March 18, 2017

FAQ’s

ACT

  1. Precise Reading 

“I almost always start students off on the Reading section, for a few reasons.  The first reason is that careful, precise Reading is the most important skill on the entire ACT (yes, even on the Math and Science sections). – Mike Barrett, author of:  The ACT Prep Black Book.

  1. Avoid Careless Errors

“You want to develop the ability to recognize and understand your mistakes.  That means you need to be able to do some practice work, then take a second look at the questions you missed and figure out where you went wrong.  You need to identify what you misunderstand or overlooked that stopped you from answering the question correctly, and what you could have done to avoid the mistake and get the question right.” – Mike Barrett, author of:  The ACT prep Black Book. This is the strategy we employ at Be SAT Wise in our Act prep class called, “Weekend Boot Camps.”  We give the students a Mock ACT exam on Saturday morning and then in the afternoon the teacher helps the students review and dissect that test. “Once students train themselves to stop making ‘careless errors’, they’re typically scoring in a range that makes them quite happy. Let me be clear – when I talk about reviewing all of your practice work, I don’t just mean checking the answer key to see what you missed.  I mean going back over every single question you missed or were unsure about, and trying to figure out what was going on in each question that stopped you from being certain about the correct answer.  That way you’ll know how to overcome similar issues on test day. – Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book.At Be SAT Wise, we review and analyze the Mock ACT given on Saturday morning, on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday morning.  The students are then much better prepared and motivated to review and analyze the second Mock ACT exam (on their own) given to them on Sunday afternoon.

  1. Higher Degree of Precision Required

“Standardized tests like the ACT require higher degree of precision and consistency (especially in executing basic skills) than normal classroom tests do. This is the most common difficulty for most students.” – Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book.

  1. Only ACT, Inc. Mock Practice Tests

“We should only practice for the ACT with real ACT questions written by ACT, Inc., and not with fake questions written by any other company.  When you use real ACT practice questions, you’re training yourself on a conscious level, as well as on an intuitive level, to recognize and respond to the standards in real ACT questions.  I’ll say it one more time – never use anything besides ‘Real ACT practice questions’ if your goal is to score well on the real ACT” –  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book. At Be SAT Wise we only use Mock Practice Exams from ACT, Inc. – the administrators of the ACT.  There are 3 Mock Practice Exams in – The Real ACT Prep Guide, 2016 Edition.

  1. Importance of Reading the question and all the answer choices first

“It’s easy to forget that there’s an extremely important source of information sitting right in front of us on every multiple choice question…..the answer choices themselves! That is why I emphasize that the students must always, ALWAYS read each ACT question completely, including the answer choices, before they start to figure out the answer.  Too many people just read the question prompt (the part that doesn’t include the answer choices), then stop and try to solve the problem on their own, then check to see if their answer is reflected in the choices.  This approach, though typical, will make life harder for you and cause you to miss hints and clues that are basically staring you in the face once you know how to look for them” –  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book.

  1. Major Difference between the ACT and the usual HS tests

“One of the most important differences between the ACT and a normal HS test is the extreme importance of details on the ACT – and this means that ‘careless mistakes’ on the ACT will be much more harmful to your score than they would be in a normal classroom situation.” –  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book

  1. Start with the Simple Questions First

“Start by answering all the questions that seem relatively simple and easy to you.  Skip the ones that seem too hard or too time-consuming for now” –  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book.

  1. Timing Issues

“One of the biggest causes of stress in Standardized testing is the time limit.  This is especially true in the ACT, which requires you to answer more questions with fewer breaks than most other Standardized tests people take before College.”-  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book. Completing two ACT, Inc. Mock Practice Tests at our Act Prep class Weekend Book Camps will help you enormously in this area.

