testing

The Value of Test Prep, Part 3: Successful Test Prep - Guaranteed Return on Investment

Colleges often claim that admissions processes take a holistic view of students, and that no one area - ACT/SAT score, GPA, application essay - holds more weight than the next. While having a balanced candidate profile when applying for college is an ideal goal, the value of high ACT/SAT scores is not to be underestimated. Not only does outstanding performance on the ACT or SAT send a strong, distinct message to colleges, it also makes a variety of scholarship options available to your child - guaranteeing that you, as a parent, get a high rate of return on the time, effort, and resources applied toward test prep. 

Merit-based scholarships have among the most significant impact on reducing college costs overall. While these scholarships allow parents and students to get the best bang for their buck, they’re also an inspiring award for all the hard work your student puts in throughout his or her high school career. Each college awards merit-based scholarships on its own terms, but a recent release from the University of Rochester provided a rare glimpse into just how vital a role ACT and SAT scores play when it comes to allotting scholarship dollars. The numbers were astounding. For every ten points above average that a student earned on their SAT score, he/she was awarded about $115 in additional funds, per year. As for the ACT, every point above average amounted to an average $425 in allotted merit funds. Let’s use an example. Should you invest an average of $1500 into test-prep, and as a result your student performs about 150 points better on the new SAT scale or 4 points better on the ACT (a reasonable test-prep goal) than the average accepted student - then over the course of your student’s college journey your family could save about $2,000 per year or $8,000 over four years at the University of Rochester.  

Scholarship levels will vary school by school and requires individual research. Another example can be found using the University of Arizona’s model, where a student with a 3.25 GPA and 29 ACT will receive $6,000 additional dollars per year versus a student with the same GPA and 24 ACT. Five points can mean a $24,000 tuition difference over four years. The result? Test prep classes yield a significant ROI, which is why parents should think of ACT and SAT scores as opportunities for tuition waiving and consider determining their own ROI for their student's test prep services.

Remember, merit-based scholarships typically are granted on a four to five-year level, assuming your child continues to perform well in college. Not only does the monetary return on test prep go up in value, consider that foundational pre-college test prep equips students with the building blocks necessary to study effectively beyond high school - helping to secure ongoing merit-based scholarships throughout their college careers. 

Now, weigh the fact that high-performing ACT/SAT scorers are far more likely to be accepted at competitive universities, and combine that knowledge with what we now know about merit-based scholarship allotments. Suddenly, the value of test prep isn’t abstract, but quantifiable. All in all, test prep allows students to perform with more confidence and ability, in turn boosting their chances at being accepted to the college of their choice. What’s more? The odds of your child receiving a merit-based scholarship that he or she can maintain for the long term go way up, too.

Colleges often claim that admissions processes take a holistic view of students, and that no one area - ACT/SAT score, GPA, application essay - holds more weight than the next. While having a balanced candidate profile when applying for college is an ideal goal, the value of high ACT/SAT scores is not to be underestimated. Not only does outstanding performance on the ACT or SAT send a strong, distinct message to colleges, it also makes a variety of scholarship options available to your child - guaranteeing that you, as a parent, get a high rate of return on the time, effort, and resources applied toward test prep. 

Merit-based scholarships have among the most significant impact on reducing college costs overall. While these scholarships allow parents and students to get the best bang for their buck, they’re also an inspiring award for all the hard work your student puts in throughout his or her high school career. Each college awards merit-based scholarships on its own terms, but a recent release from the University of Rochester provided a rare glimpse into just how vital a role ACT and SAT scores play when it comes to allotting scholarship dollars. The numbers were astounding. For every ten points above average that a student earned on their SAT score, he/she was awarded about $115 in additional funds, per year. As for the ACT, every point above average amounted to an average $425 in allotted merit funds. Let’s use an example. Should you invest an average of $1500 into test-prep, and as a result your student performs about 150 points better on the new SAT scale or 4 points better on the ACT (a reasonable test-prep goal) than the average accepted student - then over the course of your student’s college journey your family could save about $2,000 per year or $8,000 over four years at the University of Rochester.  

