Tag Archives | SAT

Image by Alberto G, Flickr

Image by Alberto G, Flickr

Standardized testing plays a major role in every stage of education, and in some cases, standardized testing can make or break you. You need to score well on standardized tests to get into college and grad school, and after that, you need to score well on standardized tests to enter the workforce.  In many states, high stakes tests begin as early as the 5th grade, and they bring with them a lot of pressure. There are a few things that you can do before the big test to help calm your nerves before getting your brain focused on the task:


There is a wealth of testing practice available that can help you prepare for any high stakes tests, including tutoring agencies, online practice tests, and personal tutors.  Utilizing one of these programs will get you the repetition and practice you need for the big day. Just like anything in life, practice makes perfect, and if you want to perfect that score, you need consistent practice.


Reading to education is like weightlifting to football. The more you read, the stronger your brain becomes. High stakes standardized tests require complex thinking, and the brain needs to be exercised in order to carry out that task. Reading will give the brain the exercise it needs to think through challenging questions.

Pay Attention to Vocabulary

A strong vocabulary is crucial to passing high stakes test. Be it the need for domain specific vocabulary, jargon related to a field, or simply vocabulary to sound intelligent, you need to pay close attention to the words that those around you use.  One way to do this is to listen to the words used in pop culture or in the media.  News reports are chockfull of great words that act as grace notes — the exact right word.  Begin to ask yourself, “What connotation did the word carry to make it the right word?”  You will begin to see the nuances in language, and it will help you tremendously when it comes to taking those high stakes standardized tests.

Practice Reading Questions Carefully

One thing that many people struggle with when it comes to standardized tests is question reading.  Many people begin to read the question and then skim through the rest assuming they know what the question was asking.  If you catch yourself doing this, keep this in mind:  Test takers know you do this, so they write questions to catch people who do this.  Take your time, read the question fully, and then answer the question.  If you know you are a person who skims and then responds, practice reading test questions so that you can train your brain to slow down.

Pace Yourself

Do not spend too much time stressing over one question. Time is valuable when it comes to high stakes standardized tests, so if you have to move on, do so.  If you spend too much time stressing over one answer, you could run out of time and miss questions you could have easily answered.  Move on and come back.


By EdTech Stanford University School of Medicine on Flickr

The new SAT is fast approaching with the first version available for testing in March 2016. The infographic below outlines the most important things you need to know about the new SAT. Feel free to explore it below and share with your friends.

Background information
The SAT was first introduced in 1926, and is used to assess applicants to undergraduate programs after high school. Over 2,000,000 students take the SAT worldwide and over 6,000 colleges and universities consider SAT scores for admissions purposes.

Major Changes
This the first time in eleven years that the SAT has had a major overhaul. The most important changes include more time per question, no more penalty for guessing, less obscure vocabulary, calculator free math sections, and four answer choices instead of five.

Math questions will be reformatted to be more content-based, and the previous Writing questions will be incorporated into the new Reading and Writing sections. The new SAT score will no longer be out of 2400. Instead, each section will be scored out of 800 for a total of 1600. Additional scores that will be provided are individual test scores (Reading, Writing and Language; and Math), cross-test scores (Analysis in History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science), subscores (scores based on specific content in each section), and three Essay scores (Reading, Analysis, and Writing).

Final Thoughts
From a basic overview of the new SAT to a list of 10 highly competitive universities and their relevant admissions statistics, this infographic covers the major changes and other relevant information that you need to know about the new SAT. For a more detailed breakdown of the test, please visit the new SAT resource page.

