The New Digital SAT

How Different Is the New Digital SAT?

How Different Is the New Digital SAT?

The SAT is currently in the process of transitioning from its current format to a new digital version. Here are some key facts about the difference between the two tests. For more information about the timeline of the change and how it might impact your (or your student’s) prep process, please check out this post.SAT timeline

Digital vs Paper

The new SAT will be digital, unlike the current version, which is mostly administered on paper. Some schools have administered computer-based SAT School Day exams. This is not the same as the new digital SAT. The current computer-based SATs have been the same types of exams as the paper tests, whereas the new digital SAT has significant differences. 


The new exam will be about 2 hours and 15 minutes long, including a break, compared to the current exam, which is about 3 hours and 20 minutes, including breaks.


The current SAT has 4 sections: Reading, Writing and Language, Math (no calculator), and Math (Calculator). The new digital test will have just two sections: Reading/Writing and Math. The new Reading and Writing section includes a lot of topics that would have been tested in the current Reading or Writing and Language sections. Questions about grammar and punctuation, reading comprehension, and charts and graphs are all combined into one section. 

Computer Adaptive

The new test is computer adaptive. Each section is divided into two modules. Depending on how you perform in the first module, the second module will be easier or more difficult. According to College Board, “being adaptive means we can fairly and accurately measure the same things with a shorter test while preserving test reliability.”

Passage Length

Currently, the Reading and Writing and Language sections are passage-based, with multiple questions coming from each passage. The new Reading and Writing section does not follow this format. Each individual question is based on its own short passage.

No-Calculator Section 

There will no longer be any no-calculator Math section. A calculator will be allowed on the entire Math section. (There is a built-in calculator, or a student may bring their own.) There are, of course, more differences than we have included here! This is just an overview of the changes to the test. 

If you have any further questions, please reach out to one of our tutors. 

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What is ACT Prep?

What is ACT Prep?

What is ACT Prep?

ACT prep refers to the process of preparing for the ACT exam, which is a standardized test used by many colleges and universities in the United States to evaluate a student’s readiness for higher education. ACT stands for American College Testing, and the exam consists of multiple-choice questions in the areas of English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning, and is typically taken by high school students in their junior or senior year.

The goal of ACT prep is to improve a student’s familiarity with the exam format and content, and to help them develop the skills and strategies needed to succeed on test day. This may include improving reading comprehension, math skills, grammar and punctuation, time management, practicing with sample questions, and test-taking strategies. ACT Prep can also help students gain confidence in their abilities and reduce test anxiety.

Students may choose to take the ACT exam multiple times, and many find that their scores improve with additional preparation and practice. A higher score on the ACT can improve a student’s chances of being accepted into the college or university of their choice, as well as potentially qualify them for scholarships or other forms of financial aid.

Working with tutors or taking courses to improve skills and knowledge in the subject areas being tested is one of the best ways to help prepare for the test. Knowledgeable tutors can help students think differently when it comes to the ACT, especially if students have taken the test multiple times and keep getting the same score. Using proven strategies, tutors are able to unlock new and different ways of approaching the test allowing students to increase their overall composite score.



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Bright Flight Program

Bright Flight Program for Missouri Students

The Bright Flight Program is a great way for Missouri students to get a head start on their college education. It’s a scholarship program that can help students pay for school, and it’s available at all levels: community colleges and four-year universities alike.

Bright Flight is based on your ACT score, so the higher your score, the more money you can get from Bright Flight. The Bright Flight eligibility scores are also increasing with the class of 2023 seniors. Students will need to score a 32 to qualify for up to $3,000 or a 31 to qualify for up to $1,000.

If you’re interested in applying for Bright Flight, here are some things you should know:

  • The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development will begin recognizing Superscores for Bright Flight eligibility beginning with the seniors graduating in 2023. 

  • Your qualifying score must be achieved by the June test date immediately following your graduation from high school. Keep in mind, the score achieved on the July test date immediately following your graduation from high school does not qualify for the Bright Flight scholarship program. 

