Tips for Academic Success

Finding the right routine:

Allowing enough time to get ready for class, study for an exam, or complete an assignment can be tricky.  The key is to always do what must be done first. This usually involves studying, reading, projects, and weekly homework assignments. Worry about what can be done later, after completing what needs to be done now. If you’re getting ready for a test, don’t check text messages, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, or start any Google internet searches. Enjoy the entertainment side of things after the task at hand is completed.  This strategy reduces a lot of stress that comes with doing things last minute: waiting to study the night before, starting your paper the week it’s due, working on your presentation the morning of, etc. 

Try to stick to a routine or tentative schedule.  This is because time management can be tough for some students. Mainly, because students overestimate the amount of time they have for a task and underestimate how much time it will take for them to do it. All of the student's professional meetings, such as counseling or tutoring, should be pre-arranged.  Most students do well with structure, so meeting at the same time and on the same day works best.

 

Staying focused:

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Students usually retain more information when they study in different locations. If possible, change the studying location from time to time. There are students that do better in a busy area – think of your local public library, the school’s library, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Barnes N Noble, worship center, community center, etc.  Then, there are other students that know they must have silence. These students may prefer a bedroom, basement, home office, private study room, even their home patio, or sun-room.  In case you didn't know, the best place to study is outside. So, try to change the study location when you can!  

You can put your phone across the room or in another room and leave it there.  If you want to check your messages from your friends, you have to get up and walk to it.  Students say that this significantly limits the amount of phone distractions.  If this is too hard for you, set the timer for 15  minutes, and work as hard as you can during that time.  When the timer goes off, get up, check your messages for one minute, and then get back to work.

Playing songs by your favorite artist is fine for routine assignments that do not require too much. However, music should not be played when intensely studying for a big exam. Playing music can negatively impact long-term retrieval.  

When students are having a tough time getting started with homework, it’s always a good idea to begin with an easy task, followed by a difficult one, and then an easy assignment again.  

 

Being organized:

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Record all school assignments on a calendar. You can use a tablet, laptop, smart phone, desktop, or a wall calendar. Record the final due date and then set incremental due dates and associated tasks to get it done on time. By week one, perhaps your topic and introduction should be completed. Then, going into the second week, start doing research on supporting points and arguments.  When large tasks, like a final paper or studying for a mid-term, are broken down into direct, manageable chunks, they are more likely to be completed on time. For instance, if a test is coming up on Friday, the student should record tasks like “complete 1-10 review problems on page 19” and “create flashcards for math steps,” etc. on Monday or Tuesday.  Being specific with your tasks can be far superior to simply jotting down a vague reminder like “study for my math test.”

Tasks that you record should be no more than 30-35 minutes.  When tasks end up taking longer, students are far more likely to procrastinate and avoid doing it altogether.  

Every student should schedule a “binder and backpack sweep” session to help stay organized. Set aside 30 minutes each week and conduct a clean out.  Sundays are perfect for doing this. This also lets the student plan ahead for the week – what’s due and when, starting a long-term assignment, and planning what to work on.  Enter the 30-minute clean sweep on your phone calendar, monthly planner, room calendar, or make sticky notes to remind yourself.

 

Reading and studying:

Active reading should be utilized when preparing for an exam.  Active reading includes writing notes in the margins and highlighting pertinent information.  As reading becomes more complex, these strategies help students to understand more advanced topics. 

Tips:
Read one section at a time.  After you’re done, go back and highlight the important information. The color of the highlighter does not matter at all. Yellow, blue, green, pink, or orange - just pick one!    

Use margin notes. Margin notes are another interactive way of studying. It’s better than just reading the information and moving along. In short phrases, summarize the main points in the margins of text books. Doing so, will help with retaining the information that was read.  

Engage in “self chat” at the end of each section.  The student should ask, “What did I just read here?” or “What’s the takeaway from this section?”  Self chat helps students comprehend what they are reading better.

If you are reading, try the SCAN strategy.  Simply put, before reading do the following:

S = Survey Headings and Turn Them into Questions
Find each heading, and change it into a question.
C = Capture the Captions and Visuals
Review pictures or charts and read the captions beside them.
A = Attack Boldface Words
Hone in on the terms in bold; read these words to gain an understanding of the main idea.
N = Note and Read the Chapter Questions
Check out the questions at the end of the chapter.

