|By Aramis (Aramis) on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 02:59 pm: Edit|
I have never been to college and I have many questions regarding my 16-year-old daughter (only child). She's currently in grade 10 at a private school.
We just received the results of her PSAT. I believe this is just a practice test, at this point. Friends have told me that usually PSAT's are taken during grade 11(with the formal SAT's being taking in grade 12). Regardless, her numbers weren't very high - 59 verbal, 47 math and 57 writing for a total of 163. She works very hard at her schoolwork and receives quite good grades. After her mid-terms her GPA is 3.33. Her classes are a mix of AP and honours. Her class ranking is #15 out of 75 but I'm not sure how they figure that number.
My question is: Should she take some sort of PSAT/SAT practice classes or lessons like Princeton Review offers? My husband and in-laws say it's silly to do that (they all went to schools like Northwestern, Wesleyan, MIT - 2, Cornell, Harvard and my husband has an engineering degree from NC State). I mention this, as I respect their "educated" opinions but haven't things changed since they went to school?
Since my daughter's goal is to attend an Architectural school, she's very worried about her next PSAT/SAT's. We've done some research and it seems she will really need decent SAT numbers to be accepted into an Architectural School, here in Texas (We won't be able to send her out of state, which she understands).
|By Dave Berry on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 03:45 pm: Edit|
Welcome to College Confidential, Aramis. Here is some great information from a superb Web site: Fairtest.org. Did you know that the following Texas schools don't use the SAT as an admission criterion? (Note the occasional caveats.):
Quoting from Fairtest:
"This list includes colleges and universities that do not use the SAT I or ACT to make admissions decisions about substantial numbers of freshman applicants who recently graduated from U.S. high schools. As the footnotes indicate, some schools exempt students who meet grade-point average or class rank criteria while others require SAT or ACT scores but use them only for placement purposes or to conduct research studies. Please check with the school's admissions office to learn more about specific admissions requirements, particularly for international or non-traditional students..."
Angelo State University, Angelo3
Arlington Baptist College, Arlington1
Lamar University, Beaumont1,3
Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls3
Paul Quinn College, Dallas1
Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View1,3
Sam Houston State University, Huntsville3
Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos3
Southwestern Adventist College, Keene1
Southwestern Assemblies of God Coll., Waxahachie
Southwestern Christian College, Terrell
Stephen F. Austin State Univ., Nacogdoches1,3
Sul Ross State University, Alpine3
Tarleton State University, Stephenville3
Texas A&M Int'l University, Laredo1
Texas A&M University-Commerce, Commerce3
Texas A&M University-Galveston, Galveston3
Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Kingsville3
Texas A&M University, College Station3
Texas College, Tyler1
Texas Southern University, Houston1
Texas Tech University, Lubbock3
Texas Women's University, Denton3
University of Houston, Houston3
University of Houston-Downtown, Houston1
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Belton1,3
University of North Texas, Denton3
University of Texas, Austin3
University of Texas, Arlington3
University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson3
University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso3
University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg1
Univ. of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa3
Univ. of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio3
Wiley College, Marshall1
1 = SAT/ACT used only for placement and/or academic advising
2 = SAT/ACT required only from out-of-state applicants
3 = SAT/ACT used only when minimum GPA or class rank is not met
Otherwise, I would think about trying to get your daughter to bump up that Math score. Architecture programs are highly technical and rely on lots of math (load dynamics, physics, and all that good stuff). Also, if your daughter is self-motivated, she can get a Princeton Review SAT book and a copy of "10 Real SATs" and prep herself, thus saving you $700-800 over a formal course.
Since your daughter has an apparent softness in the math SAT, she may want to take a harder look at architecture program requirements and decide if she wants to expose herself to all the higher-level math requirements. 'Just a thought.
|By Dadster on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 04:20 pm: Edit|
Hi, Aramis, welcome. Some people need more help than others coping with the SAT. One good thing about the math section is that the requirements are well-defined and not all that difficult (i.e., no calculus, etc.).
I'd recommend some of the PR or Barrons SAT review books, and doing plenty of practice tests to identify weak spots. Your engineer husband should be able to explain any SAT math without difficulty, although sometimes teaching your own kid something is tough. (I let my kids take driver's ed classes, for example, to preserve family sanity.)
Your daughter has plenty of time to improve her SAT skills if she's willing to start now and devote some regular time to it. I'd hold off on an expensive SAT prep course until you see how things are going with self-study, practice tests, and help from Dad. If her SATs are still looking shaky by the end of junior year, you can then decide if a prep course would help her achieve her objective.