  • To qualify for the program, students must enroll full time at a participating Missouri school.  Full-time enrollment is defined as a minimum of 12 semester hours, or 6 semester hours for students who are unable to enroll in 12 hours as a result of a disability defined by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • Bright Flight offers scholarships between $1,000 and $3,000 per semester, depending on your ACT score—the higher your score is, the more money you’ll receive! Scholarships are awarded based on merit; there are no athletic or artistic requirements necessary to qualify for Bright Flight scholarships.

  • There is no Bright Flight application to complete. The MDHEWD will receive your ACT, along with approved Missouri college or university choices, from your ACT records. In order to have your score sent to MDHEWD, students need to enter in the following code when registering for the ACT: 2379. It takes approximately six to eight weeks after each national test date for the MDHEWD to receive assessment information.

  • Not only does this program identify public and private schools, but also individuals who have graduated from Missouri’s virtual public school, have completed a home-school program or have obtained a certificate of high school equivalence by passing the GED exam may be considered for the scholarship program.

Renewal of Bright Flight Scholarship

To renew the scholarship, students must continue to meet the eligibility requirements for initial students. Students must receive the scholarship at least one semester each academic year, beginning with the academic year immediately following your senior year in high school, receipt of the GED, or completion of your secondary coursework, if home-schooled.

Students will also have to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 and maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school. Renewal of the scholarship may be completed annually for up to 10 semesters or until you have completed a bachelor’s degree, whichever occurs first.

For more information about the Bright Flight Program for Missouri students, visit their website


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Are ACT Prep Classes Worth it

Are ACT Prep Classes Worth It?

Are ACT Prep Classes Worth It?

The answer is: it depends on your goals. This course is designed for students who enjoy a small classroom setting (between 3-6 students) and feel comfortable learning with a other students scoring in a similar ACT range, specifically between a 19-26 composite score. With that taken into consideration, and if you want to improve your score 2-5 points on the ACT, then an ACT prep class is a good fit for you. 

We know that when students take an ACT prep class, they want to know exactly what they’re getting out of it and what they can expect from the experience. Our goal at Get Smarter Prep is to ensure that every student who takes a class with us understands exactly what they’ll learn, how long it will take them to see results, and build confidence when it comes to taking the ACT.

So, here’s a quick rundown of what our ACT prep classes entail:

– 20-hr Course Instruction (8-week course) meeting 1-2x per week for 2 hours each session. Students will have approximately 90-180 minutes of homework per session.

-Learn about all four sections of the test (English, Math, Reading & Science).

-Learn strategies for solving problems in each section so that you can complete them efficiently and quickly.

-Get more practice under your belt by taking a practice test, midterm and final. Each of these tests are full-length, proctored ACT tests from previous real ACT’s. Our students will have taken three full-length ACT’s before taking the official ACT, which makes them more comfortable in a real-life setting.

-Get feedback from your tutor on the ACT’s you’ve taken to be able to see where you’ve improved and what you still need to work on.

Are ACT Prep Classes Worth It? In short, yes. However, it does depend on whether or not the student puts in the effort, mindfully completes the homework and is engaged in class. If students can do that, then an ACT Prep Class is 100% worth it. 

Our tutors want to be a resource for you, sharing their expertise and knowledge in a way that helps you better understand the material and achieve your goals! GSP tutors have a combined 100 years of experience working with students, and we’re excited to get to help you achieve your ACT goals!  Start Today.

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Week Leading up to the test

Planning for the Week Leading Up to the Test

The week leading up to the ACT can be very stressful. Here are some tips for focusing on the most important things to help ensure your success!

  • Sleep.

I know, you’ve got a thousand things to do and it’s Simply. Not. Possible. But here’s the truth: there are an immutable number of hours in each day. Only a certain number of things can fit into those hours. If you have more things than hours, you have to prioritize. Making a decision to sacrifice sleep is also a decision to sacrifice test performance. This is science, and you’re not exempt from scientific reality.

If you’re already in the habit of ruthlessly going to bed on time, that’s fantastic! If you aren’t, it’s time to begin to cut down on your sleep debt this week. Please don’t think you can stay up all week studying and go to bed at 8:00 PM on Friday night and make it all up. The math just doesn’t work. Think about what you might be able to skip or postpone until after the test, and get to bed earlier.

  • Keep studying.