Looking for an Academic Coach? Contact us for in-home tutoring support! 

One-To-One ACT Prep & SAT Prep: Raleigh NC, Durham NC, & Cary NC

WHY DOES OUR PROGRAM WORK SO WELL? 
We often get asked this question. It’s because we focus on the individual student and not a classroom of students. The largest ACT/SAT score increases are seen when ACT/SAT prep is customized for the individual student. This is also why a baseline test is so effective. Our ACT/SAT practice test score reports are used as a student diagnostic. 

The ACT/SAT tutor will hone in on the specific needs for the individual. The diagnostic report reveals trends such as pacing and themes among certain question types. On the SAT reading section, the student may have the most trouble with command of evidence. For the ACT math section, it might be quadratic equations that need the most attention. Our ACT/SAT tutors will come to students’ homes on weekdays or weekends.

ACT Score Increase - Northern VA - Richmond VA - Charlotte NC.jpg
SAT Score Increase Northern VA - Richmond VA - Charlotte NC.jpg

Contact us to get started with your customized ACT/SAT prep program.

One-To-One ACT Prep & SAT Prep: Charlotte NC

WHY DOES OUR PROGRAM WORK SO WELL? 
We often get asked this question. It’s because we focus on the individual student and not a classroom of students. The largest ACT/SAT score increases are seen when ACT/SAT prep is customized for the individual student. This is also why a baseline test is so effective. Our ACT/SAT practice test score reports are used as a student diagnostic. 

The ACT/SAT tutor will hone in on the specific needs for the individual. The diagnostic report reveals trends such as pacing and themes among certain question types. On the SAT reading section, the student may have the most trouble with command of evidence. For the ACT math section, it might be quadratic equations that need the most attention. Our ACT/SAT tutors will come to students’ homes on weekdays or weekends.

ACT Score Increase - Northern VA - Richmond VA - Charlotte NC.jpg
SAT Score Increase Northern VA - Richmond VA - Charlotte NC.jpg

Contact us to get started with your customized ACT/SAT prep program. 

One-To-One ACT Prep & SAT Prep: Richmond VA, Henrico VA, & Chesterfield VA

WHY DOES OUR PROGRAM WORK SO WELL? 
We often get asked this question. It’s because we focus on the individual student and not a classroom of students. The largest ACT/SAT score increases are seen when ACT/SAT prep is customized for the individual student. This is also why a baseline test is so effective. Our ACT/SAT practice test score reports are used as a student diagnostic. 

The ACT/SAT tutor will hone in on the specific needs for the individual. The diagnostic report reveals trends such as pacing and themes among certain question types. On the SAT reading section, the student may have the most trouble with command of evidence. For the ACT math section, it might be quadratic equations that need the most attention. Our ACT/SAT tutors will come to students’ homes on weekdays or weekends.

ACT Score Increase - Northern VA - Richmond VA - Charlotte NC.jpg
SAT Score Increase Northern VA - Richmond VA - Charlotte NC.jpg

Contact us to started with your customized ACT/SAT prep program. 

One-To-One ACT Prep & SAT Prep: Washington DC & Northern VA

WHY DOES OUR PROGRAM WORK SO WELL? 
We often get asked this question. It’s because we focus on the individual student and not a classroom of students. The largest ACT/SAT score increases are seen when ACT/SAT prep is customized for the individual student. This is also why a baseline test is so effective. Our ACT/SAT practice test score reports are used as a student diagnostic. 

The ACT/SAT tutor will hone in on the specific needs for the individual. The diagnostic report reveals trends such as pacing and themes among certain question types. On the SAT reading section, the student may have the most trouble with command of evidence. For the ACT math section, it might be quadratic equations that need the most attention. Our ACT/SAT tutors will come to students’ homes on weekdays or weekends.

ACT Score Increase - Northern VA - Richmond VA - Charlotte NC.jpg
SAT Score Increase Northern VA - Richmond VA - Charlotte NC.jpg

Contact us to get started with your customized ACT/SAT prep program.  

