Georgia high school students take PSAT in two weeks based on new SAT. Anybody prepping for it?

The new SAT makes its debut in March, but Georgia high school sophomores and juniors will glimpse the changes in two weeks when they take the PSAT on Oct. 14.

The October PSAT is aligned with the new SAT. Juniors who score at the top range on the PSAT are eligible for National Merit Scholarships.

Are your kid doing any SAT or ACT practice?

Are your kids doing any SAT or ACT practice?

Among the changes test takers are expected to see: No penalty for wrong answers, fewer multiple choice questions, a focus in the reading section on evaluating evidence and charts and graphs from which they will be asked to infer information.

And the College Board is making the SAT essay optional, as already is the case with the ACT.

Kaplan Test Prep released a survey of college admissions officers showing most colleges will not require the optional SAT essay.

Here is what Kaplan said:

With a revamped, more rigorous SAT debuting in March, Kaplan Test Prep’s 2015 survey of college admissions officers shows that one of the key changes on the new test — the conversion of the essay section from required to optional — means that a majority of colleges will now forgo the SAT essay as an application requirement.

Of the more than 300 top colleges and universities across the United States surveyed, only 13% will require applicants submit the new SAT’s optional essay section. Notably, however, schools that fall in that category include the nation’s top tier: Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College and Stanford University are among those that will require applicants to submit the SAT essay, as recently reported by Bloomberg.

According to Kaplan’s annual survey, 66% of schools will neither require nor recommend the new analytical, fact-based SAT essay for admissions; 19% will recommend but not require it; 13% will require it; and 2% will only require it for specific programs. (On the ACT, the other major college admissions test, the essay has been optional since it was introduced on that test in 2005.)

“Making the essay optional is one of the few changes that will help students on the new SAT, but make no mistake about it — the new test will not be easier. In fact, while the essay will become optional, it is also more challenging. The current SAT essay simply asks students to develop a persuasive essay about an issue, while the new SAT essay asks students to read a 700 word passage and then prepare a facts-based essay analyzing how the author builds her/his argument,” said Michael Boothroyd, executive director of college admissions programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “One thing to consider is that an optional but more challenging section provides an opportunity for students who are good writers and analysts to distinguish themselves. Schools appreciate applicants who challenge themselves, so earning a high score on an optional section can factor favorably on an application.”

In trying to persuade my two high school juniors to consider practice tests, I went to College Confidential, a site where students discuss their experiences in applying and getting into colleges.

I wanted to see what students said about the value of prepping for college admissions exams. Most posters felt practice helped them better their performance. Some reported boosting their scores by hundreds of points. One student took 65 practice tests to raise SAT scores that fell short of select colleges. The student ended up getting into Duke.

Most kids aren’t going to do 65 practice tests. I doubt many students devote more than a night or two to SAT/ACT practice unless their parents have forked over hundreds of dollars for a professional prep course.

When people ask me about the value of practice tests, I point out the students profiled in the AJC for perfect ACT or SAT scores often took the exams 7 to 10 times. Given the average high school student spends 90 minutes a day sending and receiving texts and seven hours a day looking at some sort of screen, there might be room in their schedules for a few practice sessions.

If so, I encourage students to check out the free SAT prep designed by the highly regarded Khan Academy for the College Board. Here’s a link to the registration site.

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

54 comments
anothercomment
anothercomment

Many parents and students do not understand that university or college publicized cut scored for entrance are not given out for specific programs or majors. Even if they are they can very greatly by year.

With the push for STEM and the merger of Southern Tech and KSU, I see this as a major problem ( I am an engineer and help mentor kids).

I have repeatedly tried to warn parents and students that Engineering and Architecture has to be a passion of the student. Otherwise even the straight A high school Math wiz will not be successful. Each different discipline of engineering for example electrical engineering vs mechanical engineering requires a type of person that has a different personality or mindset than the other. i have supervised 30 plus Engineers and Architects at a time it is an lesson in personality dynamics.

The chance of a student keeping their full Hope scholarship at GT for 4 years is going to be very difficult. if your kid gets a guaranteed scholarship at an engineering school elsewhere take it. lEss than 1/2 of Tech Engineering Students will keep Hope for 4 years. Probably higher.

