ACT introduces individual section retesting

piece.jpg

The ACT has announced three new big developments for the 2020/2021 school year:

1) Beginning with the September 2020 national ACT test date, students who have already taken a full-length ACT exam will have the option to retake individual sections of the ACT (English, math, reading, science and/or writing) instead of the entire exam. This will have major implications on ACT testing in the future!

2) Students will also have the option of online or paper testing on national test days at ACT test centers (selected test centers initially, eventually expanding to all). The test is currently administered only on paper on national test dates.

3) ACT will report a superscore for students who have taken the ACT test more than once, giving colleges the option to use the student’s best scores from all test administrations, rather than scores from just one sitting, in their admission and scholarship decisions. New ACT research suggests that superscoring is actually more predictive of how students will perform in their college courses than other scoring methods. Colleges often already superscore students' ACT results, but this development will make it that much easier for colleges to do so.

As always, our team is here to help if you need:

  • mock ACT or SAT exams

  • referrals for a private college counselor

  • 1-on-1 instruction to maximize your ACT or SAT scores

ACT and SAT Experimental Sections

experiment.jpeg

Both the ACT and SAT contain 20-minute experimental sections. These experimental sections do NOT count toward your score on either the SAT or ACT — they are used to calibrate the difficulty-level of questions for future test-takers.

ACT Details:

Students who take the ACT test will see a 20-minute experimental section as their “5th” section (right after the Science section). The experimental section does NOT count toward your score. Only test-takers who qualify for extra time are exempt from the section. ACT test-takers will encounter the experimental section just after the Science section, but still before their 40-minute essay. Please note that if you are applying to selective colleges, the essay should be considered “required”.

SAT Details:

Some students who take the SAT test will be randomly selected to take a 20-minute experimental section as their “5th” section (just after the Calculator Math section). The experimental section does NOT count toward your score. Only test-takers who qualify for extra time are exempt from the section. Please note that if you are applying to selective colleges, the essay should be considered “required”.

The SAT 'Adversity Score' is Dead!

There is big news in the world of college admissions and standardized testing!


1) The SAT 'Adversity Score' is dead

So, I was recording a video describing the absurdity of the SAT's new adversity score--

Literally, I was in the middle of this sentence, "...as though something as nuanced and complicated as adversity could be boiled down to a single number..." when one of my staff walked in to inform me that the College Board (makers of the SAT) had decided to abandon the ill-advised adversity score.


RIP.jpg


There are many steps that we can take to address education inequality in America. The College Board's PR stunt to address education inequality with an oversimplified standardized score was not going to help. That the College Board is abandoning the score is good news for students everywhere.

The adversity score will be replaced with "Landscape." This new tool will allow families to see the same information about their high schools and neighborhoods that colleges see. We applaud this added transparency.

I will have more to say on this topic as Landscape is rolled out this admissions season--



2) In 2020 the July test date for the ACT is coming to California

This is good news for Californians who need this test date.

Two things to keep in mind--

*there is little time to prepare for this exam after the end of the school year. For this reason, September will continue to be the optimum official exam for the majority of students who engage in test preparation during the summer.

*you'll want to register early. There will be significantly fewer testing sites available during the summer, so they will quickly fill up.



3) This year the cut-off for California's national merit semi-finalists is 222

It looks like the cut-off for national merit semi-finalists dropped by a point this year in California. Congrats to our students who made the cut! This is a state-by-state competition, so surviving the cut in a high-population state like CA is a huge achievement!!



As always, our team is here to help if you need:

mock ACT or SAT exams

referrals for a private college counselor

1-on-1 instruction to maximize your ACT or SAT scores


College Admissions Cheating Scandal is Alarming and Disgraceful

Nick Standlea weighs in on the college admissions scandal.

Background info: In the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted, wealthy parents, Hollywood actresses, coaches and a college consultant have been accused of carrying out a nationwide fraud to get students into prestigious universities. The scheme had two major pieces. In the first part, parents allegedly paid a college advisory organization to take tests on behalf of students or to correct their answers. Second, the organization allegedly bribed college coaches to help admit the students into college as recruited athletes, regardless of their abilities. In all, 50 people were charged in the criminal investigation that went by the name "Operation Varsity Blues." Those arrested include two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, nine coaches at elite schools, one college administrator and 33 parents.

Guest Blog: Do SAT/ACT Accommodations Need to Change?

