Ivy Bound Test Prep Blog

Five SAT/ACT Factors That Have Changed Since 2015

Staying on top of changes in admissions criteria is part of our job at Ivy Bound. Here are five changes wrought by the SAT and college acceptance of it affecting the Class of 2017.


blog-ivyColleges that cherry-pick or super-score the best sections give an advantage to students who take the same test multiple times. Over the last few months, more colleges have embraced super-scoring the ACT. At this point, the majority are committed to super-scoring this test. By our rough survey, it’s about 55 percent of colleges. About 95 percent are committed to super-scoring the SAT, so there is still an advantage for SAT by these standards.

SAT Uncertainty

This is the big mystery; because of the new, arguably unreliable SAT scale, some colleges are downplaying SAT scores this year. At these particular colleges, this helps the 4.0 student who lacks a great SAT score, but hurts every other student. The ACT has not changed its multiple choice significantly. We have no evidence of a diminution in college acceptance of the ACT.


The Importance of Vocab in Life

Some students are rejoicing now that The College Board has eliminated directly testing vocabulary, through Sentence Completion. Others still work through their lists to build an advantage with the indirect uses of vocabulary that are still tested. Despite the elimination of Sentence Completion from the new SAT, learning vocabulary will still impact a student’s score on both the Reading Comprehension and Essay sections. These are two small reasons why a student should learn and expand his or her vocabulary.

The most important benefit of having a sophisticated vocabulary is the way it impacts all aspects of one’s life, from elementary school through adulthood! Students are doing themselves a huge disservice by eliminating vocabulary study, simply because the SAT no longer tests Sentence Completion.

Let’s review all the ways learning vocab can help in life.

person reading a dictionary Improves Reading Comprehension

This is helpful in every academic subject that requires reading – which is practically every subject other than straight-up math. Most students don’t sit with a dictionary looking up words they don’t know and rarely even check definitions electronically. Words that are unknown are too often skipped, resulting in the loss of the deeper meaning of the passage or subject matter. Students can sometimes derive the meaning of words they don’t know through the context of a sentence, but when there are numerous unrecognizable words, the chances of this undoubtedly diminish. Unfortunately, this can translate to a dramatic impact on a student’s grades in high school and beyond. (more…)

Which SAT Subject Tests Should You Take?

SAT Subject Tests help students demonstrate their mastery of certain academic concepts. It can be difficult for some students to record a decent score on the SAT if math, reading or writing is a weakness. The SAT Subject Tests offer these students the opportunity to highlight what they’re good at. This is a great stepping stone for acceptance into the college program of your choice. So, how do you decide which tests to take?

Group of eager students raising their hands in class What Subjects Are Offered?

First, you’ll need to know your options. Each overview subject has more specific offerings. For example, you can take U.S. or World History under the general subject of History. Tests are offered in the following categories:

  • Math
  • Science
  • History
  • Languages
  • English

View a detailed list of all subjects offered on the College Board website here.

Are you taking the ACT or SAT this October?

Ivy Bound can help students who need practice tests and review for the fall tests!
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Improving Your SAT and ACT Scores

Many students can be disappointed by their initial standardized test results. Thankfully, you can retake both the SAT and the ACT as often as you’re able to before it comes time to send your scores with college applications. In addition to taking our test prep courses that are proven to be successful in increasing students’ scores, consider these quick tips before the upcoming SAT and ACT.

Take Practice TestsGirl studying at her desk

In your prep course through Ivy Bound, you will have access to as many practice tests as made available by the College Board. A practice test is the closest you can get to simulating the real environment. Pay attention to your time spent on each section. If you find yourself completely lost in certain areas, you know you need to review.

Pace Yourself

Many testers fall into the trap of either rushing through the test or working too slowly. For example, it’s recommended that you spend just over a minute on each of the SAT multiple choice questions in order to complete the math section in time. For the ACT, it’s less than two minutes per multiple choice question. It is important to find a balance to avoid: (more…)

How Important Is My ACT Essay Score?

The ACT Essay has changed twice in 12 months. The major change came in September 2015, with a completely new format, new task and new criteria for assessment. The ACT publicized this two months in advance, so alert students had decent warning to prep, using the two released practice tests.

The Major Changes

A new scoring sale also came with the September change. The ACT turned its 2 – 12 scale into one that ran from 8 – 36. The top score you can get on the ACT multiple choice sections is 36, so the change presaged a nice, clean comparison.

However, that comparison turned horrific. Over the last four tests in December, February, April and June, the ACT Essay scores were markedly low. Students scoring between 30 and 36 on the four multiple choice sections routinely got between a 22 and 28 on their essays. As a comparison, a 33 is a score in the top two percent. Students earning a 33 or better are typically able to plan on admission to a “Top 30” university, but a 25 score is only slightly above average. Students with a top score of 25 have almost no chance for a “Top 30” University and only a remote chance at a large merit-based scholarship to a “Top 100” university. Thus, those seemingly low essay scores temporarily dashed a lot of hopes.


Some Tips For Writing a Great SAT Essay

Writing can be like math. Either you like it because you’re good at it or you hate it because you’re not. Yet, also like math, writing is a necessary evil for all students. While the essay is optional on the SAT and ACT, some colleges require it to complete your application. Choosing to write the essay can be beneficial before heading off to college, where you will have dozens of writing assignments throughout your career. So, how can you write the perfect essay in only 50 minutes on the SAT and 40 minutes on the ACT?

Your Thesis Should Be Precise

Class taking a testA complete thesis states the topic of your essay, your argument and how you plan to lay out your reasoning. It should also show that you analyzed the information provided. A thesis can be more than one sentence, but it’s best to keep it limited to as few words as possible. Otherwise, you risk your message becoming convoluted. (more…)

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