Then yesterday, I had a kid who so far has only managed a 22 on the ACT and has a low B average that will not qualify for HOPE ( because of how the private school he attends calculates grades $20k yr) that Kennesaw State and admission to the Robotics ( Drone Engineering) a fancy new name for an unaccredited program that includes electrical, mechanical and computer science ( 12 programs in the country). The Kennesaw State Rep who came to the school college fair told them that the minimum admissions was 2.5 GPA and 20 ACT, with unlimited admission. i told this kid, I am sorry to break this to you, but that has Never been the case nor will it be the case with any schools Engineering programs ( excepts the Devry and ITT scams that come up on every single Google search for engineering) . i said every legitimate program limits the size of the class because of the very prescribed coursework which the class takes, in specific order.

Then I run up against a stupid guidance counselor that only cares about admittance numbers and is telling him he can go to North Ga something and then transfer to Ga Tech. i tell him that is ridiculous they do not have engineering and the pre-engineering routes don't work.

Better is we look at some small private Catholic colleges in other states where he is the geographic diversity. Then Mama says she doesn't want him to go far. i respond that no where would he be more than two to three hrs away with a plane ticket. The chance of actually getting an engineering degree at a smaller private religious college is much greater than a large public university.

redweather
redweather

@anothercomment I have had heart-to-heart talks with many students about what they can reasonably expect to accomplish in college. Having a dream is one thing, and I encourage that.  But they also must be realistic. If after three or four semesters they are still trying to get out of pre-calculus, an engineering degree is not in the cards. Some students (and/or their parents) don't want to hear this. But I have also had students come back to me a semester or two later and thank me for helping them put things in perspective. 

Lauren Gaggioli
Lauren Gaggioli

Great article, Maureen! Prep is always a case by case decision, but - as a test prep teacher - the consistent comment I hear from my students after an official test day that they felt more confident because they knew what was coming. 


Those touch points of a familiar structure or a familiar vocabulary word are so important for the student's mental state. It allows students to calm the chatter in their minds and focus on the work.


I often liken it to being in a play. You may know your lines (academic content) and blocking (strategies), but you don't want to step onto the stage without at least a few rehearsals (practice sections & full-length practice tests) where you put those 2 things together in a low-pressure environment.


Plus, at the end of the day, you can save money on the test fees by preparing. 2 or 3 Saturdays set aside for testing sounds bearable compared to the 7-10 you mentioned some students take! Yikes! 


At the end of the day, prep might not be for everyone, but for those who choose to tackle it, I've found it can really help.

newsphile
newsphile

Perhaps the essay is optional because most colleges and universities require essays as part of the application process.  This gives them opportunity to evaluate an applicant's writing skills. 

Raja44
Raja44

@MaureenDowney @Raja44 @newsphile Reading that excellent article, Maureen, makes me even more disheartened.  Why would colleges persist with a component of the application that they know is often falsely manufactured?  They probably should do away with essays with the application altogether, and they should all require an essay with the SAT or ACT.    

Raja44
Raja44

@newsphile Yes, but who knows if the applicant actually writes the essays on their own that are submitted with the application -- or if  they are something extensively revised by others.  That's not an issue with an essay administered with the SAT.

Raja44
Raja44

It's disappointing to me that so few colleges require the essay.  I would think the essay would be important, and would tell them a lot about a student's abilities.  It's interesting that the very top ivy league schools still require it. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Something to remember is that the SAT is a test designed to predict the success of the test-taker during the first year of college. It's not an intelligence test. That may account for the changes that have been made in the "new SAT," for the skills it seeks to test are those needed in college courses (reading skills, analytic skills, and so on).

heyteacher
heyteacher

I am prepping my 10th grade students for the new PSAT -- they've never seen one before, and I think it's important that they know what to expect when they take the test. We go over the directions and talk about pacing. We will also work through a sample section and talk about the different types of questions on the exam. My high school English teacher did the same for my class more than 30 years ago, and I was glad to have some idea of how to approach the test. The prep classes seem to help with math the most but that's just an observation. 

popcornular
popcornular

@MaureenDowney

Yes, Science is hard. Know the question before you start reading. Often, there is lots of superfluous information not directly related to the question. Don't skim first time, but read smart first time. 