  1.  About Reading on the ACT

“You have to be able to read carefully and precisely.  In other words, you have to have the skill of reading exactly what’s on a page, and taking in everything that’s stated directly in the text, without taking in anything that’s not.  Well, it turns out that the kind you need to do on the ACT is almost the exact opposite of the kind of reading students are trained to do in HS.” –  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book

“Standardized tests, like the ACT have very little in common with the tests you might take in school.  In school, tests have a lot to do with your ability to memorize a lot of information ahead of time and then recall that material on test day. But doing well on the ACT is much more about being able to understand a set of standardized rules and patterns, and then recognizing those rules and patterns in action and responding accordingly on test day, in a highly repetitive way.  The skills that you need to do well on the ACT simply aren’t the same skills you’ve developed in school, for the most part” – Mike Barrett, author of:  The ACT Prep Black Book.

“The SAT and the ACT are fundamentally the same.  They are both internationally administered standardized test for HS students that primarily test basic reading and math skills in ways that differ from those used by ‘normal’ classroom tests.  In fact, most of the questions that appear on either could  also appear on the other one, because most of the rules on the two tests allow the same types of questions in many situations.  There are exceptions to this, of course – each test also has question types that don’t ever appear on the other test.  But the principles underlying the design of individual questions on both tests are still largely similar.” – Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT Prep Black Book.

The old SAT was called a “reasoning test” and the math level for example was at the middle school level but it was super tricky.  The new SAT (since March 2016) is more “curriculum based” which means it is more based on what you have learned in your HS math classes. So you need to know your algebra 2 concepts, like your linear and quadratics functions,  exponential and logarithmic functions etc.   You therefore do need to review all the algebra concepts you learned and you will see them there.  There appears to be less geometry than on the old test but still maybe 20% of the test is geometry.

The English on the SAT is definitely based on HS English curriculum  concepts.  The essay required well developed thoughts.

 

The new SAT, while it still has some tricky questions,  is now more like the ACT, which has always been curriculum based,  However the ACT has a science reasoning component which many students (even those in AP science classes)  feel brings down their average. Being prepared and familiar with what the science tests of course will of course help!

  •  The first section of the test is English. There are 75 questions, with a time limit of 45 minutes. The Raw Score, – that is the # correct out of 75 – is converted to a scaled score out of 36.
  •  The second section is Mathematics. There are 60 questions, with a time limit of 60 minutes. The Raw Score – # correct out of 60 – is converted to a scaled score out of 36.
  •  The third section is Reading. There are 40 questions, with a time limit of 35 minutes. The Raw Score – # correct out of 40 – is converted to a scaled score out of 36.
  •  The fourth section is Science. There are 40 questions, with a time limit of 35 minutes. The Raw Score – # correct out of 40 – is converted to a scaled score out of 36.
  •  The 4 scaled scores are added together and then divided by 4.  This is the final score. Maximum score on the ACT is 36. Any score over 30 is a great score!!
  •  The fifth section is the Essay.  It is optional, but most Colleges expect it. The time limit for the Essay is now 40 minutes.  (It was 30 minutes) So – the Essay is important for most colleges!!

“There is a lot of controversy surrounding Standardized tests like the ACT.  For that reason, many Colleges like to pretend that the ACT and similar tests aren’t that important when it comes to the admissions process; but this isn’t true.  If you look at any highly competitive College, and you find out the average ACT and SAT scores of the people who go there, you’ll pretty much always find that those scores are well above average – for some schools, the average scores are in the top few percent nationwide.  Think about it: if schools didn’t care about your ACT scores, they wouldn’t ask for those scores, and they wouldn’t spend the time necessary to consider them.  The ACT certainly isn’t the only piece of the admissions puzzle, especially for more competitive schools, but standardized test scores matter a lot, whether we like it or not.”  –Mike Barrett, author of:  The ACT Prep Black Book.

ACT, Inc. administers and sponsors the ACT.  Their website is www.actstudent.org.  It offers the ACT 6 times a year, from early in September to the beginning of June.  Any student who wants to take the ACT registers with ACT, Inc. @ www.actstudent.org.

 

The ACT is a standardized test, administered and sponsored by ACT, Inc.  It is taken by millions of HS students across the country and overseas.  Like the SAT standardized test, it is usually taken in the spring of the junior year and again in the fall of the senior year. The real HS academic “go-getter” students who want to attend UC  Universities, Ivy League Colleges and the like, start preparing for the ACT (and the SAT as well) in their HS Freshman or Sophomore years!! Most universities (but not “Community Colleges”) use a student’s ACT and SAT scores as an important part of the college admissions process.