Scholarship levels will vary school by school and requires individual research. Another example can be found using the University of Arizona’s model, where a student with a 3.25 GPA and 29 ACT will receive $6,000 additional dollars per year versus a student with the same GPA and 24 ACT. Five points can mean a $24,000 tuition difference over four years. The result? Test prep classes yield a significant ROI, which is why parents should think of ACT and SAT scores as opportunities for tuition waiving and consider determining their own ROI for their student's test prep services.

Remember, merit-based scholarships typically are granted on a four to five-year level, assuming your child continues to perform well in college. Not only does the monetary return on test prep go up in value, consider that foundational pre-college test prep equips students with the building blocks necessary to study effectively beyond high school - helping to secure ongoing merit-based scholarships throughout their college careers. 

Now, weigh the fact that high-performing ACT/SAT scorers are far more likely to be accepted at competitive universities, and combine that knowledge with what we now know about merit-based scholarship allotments. Suddenly, the value of test prep isn’t abstract, but quantifiable. All in all, test prep allows students to perform with more confidence and ability, in turn boosting their chances at being accepted to the college of their choice. What’s more? The odds of your child receiving a merit-based scholarship that he or she can maintain for the long term go way up, too.

At Achieve Academics, we understand first-hand the value of quality, successful test prep. Not only do small group classes or one-on-one tutoring options build academic ability and confidence within your child, it also provides him or her with personalized study strategies and habits that last well into college. ACT/SAT scores certainly don’t define your child or their chances of success, but they can absolutely make a difference when it comes to being accepted at his or her top choice university, as well as determine how much tuition comes out of your wallet. In other words, an investment in quality test prep early on can pay dividends shortly down the road. At Achieve Academics, we’re here to help both you and your child reap the rewards of test prep, no matter your student’s needs, learning style, or goals.

The Value of Test Prep, Part 2: 3 Steps Toward Stronger Self-Discipline

Photo Credit: Bigstock.com

Photo Credit: Bigstock.com

Whether prepping for the SAT or ACT, an AP exam, or completing schoolwork, discipline is an acquired skill that not only gives students an academic edge, but ultimately sustains them for a lifetime. Many students might not realize that they already have a command of discipline. For instance, being part of a sports team certainly demands discipline. Most students take seriously their commitment to regular practices, learning plays and strategies, working out in the off-season, game prep, and more. Without discipline, a team can’t rightfully expect a winning season. The same is true in academics.

With that in mind, consider the following ways students can make discipline the centerpiece of their test prep strategy:

1.     Prioritize

Self-discipline has been famously described as “the difference between choosing what you want now and choosing what you want most.” In a similar vein, proper self-discipline requires students to think critically about their agenda, to determine how and when their time is best spent. It may be helpful for students to write out all due dates and deadlines, along with their associated tasks, in order to create a prioritized test prep schedule.

2.     Be Good to Your Body

Disciplining the mind toward test prep is a venture best aided by disciplining the body, too. Studying is optimized by the endorphins released during exercise. Likewise, staying active is a natural stress reliever, which makes it easier for students to enact discipline when the time comes. Nutrition also plays a pivotal role in brain and body preparedness. We’ve all heard of “brain food,” and it’s true that certain food items can boost clarity and recall, such as eggs, dark chocolate, fish, and even caffeine (in moderation).

3.     Create a Routine

Self-discipline is far easier to employ if a student is grounded in a regular test prep routine. In addition to crafting a prioritized study schedule, it’s useful to curate a routine that can be followed repeatedly, so that positive test prep habits are cemented and reinforced over time. What’s more, creating a routine puts students in the driver’s seat, ensuring that their test prep approach is tailored to their learning style, needs, and individual goals.

4.     Take Cues from a Coach

A surefire way to instill self-discipline in students is to enroll them in a small test prep class or pair them with a one-on-one tutor. Guided test prep gives students the tools, resources, and framework to establish their own good habits and routines. With built-in accountability and structure, one-on-one tutoring and small group courses work as incubators for developing self-discipline.

At Achieve Academics, we offer a variety of small group classes and one-on-one tutoring services that not only boost your student’s SAT, ACT, and/or AP performance, but also provide personalized strategies so that students stay engaged and proactive throughout their academic career. 

The Power of Good Grades

Photo Credit: Bigstock.com

Photo Credit: Bigstock.com

Getting good grades means more than just preparing students for college. A strong GPA imparts countless other positive benefits that prove valuable to students, in both their academic lives and beyond. Garnering high marks in school certainly positions students well for college, and of course, that’s one of the most important reasons to maintain a competitive GPA. But, let’s consider some of the additional benefits that students with good grades can enjoy:

 

1.     Good Grades Boost Confidence

When students work hard and receive good grades for their efforts, it not only results in an enviable GPA, it also means that students witness the fruits of their labor. After enacting discipline and diligence to earn an A, students enjoy a well-deserved confidence boost that will carry over into the next chapter or ensuing course. Good grades have the power to craft a more capable, confident, and proactive student who is unafraid of a challenge.

2.     Good Grades Let Students Do What They Want to Do

Sure, good grades are ingredient number one when it comes to applying to college, but they also set students on the right path toward their ultimate career field. While it can be challenging to envision the long-term returns of a high GPA, encourage your student to imagine himself or herself in a dream career, and then recognize that good grades are an essential step in achieving that goal. Lay the foundation now, and your student’s future self will be grateful.

3.     Good Grades Develop Lifelong Positive Habits

It takes self-discipline to earn good grades, and by putting in the work during school, students are also preparing themselves for college-level courses and eventually, a career. By forming good habits and routines in order to achieve high marks, students work as their own advocates, instilling within themselves the power to take on a difficult goal and achieve it. By steadily earning good grades throughout school, students will arrive at college with an already established framework to tackle future challenges.

4.     Good Grades Lead to Scholarships

College admissions are more competitive than ever, so it’s no wonder that GPAs are emphasized as a way for students to prove to universities that they are dedicated to their studies. But what’s more, good grades also lead to scholarship opportunities, which not only make college a more feasible financial undertaking, but also work well on a future resume, where recognition for scholastic achievement demonstrates much about a person’s work ethic and character.

 

At Achieve Academics, we provide a range of one-on-one tutoring services and small group classes for students of all learning styles, needs, and focuses. Whether prepping for the SAT, ACT, an AP exam, or if students are seeking to elevate their GPA and double-down on schoolwork, we provide the environment and resources necessary for students to fully engage with their academic goals. At Achieve Academics, we understand what’s necessary for a student to achieve success, and we’ll be there every step of the way. 

Is Self-Study a Good Fit for Your Student?

When striving for success on college applications, schoolwork, or the SAT/ACT, wisdom dictates that students and their families have a plan of attack. Perhaps the first go-to method in preparing for a test is the solo route: a student and a textbook, a few long hours of disciplined study, and hopefully some positive scores result. Additionally, the rise of online study tools has driven students even closer to the computer screen. But, since each student is both unique and complex—complete with particular strengths and weaknesses, goals, and learning styles—isn’t it prudent to consider if there’s a study method that better serves your child? 

When measuring which method of study best suits your child’s needs, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does your student have difficulty staying on task or maintaining focus? 
  • Does he or she have a specific SAT score goal that’s just out of reach?
  • Does your child struggle with test-taking related anxiety?
  • Does he or she keep a hectic schedule that makes it difficult to pencil in fruitful study hours?