One-To-One ACT Prep & SAT Prep: Fredericksburg VA, Stafford VA, & Spotsylvania VA

WHY DOES OUR PROGRAM WORK SO WELL? 
We often get asked this question. It’s because we focus on the individual student and not a classroom of students. The largest ACT/SAT score increases are seen when ACT/SAT prep is customized for the individual student. This is also why a baseline test is so effective. Our ACT/SAT practice test score reports are used as a student diagnostic. 

The ACT/SAT tutor will hone in on the specific needs for the individual. The diagnostic report reveals trends such as pacing and themes among certain question types. On the SAT reading section, the student may have the most trouble with command of evidence. For the ACT math section, it might be quadratic equations that need the most attention. Our ACT/SAT tutors will come to students’ homes on weekdays or weekends.

ACT Score Increase - Northern VA - Richmond VA - Charlotte NC.jpg
SAT Score Increase Northern VA - Richmond VA - Charlotte NC.jpg

Contact us to get started with your customized ACT/SAT prep program. 

Spring 2018 Mock ACT/SAT Classes - Charlotte NC

Vint Hill Educational Services offers mock testing for the ACT and SAT. These administrations are hosted in the Charlotte NC area. We supply the test booklet, essay booklet, answer sheet, testing timer, extra pencils, and a proctor. Students will need to bring: a calculator, two No. 2 pencils, snacks, and a drink. 

Each student receives a 9 page diagnostic report using our test scoring software. We only use official ACT and SAT practice tests. Students that take both an ACT and SAT will receive a student scores comparison chart. This will reveal which test the student is scoring higher on, ACT or SAT.
 
Charlotte NC area: Click here to register for a mock ACT or SAT
ACT - 03/03/2018 & 05/12/2018
SAT - 02/03/2018 & 04/21/2018

View our sample ACT/SAT diagnostic reports and student scores comparison chart: 
ACT report - http://www.vinthilles.com/s/PracticeACTReport-Sample17.pdf
SAT report - http://www.vinthilles.com/s/PracticeSATReport-Sample17.pdf
Student ACT vs. SAT chart - http://www.vinthilles.com/s/VHES-SAT-Scores-Versus-ACT-Scores-Julia.pdf

For those that have only taken a PSAT or SAT, a practice ACT is a must, and we can compare the results to see which test the student is scoring higher on. 

Mock ACT/SAT Registration
Online: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0b4aabab2fa3f49-free
Phone: 704-412-4004
Email: contact@vinthilles.com
Cost: 
$25 for 1 test (ACT or SAT) 
$40 for 2 tests (ACT and SAT)
ACT/SAT diagnostic and comparison chart will be emailed to parents. 

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the ACT or SAT. 

Reading Strategies: Academic Coaching Specialist - Washington DC, Northern VA, Charlotte NC, Richmond VA

There is a host of tools at the student's disposal for interacting with what we are reading. The concept is known as active reading and it will work to increase comprehension and retention of information. Try out some of the strategies below. 

BEFORE YOU READ:
•    Z – Sweep:  Performing a Z-Sweep will help you understand what lies ahead. Move your hand from the left to the right under the first line, then back around through the body of the text, and then finish with a sweep from left to right at the bottom. Read the first sentence, glance or sweep through the body, and then read the last one or two sentences. By using this strategy, you can gain a cross-section of what you are about to read. 

•    SCAN:  This strategy significantly improves text book reading comprehension in middle and high school students.
S = Survey Headings and Turn Them into Questions
Find each bold heading, and turn it into a question. For example, if the heading is The War of 1812, you should think, “What happened in The War of 1812?”
C = Capture the Captions and Visuals
Glance at the pictures or diagrams and read each caption.
A = Attack Boldface Words
Be sure to focus on the terms in bold. Quickly read these words for an understanding of the main vocabulary words.
N = Note and Read the Chapter Questions
This is perhaps the most important pre-reading strategy. Read the review questions at the end of the section first. This will help with the main idea behind the passage.

AS YOU READ OR AFTER YOU READ:
•    Highlighting:  Using color helps to increase attention.  Highlight the main points and be careful not to become “highlighter crazy”.  Highlight the main points after you read a section.  As yourself, “What’s the main point of the paragraph I just read?”