As far as prep courses being "silly", THAT belief is silly. For some people, I'm sure, the SATs are trivial. For many students, though, they pose a real challenge and in some cases a course might help the student get into the school of her choice.
Good luck, and keep us posted on how things are going!
|By Aramis (Aramis) on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 06:49 pm: Edit|
Thank you both, for your prompt replies!
I should have explained that my husband is actually her step-dad (they get along great!)and he has been tutoring her in math since she was 9. He is such a math nerd, that he actually kept his high school math textbooks! BTW, he's a travel agent.
She struggled with Algebra last year and finished with an 86. This year she hasn't needed to be tutored in geometry since she was surprised to find she "gets" it (she got 97 on her midterm). My husband suggested she might like architecture because of her understanding of geometry and her drawing skills. He really believes she's capable whereas I'm the skeptic.
To make sure, she is applying to a pre-college summer arch programme this year.
Are either of you familiar with the Johnson Foundation? My husband said he and his siblings did the testing and swear by the results being accurate. He wants my daughter to do the testing this summer.
Thank you again, for you kindness and advice.
|By Dadster on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 09:51 pm: Edit|
Sounds like you are doing the right things, Aramis, and it's good to hear the hubby tutoring thing works without screaming or bloodshed. If she spends some time just focusing on SAT math, your daughter should be able to significantly improve. If algebra continues to pose a problem, architecture might be a tricky field to excel in academically.
As far as her interest in architecture: my impression is that this field tends to attract those who really love the field, rather like music or acting. It's a challenging course of study, 5 years at some schools, and the career prospects are somewhat daunting. Star architects get to design museums and skyscrapers, but there are about as many of those as movie stars. Instead of doing cheap commercials and trade-show gigs, junior architects end up doing plumbing details or cranking out minor variations on tract homes. I wouldn't attempt to dissuade your daughter in the least, but if she doesn't have a passion for the field the prospects might look a bit discouraging. I'd suggest meeting with a few people in that profession who can give her a first-hand impression of the career. I think the summer program is a great idea, too. While choosing a major isn't usually too critical before college, it is a bit more important if the student is interested in architecture. Not all schools offer it, and even the first-year course requirements may differ from other majors.
Good luck to her!
|By California Mom (Calmom) on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 01:18 am: Edit|
You might want to explore having your daughter evaluated for learning disabilities. The combination of strong spatial reasoning skills with poor test-taking skills are very common among students with a dyslexic learning style.
Here is a checklist of common symptoms:
If in fact your daughter has a learning disability, she may qualify for extra time on her SATs. She might also be able to get extra support at school to help in other areas.
The good news is that if she has this common learning profile, she may do very well in a career such as design or architecture. But it's worth checking out, as it sounds like those standardized test scores don't really reflect your daughter's true abilities.
|By Kendra S on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 08:57 am: Edit|
A couple of things -- if she is currently taking geometry, that will affect her PSAT score. The math portion is essentially algebra and geometry, and in Oct of this year she would not have had much geometry. Also, if she took the test "cold," i.e. with no prep, then I wouldn't worry at all. For 11th grade, get her some practice test books for the PSAT and SAT and have her go through them. The math score will probably go up even if she doesn't do this, but getting a better feel for the questions, and more familiarity with the topics tested, will help a lot -- not just with knowing how to solve the problems, but also keeping up the pace. For verbal, I think practice also helps, although it is harder to prep for than the math. Encourage her to read as much as possible, books, newspapers, magazines, whatever. Seeing words used in context is more helpful than memorizing lists of vocab words. Still, if you can find something like "Wordsmart" or some other list of words commonly seen on the PSAT and SAT, it's not a bad idea to have her go through the list -- she'll know most of the words anyway, and reading the definition of those she doesn't may help b/c she might recall them if they show up on the test. My personal view of test prep courses are that they are not really superior to studying on your own, PRESUMING you are prepared to put in the time to study on your own. Finally, many people (including Dave Berry, I think) advise taking the SAT in Spring of junior year at the latest -- I suggest taking a look at the collegeboard.com website this summer for the list of test dates for 02-03 and figuring out the best time to take them. Keep in mind that in addition to the SAT I, she should think about whether and when to take SAT IIs (most schools don't require them, but most of the elite schools require 3) -- if she thinks she may want to apply to one of the more elite schools, as a "reach," she should take some SAT IIs -- use the Score Choice option so her scores on the SAT IIs aren't released unless she chooses to release them. Sorry for the long post, hope some of this information is helpful, and good luck to your daughter!!
|By Aramis (Aramis) on Friday, March 29, 2002 - 03:31 pm: Edit|
Thank you, very much for all the wonderful comments and advice!