No charge. 

redweather
redweather

@heyteacher Those students who have well developed reading skills will do fine on the test. You might want to remind them that skimming is not reading.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@redweather @heyteacher When I did a practice segment on the Khan site, I thought I could skim the passage -- but it was science based and the questions required a close reading of the material so I had to go back and reread it carefully. I found the answers were only shades apart, so kids will have to read carefully.

One value of prep is helping kids understand pacing.

heyteacher
heyteacher

@MaureenDowney @redweather @heyteacher


Pacing will be very important on this test -- the reading passages are longer and there are no sentence completion questions to break up those passages. My advanced students are used to skimming passages and going straight to the questions -- we did some practice yesterday that helped them see why skimming won't work as well as it does on say the Milestone test. 



bu2
bu2

@heyteacher


Why prep now?  Take it in the 10th and you know what to expect and whether you should prep for it in 11th grade.


PSAT is best prep for SAT.

straker
straker

Wow, "no penalty for wrong answers.


Tests have certainly changed since I was in school.


But then, my generation did not have to endure one failed social experiment after another.

booful98
booful98

@straker I gotta say, that part of the SAT always annoyed me. Of course you shouldn't get credit for a wrong answer, but dang, getting points taken off? That was annoying.

I will admit to liking this better.

popcornular
popcornular

@booful98

Supposed to discourage random guessing. Not that our students would ever blindly just guess. 

newsphile
newsphile

@straker  The only thing this does is removes the penalty for guessing.  Only correct answers count towards the score.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Back in the Dark Ages, I took the SAT and the ACT once each, cold.  I was satisfied with my scores, and I had excellent grades.  I was admissible to most colleges.  I took the PSAT cold also. When I was 35 I took the GRE and did very well, cold.  I was mostly challenged by the time factor as it got near the end of the test (I was getting tired).


Fast forward 24-33 years.  My kids took the PSAT and SAT.  Two of them also took the ACT (because of their relative weakness in math).  They got scores that would let them go anywhere they wanted to go.


I think unless you are a weak student, or want to go to a college that only admits 10% of its applicants, work hard in school and just take the test!


I just have to wonder, if you have to prep a lot to get into the school you want, will you be able to "cut it" once you get in?


I might note, however, there were schools I was inadmissible to in 1970 BECAUSE I AM FEMALE!  Tell kids that, nowadays, and they won't believe you!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

"Schools to which I was inadmissible"  Sorry.

EdumacateThat
EdumacateThat

@Wascatlady Prepping for the PSAT (and SAT) is more about learning HOW they ask certain questions and understanding where you are weak.  My junior did well when he took it in 9th (on me) and 10th (on GA), so I'm not too concerned.  That said, I purchased a $22 prep book from Barons.  His take on the book was that it pointed out certain things he overlooked in the past and also provided some helpful suggestions.  Should be interesting to see how he does on October 14.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@EdumacateThat @Wascatlady As I remember the booklet that came with the signup gave a few examples of kinds of questions.  I think I was helped, too, by the constant "preparation" my parents, particularly my mother, subjected me to as I was growing up. LOL  I did talk to my own children about pacing themselves, which I think is one key, especially to a student who tends to brood over individual items.  I have always been a quick test taker, and perhaps they are, too.  You either know it or you don't, and take your best shot and move on.  Glad they removed the "guessing" penalty, although I never believed I was guessing. Haha!

EdumacateThat
EdumacateThat

@Wascatlady @EdumacateThat Agreed with all you said about pacing, but... I think it is also important to see the way things are presented, how they're asked, and what you can do to understand the rhythm of the test.  Always told my kids that if you understand the test maker, you would be a better test taker.