New SAT InfographicInfographic by LA Tutors 123

Image by lolheyitsrichie!, Flickr

Image by lolheyitsrichie!, Flickr

Most US schools require you to write the SAT, but a few (including the highly competitive ones) require you to write two or three SAT Subject Tests as well. Be sure to review your prospective school’s application process for details. In general, subject tests are a great way to show your interest and skill in a certain subject and will help increase your chances of getting into a US college. Here is a quick rundown of SAT Subject Tests:

  • 20 different subject tests are offered, but only some are offered on specific dates. Go over Subject Test Dates to find out when you can write your Subject Test.
  • Consists entirely of multiple-choice questions.
  • Each subject test is scored on a scale of 200-800.
  • A subject test takes 1 hour to write.
  • A base fee of $24.50 is required to write a subject test and any additional tests are $13, except for Language with Listening tests which are an additional $24.
  • You can write up to three subject tests on one test date, but you cannot take a subject test and the SAT on the same day.
  • Those applying for Early Decision or Early Action are recommended to take their Subject Test by October or November of Grade 12. Regular decision applicants have until January to take their Subject Tests.
  • Some colleges determine placement based on your subject test scores and can exempt you from a class in that subject.

Similar to the SAT, subject test dates and registration information can be found on the College Board website. After registering, if you change your mind about which subject tests to take or how many you plan on writing, you can make the appropriate changes on the actual test day (except for Language with Listening tests).

SAT Subject Test Tips

  • When choosing which subject test to write, identify any you may need for your college application. For your additional subject tests, play to your strengths and choose subjects that you are confident you will score well on. If possible, take tests from very different subjects to show that you are a well-rounded student. Never take a subject test on a subject you are not confident in.
  • It’s best to write your test right after you’ve taken a course on the subject so that the content is still fresh in your head. However, languages should only be taken after having plenty of practice and study.
  • Language with Listening tests are only administered once per year on the same day.
  • Study! Just like the SAT, you will need to put in a lot of time and effort to ensure you get the best score.

Want to learn about other tests?

Image by California Cthulhu (Will Hart), Flickr

Image by California Cthulhu (Will Hart), Flickr

Many Canadian students dream of going to the United States for their post-secondary education. However, the process is tough and spaces are limited. Of the 30,946 students who applied to Brown University’s Class of 2015, only 2,692 were accepted – and only 28 of them hailed from Canada (source: Brown University). Don’t fret, we’re here to help! One of the first things you should be focusing on is the SAT – one of the most important elements of the application process for most US schools. Here is a brief rundown of the test:

  • Every high school is different. A student with perfect grades in one school might only get fair grades in another. The SAT provides a way for every student to be assessed in an equal way.
  • The SAT tests your abilities in three areas: readingwriting and mathematical reasoning.
  • The test consists of several multiple-choice questions and an essay.
  • A score of 200-800 is given in each section, providing a maximum score of 2400.
  • The test takes about 4 hours to write.
  • The cost for writing the test is $51.
  • You can take the SAT as many times as you want, but most students take it twice. The College Board (in charge of running the SAT) recommends not taking it more than twice because of a lack of evidence supporting significant score gains by taking the test more than twice.
  • Most schools accept SAT scores up to December of Grade 12, however individual schools may accept scores at later dates. Review your prospective school’s application process for their requirements.
  • Recently, the College Board introduced Score Choice which gives students the option to choose which score they wish to send to their schools of interest. However, some schools still ask students to submit all of their SAT scores. Review school policies because some only take your best overall score while others will take your best score from each section.

Typically, the test is administered six times a year in Canada. You can find a list of dates to write the SAT in Canada as well as register for the test on the College Board website. Register as soon as you can, not only because registration closes one month prior to the test date, but also to ensure a seat in your nearest test centre. If you have missed the deadline, you can apply for Waitlist Status and depending on whether sufficient test materials, staff and seating are available on the test day, you can take the test. If you are admitted to the test centre on test day, a waitlist fee of $45 will be charged.

SAT Tips

  • A score over 2000 is recommended to be competitive in prestigious US schools such as NYU, USC, Stanford or any of the Ivy League schools. 
  • Most students take the SAT in the spring of Grade 11 and again in the fall of Grade 12.
  • Even though you can take the test as many times as you want, taking it too many times may not send a good message to admission officers.
  • When choosing when to take the SAT, be aware of college application deadlines. You may have until December of Grade 12 to take the test but those applying for Early Decision or Early Action should write their SAT earlier.
  • Study! Some students spend months, even years, studying for the SAT. A really good score can help you stand out.
  • Some college applications also ask students to write SAT Subject Tests. Check out our article on {SAT Subject Tests} for a break down on these tests.

Want to learn about other tests?