 

Be SAT Wise

Many high school students, who have an excellent GPA (4.0 or above) think they will easily “ace the SAT or ACT. But, “…The SAT frustrates so many test-takers because it asks about very basic things in very strange (but repetitive) ways.  The simple reason many students struggle with the test is because they’re looking at it in completely the wrong way. That is why there are so many students who do so well in advanced classes in high school; but have a relatively hard time with the SAT.  The SAT tests simple stuff in a strange way.  It basically requires a totally different skill-set from high school or college.” – Mike Barrett, author of The SAT Prep Black Book.

Most parents are unfamiliar with the SAT and the important role a “good” to “very good” SAT score plays in the college admission process.  Even if they are aware of the importance, they sometimes have a difficult time finding good SAT Prep help at a reasonable price.  Many companies charge the proverbial “arm-and-a-leg” for their services!

In our Be SAT Wise 3 and 4 week SAT prep classes and also in our SAT prep Weekend Boot Camps, we only use College Board materials for our instruction and for our Mock Practice exams.  There will be 8  mock practice exams in the new 2017 “Official SAT Study Guide” ­- by The College Board that is scheduled to come out in May.  We currently use the 2016 edition of the “Official SAT Study Guide” but we will transition to the 2017 ed. as soon as it becomes available.

“I want to impress something upon you that is extremely important.  It is absolutely critical that you practice with real SAT questions written by the actual College Board itself – only the real questions by the actual College Board are guaranteed to behave like the questions you’ll see on test day.  Questions written by other companies (Kaplan, Princeton Review, Barron’s or anyone else) are simply not guaranteed to behave like the real thing.  For our purposes then, fake SAT questions written by any company except The College Board are garbage.  They are useless.  If you want to learn how to beat the SAT, you have to work with real SAT questions. I really can’t stress this enough.” –  Mike Barrett, author of The SAT Prep Black Book  

 

We developed our Weekend Boot Camps in order to offer SAT and ACT prep classes JUST for you!

The weekend Boot Camps are indeed boot camps!!  They are all day Saturday and Sunday in local hotels and are very intense.  Nonetheless, when we do a survey of most improved scores, often our boot camp students come out on top.  We try to have the Boot Camps the weekend right before the actual test  (max 2 weekends before ) so there is  no time for that  “forgetting” curve!   By the end of Sunday, granted your  poor brains will  be a little fried but you will for sure  feel it was a well spend 2-days and you will feel very ready for the actual test.

It is at these SAT and ACT prep Weekend Boot camps that we really put the Mike Barrett, (author of-The SAT and ACT Prep Black Book) method into practice.  Upon arrival on Saturday morning, the students take a full length College Board Mock Practice Test.  When returning from lunch, the students receive the test results.  As part of the afternoon’s 4-HR session, usually the English section, the teacher helps the students “tear apart” the mock practice test, similar to what a football or basketball coach would do, to both help the students see their careless errors or easy mistakes made on the test and to help them better understand the SAT.

On Sunday morning (for 4 HRS) the Math Teacher helps the students “tear apart” the Math section of that same test, to again help the students avoid making careless errors and to better understand the test.

     On Sunday afternoon, the students take another College Board Mock Practice Test and hopefully they will now be able to “tear apart” that test on their own!  (The results of the 2nd Mock Practice test are mailed to the students on the following Tuesday or Wednesday.)

  1. Precise Reading 

“I almost always start students off on the Reading section, for a few reasons.  The first reason is that careful, precise Reading is the most important skill on the entire ACT (yes, even on the Math and Science sections). – Mike Barrett, author of:  The ACT Prep Black Book.

