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College Admissions: 5 Things You Must Know About the SAT and ACT

Monday, March 03, 2014


College admissions expert Cristiana Quinn details five of the most important things every parent and high school student should know about the SAT and ACT tests.

Spring is prime time for college entrance exams, and

here are five of the most important things every parent and high school student should know about the SAT and ACT tests.

1. You should start taking SAT II Subject Tests at the end of 10th grade

The logical time to take SAT II’s is when you finish the subject in May or June when your knowledge is strongest. You don’t want to go back and take Biology or US History a year later! And, you have score choice on the SAT II’s, so there is no downside. The experience of taking the test alone is valuable, even if you don’t get a stellar score.

2. Juniors should begin taking SATs in March, not May or June

Starting in March allows you to take SAT II Subject tests in May or June and have one buffer date in case you come down with the flu. Keep in mind that SATs and SAT Subject Tests are always offered on the same day and time, so you can take one or the other, but not both.

3. It takes an average of three appeals to get extended time for SATs if you have a diagnosed Learning Disability

The College Board significantly tightened restrictions on receiving extended time for LD’s. This means that you need to file paperwork with solid supporting documentation early and often in order to get your request granted. Sophomore year is the best time to begin the paperwork process for the PSAT.

4. Many students do better on the ACT, and almost everyone should try both tests

While the ACT has long been popular in the west, its prevalence has been growing steadily in the east. It is now the most popular college entrance exam nationwide, and it is accepted at ALL four-year colleges in the US. Often students who excel in school but falter on standardized tests will do better on the ACT. The SAT contains more extensive vocabulary while the ACT contains higher level math and some science reasoning questions.

5. SAT Prep does work

While the jury is still out on how much ACT prep helps raise scores, there are significant studies proving that studying for the SAT does increase scores. Will an SAT course or tutor help? Yes, but only marginally if you don’t make the commitment to study several hours a week on your own in addition to class time.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC, a Providence-based educational consulting firm which provides strategic, individual counseling for college-bound students.


Related Slideshow: Best Ski + Snowboard Colleges in the East

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Middlebury College

Middlebury, VT

With Stowe and Sugarbush nearby, finding challenging terrain is not an issue at colleges in northern Vermont. Students at Middlebury enjoy the Snow Bowl, owned by the college, for a quick few runs when they are not up for a car ride. In less than a half hour however, they can hit the slopes at Sugarbush or Stowe. You will need to be a top student to get into Middlebury though; with an acceptance rate of just 17%, the college is among a handful of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the country.

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University of Vermont

Burlington, VT

Heading north, in the picturebook city of Burlington on the shores of Lake Champlain, you will find the University of Vermont. Famous for producing both Alpine and Downhill Olympic skiers, UVM is a mecca for winter sports lovers. Buses head from campus to the slopes on the weekends, and students tune their skis in the dorm hallways at night. Sugarbush and Stowe are the most popular ski destinations for UVMers, but Smuggler’s Notch and Jay Peak also draw sports classes and snowboarders looking for slopes off the beaten path. UVM is different than most state schools in that 75% of students come from out-of-state, the university boasts an amazing honors college, it’s home to a ground breaking environmental studies program and a highly rated medical school.

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St. Michael's College

Colchester, VT

Nearby in Colchester, St. Michael’s is a hidden gem among Catholic colleges in New England. St. Mike’s has a warm, pretty campus with a wide variety of majors, including business. Easy access to Burlington and all the same ski areas as UVM, make St. Mike’s a great option for students wanting a small college with reasonable acceptance rates and a nurturing academic environment.

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Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH

For skiers and snowboarders who can make the Ivy League cut, there is really only one college: Dartmouth. Whether you race cross country or are a downhill enthusiast, Dartmouth’s long tradition of elite athletics will ensure top notch competition. Dartmouth has their own “SkiWay”, but it’s not on campus and most students prefer the challenge of a bigger mountain. Since Dartmouth sits close to the New Hampshire/Vermont boarder, there are quite a few options for big mountain skiing, with Killington and Okemo less than 45 minutes away.

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New England College

Henniker, NH

New England College in Henniker is a tiny, ski lovers’ gem. For students who prefer a small college with very personal attention, NEC is a great choice. Those with learning differences will also find a warm and accepting environment with professor mentorships and all the tools necessary to succeed in college.  Students at NEC form a tight knit community and can often be seen heading off with boards tucked under their arms in groups each afternoon to hit the slopes at nearby Loon or Waterville.

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Plymouth State University

Plymouth, NH

Plymouth State offers another option for boarders and skiers in central New Hampshire. With easy access to Waterville, Loon, Cannon and even the North Conway area, there are many choices for big mountain skiing. The college sprawls up the hillside in the quaint town of Plymouth, which is filled with shops and restaurants. With a medium size student body, reasonable acceptance rate and low tuition, Plymouth State is easily accessible for many students.


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