And... you have to start even earlier.  This year, my 8th grader is taking the 8/9 PSAT, whatever that is.  My boys never had to take that; they always took ITBS.  To prepare, we spent fall break (yes, stupid balanced calendar) studying my 11th grader's test booklet.  I only covered the concepts on the test and how they like to ask them.  I also did a timing test with her so she understands to not get mired in the muck.  Don't know if it will be a big help, but at least she will have seen this before she sits down for 3 hours.

EdumacateThat
EdumacateThat

@Wascatlady @EdumacateThat Yes.  My eldest didn't want to do Duke TIP as it was only enrichment.  Instead, he choose to get TRADITIONAL math (Honors Alg I & II and Honors Geometry) through Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.  Do not get me started on Kathy Cox's crappy math!!!

To be eligible for those HS math courses, he had to take the SAT (not PSAT) in 7th grade when he was only 12 (younger than cohorts b/c he also skipped a grade).  He did zero test prep and outscored 90% of Walton HS seniors that year.  He took this test while sitting in a HS classroom with other test takers (no special arrangements like they do now).

Why am I telling you this?  Well, this son also would take the SAT 2 more times (once in 10th and once in 11th grade).  Although he crested over the 2000 mark in 10th, he knew that wasn't high enough for where he wanted to go to college.  So... he spent time doing his own test prep using books I bought online (< $50).  He was able to increase his score another 250+ points.  My point:  test prep can be done on the cheap and can be highly effective; much depends upon the student's willingness to shore up their weak spots. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

The article makes it sound like ALL students are required to take the PSAT, but that is not correct, is it? 

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@class80olddog Almost all students take the PSAT during their junior year. And the state of Georgia pays for the PSAT for all sophomores enrolled in public schools

redweather
redweather

According to the article, "Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College and Stanford University are among those that will require applicants to submit the SAT essay."


I suppose this is indicative of the abysmal job our secondary schools do when it comes to writing and reading instruction. So most colleges have apparently thrown in the towel, which I don't think is the answer. Students who don't read well can't write effectively or think effectively, and there is plenty of empirical evidence supporting this.


If you are a parent reading this blog, it is not enough to encourage your children to read. You have to make that a daily activity. They must also practice thinking and writing about what they have read.  These are foundational activities that will prepare them to succeed academically, no matter the subject. 

User777
User777

@redweather  Totally agree.  Our last child is a senior.  Until very recently, we did no have an XBOX, PlayStation, etc.. in the house.  We wanted our kids to learn to love reading, which they all have.  Our youngest is very STEM focused.  But the ability to read and effectively communicate your ideas is important, no matter what your academic focus is.

Astropig
Astropig

@redweather


"If you are a parent reading this blog, it is not enough to encourage your children to read. You have to make that a daily activity. They must also practice thinking and writing about what they have read.  These are foundational activities that will prepare them to succeed academically, no matter the subject."


Could not agree more. Well said.

redweather
redweather

@anothercomment Believe it or not some college faculty assign this kind of nonsense. I never would have imagined that college students would be assigned to make posters with pictures cut out from magazines. And shoeboxes are also used for reasons I don't even want to know about. This is juvenile in the extreme.

anothercomment
anothercomment

The big problem is public schools not requiring book reports or essays anymore. My daughter took 9 th grade IB Lit which is suppose to be a college level English class. I felt like the teacher had stock in Micheals. assignments were to make a shoebox filled with pieces of little novelty items to portray one literary work, a cereal box project ect. Never a paper or a book report, or a mini thesis. Yet this teacher from a third tier Ga teachers college blabber end on and on that this was a college level course. I responded to him, that I attended Private University in the tier just below the Ivies, top 25 in my major. Followed by graduating from a Big 10 University ( when the big 10 was the big 10, the Big ten means top Reasearch University by the way ) with a Masters degree that I wrote a Masters Thesis for. i told him that at these high level institutions no professor would ever have one submit a shoebox or cereal box in lieu of a written analysis of the subject matter.

This is the problem when we have politicians who want to pay teachers under $40k. You do not have top tier student or University students teaching. hOw can You expect Teachers who did not score 1000 on the SAT to teach your child to obtain superior scores.