  1. Avoid Careless Errors

“You want to develop the ability to recognize and understand your mistakes.  That means you need to be able to do some practice work, then take a second look at the questions you missed and figure out where you went wrong.  You need to identify what you misunderstand or overlooked that stopped you from answering the question correctly, and what you could have done to avoid the mistake and get the question right.” – Mike Barrett, author of:  The ACT prep Black Book. This is the strategy we employ at Be SAT Wise in our Act prep class called, “Weekend Boot Camps.”  We give the students a Mock ACT exam on Saturday morning and then in the afternoon the teacher helps the students review and dissect that test. “Once students train themselves to stop making ‘careless errors’, they’re typically scoring in a range that makes them quite happy. Let me be clear – when I talk about reviewing all of your practice work, I don’t just mean checking the answer key to see what you missed.  I mean going back over every single question you missed or were unsure about, and trying to figure out what was going on in each question that stopped you from being certain about the correct answer.  That way you’ll know how to overcome similar issues on test day. – Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book.At Be SAT Wise, we review and analyze the Mock ACT given on Saturday morning, on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday morning.  The students are then much better prepared and motivated to review and analyze the second Mock ACT exam (on their own) given to them on Sunday afternoon.

  1. Higher Degree of Precision Required

“Standardized tests like the ACT require higher degree of precision and consistency (especially in executing basic skills) than normal classroom tests do. This is the most common difficulty for most students.” – Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book.

  1. Only ACT, Inc. Mock Practice Tests

“We should only practice for the ACT with real ACT questions written by ACT, Inc., and not with fake questions written by any other company.  When you use real ACT practice questions, you’re training yourself on a conscious level, as well as on an intuitive level, to recognize and respond to the standards in real ACT questions.  I’ll say it one more time – never use anything besides ‘Real ACT practice questions’ if your goal is to score well on the real ACT” –  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book. At Be SAT Wise we only use Mock Practice Exams from ACT, Inc. – the administrators of the ACT.  There are 3 Mock Practice Exams in – The Real ACT Prep Guide, 2016 Edition.

  1. Importance of Reading the question and all the answer choices first

“It’s easy to forget that there’s an extremely important source of information sitting right in front of us on every multiple choice question…..the answer choices themselves! That is why I emphasize that the students must always, ALWAYS read each ACT question completely, including the answer choices, before they start to figure out the answer.  Too many people just read the question prompt (the part that doesn’t include the answer choices), then stop and try to solve the problem on their own, then check to see if their answer is reflected in the choices.  This approach, though typical, will make life harder for you and cause you to miss hints and clues that are basically staring you in the face once you know how to look for them” –  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book.

  1. Major Difference between the ACT and the usual HS tests

“One of the most important differences between the ACT and a normal HS test is the extreme importance of details on the ACT – and this means that ‘careless mistakes’ on the ACT will be much more harmful to your score than they would be in a normal classroom situation.” –  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book

  1. Start with the Simple Questions First

“Start by answering all the questions that seem relatively simple and easy to you.  Skip the ones that seem too hard or too time-consuming for now” –  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book.

  1. Timing Issues

“One of the biggest causes of stress in Standardized testing is the time limit.  This is especially true in the ACT, which requires you to answer more questions with fewer breaks than most other Standardized tests people take before College.”-  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book. Completing two ACT, Inc. Mock Practice Tests at our Act Prep class Weekend Book Camps will help you enormously in this area.

  1.  About Reading on the ACT

“You have to be able to read carefully and precisely.  In other words, you have to have the skill of reading exactly what’s on a page, and taking in everything that’s stated directly in the text, without taking in anything that’s not.  Well, it turns out that the kind you need to do on the ACT is almost the exact opposite of the kind of reading students are trained to do in HS.” –  Mike Barrett, author of: The ACT prep Black Book

SAT

  1. If you make an answer change, be sure to erase well.
  2. Do not make any marks on the answer sheet – other than the bubbled in answers.
  3. Bubble in answer completely.  A blunt #2 pencil is better for this than a sharply pointed pencil. Bring several pencils and an eraser to the test.
  4. Read the test questions carefully and pay attention to details.
  5. Reviewing College Board Mock Practice Tests