•    Margin Notes:  Questions or comments jotted in the margins next to important paragraphs provide visual cues.  Writing down quick notes as you read really helps with retention.  Furthermore, when you go back over the book before finals, all the main ideas will be there for you. 

•    Summary Writing:  Summarizing information is time-consuming, but it is the best way to be sure that you understand and remember what you read.  You can write brief summaries at the end of each chapter or at the bottom of your 2-column notes.  If you write a summary within 24 hours of taking notes or reading, you’re much more likely to retain the information.

Contact us and you can start working with a tutor on active reading strategies!  

ACT/SAT Prep: Richmond VA, 2017-2018 Practice Dates

For the 2017-2018 school year, we will be offering group practice tests in the Richmond VA area. These mock sessions will take place at the American Legion in Mechanicsville

These practice tests are taken in a group setting to simulate the testing environment. We use official ACT and SAT practice tests. We supply the test booklet, essay booklet, answer sheet, testing timer, extra pencils, and a proctor. Parents receive a student diagnostic score report (ACT/SAT) that reveals strengths and weaknesses, along with a test scores comparison, ACT versus SAT. 

Each student receives a 9 page diagnostic report using our test scoring software. Students that take both an ACT and SAT will receive a student scores comparison chart. This will reveal which test the student is scoring higher on, ACT or SAT.

Richmond VA area: Click here to register for a mock ACT or SAT
ACT - 01/13/18, 03/03/18, 04/21/18
SAT - 10/14/17, 02/17/18, 04/07/18

View our sample ACT/SAT diagnostic reports and student scores comparison chart: 
ACT report - http://www.vinthilles.com/s/PracticeACTReport-Sample17.pdf
SAT report - http://www.vinthilles.com/s/PracticeSATReport-Sample17.pdf
Student ACT vs. SAT chart - http://www.vinthilles.com/s/VHES-SAT-Scores-Versus-ACT-Scores-Julia.pdf

For those that have only taken a PSAT or SAT, a practice ACT is a must, and we can compare the results to see which test the student is scoring higher on. 

Mock ACT/SAT Registration
Online: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0b4aabab2fa3f49-free
Phone: 540-428-5379
Email: contact@vinthilles.com
Cost: 
$25 for 1 test (ACT or SAT) 
$40 for 2 tests (ACT and SAT)
ACT/SAT diagnostic and comparison chart will be emailed to parents. 

High School students from all areas of Richmond are encouraged to attend: MIDLOTHIAN VA, GLEN ALLEN VA, ASHLAND VA, DUMBARTON VA, CHAMBERLAYNE VA,TUCKAHOE VA, CHESTERFIELD VA, SHORT PUMP VA, HENRICO VA, AND OTHERS! 

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the ACT or SAT. 

SSAT Tips and Strategies

A good SSAT test prep program will strengthen underlying skills, instill confidence, and help students reach their full potential. Successful test-taking not only encompasses the necessary academic skills, but also the understanding of how to take standardized tests. Utilizing a two-pass approach, pacing drills, process of elimination, plugging in the answer choices, and question recognition, are all ways to help increase your score. Having a tips and strategies toolbox will help the student be in control of the test. View the SSAT test format. 

•    Guess if you can eliminate 2 answer choices on easy or medium questions. Guess on hard questions if you can eliminate 3 answer choices.
•    Attractor answers are most common towards the end of a section. 
•    The student receives 1 minute per question on the reading section.
•    The student receives 30 seconds per question on the verbal section. 
•    The student receives 72 seconds per question on both math sections. 

SSAT Math:

•    Half of the math questions are arithmetic and about one-fifth are Geometry based. 
•    If the problem doesn't say “not drawn to scale” then estimate by looking at it.
•    Use numbers that are easy to work with when plugging in for variables. 
•    If you think a question will take more than 72 seconds, circle it, and come back to it later.
•    Watch out for sudden measurement changes. For example, the chart lists yards and the answers are given in feet. 

SSAT Verbal:

•    Review the tested word and find the correct definition.
•    The answers may also use a secondary definition.
•    Examine the word for roots, prefixes, and suffixes. 
•    Does the word sound positive or negative?
•    For analogies, build a sentence with the word to understand the relationship. 
•    Eliminate answer choices with no relation and that seem weak in their relationship. 

