ACT Myths

ACT and SAT Myths

Periodically we hear ACT and SAT myths circulating around the Kansas City area, some related to us by parents, others related to us by our students. We’ve collected a few of them here – some to roast, some to verify as truth, but mostly to inform about disinformation. We hope it is helpful!

1. Isn’t the SAT for East and West Coast schools only?

Ah, one of the most popular and longest-lasting myths. Absolutely not.

One of the first items of research for us was actual verification of the fact that not one of the schools in the top 100 of US News and World Report had a preference for a particular test. My staff has personally called every single one of their admissions offices and the answer remains the same: We have no preference.

2. Don’t they take my best scores from various tests and create a “best score” for me?

Depends on the test and depends on the school. For example:

The ACT offers a Superscore – the average of the four best subject scores from each ACT test attempt—and counts it as your official score. However, not all colleges Superscore, so students still have to do their own research when it comes to their college lists.

University of Southern California – takes your best per section on the SAT. So, for example, if I got a 730 Reading, and 770 Math on one test, and a 710 Reading, and 700 Math on another, USC would pick your 730 Reading, and 770 Math to give you a score of 1500. A mythical score based on two different tests, but hey, we’ll take it!

University of California, Los Angeles – only takes your best composite. So, here score choice works well because you can send them your best score after you’re done testing for the last time.

3. Shouldn’t I just take the test over and over and keep trying to do better? I’ve got nothing to lose.

I can’t begin to imagine the stress of taking the ACT or SAT 2-3-4-5 times in the hopes of getting higher scores. Our philosophy is and remains, prep using us or some other prep program, take it once, maybe one more if you want AND need a higher score. Maybe a third time if we are one point away from a scholarship or an athletic spot or if you are trying to Superscore and need a higher score in one particular subject.

It’s not like students have a bunch of time to study for these tests over and over, or a surfeit of Saturday mornings to spend in a classroom for 3.5 hours testing. Three or fewer. That’s our general rule.

Sign up for a free practice test to find out where you stand!

4. Shouldn’t I just take this at the end of my junior year so I don’t stress about it? Junior year is supposed to be the most important year academically, right?

Right motivation, wrong strategy. Absolutely junior year is the year. It’s the toughest, most grueling, most relevant for college admissions.

The answer to this question is not cookie cutter. I can rephrase it to read: “When should we take the test for the first time?”

I would answer that by asking: “When are you most available to prep?”

Some people play sports year round and so summer is a great time for them to prep leading into a September or October test date.

Others prefer to prep in Fall or Spring. The answer depends on your student’s time resources to dedicate to prep. And, if you’re like some of my students, there is never any extra time, so the sooner we start, the better.

As far as prep goes, my only recommendation is to prep towards a given test date. It makes sense to go to summer clinics for sports because you might be competing in tournaments throughout the summer or because you want to keep your skills up for when the season restarts. But to do a test prep class and then not take the real test for months? What can be retained for all those months without constant practice? That’s why we never have classes at Get Smarter Prep without a test date that we are working towards.

Remember, if you ever have any questions about anything regarding standardized testing, feel free to contact our team.

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Demonstrated Financial Need

Demonstrated Financial Need

There are hundreds of phrases surrounding college applications and financial aid, but one in particular has been circulating recently which is, Demonstrated Financial Need.

Cost of Attendance (COA) minus (-) Expected Family Contribution (EFC) equals (=) Demonstrated Financial Need.

The term, “demonstrated financial need” is basically the difference between the Cost of Attendance (COA) and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The Cost of Attendance is rather easy to figure out since it’s the college sticker price and is stated on the website or brochure. However, how do you calculate you Expected Family Contribution?

EFC is the amount that is used to determine your eligibility for need-based federal financial aid. This amount (your EFC) is based on the data you provided in FAFSA such as the family’s earnings, assets, household size, and other factors. Your EFC will generally be lower for lower-income families and higher for higher-income families.  See example below.

Cost of Attendance at University of Arkansas                                  $26,978
Subtract EFC (which you provided in FAFSA)                                  –$10,000
Demonstrated Need                                                                             $16,978

There are numerous US colleges that meet 100% of Demonstrated Need. Yes, that is correct. Financial aid packages can include different types of assistance including grants and scholarships (money you do not need to repay), student loans (money you do need to repay), and student employment funding (also known as work-study).

For more information about Demonstrated Financial Need or to discuss colleges that meet Demonstrated Financial Need, contact us. Our college experts are happy to help students prepare for college.

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2022-2023 ACT Test Dates

ACT Releases Test Dates for 2022-2023

If you like planning ahead as much as we do, then you are in luck since ACT just released test dates for the 2022-2023 calendar year. See below. There are a couple of test dates left for this calendar year including April 2nd, June 11th and July 16th. Next up for the fall include September 10th, October 22nd and December 10th. Take a look at the dates below and start thinking about which dates would work best for you and your schedule.

2022-2023 ACT Test Dates

Choose the Right Test Date

Look at your academic load and see if you are able to handle adding test prep for eight weeks on top of your classes. Keep in mind, you and your tutor will meet once a week for an hour and a half plus you will have about 2-3 hours of ACT homework to finish each week before your next tutoring session.

Another item to think about is how active you are in sports. If you’re right in the middle of your season, then preparing for the ACT on top of practices and games isn’t going to work out the best. Wait until you are finished with your season to start preparing for the ACT.

The June and July test dates are also good options for students with a heavy academic load. Students will have a few weeks to prepare for the June test after school ends, and prep for the July test typically begins in June.

No matter which test date a student chooses, it’s important to prioritize those 8-10 weeks of test prep in order to put your best foot forward for the ACT. If you need help figuring out which test date is best for you and how best to prepare for the test, please reach out to us. Our ACT experts are here to help!

Contact Us Today. 

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Setting a Goal

Setting A Goal

It’s one of the main questions we ask every single one of our students before we start any kind of ACT prep. What’s your goal? Why do you want that goal? Is it because you’re trying to get into a certain college or are you trying to obtain a scholarship? Either way, having a goal in mind makes it a lot easier to distinguish what to do and what not to do when students start preparing for the ACT.

When do I choose a goal?

As soon as possible. Keep in mind, that may look different for every student. However, for the majority of students the best time to start preparing is the end of sophomore year or beginning of Junior year. It also depends on your academics and which classes you’ve already taken in high school. The math portion of the ACT is heavy in Algebra, so if a student is taking Algebra II as a sophomore, then end of your sophomore year is a perfect time to start. If you are a Junior and taking Algebra II, then the end of your Junior year is more appropriate.

If you already have a college or university in mind and know what type of ACT score you need for admittance, then you might be a step ahead of everyone else. Or, if you need a certain ACT score for a scholarship, that is a fantastic reason to reach your goal!

The best way to start preparing early is to take a Free Practice Test to establish a baseline score. We offer those every Saturday morning at Get Smarter Prep. Once you have a baseline, we can determine how best to prepare for the ACT. Some students may need a full 15-hour Private Tutorial to reach the highest score possible. Other students are a good fit for one of our Standard or Advanced Courses. We won’t know how best to prepare until a baseline is established, so take advantage of our practice tests.

Why set a goal?

Setting a goal is one of the most assured ways of meeting a goal. A Harvard Business study revealed amazing statistics relating to goal setting and success. The study found that 14% who have goals are 10 times more successful than those without goals. Go ahead and write down your goals and then share them with your tutor, parents, and those who are supportive of your goals.

Is my goal realistic?

That depends. Are you willing to shift activities around to accommodate sessions, complete homework, and put in the effort? Our tutors have seen increases up to 12+ points for students who are dedicated to their goals. If a student only wants a 2-3 point increase, the same dedication applies to the student who wants a larger increase, it may just look a little different. It depends on the level of tutor, the length of test prep, and if students are willing to put in the work to meet or exceed their goals.

If you’re having a difficult time setting a goal or don’t know what a good goal should be, then contact us. We are happy to help students figure out what an appropriate goal is for them and work towards reaching that goal!

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ACT Accommodations

ACT Testing Accommodations

At Get Smarter Prep, we understand some students may have testing accommodations to be used on the ACT. Our tutors are happy to allow those accommodations with proof of official ACT accommodations, IEP documentation or 504 plan.  We will honor those accommodations on the ACT Practice Test, Midterm, and Final as well as how our tutors instruct their students with official documentation.

We want what’s best for our students, which is why ask for documentation (official email from ACT) prior to testing or tutoring. If you don’t have an official email from ACT yet, we will make exceptions for current accommodations in high school such as an IEP or 504 plan. However, it is the students’ and/or parents’ responsibility to set up testing accommodations from ACT.

You can see the ACT Policy for Requesting Accommodations Here as well as the ACT Accommodations Eligibility Requirements Here.

Common Accommodations:

  • Extended time.
  • Computer use for essays.
  • Extra and extended breaks.
  • Reading accommodations (like an audio test format)
  • Use of a four-function calculator for math sections.
  • Multiple-day testing.
  • Small group setting.

ACT Private Tutoring is the best option for students with testing accommodations. Private Tutoring is designed for students who need more time to grasp ACT strategies, manage time within their allotted time frame and/or better understand how to maximize their accommodations. Students will take three proctored Practice Tests with Private Tutoring all with ACT accommodations.

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Changes to the SAT

More Changes to the SAT

CollegeBoard made the announcement that they will make the transition to the digital SAT at international test centers in March of 2023 and at U.S. schools and test centers in spring of 2024. What stays the same and what will change?

The digital SAT will continue to measure the knowledge and skills that students are learning in school and that matter most for college and career readiness. The test will still be scored on the same 1600 scales as before and will be administered in a school or in a test center with a proctor present, but not at home. Students will continue to connect directly to scholarships and will also be given accommodations for those students who receive them.

Now let’s review more changes to the SAT that are being made below.

Changes to the SAT

Get Smarter Prep will continue to offer Semi-Private and Private Tutoring for students moving forward with the SAT.

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Owners of Get Smarter Prep

Get Smarter Prep Under New Ownership

We would like to inform our students and families about the transfer of ownership of Get Smarter Prep. We have been eagerly waiting to inform all of you that Wally Ventures, LLC. has sold the property of Get Smarter Prep to Caleb and Molly Pierce. There will be few changes as Caleb has been the President of the company for many years. This new ownership of the property will take effect January 16, 2022.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of the Get Smarter Prep story for the last ten years, and I’m excited to be able to have an even bigger hand in writing the next chapter,” said Caleb Pierce, Get Smarter Prep President. “I also want to thank the amazing staff who have always demonstrated the utmost responsibility and expertise in all they do. I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with such amazing people over the years. I also want to thank Mike Walrod for his mentorship, support, and, at times, his necessary patience with me.”Owners of Get Smarter Prep

In the immediate future, we don’t expect much to change from the current trajectory. Within the next year, expect some moderate changes to some of our products/offerings, with the goal to improve the student experience, maximize students’ scores, and meet the demand in the current marketplace.

You have always been our trusted supporters and clients from the very beginning of our company over 15 years ago and we wish for your support as always. We hope you will be very happy with the change in ownership and help us to complete this process with success.

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