Starik
Starik

My, times have changed. I just took the damn thing, and did pretty well. Took the LSAT in Vietnam and did even better.

popcornular
popcornular

Hello? According to the College Board, of all 2014 college-bound seniors, 583 scored 2400 on the SAT. Meaningless? I think not. 

gapeach101
gapeach101

I submit to you, any child who scores 2400 on an SAT after 7 tries, will get into the same schools  he/she would have gotten into with his/her first SAT score.

The top 20 schools, however they are  ranked could fill their ranks with perfect SAT scores.  They don't.  Admissions is much more than SAT scores. 


MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@popcornular @gapeach101

 I know plenty of people who have achieved an 800 on either math or verbal, and some of them are teachers. I personally know about four who earned 800 on both. (Based on the old 1600 scoring system, which is what the new SAT will now return to with the reduction of the essay to optional.)

This is probably the best short summary of what the SAT can and cannot predict. It is by Temple University math professor John Allen Paulos.

He writes: 

A rough measure of intellectual preparedness, the SAT shouldn't be made into a fetish, but neither should it be ignored. Without it, colleges would undoubtedly place more emphasis on high school grades and extracurricular activities, measures that also have serious shortcomings — grade inflation and meaningless resume-puffing being the main ones.

The SAT is a flawed predictor, but it is also relatively objective and, among other virtues, sometimes provides a way for the bright, yet socially inept student to be recognized.


Read his full piece here: 


http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/WhosCounting/story?id=98373&page=1

popcornular
popcornular

@MaureenDowney

Correction: You know plenty of people who told you they made this or that. In high school, I won the Nobel Prize and and made a 2401 on my SAT. 

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@popcornular 


You just cannot resist taking a dig at the intellects of teachers,  can you?  It is like some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder.  Maybe you should get it checked out?  There might be a pill or something you could take to help cure you. I am sure you would feel better.

popcornular
popcornular

@Quidocetdiscit

Thank you, Nurse Ratched. From your psychology and teaching experience, which 'pill or something' is most effective on unruly boys?

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@popcornular


So. do you consider yourself an "unruly boy"?  (That might explain your difficulty in engaging in civil adult conversation.)

gapeach101
gapeach101

"I point out the students profiled in the AJC for perfect ACT or SAT scores often took the exams 7 to 10 times."

That ought to tell you something about the perfect scores.  They are meaningless. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@gapeach101 You could say the same thing about a teacher who took 7 tries to pass the Praxis (I, II, Gace, whatever).

gapeach101
gapeach101

Prepping for the PSAT ?  Surely you jest.  

MannyThinks
MannyThinks

@gapeach101 Juniors who score at the top range on the PSAT are eligible for National Merit Scholarships.

EdumacateThat
EdumacateThat

@MannyThinks @gapeach101 The National Merit Scholarship is such a small amount and awarded to very few finalists.  The real honor for the majority who score high enough is being able to put finalist or semi-finalist on your college application.  Colleges make note of that and reference home many finalists and semi-finalists are in their accepted pool.  PSAT is definitely important.

User777
User777

@EdumacateThat @MannyThinks @gapeach101  Our son is a SF this year (so far).  He is just now starting to get full out of state tuition scholarship offers.  No application, just be a semi-finalist or finalist.  Granted, they are to schools he is not interested in, but for some it could be very lucrative. 

EdumacateThat
EdumacateThat

@User777 @EdumacateThat @MannyThinks @gapeach101 Yep...  That happened with our eldest as well.  He also got partial scholarships from very good private schools.  Some schools even sweetened the pot by offering a spot in their Honors college and allowing him to forgo freshman general requirements.  They really want to increase their bragging rights, and National Merit stats is one way to do it.  Hopefully, our second son clears the semi-finalist hurdle as that opens many more doors.

bu2
bu2

@EdumacateThat @MannyThinks @gapeach101


It can be quite a bit depending on the sponsor.  I went to a state school, not private, and so I got the minimum and it was still at least 1/4 of my costs, maybe as much as 40%. 


Some schools also are sponsors as they want to try to get National Merit Scholars.  I know Rice was at one point a big sponsor.