Should You Take the SAT/ACT Essay? Making the "Write" Choice

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Thursday, August 01, 2019

     

    Updated August 3, 2019 - Over the last two years, a variety of high-profile colleges have announced that the SAT/ACT essay will now be optional for applicants to their schools because they believe a single essay cannot reliably predict a student’s college writing capabilities. As of this posting, only about 10 colleges still require the SAT/ACT essay—but those colleges include popular powerhouses such as all University of California schools. Additionally, an additional 15+ colleges, including competitive schools like Duke, recommend that applicants submit an SAT/ACT essay score.  Finally, Princeton, in a move mimicked by Brown (and likely other colleges soon), has made the SAT/ACT essay optional, but instead requires all applicants to submit a graded writing sample. Should YOU plan to take the SAT/ACT essay? Here’s how to decide.

     

    Read More

    Topics: ACT, SAT, College Admissions: Explore Early, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, 12th Grade - Seniors, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage

    Building Your College List: A Five-Step Process, Plus Tips from a Successful Dimond High School Grad

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Wednesday, June 19, 2019

     

     

    Developing a working college list no later than junior year, and finalizing it before senior year begins, is what sets the most competitive applicants apart.  If there's one thing about college admissions that high school students should learn upfront, it's that all roads in high school lead from where you intend to apply to college.  The colleges on your list will determine the minimum GPA you should aim for, which standardized tests you need take (and the scores required to make you a competitive candidate), how many essays you will need to write, what kind of scholarship opportunities may be available, which other application deliverables you may need to prepare, application/testing/scholarship deadlines, and much more.

     

    Whether you're a sophomore or a senior, it's never too early to start thinking about where you aspire to attend college, and how you can start building your application assets to be a competitive candidate by the time you apply. In this post, I'll explain our five-step process to identifying your colleges of interest.  I'll also describe how I work with my college admissions consulting students to professionally guide them in developing their preliminary and final college lists.

     

    Step 1: Start Early

    Step 2: Consider Your Assets and Preferences

    Step 3: Research Colleges

    Step 4: Develop Your Preliminary College List

    Step 5: Finalize Your College List

     

    Read More

    Topics: College Admissions: Explore Early, 9th Grade - Freshmen, College Admissions: Excel Academically, College Admissions: Build Your Application Assets, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, 12th Grade - Seniors, College Admissions: Apply Right, College Admissions: Test Well

    How I Did It: 97th Percentile SAT Score, Middlebury Admission, a $46,000 Scholarship to MSU - Interview with a Dimond High School Grad

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Wednesday, June 19, 2019

     

     

    "What I really liked about working with you the most was the essay refining part because it kept me on track. And I like to say that I would have been able to stay on track, but I definitely would not have because there were times when I would sit down on the weekend and be like, 'Okay, I'm meeting with Kimberly on Monday. I have to write this essay or I'm not going to have anything to show her.' So that in the moment kind of sucked. But looking back it was really good for me. Otherwise it would have not been good. I was also really happy about this feedback that you were able to give me with my essay and how I was able to make it as good as it could be."

    -Anja L., graduate of Dimond High School

     


     

    Anja L. is a Dimond High School graduate.  During spring of her junior year, Anja began working with us in a college admissions consulting program.  We began working together to build her college list, enabling her to visit colleges during the summer.  In addition to college research and list building, I also assisted Anja planning and developing of some of her college essays (including her main Common Application essay) and optimizing her SAT testing plans. Anja concurrently completed a 12-hour SAT Individual Prep program and received one-on-one academic tutoring in her precalculus class. Over the course of her SAT prep program, Anja increased her SAT superscore to 1450 (97th percentile).  Anja was accepted Middlebury College, Colorado College, University of Vermont, and Montana State University, where she was awarded a $46,000 scholarship, for which eligibility criteria generally include 95th+ percentile SAT/ACT scores, 3.8+ GPA, track record of leadership/honors/high-impact extracurriculars, and essay application.

     

    In this post, I share excerpts from an interview with Anja, during which we discussed the college list-building process (including some of the tools she used), essay development, and her SAT preparation experience at Frontier Tutoring.  Responses have been edited for length and clarity.  Use the links below to jump to the questions you're curious about.

     

    -Kimberly Hewitt, Business Unit Manager - College Admissions Consulting

     

    Read More

    Topics: College Admissions, ACT, SAT, College Admissions: Explore Early, College Admissions: Excel Academically, College Admissions: Build Your Application Assets, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, College Admissions: Apply Right, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage, Interviews

    Should You Retake the SAT/ACT? Four Questions to Help You Decide

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Thursday, June 06, 2019

     

    While everyone hopes they'll be able to take the SAT or ACT just once and be done with the process, the reality is that about half of all students take the official test again—even if they had completed an SAT/ACT prep program before their initial testing attempt.  If you’ve taken the official SAT or ACT, and your score has left you wondering whether you should retake the test, what should you do next?  We'll help you answer that question in this post.

     

    "When Anna got a great practice test score after her prep class, then her real test was a drop from that score, yes, it was a little disappointing.  But you have to know that you could have a bad test day any given day, right?  There's no downside to retaking the test...so just keep [trying] until you've got a good test [score]."

    -Ransom J., parent of student at West Anchorage High School who

    • took the official ACT three times, ultimately earning a 94th percentile score
    • is matriculating at Washington and Lee University

     

    Note: This article is for students who have already taken the official SAT/ACT at least once.  If you haven’t taken the official SAT/ACT yet, see this blog post: 

    When to Prepare for and Take the SAT/ACT: 3 Questions to Help You Decide.