If you’ve been preparing, you should feel pretty ready by the week before the test. (If you haven’t been studying, and you know you’re not prepared, consider not taking the test.)

Continuing to practice your strategies this week is a great idea. Pick a couple of specific things that you feel you could still improve on. This isn’t the time for radical changes, but maybe you want to decrease your time per Reading passage by one minute. Maybe you need to review punctuation questions one more time, or spend some more time with geometry formulas.

Spend a bit of time each day studying, if you can. But don’t skip sleep to study, don’t plan to take eighteen practice tests this week, and don’t practice when you’re not feeling at least mostly calm, focused, and alert.

  • Eat well. (But don’t make drastic changes).

This is not the week to start a juice cleanse or to cut out sugar completely. It won’t hurt, however, to eat a few more fruits and vegetables. And if you’re not in the habit of eating breakfast, start now! Breakfast on test day is important, and starting a week ahead will give you a chance to see what works best for you. Does cereal leave you hungry ninety minutes later? Do eggs and bacon make you feel sluggish? Maybe smoothies are more your speed?

  • Get everything ready ahead of time.

Make sure your admission ticket, ID, pencils, calculator, watch, and snacks are all ready to go, well in advance. Double-check batteries in anything that needs batteries. Make sure your calculator is approved by ACT. Put everything in one place Friday evening, so that the morning is as simple as can be.

  •  Take it easy on Friday, and wake up early on test day.

Don’t plan to spend Friday working on ACT prep. Use Friday to relax and get to bed early.

In the morning, leave yourself plenty of time to wake up, eat breakfast, and get to the testing center. If you end up with extra time, take a quick walk or read a bit – anything to make sure you’re fully awake, especially if you’re not a morning person!

The ACT can be a stressful experience, but preparation is key! Having a clear plan and getting plenty of rest can ensure that you’re ready to face the test and reach your goals.

By: Audrey Hazzard, Premier-Level Tutor

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Early Decision vs Regular Decision

Early Decision or Regular Decision?

Early decision or regular decision? What is the difference, and which one is right for me? You’re not alone if you aren’t quite sure which one is going to be a good fit for you. Let’s break it down.

Is Early Decision For You?

Early decision deadlines vary slightly, with most falling on November 1 or November 15. Colleges will notify you usually mid-to-late December. This option is ideal for students who have clearly identified their first choice for college. However, students may only apply to one school and that application is binding, meaning that if a student is accepted under ED, they must withdraw all applications to other schools as they are now committed to attending that school.

Statistics show that there is an increased acceptance rate for applicants who applied during early decision deadlines, compared to those who applied to those same schools during the regular decision deadline.

Other advantages to ED are that your application will be seen by admissions officers sooner and you will be competing with fewer applicants. Students will also know sooner if they are accepted.

On the flip side, there are a couple of disadvantages that students do need to be aware of. You can only apply to one early decision school and if accepted, you must attend, which means you can’t compare financial aid offers between multiple schools.

Is Regular Decision the Right Choice?

Regular Decision application deadlines usually fall between January 1 or January 15 of your senior year but can range from November 30 to March 15. Notification dates are typically by April 1. Regular admissions are one of the most common application options since students can apply to as many schools as they want under this option. 

There are advantages to this choice. This option gives students more time to submit applications and achieve higher ACT scores for additional scholarships. If students aren’t sure which school is the best fit for them, it gives them more time to decide. Unlike early decision, there is no pressure to commit early if accepted. Another big advantage is being able to compare financial aid offers from multiple colleges.

A couple of downfalls of RD are that students will have to wait until later in the spring to hear back from colleges, which is always a busy time of the year for seniors. Most students submit their applications for RD, so your application may not stand out among the majority of applications.

Bottom line, the application process will be different for every student. Before you apply make sure you weigh out the advantages and disadvantages to each option. As always, if you need help deciding which option is right for you, reach out to us. Our college counselors are here to help!

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Asking for Recommendations

How to Ask for Recommendations

It’s that time! Time to start thinking about and asking for recommendations. Many colleges require two recommendations; some even require three! Additionally, while a college may not require a recommendation for admission, it may require one for scholarships.