 “I really want to emphasize that if you don’t make a serious analysis of your practice work after you finish it, then you’re really wasting the time you spend practicing. I also wouldn’t recommend that you do practice tests on sections without doing a full post-mortem on them, in which you go through all the questions, try to understand why the College Board wrote each question the way it did, what you could have done to answer the question correctly as quickly and directly as possible, and what lessons you can learn from that question that might be applicable to future questions.  This post-mortem step is absolutely critical if you want to make a serious improvement on the SAT, but it’s something that most students completely ignore, or do only halfway.” – Mike Barrett, author of The SAT Prep Black Book

At our SAT Prep Weekend Boot camps, we definitely apply this Mike Barrett College Board Mock Practice test method.  The students take a College Board Mock Practice test on Saturday morning ( 4.5  Hrs – including the essay). After a 45 min.  lunch, they are handed back the graded test!

The teacher, as part of his/ her SAT instruction, reviews the questions on the Mock Test.  Usually, we review the English (Writing and Critical Reading) portion of the test on Saturday afternoon and the Math portion on Sunday morning during the 4-hr Math instructional session.  On Sunday afternoon, the students take another College Board Mock Practice Exam with the results mailed to them a few days later.  Of course our teachers encourage the students to do a serious “post-mortem” or analysis of this 2nd mock test on their own. As you can see, our SAT Prep classes Weekend Boot camps are indeed that – real Boot camps!

 

6. Precise Reading is very important on the SAT

“Verify that you haven’t misread the answer key – I can’t tell how many times a student has reported struggling with a question for a  long time, only to realize that he had misread the answer key.” –  Mike Barrett, author of The SAT Prep Black Book

 

7. Time management and Poor Test Taking

Many students are poor time managers on the SAT.  Some students also claim that they are poor test takers.  By far, the best method to improve on the SAT in both of these areas is to take several time tested College Board Mock Practice Exams.

 

In our SAT Prep Weekend Book camps, we offer 2 Mock Practice Exams, one at the beginning, on Saturday morning and one at the end, on Sunday afternoon.  Besides the fact that the SAT and ACT are very challenging, they are also long. (4.5 hrs.  for the SAT Mock Test)  Trying to keep one’s concentration high for this length of time is difficult for most students.  With several Mock Practice tests “under their belt” before the actual SAT is enormously beneficial.

 

Many students, who are unfamiliar with a SAT, answer the questions in a section in order.  “This is a huge mistake, since some questions will be easier than others and since every question counts for the same number of raw points as any other in that section”– Mike Barrett, author of The SAT Prep Black Book

“At every turn the SAT is obsessed with details in a way that HS and college courses are not.  Doing extremely well on the SAT isn’t just a question of having proper strategies.  It’s also a question of being almost fanatically obsessed about the tiniest details.” 

 

Many high school students, who have an excellent GPA (4.0 or above) think they will easily “ace the SAT or ACT. But, “…The SAT frustrates so many test-takers because it asks about very basic things in very strange (but repetitive) ways.  The simple reason many students struggle with the test is because they’re looking at it in completely the wrong way. That is why there are so many students who do so well in advanced classes in high school; but have a relatively hard time with the SAT.  The SAT tests simple stuff in a strange way.  It basically requires a totally different skill-set from high school or college.” – Mike Barrett, author of The SAT Prep Black Book.

Most parents are unfamiliar with the SAT and the important role a “good” to “very good” SAT score plays in the college admission process.  Even if they are aware of the importance, they sometimes have a difficult time finding good SAT Prep help at a reasonable price.  Many companies charge the proverbial “arm-and-a-leg” for their services!

The SAT is a standardized test taken by millions of HS Juniors and Seniors across the country, as part of the admission process at most US Universities.  The SAT is recommended by HS Counselors to be taken in the spring of the student’s Junior year and again in the fall of Senior year.  Many “eager-beaver” students, who want to be accepted into one of the  UCs, Ivy League Colleges and many other highly sought-after Universities, start preparing for the SAT or ACT in their Freshman or Sophomore year of HS!

The maximum score is 1600.  “Old SAT” was 2400.

The Critical Reading and Writing sections are combined for a maximum score of 800.  The two math sections (one with a calculator and one without) are combined for a maximum score of 800.  Both scores are combined for a final score of 400 (lowest) to a final score of 1600 (maximum).