This is a special guest blog post by Marci Miller of the Miller Advocacy Group in Newport Beach, California. We are sharing this piece as she offers a unique perspective on how the recent admissions scandal is affecting students with LDs. 

I have gotten a lot of inquiries about how the latest college admissions scandal will impact disabled test-takers, and my response is always the same: I hope that it won’t. However, I know the reality is that the test accommodations fraud has already gotten more than its fair share of media attention and that disabled students may pay the price.

There have always been those out there who believe no matter what you tell them that “everyone” is fraudulently obtaining ACT or SAT accommodations. They now feel that they can point to the latest admissions scandal as proof that they were right all along. However, the facts in the case tell a different story.

  • Test fraud was just one of the multiple types of cheating and bribery involved

There were multiple levels of cheating and bribery involved in the admissions scandal, only one of which involved standardized testing fraud. And there were at least four different levels to the alleged fraudulent impersonation of students with disabilities in order to obtain accommodations. This included hiring impersonators to take the ACT and SAT exams for students, making false disability claims, paying to have test responses changed after the exams were taken, and bribing proctors and supervisors. The massive scheme could not have been accomplished without the multiple layers of fraud.

  • The students involved did not obtain their desired scores through their accommodations alone – they needed other types of fraud to obtain their scores and gain admissions

Although accommodations fraud was one of the four types of test fraud alleged in the latest admissions scandal, the students involved did not obtain their desired scores through test accommodations alone. They ALL relied upon other means to obtain their scores such as hiring someone to test for them or to change their responses. In other words, EXTENDED TIME DID NOT MAGICALLY LEAD TO HIGH SCORES!


  • It was not easy to obtain the fraudulent test accommodations

In the court documents, it does not appear as if it was always easy to falsely obtain test accommodations. One of the students described in court documents was denied accommodations twice and law enforcement had to step in to get him accommodations. ACT and College Board have both said in their official statements that they have been cooperating with law enforcement. In reality, school counselors are involved in the test accommodations process, and students generally need to have a history of school accommodations – a false doctor’s report would not generally suffice.


  • Only a few bad apples

It seems clear that accommodations need to continue to be made available to students who deserve them. This scandal has shown that it is very difficult to obtain fraudulent accommodations. We do not need to change the entire system based on a few bad actors, as that would unfairly penalize students with legitimate LDs.

Of course, there will always be people whose minds are made up and they will not be persuaded by the facts. In this situation, there was bad behavior alleged that reflected poorly on many different groups of people including recruited athletes, students with disabilities, athletic coaches, parents, and college counselors. We can only hope that no group of people, including students with disabilities, is judged unfairly based upon the misguided actions of a few.

CEO Nick Standlea Speaks at National Charity League District Event

Nick Standlea MC'd and spoke at the National Charity League District 5 Ticktocker Day of Inspiration. Click below for a snippet from his talk about awareness and how it shapes our experience in life and throughout the process of applying to college, along with clips from other speakers from the day

Nick Standlea MC'd and spoke at the National Charity League District 5 Ticktocker Day of Inspiration about awareness and how it shapes our experience in life and throughout the process of applying to college

Nick regularly speaks to high school parents on a range of topics, including:

  • SAT vs ACT -- Everything You Need to Know

  • Reducing Anxiety in College Admissions and Standardized Testing

  • 9 Ways to Teach Growth Mindset

  • PSAT and/or Pre-ACT Scoreback Nights

  • LDs and Standardized Testing

Nick is a published author and a former Research Associate at the Quality of Life Research Center at Claremont Graduate University - a think tank that studies education, learning, creativity, and motivation. He is also the founder of Test Prep Gurus. He earned a perfect score on the SAT, but is much more proud of Test Prep Gurus students' many successes and achievements. He holds a BA from Pitzer College and an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.  Nick is also a member of WACAC and a member of the NACAC Orange County College Fair team.

Past engagements include: UC Berkeley, Pitzer College, Claremont Graduate University, Golden West College, Loyola Marymount University, the Western Association of College Counseling (WACAC), National Association of College Counseling (NACAC) college fairs, A Better Chance foundation, The Orange County Private School Association, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), The Webb Schools, Rosary Academy, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, JSerra Catholic High School, Connelly School for Girls, Fusion Academy, Orange Lutheran High School, New Roads School, Newport Harbor High School, Northwood High School, Capo Valley High School, Santa Monica High School, Sage Hill School, and many others.