     

    Read More

    Topics: College Admissions, ACT, SAT, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, 12th Grade - Seniors, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage

    PSAT & National Merit Scholarship Guide for Alaska Students

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Monday, June 03, 2019

     

    NOTE: This post is targeted at rising juniors (10th graders as of May 1, 2019).  If you have already taken the PSAT (11th graders of May 1, 2019), check out this post instead.

     

    Summer is an important time for rising juniors to learn about the PSAT and determine whether it’s worth preparing for the test to potentially qualify for recognition and funding under the National Merit Scholarship Program.  Alaska students earning Semifinalist, Finalist, or Winner status have access to generous scholarship opportunities at a variety of colleges. In this post, we’ll break down what’s on the PSAT, how the National Merit Scholarship Program works, and what rising juniors should do ASAP—ideally before August 15, 2019—to see where they stand.

     

    Read More

    Topics: Financial Aid & Scholarships, ACT, SAT, College Admissions: Build Your Application Assets, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage, PSAT

    When to Prepare for and Take the SAT/ACT (Including PSAT/National Merit Info): 3 Questions to Help You Decide

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Friday, May 03, 2019

     

    10th and 11th graders: Your SAT or ACT scores will likely play a significant role in your competitiveness when applying to colleges, with 88% of colleges placing considerable or moderate importance on students’ standardized test scores for admissions purposes.1  Given the importance of your SAT/ACT scores, how should you develop your testing calendar and plans?  In this article, we’ll review three questions to help you decide when you should prepare for and take the official SAT or ACT—including what sophomores should do over the summer to determine whether they may be competitive for National Merit recognition on their junior year PSAT.

     

    Here's everything covered in this post:

     

    First, let’s start with a high-level overview of SAT/ACT testing strategy.

     

     

    Read More

    Topics: SAT Subject Tests, ACT, SAT, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, 12th Grade - Seniors, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage, PSAT

    SAT Subject Tests: Six Things to Know

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Thursday, May 02, 2019

     

    SAT Subject Tests could be an important part of your college admissions profile.  In this post, we'll cover critical things to know about SAT Subject Tests—like the fact that there is still a penalty for guessing, unlike the regular SAT.  We'll also discuss other FAQs from Alaska students, including which colleges require SAT Subject Tests, what makes for a competitive score.

     

    Read More

    Topics: SAT Subject Tests, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, 12th Grade - Seniors, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage

    A Note from Kimberly Hewitt About Frontier Tutoring's College Counseling Philosophy

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Tuesday, March 12, 2019

     

    Read More

    Topics: College Admissions, 9th Grade - Freshmen, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, 12th Grade - Seniors, College Admissions: Apply Right

    Interview with a West HS Student & Parent: Starting College Admissions Consulting During 11th Grade

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Sunday, March 03, 2019

     

     

    "It's nice to have a third party saying, 'What are your goals? Okay, then this is what you have to do to get there.' So it's not just parents going, 'You need to get good grades, you need to do this, you need to do that.' You’re helping the [students] figure out what they want to do and how to get there."

    -Bhree R., parent of Emma F., 11th grader at West Anchorage High School

     


     

    Emma F., a junior at West Anchorage High School, is one of my current college admissions consulting (CAC) students at Frontier Tutoring.  In this post, I share excerpts from an interview with Emma and her mom, Bhree, about why they chose to start college admissions consulting during Emma's junior year, rather than waiting until senior year.  Responses have been edited for length and clarity.  Use the links below to jump to the questions you're curious about.

     

    -Kimberly Hewitt, Business Unit Manager - College Admissions Consulting

     

    Read More

    Topics: College Admissions, College Admissions: Explore Early, College Admissions: Excel Academically, College Admissions: Build Your Application Assets, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, College Admissions: Apply Right, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage

    Six Reasons You Should Start College Admissions Consulting During Junior Year

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Sunday, March 03, 2019

     

     

     

    "Starting DURING junior year allows you to improve your COMPETITIVENESS.  Starting AFTER junior year limits you to improving your NARRATIVE."

    -Kimberly Hewitt, Business Unit Manager - College Admissions Consulting

     

    Many high school students and families I meet with wait until fall of senior year to think critically about their college list or applications—but for best results, students should begin planning for college admissions during junior year—the earlier, the better.  Why?  If you start planning for college admissions during 11th grade, you will have time to improve your profile and competitiveness (for example, by adjusting your coursework selection, improving your grades and test scores, initiating or enhancing your involvement in specific extracurriculars, identifying and deepening relationships with potential recommendation writers, etc.).  On the other hand, if you wait until after junior year to begin thinking about college admissions in earnest, you will be limited to expressing the most compelling narrative about the profile you already have.  To be clear, optimizing the way you tell your story and express your goals on college applications is critical—but you'll be even better positioned if your profile is more competitive to begin with.  In this post, I'll walk you through six specific, high-leverage areas I work with on students when they start a college admissions consulting (CAC) program during their junior year.

     

     

    "It's nice to have a third party saying, 'What are your goals? What are your objectives? Okay, then this is what you have to do to get there.'

    Also, I like the structure and the timing [of your CAC program].  For example, are we on time, or are we behind, and do I need to be stressing? I like not having to worry about that piece in particular."

    -Bhree R., parent of 11th grader at West Anchorage High School

     

    READ MORE: Interview with a West HS Student & Parent: Starting College Admissions Consulting During 11th Grade

     

    Read More

    Topics: College Admissions, AP® Exams, ACT, SAT, College Admissions: Explore Early, College Admissions: Excel Academically, College Admissions: Build Your Application Assets, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, College Admissions: Apply Right, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage