Purpose and Importance of SAT
According to the Princeton Review, SAT was created by the College Board to provide colleges a way to compare all applicants to one another and help make their admission decisions.
The SAT is an important factor in the admission process, especially for large colleges. Mrs. Tracy Stockard, Director of College Counseling, said that the chance of highly-selective colleges analyzing a student’s application increases with higher test scores. If test scores are significantly lower than the school’s academic profile, there is a possibility that the admissions office will not look at the application in depth.
Stockard added that there are approximately 800 colleges across the country that do not require standardized testing.
How Students Prepare for the SAT
According to Stockard, there are three main groups of students when preparing for SAT tests. The first group consists of those who do not prepare and take the SAT without studying.
There are also students who prepare for the SAT on their own with guidebooks and online resources. Stockard said that the College Counseling Department tries to promote the use of Khan Academy, a program created by College Board. Starting last year, Khan Academy has been creating free, individualized test practice questions for students based on their PSAT scores.
The last group of students work with private test preparation tutors to maximize test scores. Stockard also said that, of the three options, independent studying and tutors are the most popular ways of preparing for the SAT at Gilmour Academy.
Resources Available to Students at Gilmour Academy
The College Counseling Department has free standardized test preparation planned out for students throughout the year.
Since the new SAT was redesigned just last year, Stockard said that the College Counseling Department will focus on finding more opportunities for ACT preparation until the spring. The department is working on putting together a SAT boot camp for the spring like last year.
The PSAT/NMSQT is very similar to the SAT. Before school at 8 a.m. on Monday, October 3, a tutor from Princeton Review visited to help freshmen, sophomores and juniors prepare for the PSAT. The students were scheduled to take this standardized test during school on Wednesday, October 19.
Stockard said that many students think that by taking test preparation or classes, their standardized test scores will always improve. In actuality, students need to make time every week to practice answering questions. “Don’t skip it. Make it a priority,” Stockard said.
Standardized Test Taking Advice
Recently, four Gilmour students have been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program. The 2015 PSAT scores of seniors Rachel Allen, Bennett Hilkert, and Nikhil Nair were within the top five percent in the nation, and senior Johnathan Botek scored within the top one percent.
These four students give the following advice to students who are preparing to take standardized tests:
Allen: “The advice that I would give to students preparing for standardized tests is to take practice tests to get a good knowledge of how the test is structured and to spend more time focusing on subjects that may be more particularly difficult for you. Finally, make sure to relax and be confident about your answers; try not to second-guess yourself too much.”
Botek: “What I like to do is chill out the night before and watch a movie—not stress about homework or anything else. Then I get a lot of sleep, have breakfast, and I’m fresh and ready for the test.”
Hilkert: “I think a lot of it is luck, but I think going to bed early the night before and remembering to stay calm and relaxed can help.”
Nair: “To those taking the upcoming PSAT and any kind of standardized test, I recommend you go over the basics and stuff you learned a long time ago as that is what you tend to forget. Also, you should trust your first instinct or guess if you’re unsure because more often than not it’s right. Finally, you should get a lot of sleep before the test and not stress too much over it.”