Some students are well-suited for self-study or solo online study—particularly those good at exercising self-discipline, self-assessment, organization, and who seldom require feedback. But, the vast majority of students need extra structure and motivation to be set up for success. With that in mind, what are the benefits related to small group tutoring sessions and one-on-one tutoring help?

The Benefits of Small Group Prep Classes and One-on-One Tutoring
In the case of small group prep courses, there are key advantages when compared to solo self-study. For instance, a small group dynamic encourages a broader range of questions, which unearths more learning opportunities for your child to understand and engage with the material. Furthermore, in a well-led small group study environment students are motivated by one another and work harder to meet the group’s common goal. For the socially motivated student, or one who might otherwise have difficulty opening up in a one-on-one setting, perhaps a small group dynamic is best when it comes to test-preparedness.

Now consider one-on-one tutoring. This method is not only ideal for students who need help in closing learning gaps, but also for high-achieving students looking for a much-needed edge when it comes to AP exams or applying to college. In either case, one-on-one tutoring fosters a bond that makes for a productive and open learning environment—one that’s seldom replicated online or in the traditional classroom setting. 

At Achieve Academics, we provide a variety of settings to suit your student’s learning style—whatever his or her academic or college goals may be. From ACT/SAT test prep to doubling down on math and reading skills and more, our tutors are equipped with the expertise, experience, and resources necessary to build academic confidence in your child. Whatever study style suits your student, there’s a program or tutor at Achieve Academics to help. 

Contact us today at 763-559-8378, or via email at info@achieveacademics.com.

What Does My Student’s PSAT Score Mean?

Both sophomores and juniors alike are eligible to take the PSAT, and sophomore year is an excellent time for students to begin their exposure to standardized testing, in order to best understand any potential strengths and weaknesses. While sophomore year is a great jumping off point for the PSAT, it is during a student’s junior year that he or she may qualify for the National Merit Scholarship competition.  

Below are a few issues to consider as you decide how best to prepare your student for PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, College Entrance Exams, and applications. 

·      Assess Your Student’s Strengths and Weaknesses

Taking the PSAT in both sophomore and junior years can help students determine where their skills and aptitude are best showcased. Though the Junior Year results of the PSAT/NMSQT are vital in qualifying for scholarships and National Merit Finalist status, it also serves another purpose: helping students understand their performance and where they might improve. An especially useful attribute of the PSAT is that, along with their scores, students will have access to the actual PSAT test booklets they used. By reviewing problem areas, or the areas where students spent too little or too much time, students and tutors can build a dynamic, customized strategy to prep for the SAT. Students are also able to quickly, and without much effort, request information from colleges of potential interest. Furthermore, students are able to see what requirements a particular university may have, in order to better prepare for the college application process.

·      Determine How a Student Will Do On the SAT

Students are also able to use the PSAT to predict how they will do on the SAT. Both the PSAT and SAT are on the same vertical scale, though their ranges differ slightly. Math and Verbal Skills Sections range from 160 to 760 on the PSAT, while on the SAT they range from 200 to 800. This means that a score of 500 on a PSAT section could predict an equivalency of 500 on the SAT section. The final score on both the PSAT and SAT is the sum of both sections (Math and Verbal). Likewise, the maximum scores are 1520 for the PSAT and 1600 for the SAT. Don’t forget: though the essay portion of the SAT is optional, participation is recommended for students applying to competitive schools.

·      Learn About the National Merit Scholarship Process

Sophomores that received high overall scores on their PSAT, along with a high Selection Index Score, should also consider preparing to take the PSAT again during their junior year, in order to be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship process. About 1.5 million students participate in the National Merit Scholarship process every year, but only those who score in the top 4% (beyond a certain threshold, which varies by state) on the PSAT/NMSQT will qualify to be National Merit participants. This represents about 50,000 students that will qualify for any kind of National Merit Program recognition. In order for these participants to continue on to the next phase of the process, they must meet certain academic requirements specified by the NMSC.  Becoming a Finalist involves completing a follow-up application and taking the SAT within a year of their qualifying PSAT date. The finalists are determined in March of the student’s graduating year.