A recent article on the College Admission Book website gives three key pointers for asking for recommendations:

* Ask in person. No emails. A personal request is most thoughtful.
Do not ask for more recommendations than you need. Pick two teachers and use the same two for all your applications.
* Say “please” when you ask and “thank you” when the teacher agrees.

Additional Pointers:

There are four more pointers I would like to add to their list:

* Choose your recommenders wisely: someone who know you well, a teacher who taught you recently, perhaps a teacher who teaches a core subject.
* Give your teachers ample amount of time to write your recommendation. Don’t make them feel rushed for your lack of planning.
Give them 90 days
. The more time they have, the better your chance of getting a wonderful recommendation will be.
* Make sure to send them a hand-written thank you note after they have written your recommendations.
* Let them know which college you decide to attend.

Recommendations are also important for internships and jobs. Future employers want to know that that information on your resume is truthful and true to your real life experience. They want to know not only if you are qualified for the job, but also if you will be a good person to have around the office. Different jobs and industries place differing levels of strength on the resume versus interpersonal skills. For example, a human resources manager works with other employees all day and needs to have strong communication skills, whereas a forest fire lookout does not interact with people as frequently.

If you would like to know more about which jobs would be suited to your skills and interests, a good resource is our Career Assessment!

Although asking for recommendations can be intimidating at first, by following these simple steps you will get the hang of it in no time!

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30 ACT Score

The Infamous 30 ACT Composite Score

Everyone wants the infamous 30 ACT composite score. Why does every student desire a 30 on their ACT?  Just to say they have a 30? What does a 30 composite score actually get you?  More scholarships? Entry into a highly selective school? The ability to say you scored a 30?  Maybe.  Maybe a 30 composite score will get you all of those things, but let’s take a closer look to see if that score is the right score for you.

Did you know that the National average ACT score for college bound students is a 20.6? The average for the state of Kansas is 20.4 and the average score for the state of Missouri is a 20.7. The average for Blue Valley District is 24.2., the average for Shawnee Mission District is 21.5, and the average for the Olathe District is 22.1, the three largest districts in JOCO.

ACT Average Scores

Overall, Johnson County is performing well above the state and national averages.


So why does a 30 ACT score haunt high school students?  For most students, scholarship money is what drives a student to achieve the very best score they can. For example, The University of Kansas gives a break down of scholarships related to ACT/SAT scores, plus their GPA score.  The funny thing is, the break down doesn’t provide any more money for a 30.  The additional scholarship money is awarded when a student goes from a 28 to a 31. If a student already has a 28 on their ACT, the infamous 30 shouldn’t factor into the discussion.

Make sure you at least have an outline of the types of colleges you would like to attend and then take those schools’ scholarship requirements into consideration. Most students would be shocked to realize the break usual isn’t at 30, but closer to 31, if not a 32 or higher.

The same principal applies to college entry.  Highly selective schools typically don’t look for a standard of a 30 ACT (or it’s SAT equivalent). They look for higher scores starting at a 31 or 32, plus a fantastic GPA of around 3.75 or higher. For example, Vanderbilt University in Nashville typical accepts students scoring in the 32-35 range. The middle 50% of scorers at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois is 31-34, similar to that of Duke University in Durham, NC. The bottom line is, do your research on the schools with which you’re truly interested and figure out if a 30 is sufficient or if you need to score even higher.

It’s so important to set proper goals based on what you are interested in, your ability, and what is tangible for you. If you take a pretest and score a 17 composite score, a 30 is big stretch – to say the least! Do you have endless amounts of time to study? What about your class schedule in high school? You don’t want to fall behind on your regular classes to study hours and hours for the ACT.

Extracurricular Activities

Another factor to consider is all of your extracurricular activities. Studying for and taking the October ACT while you are in football or volleyball will be totally overwhelming. How full is your schedule this semester? Do you even have the time and energy to spend on achieving a 30? The ACT has several test dates from which to choose throughout the year; choose one that makes sense for you and your schedule. Get Smarter Prep has different prep options for any type of student: from a small group course to semi-private and private tutoring. Select an option and test date that will set you up for success, not overwhelm you.  Setting a tangible goal score will the best way to assure success, whether it’s the infamous 30, a solid 26, or a Kansas average of 21.7. 

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