborate designs in the answer bubbles. Make zig-zags and swirls for the first few sections. When that gets old, try writing something out in Morse code. A’s are dashes and B’s are dots. The College Board will be impressed by your creativity!

2. Show up at the wrong testing center. Argue with the people there. When you realize that it actually was your mistake, sit on the steps outside and wait until it’s time to go home.

4. Take out your cell phone during the test. When questioned, explain that you need to use your lifeline and phone a friend for question 8. Put your friend on speakerphone and start reading questions aloud.

5. Forget a pencil; bring only a box of crayons. Answer questions with illustrations. You want to show off your skills and uniqueness with your 24-pack of Crayolas.

6. Read through the test, then use the pages as a way to practice your Origami skills. Who needs college when you have mastered the ability to make paper boats?

7. Leave the testing location halfway through. This test takes too long anyway.

8. Save all of your studying until the last 72 hours before the test. Stock up on energy drinks and stay awake the entire time cramming for the SAT. Study your heart out! Everything will be fresh! When you sit down to take the test, write your name and then immediately pass out on the desk. Goodnight, SAT.

9. Forget to wear your contact lenses or bring your glasses to the test. Spend the first part of the test squinting at the paper and holding it at various distances from your face. Run out of time on each section while you’re still working on reading the instructions.

10. Look at an SAT practice test ten minutes before you have to leave to take your test. Better yet, glance at it in the parking lot outside the testing location. No one studies for these things, right?

Ok, so you bombed it on the SAT. Maybe you didn’t try to, maybe it just happened or you had a legit excuse. The one thing to keep in mind is that you can take this test as many times as you want to and only your highest score counts. So stop beating yourself up and make up for it by preparing for at least three months prior to the test.

How Do I Choose a College From My Accepted List?

It’s a great thing to know that you’ve been accepted to multiple colleges. After years of researching colleges, preparing for the SAT, and keeping your high school transcript strong, you can relax and know that you have some real options for next year. For some students, choosing the top college from the accepted list is easy, one has stood out all along. For many high school students, however, choosing a college from the accepted list can be a challenging and nerve wracking process. There are several factors that can help you to narrow your list down to the perfect college.

Financial Aid
One important factor that high school students should discuss with their parents is the financial aid packages that have been offered by each college. If one stands out as a great deal, it may be too good to pass up. College is expensive and being given a significant financial aid package or scholarship from one of your top-choice schools can be a huge relief for the family.

Location
Once you have visited the colleges on your list, you can think about how their locations will affect your college experience. Maybe you always anticipated going to school far away, but as the time draws nearer, that school one-hour away seems like a much better choice. For other students, proximity to a favorite city or a certain landscape may make the next four years seem a lot better. Location is important and it’s okay to factor that in when you choose a school. Remember, you’re also choosing a new temporary home.

Campus Visits
Thinking back to campus visits can be a deciding factor in the college decision process. Was there one school that felt like home from the beginning or a place where you really saw yourself fitting in with the current students on campus? If you can’t remember details from a college, you may not have been very impressed with the school. If professors stand out in your mind as being great teachers or you really had a great day during your tour, that can help to make your decision a lot easier.

Don’t Stress!
Remember, while it’s tempting to think that you are searching for that one perfect school, chances are you will be happy on any number of college campuses. You have already put in the effort and narrowed schools down from your original list to come up with the very best fits for you. In the end, it’s all about making an informed decision.

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How Much Time Should I Spend Preparing for the SAT?

Deciding how much time to spend preparing for the SAT is important to setting up a realistic timeline and a plan to be ready on test day. Schedule your test early and then plan backwards from test day to be sure that you will not feel rushed in preparation.

For most high school students, three months is the perfect amount of time to spend preparing for the SAT. This will give you plenty of time to review material, zero in on trouble areas, and take plenty of practice tests to check on your progress along the way. Three months will also give you time to feel comfortable with the format of the test and prepared for what you will face on SAT test day.

Students who like to feel that they have extra time and have the time to devote to test prep can always start earlier. This may help some students feel less anxious about the SAT and know that they have done all that they can to prepare. If you start earlier, you have more room to spread out your test preparation and go at a pace that works for you.

If you have taken the test before and feel that you just need to brush up on the material before trying again, one month of preparation may be okay. It all depends on what will help you to feel confident when you sit down to take the test. If you only have one month to prepare, it is important to focus in almost immediately on the areas that give you the most trouble so that you have time to work through challenging material before taking the SAT.

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SAT Essay Tips and Tricks

The SAT essay section is part of the SAT writing section that is scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points. The writing section, added to the test in 2005, also includes 49 multiple choice questions that make up 70 percent of the writing score. Students have 35 minutes to complete the multiple choice questions.

Students then have 25 minutes to complete the SAT essay section. The essay will make up 30 percent of the total writing score. On test day, the essay section will provide each student with a prompt that asks them to write a short essay providing a point of view on an issue.

Writing skills are much more important than having prior knowledge about the issue in the prompt. It is important to use proper spelling and grammar throughout the essay and go back and check your work before turning in the test. This part of the SAT also tests how well students can put together a coherent argument and plan out their essay within the required time. Be sure to take the time to write an engaging opening and solid conclusion.

To prepare for the SAT essay section, it is important for students to get comfortable with the type of essay they will need to write for the test. SAT test prep should include plenty of online practice tests and time spent writing similar essays. Reading sample prompts during online test prep sessions will also help you to stay calm and work effectively on test day. When you take practice tests, always set a timer or keep track of your time so that you will know how long it takes you to complete an essay. This will help you to manage your time during the essay section of the SAT.

The SAT essay section is graded by two readers who are provided with detailed criteria for the essay. Each reader independently scores each essay on a scale of one to six. This system has proved an effective way to score the SAT essay section. Studies by the College Board have shown that the readers rank the essay within one point of each other 98% of the time. If there is discrepancy between the first two readers’ scores, a third reader will read and score the essay.

Preparing for the SAT essay section through online test prep and practice essays will help you to do your best work on test day. The ability to write an interesting and coherent short essay is a skill that will be important throughout the college application process and during your college years.


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