·      Learn About Your Student’s National Merit Scholarship Options

In addition to qualifying for a variety of scholarships offered though the NMSC (totaling $43 million), National Merit Semifinalists and Finalists are typically awarded larger scholarship sums. What’s more, they are often solicited as applicants by the 1,100+ colleges and universities that are privy to a student’s PSAT results—that is, if your student opts in to the College Board’s Student Search Service, free of charge.

While this introductory phase of the college test prep process might seem somewhat overwhelming as scores begin to roll in, the PSAT offers a unique opportunity for students to make their mark from the get-go. At Achieve Academics, we provide an array of PSAT, SAT, and ACT prep for students, including small group classes, one-on-one tutoring, and fully customized study strategies. No matter what your child’s learning style, strengths, weaknesses, or goals may be, the PSAT is a perfect entry point in which to build positive prep habits and create real results.

Contact us today at 763-559-8378, or via email at info@achieveacademics.com.

 

Online Tutoring: Pass or Fail?

As internet services become increasingly available, families look to technology to solve problems and to make life more efficient. Many of us use Nest to regulate our thermostat, track our bills with Mint, and coordinate family schedules with Cozi. But should this internet use extend to online tutoring? How do parents navigate the growing number of online tutoring companies that promise to fill academic needs without the student ever having to leave home?

There are many factors to consider when finding a tutor for your child. First ask yourself the question: “What are the goals I would like to see my child achieve through a tutoring relationship?” If your answer is more than homework help or specific topic reinforcement, you may find online tutoring will not fulfill your needs. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a quick fix. You may be trading off a chance for your child to grow academically in exchange for just covering the basic facts for a better grade.

When tutoring is productive, it is not just teaching basic knowledge. It becomes a mentoring relationship that fosters greater learning which leads to enrichment rather than rote memorization. Great teachers and tutors are effective because of the time they take to build relationships with the student that foster a trust between teacher and student. Trust takes time to build and occurs when people meet in person, not in an online chat. There are other less tangible reasons that in ­person tutoring beats out online tutoring. A good tutor will evaluate the student’s nonverbal cues such as body language or facial expression to know when a student isn’t “getting it.” These unique personal cues are lost during an online experience. Quality and consistency are other factors to consider when choosing an online versus an in­person tutoring service. Many online companies do not offer the ability to exclusively book with the same tutor. In addition, Princeton Review and many other online companies do not require their tutors have a teaching background or hold an advanced degree. With smaller companies and services, how do you know who is on the other end interacting with your child? Better to invest in a local credentialed tutor who has the experience and knowledge to adapt instruction to the specific needs of your unique child. Achieve Academics tutors are vetted, background checked, and trained before they ever meet with a single client.

Considering an online service because it’s convenient? Many Achieve Academics centers are open until 10pm during the week and have hours all day Saturday and Sunday to accommodate the full schedules of our clients. The in­ center experience elicits motivation and attention that students can find difficult to muster at home in their room on their laptops. The teaching environment is incredibly important to student focus and retention. Online tutoring lacks the essential engagement that the mind needs for optimal learning. Convenience may not be the best characteristic of effective learning. If schedules or hectic commutes just can’t be conquered, there may still be an efficient way to get that in ­person value with a hybrid approach. Tutors can meet initially in person and then use Skype once trust has been built.

This last strategy is a great one for students at boarding schools or families traveling to a Achieve Academics center from farther distances.

Bottom line: websites and apps can be great for reinforcement and practice, but by no means should they be a student’s primary source of academic support.

Achieve Academics is a national network of independent educators sharing resources and talent to deliver high quality tutoring and test preparation programs.

Whatever your student’s academic needs may be, Achieve Academics has a summer program that can help. Contact us today at 763-559-8378, or via email at info@achieveacademics.com.