Ivy Bound Test Prep Blog

College Interviewing Goes Both Ways

In response to the Hartford Courant article:
Why I Quit As A Yale Alumni Interviewer, by Ben Orlin
Mark Greenstein, founder & Lead Instructor of Ivy Bound Test Prep wrote:

Blog-Tower-at-YaleMr. Orlin is an inappropriate representative of Yale and the college selection process at elite schools. The interview is the one opportunity for students to put their true selves before an evaluating admissions person. Since application essays routinely involve adult guidance, interviews are the best way a college has of knowing the student “behind the transcript”.

Mr. Orlin’s description of his interview process shows he squandered the opportunity. “You take a smart, ambitious 17-year-old out for hot chocolate, ask him about his life, and then report back to the university ‘Yup, this is another great kid’ ” has all the markings of a government bureaucrat’s rubber stamp. With this blase, vapid interviewing, you are not allowing a extra-meritorious student to stand out.

An interviewer who takes the job seriously helps discern the depth of a student’s learning, the passion fueling a student’s extracurricular activities, and even the resourcefulness a student can show (or not) when posed a challenging question.


Can The SAT “Level The Playing Field?”

Answer: It won’t.

Spy-Games-HandshakeMost students will find excelling on the redesigned SAT more difficult. That owes to the injection of higher level math, scientific evaluations in reading, and analysis required on essays. Whereas the SAT tested skills that mainstream students are taught in at latest 9th grade, students are about to be tested on math usually not introduced until 11th grade, and in some schools NEVER introduced. Whereas the SAT tested reading and vocabulary exclusively, it is now punctuating its reading test with scientific interpretations of graphs and charts. Whereas the SAT essay asked for students to make an argument, it now requires them to analyze arguments others put forth, using rhetorical terms many students have never heard of.

Yet the Redesigned SAT was touted as “leveling the playing field”. How can is be? Here are two reasons why this is consistent.


Do Top Colleges Bring Students Higher Earnings?

In response to the WSJ article:
College Applications, Parental Exasperations, by Robert Scherrer
Kevin Weaver, Instructor and Test Prep Developer, and
Mark Greenstein, founder of Ivy Bound Test Prep wrote:

Prof. Scherrer’s sad-but-humorous anecdotes are revealing and laudable. But we take issue with one of his contentions, perhaps the most important one: the earnings clout that a top college brings. Many studies have revealed the higher earnings associated with these colleges and universities.


No Consistent Message Coming from The College Board

The College Board wanted to “Level The Playing Field” among schoolchildren who aspire to high college acceptances. Unless the SAT comes out dramatically different from the samples the College Board is exposing to students for practice, the results of the March, May, and June SATs will NOT bring better credentials to students from weaker schools.

The pre-tests portend an even greater disparity in scores between urban public school students and suburban students.

Here’s why:

The Revised SAT will become more of a “diffuse knowledge” math test than a math-skills test. Math is being launched at students from more categories than before: students will need command of trigonometry, imaginary numbers, high level functions, and growth rates. Moreover, the Revised SAT math includes NON-categories, i.e. random problems that are rarely, if ever, covered in a math textbook.


Is the PSAT a Distraction for Students?

The PSAT, given nationwide on October 14, serves as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. There’s mild honor in being a National Merit quarterfinalist, but there is no money awarded for it. College admissions committees don’t see “Quarterfinalist” in the reports they receive from The College Board. Same for “Semi-Finalist”. Only Finalists, the top 0.5% who then jump through some application hoops, see a $2500 award. It comes 18 months later.

For the few people who can get a more substantial reward from a minority recruitment program or a parent’s corporate program, the PSAT has meaning. For everybody else, the PSAT / Nat’l Merit is a distraction.

The Revised SAT: NOT Easier

There’s a rumor that the Revised SAT (starting in March 2016) will be “easier” than the current SAT. NOBODY should be delaying an SAT based on this rumor.

That’s because “easier” does not mean BETTER.

An easier-for-all SAT means Revised SAT scores will be artificially higher. But colleges will be wise to that. If 1400 is easier to attain on the Revised SAT, then colleges will need 1500 to be impressed.

When the SAT was “recentered” in March 1994, high recentered scores were not as impressive as prior scores that were 100 points lower. (Recentering added 110 – 120 points to mid-range scorers.) Colleges could tell the difference, and they certainly will know the difference if the scaling is skewed next year.


Why the PSAT is almost Irrelevant;

Study for the SAT or ACT Instead.

Feverish study for the PSAT is NOT worthwhile this fall. This year’s PSAT does not align with the SAT until March! Time spent studying for the PSAT thus takes away from studying for the ACT or current SAT (in use through January). Even a “perfect” PSAT is useless for college admissions recognition if it’s not backed up by a high SAT or ACT. Most colleges don’t even consider PSAT scores.

blog-studyIf interested in the financial side, AT MOST a great PSAT score gets you $2500 from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Some higher awards exist from outside groups, but you need to first be a member of that group (minority, or employee’s child).

By contrast if you concentrate on the SAT, you are in line for $50,000+ in merit-based money. You need not be a member of a group, and these scholarships are NOT need-based. They are available from colleges that view the high scorer who will attend as a talented asset.

Ivy Bound now tracks the awards its scholarship-seeking students receive. Our scholarship-seeking students in 2014 and 2015 averaged $68,600.


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