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Frequently Asked Questions
Will test preparation really improve my scores?This is a no-brainer... 100% YES!!! Putting in the hours to thoroughly prepare for these high-stakes exams is critically important to maximizing your potential on test day. In fact, test prep is the only way to see significant improvements in your score, as standardized tests are designed to give you a consistent score unless you do something to develop academic and critical thinking skills in between testing administrations. The ACT and SAT are so much more than just content mastery exams; they test a student's critical thinking and analytical skills as well. Understanding how the test makers "think"... that is, how they have constructed the test questions and answer choices and formatted the overall flow of the exam... are vital skills for demonstrating success on the SAT and ACT. This is where test preparation is so beneficial. This is where putting in the hours to get inside the heads of the test makers to unpack their process is so crucial. This is why test preparation works. Score gains lie in the amount of time and focus that is given to learning proven test-taking strategies, fully grasping must-know academic content, and becoming familiar with the formulas used to construct the test questions and answer choices. These are all elements covered in the Learning Labs SAT/ACT prep classes and tutoring sessions. So, no worries. You do not have to do this alone. We have the proven expertise to help.
When should a student begin prepping for the SAT/ACT exams?The short answer to this loaded question is that a student should start SAT/ACT prep no later than Junior year and/or should start as soon the student finishes Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra 2! The Reading and English/Writing portions of the test could be tackled as early as 9th grade. The Math portion(s), however, will require foundational knowledge spanning from Pre-Algebra to Trigonometry, and we find that a student who has at least completed Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra 2 has had sufficient exposure to the formulas and content knowledge required for success on the SAT and ACT. This will make the prep experience so much more impactful. WANT TO KNOW THE BEST GAME PLAN? Start at the end of Sophomore year (summer before Junior year) or no later than January or May of Junior year. Here are three examples of the timelines used by our most successful students that follow this plan: Summer after Sophomore Year through the Fall of Junior Year In many cases, students will have completed the math prerequisites by the end of their Sophomore year of high school. Prepping over the summer between end of the Sophomore and beginning of the Junior year is ideal so that the student can test in August, September, and October and hopefully hit all of their score goals before the holiday season begins. It also provides the most time for students who want to take things slowly because they have really busy schedules with sports, work, and other extracurricular commitments. Fall of Junior Year to Winter or Spring of Junior Year Another ideal prep time is the Fall of Junior Year, either starting right at the beginning of the school year through the October, November, and December testing cycle or starting just after the holidays (first week of Dec or first week of Jan) and preparing for the Feb-March and/or April-May testing cycles. This is also a very popular test prep plan because it gets students ready for the free in-school SAT that is given at most high schools across the country in the month of March of a student's Junior year (an official test score that can be used for college applications at no cost to the student). Some schools provide the same option for free official ACT testing in April for their Juniors as well. Ask your school's guidance department which, if any, of the free in-school exam administrations are offered at your school, and plan your prep around getting ready for these free in-school testing options. Spring or Summer of Junior Year through the Fall of Senior Year Another great option (especially for students who are trying to finish up their math prerequisites) is to begin the Spring (April/May) of Junior year and prepare for the Summer and Fall testing cycles that will wrap up by October of Senior year. You will have enough time to get the prep needed to maximize your SAT/ACT gains before your scores are needed for early application deadlines in November and December of Senior Year. Waiting any later than these prep recommendations will put a significant amount of stress and anxiety on Seniors who already have far too much on their plates to juggle that final year of high school, and there will by no guarantee that the scores needed for scholarship eligibility or for top choice school eligibility will be met within such a tight timeline. IN A NUTSHELL: Enroll in SAT/ACT Prep no later than Junior Year! So, here's the bottom line: you should make plans to start prep during Sophomore or no later than Junior year... period. Be proactive and get it done early without the anxiety of stressful college application deadlines looming. Trust us when we tell you that you/your child will be so very thankful you started early and got this requirement out of the way. Also, most students tell us that the prep significantly helped their performance in their classes at school because the grammar, reading comprehension, and math remediation we do as part of the course helped to better prepare them for the coursework and testing they were doing in school! Win-win! More the reason to start soon and get that added benefit of higher scores and greater confidence in school as well. :-) You need to do Senior Year Prep? Hey... Better Late than Never! Let's go! All of this said, if you are reading this right now and you/your child is a Senior and you missed these start dates from Sophomore or Junior year, don't have a meltdown and assume that all hope is lost. Just get started immediately! The sooner you/your child can begin prep, the better! There is no time to spare since college applications will have deadlines between Nov 1st and March 1st for you to meet. Time is of the essence! It takes a minimum of 8-12 weeks (sometimes longer) to truly have the strategies fully click for maximum gains, so don't wait! Enroll today! REMEMBER: Test Prep is the Secret Sauce to Earning Higher Scores... You WANT to know these secrets. Because there are so many awesome tips, tricks, and formulas that a student needs to know in order to unlock the secrets to higher scores on the SAT/ACT exams, not prepping is not an option. Start making plans now for at least 3 months of dedicated test preparation (a minimum of one hour each week for every topic in which you need to boost scores... so four hours a week for all four sections of the test). This is the easiest and most stress-free way to check this important college admissions requirement off the to-do list! Higher Scores, here we come!
