We get up to some fun!

Last week we got to make a trip to Cambridge/Harvard Business School - for a wonderful opportunity to talk with some really kind folks about what we are doing here in greater JAX! And because we were without kids - it was also a date! Thank you to everyone who has been so supported of us! We so appreciate it! It has been quite a journey!


The June 2019 ACT English Test

All grammar (including punctuation) and editing paragraphs questions both were presented in the usual ways and at similar frequency as previous tests.

Editing sentences - which normally appear on average in 13 questions (December 2018 we had 20 questions) - appeared in but 7 questions on June ACT.

As we gear up for the test this weekend - is seems that a focus on Punctuation continues to pay off!

The June 2019 ACT Reading Test

Here’s what we saw: a lot of normal!

  • Questions that ask about a detail in a passage you have to search for — 19 questions. The average on all publicly available tests is …. 19 (April 2019 had 17).

  • Questions that ask about a detail in the passage and give a line reference — 9. The average on all publicly availably tests is … 10 (April 2019 had 13).

  • Questions that ask about the passage as a whole — 9 questions. The average on all publicly available tests is … 8 (April 2019 had 13).

  • Questions that ask about vocab — 2 questions. The average on all publicly available test is … 3 (April 2019 had 3).

All in all the test had no major surprises! Let’s hope the July is similar!

What it takes to get National Merit Scholarship

For the last two years, 1470 on the PSAT has been enough to get NMS in Florida, meaning top 1% PSAT scores.

The actual number associated with national merit is a composite of the 3 (Reading, Writing, and Math) sub scores (out of 40) x 2. This means each section counts equally - whereas for your PSAT score - Math is given the same weight as a combined Reading and Writing score.

In short - for National Merit - Verbal (reading & writing) counts for 2/3 of your score!

E.g. Reading 38 + Writing 37 + Math 37 = 112 x 2 =224

So the actual cut off number is usually in 216-219 range for Florida.

ACT/SAT Score Increase for Florida's Bright Futures 1330/1200

The ACT Reading April 2019 Test

While not as difficult in textual analysis, the ACT Reading test is a scramble! 40 questions in 35 minutes!

Things that stayed the same:

  • the # of Main Idea questions

  • the # of Vocab questions

Things that changed:

  • though still not the lowest (that was the June 2017 test) the # of detail questions that you have to hunt for in the passage was lower than the average by 2

  • sharing the greatest # of detail questions that have a line reference with Practice Test 5 in the newest book - the April 2019 test had 2 more than the average

The June results have been released! We will soon see how that test matched up!

The SAT May Results are in - Writing

On the whole there are no huge changes on the May Test. However, there are a few small tweaks

Compared to the average of the 8 Official Tests, the May Test had

  • 3 more punctuation questions - matching a growing importance placed on punctuation

  • 2 less grammar (consistently of plural vs singular or verb tense)

  • 2 vocab questions - matching the trend (whereas March had four!)

  • graphic questions remained constant at 2

  • zero organization questions (where you place a sentence in a particular part of the paragraph) - where most tests have anywhere from 1 -3

  • 3 questions that ask you to keep or delete a sentence - where the May test had zero!

On the whole there were no great changes - but rather some minor shifts.

The SAT May Results are in - Reading

The May SAT Reading Test had no major surprises:

  1. Questions that ask about details in the passage but you have to search for them remained outsized, matching their growing significance.

  2. Evidence, line reference, main idea, and graphic questions remained consistent.

ACT vs SAT Reading Difference #3

The ACT & SAT Reading are two different beasts! Over the next few weeks we will explore how they match up!

#3: Both the ACT & SAT Reading sections test vocabulary. However, the SAT places greater emphasis on vocabulary: 14% of the SAT Reading questions are vocabulary versus the ACT’s 7%.

SAT Math Exponential Functions

Exponential functions are now appearing twice as often on test day as they do on tests in the Official College Board SAT guidebook.

ACT vs SAT Reading Difference #2

The ACT & SAT Reading are two different beasts! Over the next few weeks we will explore how they match up!

#2: Questions about specific details in the passage on the SAT & ACT are fundamentally different: the SAT requires far more careful textual analysis. These types of questions on the ACT are much more obvious. The pinch on the ACT is that you have substantially less time.

The two Reading tests boil down to a question of difficulty (SAT) vs time pressure (ACT).

ACT vs SAT Reading Difference #1

The ACT & SAT Reading are two different beasts! Over the next few weeks we will explore how they match up!

#1: One of the biggest differences between the two tests - outside of time per question (ACT = 52 seconds; SAT 85 seconds) - is that HALF of the ACT questions require you to search the passage to find the answers, whereas on the SAT they make up but a QUATER of the test.

The Nitty Gritty of SAT Punctuation

On the March 2019 SAT - there were 8 Punctuation Questions: 6 Comma Qs, 1 Apostrophe Q, 1 Colon Q. 4 Comma Qs tested the difference between essential & nonessential clauses; 2 tested the difference between independent and dependent clauses.

Under the Radar: Changes to the ACT's Reading & English Tests

While its competitor, the College Board, announced to the world that the SAT was undergoing substantive changes, the ACT Inc. took an alternative route. Arguably, the ACT Inc. did not completely overhaul its test. It is also true that there was some evidence that the ACT was evolving over the course of 2015-2016. However, the nature and extent of the changes to the test only became apparent with the publication of the new ACT Official Guide (May 31, 2016). These structural and substantive changes to the ACT are significant enough to require study and reflection as to how they impact test strategies. This article briefly identifies those changes. If there is a take away message, it is this: the June 11, 2016 administration of the ACT marked an inflection point. Students, if you took the test prior to June, you need to get current before trying again... things have changed.

Deep Dive Into the Redesigned SAT: Reading Section

This article draws on University Select’s categorization and statistical analysis of the question types in publicly available SAT 2400, ACT, and SAT 1600 Reading Sections. University Select’s analysis differs significantly from the description of the Reading section offered by the College Board, the author of the test. Our goal is to see into the test—beyond the touted structural changes—to get a feel for how the passages, questions, and the test-taking experience have been reconfigured. We see several significant changes, outlined in greater depth in Sections I & II:

Deep Dive Into the Redesigned SAT: Writing Section

The new SAT 1600 has not only students, but also parents and educators anxious. Prepping for standardized testing is grounded in degrees of predictability. In other words, test prep is all about knowing what to expect on test day. A new test means a lesser degree of predictability, and therefore greater difficulty in preparation. How do students prep for and educators best teach to a test that will debut in March 2016?

The New SAT: Preview and Initial Thoughts

Here at University Select, we have been diving deep into the revised SAT practice tests recently released by the College Board as a preview to the changes that will take effect in spring 2016. We are just as curious about the new test as high school students, parents, and guidance counselors are, so we have spent the past two weeks familiarizing ourselves with the practice tests and understanding the substantive changes. Using our unique system of categorization and analysis, we pored over each new practice test to identify recurring question types, highlight noteworthy changes, and break down each section to understand the underlying concepts driving the test. The result of this work is a holistic approach to tackling the redesigned SAT—a method that strips the test of its mystery and offers a clear path for diligent preparation.

The Ever-Changing SAT

As many parents and students already know, the newly designed SAT is ready to launch in the spring of 2016. Revised by the College Board, the organization responsible for administering the SAT, the new test drops the required essay (it’s now optional), reverts back to a 1600-point scoring system, and emphasizes evidence-based reading and writing, amongst other changes (Balf, 2014).