An Update: My daughter was accepted into the 5-week summer Arch program. It's a small group (30-35) and the school gives a written evaluation at the finish which may be used towards college admissions. This will give her a definite idea if she wants to continue to pursue Arch!
Kendra - Fortunately she does love to read and having a library, at home, helps. She has no trouble writing essays and having to write one, as part of the application for the Arch school and a volunteer program (later, this summer) were
She will be taking SAT II's, this June for World
History and possibly Chemistry.
|By Dadster on Tuesday, April 02, 2002 - 11:54 am: Edit|
Congrats to your daughter, Aramis! The 5-week architecture program sounds like a perfect way to evaluate her interest in that kind of a major and career! Should be fun, too!
|By Bill Whalen (Bill_W) on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 05:10 am: Edit|
You asked about the Johnson Foundation. I believe you mean the Johnson O'Connor Foundation of Harvard University. Starting in 1927, O'Connor studied how people learn and retain English vocabulary. Here's what they learned.
Anyone can learn vocabulary regardless of intelligence. The key is to start at one's current level.
We are judged by society based upon our vocabulary level and ability to communicate.
Those in college with the smallest vocabulary are most likely to drop out, those with the highest are most likely to succeed in all aspects of life, including their chosen field. They are also more likely to do better in all their classes. (Note: this is why so many admittance officers place the SAT vocabulary score as their #1 criteria for who gets to attend)
Reading a word and definition yields about a 20-25% retention rate. Learning using mulitiple methods (audio, visual, typing the word, multiple choice testing, flashcards, etc.) yields a 67-75% retention rate. Most schools use the former method, which may be why here in California only about 1 in 5 students in high school read at or above their level.
There are about 360,000 words in the Oxford/English dictionary. Of those, about 180,000 are in common use. Of those, we can break them down to about 3600 core words. Our school systems have proven unable to teach 3600 words in 12 years of schooling. (Sad, isn't it?)
Most of our kids are reading at least 2 years below their potential.
About 1 in 60,000 kids gets a perfect SAT score.
Now, my two cents.
Almost anyone can increase their SAT Verbal score by 100 points in as little as 20 total hours of study. While there are many methods, some work much better than others.
Doing nothing. Simply taking the test again will often give a 10-20 point increase.
Classroom, such as taking a special class, will often increase score 20-40 points. Requires about 60 hours of study. Cost is about $500-$700.
Tutor. Usually 20-100 points. Highly depends on the ability of the teacher. Cost about $50 a session and up.
SAT software and books. Most stress the strategy of the test. Although they guarentee "An Increse" they usually mention no specific number. Cost is $20 to $50 ususally.
Vocabulary building using Johnson O'Connor method. 20 hours of study will yield 100+ points for vast majority of students. Cost $75 to $200.
There is little use in anyone's life for SAT or ACT preparation material except in taking the test. Educators and Legislators nationwide have called into question why billions of dollars are being spent to prepare students for one day of testing. Since vocabulary helps in so many aspects of our later life, let me ask a question. Since half the SAT is a vocabulary test, doesn't it make more sense to increase one's vocabulary than to learn the strategy behind the test?
[edited by admin]
|By David Hawsey on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 04:32 pm: Edit|
A recent PBS special ("Secrets of the SAT" I believe it was called) documented the testing "lives" of several students looking at Cal Berkley. That old sports intro "The joy of victory, and the agony of defeat" (I think I got that right!!) comes to mind after watching the special.
Students who did well the first time, but thought they should take the test again in order to "get in" at Berkley but actually shaved a few points off the last score were humiliated, defeated, and cried in front of the camera. One student asked his parent's "What's WRONG with me??!! I guess I'm not a good human being!"
I almost cried in anguish over the juxtaposition of a standardized test taken over three hours for $25, and the value and self worth a student placed upon himself because of the hyperfocus on the lower score and the preparation for a second test as a measureof overall worth as a student --- and a person.
Most colleges would be proud to have the student, and the sad fact is the student might do just as well in life, perhaps even better if he had set his sights on other schools that may have been a better fit.
Students who got higher scores and were accepted to Berkley were, of course, overjoyed. They did, of course, believe the extra practice and second (or third) test was worth it, and was "just the ticket" necessary to be admitted. This, too, was something to cry over. Me --- not the student -- and because of the travesty and irony of the whole process in context.