Is there a way to calculate how many hours of prep a student will need in order to achieve a specific number of point gains?While every student embarks upon test prep with different learning abilities and background knowledge (which definitely impacts how quickly or slowly test-taking techniques "click"), studies have shown that, on average, a student needs approximately 10 hours of prep to improve 1 composite point on the ACT or 30-40 points on the SAT. We find that most students come to us in need of 4-6 points to hit their ACT score goal or 130-200 points to hit their SAT goal, therefore 40-60 hours is typically needed to achieve these targets (sometimes even more). Here's an approximate look at typical enrollment periods for a student seeking the following point gains: 4-point increase on ACT... minimum 40 hrs* 5-point increase on ACT... minimum 50 hrs* 6-point increase on ACT... minimum 60 hrs* 7-point increase on ACT... minimum 70 hrs* 8-point increase on ACT... minimum 80 hrs* 130-point increase on SAT... minimum 40 hrs* 160-point increase on SAT... minimum 50 hrs* 200-point increase on SAT... minimum 60 hrs* 230-point increase on SAT... minimum 70 hrs* 260-point increase on SAT... minimum 80 hurs* *These are estimated lengths of prep based on average gains we have seen from previous students and from data we have also seen from fellow test prep providers who shared their results as well. Some of our students have achieved these score gains in fewer hours and some have needed more hours to hit these same targets. It really depends on the student -- where he/she is starting with foundational knowledge and if any processing issues are present (ADD/ADHD/Dyslexia/etc.).
Is there a way to determine how an SAT score compares to an ACT score (and vice versa)? Is there a conversion chart?A score conversion calculator (such as the one linked below) is a helpful way to see how comparable the scores on these two tests are. This is particularly useful when a student already has existing SAT and ACT scores but needs to determine which of their official scores is higher so that they know which test format is a better fit for their prep efforts and which score best represents their academic aptitude on college applications. We often use this conversion tool when trying to help students determining which test is a better (more natural) fit for a them based on their starting SAT/ACT baseline scores. For example, if a student has a starting score of 23 on the ACT and has a starting score 1040 on the SAT, we can type these numbers into the conversion calculator and see that the ACT score of 23 is comparable to an 1140 on the SAT, which is higher than the SAT score the student earned. This indicates that the ACT is likely this student's stronger test and, therefore, the format that we will want to give the greatest attention to maximize gains during the student's prep with us. If no previous scores exist, we have the student take a free practice test for ACT on one weekend and then an SAT another weekend so that we can compare their scores and determine the best plan of action.
What is considered a "good score" on the SAT and ACT?The answer to the question, "What is a good score on the SAT or ACT?" is, in all honesty, best answered with the statement, "It depends from student to student." Some students may need a 99th percentile level score to qualify for admission to an Ivy League school while others are seeking a solid 70th-80th percentile score to achieve a partial- or full-ride college scholarship. Both outcomes provide really good scores to meet the individual academic goals of the test takers. What scores will get you acceptance letters to college? If you want to know what scores will garner a student acceptance letters from colleges and universities, the minimum number a student should be shooting for is a composite of 1030+ (out of a possible 1600 points) on the SAT or a 20+ composite score (out of a possible 36 points) on the ACT. (Note: The term "composite score" represents the combined section scores on the SAT and the combined average of the section scores for the ACT.) For students looking to gain acceptance to more competitive schools, a minimum composite score in the 1210+ range (SAT) or 25+ range (ACT) will often hit the mark. These are also the minimum scores needed for the Florida Bright Futures Medallion Scholarship (covering 75% college tuition at most Florida schools). The 90th percentile high-flyers who seek acceptance at the most competitive schools in the country will need to secure 1330+ (SAT) and 29+ (ACT) composite scores. These are also the minimum scores needed for the Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholarship (covering 100% college tuition at most Florida schools). Ivy League Schools (such as Harvard and Yale, for example) typically require a 1420+ (SAT) or a 32+ (ACT) composite score, give or take. Be sure to research the requirements and average acceptance rate scores that are specific to the Ivy League schools to which you are wanting to apply, as this will be helpful in setting your target.
Does a student need to have official scores from previous SAT / ACT exam administrations in order to start this course?Yes and no. Yes, we need baseline scores to help us create a learning plan, but, no, this baseline does not need to be from an official SAT or ACT exam administration. We offer free online baseline testing every Saturday and Sunday starting at 9:25am and ending around 12:45pm. The data from these free baseline tests (which utilize real released SAT and ACT tests) will serve as the starting point from which the student will grow and be monitored for improvement throughout the program.
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