Ivy Bound Test Prep Blog

Testing Accommodations: In School and on the Test

The SAT and ACT administrators have policies that allow special accommodations for students with learning differences. There is no such thing as one standard ACT or SAT. One size does not fit all students, but too few parents know about these accommodations.

Exploring LD Accommodations

Man in a suit tutoring a studentNo student should fear having an artificially low ACT or SAT cap. When SAT administrators see the right paperwork documenting a disability that requires more time to read or do math problems, they routinely grant 50% extra time for the student to finish.

When ACT administrators have paperwork that a student needs to take the test in short blocks on separate days (instead of one, 4.5-hour Saturday test), they can accommodate that student. If either ACT or SAT has documentation of a need to hear words read aloud, they can provide a reader for the student. These are just some of the many accommodation forms used by students whose parents know what to ask.

The “ask” often begins with a child’s tutor suspecting a learning difference. Then comes the often-hesitant question from tutor to parent: “Has your student been diagnosed with a learning disability?”

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Studying Strategy for Second Consecutive SAT

When students are gearing up for a second SAT just one month after their first, we often encourage them not to look at their scores until after the second test. The mindset is: “I’m working to crush this second test no matter how I did on the first, so I’m not going to be distracted in my second-test study.”

“Ugh, I scored a 690; one more correct question would have earned a 700!”

Answer: Instead of studying forward, students think back to the questions they think might have been the culprit.

“So, I got my 720. Now, does that mean I have a legitimate chance at admission to my top school?”

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The Importance of Testing Multiple Times

With two exceptions, every student enlisted in SAT or ACT tutoring should plan to take the next test following her or his target test. There are four good reasons for this:

Focus on Results1) Multiple tests take the pressure off one test being “do or die.”

2) Because all colleges give the benefit of the best score they see, you can take advantage of more data.

3) Because most colleges super-score, a good score on one section means you don’t have to be concerned with that section leading to the second test. There is less follow-up study and no worry about a score that falls.

4) There is randomness in each test. A student who tests again and finds even one of four big ACT passages far more like-able can see 9 of 10 right versus 5 of 10. That alone is a 2- or 3-point improvement on ACT Reading.

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Canned Can’t: Advantages of Live Instruction

There is a major distinction in online learning: Online as a conduit to a live instructor versus online canned courses. A canned course lacks the personalized touch of a live instructor, rather recycling the same content and materials each semester.

The live instructor conduit is a beautiful thing – it is making education better. Here are three advantages that make online learning in some subjects superior to face-to-face learning.

Two girls smiling at a tablet1) Convenience: Ivy Bound’s realm is private tutoring for academics and ACT/SAT prep. Our face-to-face engagements require the student or tutor to travel, or both. For younger students who don’t drive, it might involve a parent traveling too. Ivy Bound generally has tutors traveling to students’ homes, but even this means a more restricted set of meeting times compared with student and tutor each logging in from their respective homes.

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Exceptions of Scheduling Consecutive Tests

Our mantra is: “Test multiple times following tutoring,” but we have two exceptions.

The First Exception

student filling out his plannerThe student who faces “do or die” challenges and does. He or she rises to the occasion on big tests, at athletic events or in musical performances. For this student, say “there is no tomorrow; you must crush this the first time.”

Now, if on the first test, even the “do-or-die” student falls short, it absolutely makes sense to test more. Since deadlines for the second test can sometimes precede the results of the first test, it makes sense for a parent to quietly sign the student up for the second test. If the student nails the first test, it’s the best $60 you’ve ever wasted. (more…)

Should You Switch from the SAT to ACT?

When you score poorly on the SAT the first time, it can be very disappointing. However, depending on when you took the exam, there could be time for a retake. If you’re a high school junior, should you sign up for the next SAT or look ahead to future ACT dates? We offer three tips to help you make this decision. First, what are the key differences between the two tests?

Focus on ResultsComparing the SAT & ACT

In early spring of this year, the College Board debuted the newly redesigned SAT. The argument has been made that the new SAT is now more like the ACT than ever before. However, the most important differences remain the same.

The SAT Format

Both tests have sections related to English, Math, Reading and Writing. The SAT’s Math section tests geometry, trigonometry and data analysis, with and without a calculator. Unlike the ACT, the SAT has no dedicated Science section and the test is completed at an overall slower pace. If you don’t work particularly well under pressure, choose the SAT.

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The Future of SAT Subject Tests at Elite Schools

In response to Top Tier Admissions College Counselors Michele Hernandez and Mimi Doe, our founder Mark Greenstein wrote:

filling out an online college applicationBrown, Columbia and UPenn are the three elite schools now seemingly discouraging SAT Subject Tests. However, this is only the case for a small group of applicants. Students aiming for elite college admissions should always take multiple Subject Tests. Indeed, for strong students, a high SAT Subject Test score is the easiest college credential to attain – a one-hour test with relatively little study required.

At least two top-tier schools, Dartmouth and Bowdoin, will put more emphasis on Subject Tests this year. That is in part because they are less trustful of the New SAT and because of their respect for Subject Tests as a good national standard. Should more colleges come to distrust the “moving target” SAT, Subject Tests will rise in importance for them as well.

The charade that some colleges do to be politically correct and, in the process, not straightforward, is well described in a piece by esteemed College Counselors Michele Hernandez and Mimi Doe of Top Tier Admissions.

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