Social and educational researchers were interviewed, and all said that after exhaustive study, that taking practice tests and paying companies like Kaplan and the Princeton Review had NO EFFECT nationally on tests scores, and if there was even a slight gain in points overall nationally for the control group "used Kaplan or Princeton Review) versus everyone else, there was little direct correlation between the test prep and the slightly higher scores.
Claims of 200 - 300 point increases were challenged and rebuked by researchers. Then John Katzman was interviewed, whereupon he admitted that Princeton Review was in the business of selling test prep not because it accurately measured a student's ability to prove he/she has learned more, but as a way of learning how to take a specific test better. He claimed that his company (Princeton Review), as well as many others were going to keep making money by teaching students how to take tests better, regardless of whether the material was even read or understood for its real value and context, because America is still willing to pay for this service.
Whether or not test prep actually helps is debatable. Researchers nationwide claim it has no overall effect, and gives no one an edge by increasing scores dramatically. If a student's score does increase drmatically, researchers call our attention to things called "confounding variables". That is, there are any number of other factors that explain the small number of students whose scores actually go up dramatically after using test prep services. Claiming test prep services was the sole reason is plain wrong.
Of course, this whole issue requires further research! (the never-ending need for researching minutia without ever really concluding anything but the need for more research. Don't you just love higher education?)
The real issue here, as spoken to above in other e-mails, is the unbelievable frenzy over the debatable value and the outright misuse of the SAT as a tool to discern who should be admitted, and how scores even play into the development of a financial aid award.
It makes no sense at all, and in fact the entire practice of how test scores are really used, by themselves or along with other measures in an admissions application differs wildly among the nation's 3,300 four-year schools. Makes you wonder why, given the anything-but-standard ways we (colleges) use these measures from one school to the next, there is a "standard" measure used at the same national level??
And the travesty is found as well in the comments by students on the PBS special, who believe their value and self-worth is diminished because of the lack of anything to show for their parent's $1,000 for the test prep service, the hours of practicing test questions (which often have little relevance to material in class, if ever learned at all), and the sum of their own fears: all the eggs in one basket, and "I dropped the basket!"
|By Halie mitchell on Tuesday, January 28, 2003 - 04:38 pm: Edit|
I'm graduated from high school and I have never taken SAT's. where can I go to do this so I can apply to a university by March?
|By Thedad (Thedad) on Tuesday, January 28, 2003 - 05:34 pm: Edit|
You may have to apply without SAT's in hand.
I don't have the College Board calendar in front
of me but I'm pretty sure the next test date
is in early May. And don't miss the deadlines.
|By Sairam Pokala on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 02:59 pm: Edit|
I have a 12 year old 7th grader took the SAT and got 680 Math and 530 Verbal. He will get the Grand Recognition in Math and State Recognition in Verbal. I would like him to improve his Verbal score to 650+ by next year. He has a weakness in the Critical Reading area and I would like to know how he can prepare for the Critical Reading section.
|By Drusba (Drusba) on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 03:57 pm: Edit|
To question above for person who already graduated high school and needs to know how to now take the SAT test, go to www.collegeboard.com. That is the company that gives the tests and you can actually sign up on line for next available date or request that an application be sent to you.
For original poster, as noted above taking a course can actually increase test scores, in many cases by a good margin. However, at this point you do not have much to go on as to whether she really has any problem with the exam. Usually PSAT (which itself is a practice test for the SAT), is taken in the early part of the junior year. By then students are usually finished Algebra 1 and Geometry (and some are even through Algebra 2) and test questions cover both of those substantially. Having not even finished both, your daughter cannot really determine much from that 47. She will probably take the PSAT again next fall and that will give a better idea whether a course should be considered. Also, most are now taking the actual SAT towards end of junior year (and then some retake early senior). There is also the ACT that can be taken and most schools (all in Texas) accept it in lieu of SAT. The ACT is formatted differently and is designed to test more of what you have learned in high school than the SAT which is designed more to... (well personally I have never figured what the SAT is designed to measure other than one's ability to memorize a lot of vocabulary words that are never used by anyone except psuedo scholars trying to impress).
Note that if she wants to concentrate on something mostly, I would suggest it would be whatever classes in school she is taking. In Texas, that class rank number can be the key to going to whatever public university she wants in Texas. By law, every public university in Texas, including University of Texas, Austin, must automatically admit any Texas high school student that applies who ranks in the top 10% of his or her class. If you are top 10%, it matters not what your SAT score is.
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