The 50 minute Essay (which is now optional) is scored separate from the rest of the test.  It is scored in the following three areas:

  1. Reading
  2. Analysis
  3. Writing

Each of these areas receives a score from a low of 2 to a high of 8.

“The SAT has undergone several revisions to make it more relevant and useful; but, through all of these revisions, one thing has not changed. The SAT is and will continue to be an important part of the college application process.  While there are a lot of factors that admissions officers look at in an application, the bottom line is that“…your SAT score can make the difference between acceptance to and rejection from a college.”– Up Your SAT Score,  Mandell et al 2016-2017 ed.

The SAT score is the one real “objective” on a student’s college admissions application.  The ACT score is equally the same.  You can see then how both excellent SAT or ACT scores can have an enormous positive impact on Student College Acceptance.

          “SAT Scores can make or break a College Application” – US News and World Report

Admissions officers consider many factors:

  • HS grades and courses
  • Work experience
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Application essay
  • Leadership qualities
  • The admissions interview (Ivy Leagues)
  • Disadvantaged/under-represented background
  • Athletic prowess
  • Legacy

“Many other things have an impact on whether or not you acquire your intended goal.  Although these other factors are important, your SAT score may be the most crucial. While the other factors on your application are subjective.  Your SAT score is a big, fat, hairy ‘objective’ number.  Even an admissions officer, who claims that the SAT score is not particularly important, is going to be subconsciously influenced by this number.  It categorizes your application in the admissions officer’s mind as smart enough or not smart enough. It has an impact on the way an admissions officer interprets virtually everything else on your application.” – Up Your SAT Score,  Mandell et al 2016-2017 ed.

 

Each college has different standards.  Check the website of the colleges of your choice.  They will generally give you a range rather than a number.

The National Average for each section (Math and English) of the SAT is approx. 500.  This is not the average for all college AGE students, but college BOUND students.  Therefore,  this is a good first yardstick since it compares you to all students in the USA who are “college-bound”.  Once you achieve the 500 mark, getting  to the 600 mark on each section should be your next goal.  If you are planning on a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math) major, the your math score is your big focus.  You need to be good of course on both but your math will most likely be more favored by your admission officer.  Alternatively if you are going for any of the Liberal Arts majors, your English score will be the focus.

Looking at it in isolation 1200 is a great score and above 1200 should get you into a lot of the top colleges.  If you want to go to an Ivy League, you need to get closer to the 1400!

1400 is of course a very difficult scores to achieve and scores are never taken in isolation.  College Admissions look at you as a “package” with your GPA, extra curricular, personal statement etc.

Nonetheless “SAT scores can make or break a college application”  US News & World Reports.  You therefore want to get the best score  and keep testing  until you are tired testing and then take one more !!!!!! LOl!

 

of the ACT is A good –> very good score on etiher the SAT or the ACT (better yet on both!) plays a very important role in the college admissions process.

A great score on the SAT is 1400+.

A great score on the ACT is 30+

The College Board

In our Be SAT Wise 3 and 4 week SAT prep classes and also in our SAT prep Weekend Boot Camps, we only use College Board materials for our instruction and for our Mock Practice exams.  There will be 8  mock practice exams in the new 2017 “Official SAT Study Guide” ­- by The College Board that is scheduled to come out in May.  We currently use the 2016 edition of the “Official SAT Study Guide” but we will transition to the 2017 ed. as soon as it becomes available.

“I want to impress something upon you that is extremely important.  It is absolutely critical that you practice with real SAT questions written by the actual College Board itself – only the real questions by the actual College Board are guaranteed to behave like the questions you’ll see on test day.  Questions written by other companies (Kaplan, Princeton Review, Barron’s or anyone else) are simply not guaranteed to behave like the real thing.  For our purposes then, fake SAT questions written by any company except The College Board are garbage.  They are useless.  If you want to learn how to beat the SAT, you have to work with real SAT questions. I really can’t stress this enough.” –  Mike Barrett, author of The SAT Prep Black Book