SSAT Reading:

•    Spend the first minute looking for “easy” passages to tackle. 
•    Reading is the only section that doesn’t progress from easy to difficult. 
•    Usually, the very first sentence will be the main idea. 
•    Read at a strong pace, but do not re-read. 
•    Try not to worry about rushing through passages. 
•    Don’t move onto the next passage, until you answer all of the current passage questions. 
•    If you’re running short on time, look for the questions that ask for a definition. 

Contact us regarding test prep for the SSAT, including a free diagnostic report!

Best ACT Prep & SAT Prep: Northern VA

WHY DOES OUR PROGRAM WORK SO WELL? 

We often get asked this question. It’s because we focus on the individual student and not a classroom of students. The largest ACT/SAT score increases are seen when ACT/SAT prep is customized for the individual student. This is also why a baseline test is so effective. Our ACT/SAT practice test score reports are used as a student diagnostic. 

The ACT/SAT tutor will hone in on the specific needs for the individual. The diagnostic report reveals trends such as pacing and themes among certain question types. On the SAT reading section, the student may have the most trouble with command of evidence. For the ACT math section, it might be quadratic equations that need the most attention. It is important to retest the student periodically, in order to reassess strengths and weaknesses. The ACT/SAT prep program should revolve around the student, as he or she grows throughout the prep program. When we see scores suddenly spike in the main area of focus, it means attention must be switched back to the new lowest scoring section.

Our ACT/SAT tutors will come to your home on weekdays or weekends. ACT/SAT prep is available throughout Northern VA and surrounding areas.     

Here’s one of our ACT prep students that went up 5 ACT composite points, after only 6 sessions of one-to-one prep. English went up 3 points, math shot up 7 points, reading increased by 6 points, and science jumped up 4 points. 

ACT Student Score Increase.jpg

Best ACT Prep & SAT Prep: Richmond, VA

WHY DOES OUR PROGRAM WORK SO WELL? 

We often get asked this question. It’s because we focus on the individual student and not a classroom of students. The largest ACT/SAT score increases are seen when ACT/SAT prep is customized for the individual student. This is also why a baseline test is so effective. Our ACT/SAT practice test score reports are used as a student diagnostic. 

The ACT/SAT tutor will hone in on the specific needs for the individual. The diagnostic report reveals trends such as pacing and themes among certain question types. On the SAT reading section, the student may have the most trouble with command of evidence. For the ACT math section, it might be quadratic equations that need the most attention. It is important to retest the student periodically, in order to reassess strengths and weaknesses. The ACT/SAT prep program should revolve around the student, as he or she grows throughout the prep program. When we see scores suddenly spike in the main area of focus, it means attention must be switched back to the new lowest scoring section.

Our ACT/SAT tutors will come to your home on weekdays or weekends. ACT/SAT prep is available throughout Richmond, VA and surrounding areas.     

Here’s one of our ACT prep students that went up 5 ACT composite points, after only 6 sessions of one-to-one prep. English went up 3 points, math shot up 7 points, reading increased by 6 points, and science jumped up 4 points. 

ACT Student Score Increase.jpg

Best ACT Prep & SAT Prep: Charlotte, NC

WHY DOES OUR PROGRAM WORK SO WELL? 

We often get asked this question. It’s because we focus on the individual student and not a classroom of students. The largest ACT/SAT score increases are seen when ACT/SAT prep is customized for the individual student. This is also why a baseline test is so effective. Our ACT/SAT practice test score reports are used as a student diagnostic. 

The ACT/SAT tutor will hone in on the specific needs for the individual. The diagnostic report reveals trends such as pacing and themes among certain question types. On the SAT reading section, the student may have the most trouble with command of evidence. For the ACT math section, it might be quadratic equations that need the most attention. It is important to retest the student periodically, in order to reassess strengths and weaknesses. The ACT/SAT prep program should revolve around the student, as he or she grows throughout the prep program. When we see scores suddenly spike in the main area of focus, it means attention must be switched back to the new lowest scoring section.

Our ACT/SAT tutors will come to your home on weekdays or weekends. ACT/SAT prep is available throughout Charlotte, NC and surrounding areas.     

Here’s one of our ACT prep students that went up 5 ACT composite points, after only 6 sessions of one-to-one prep. English went up 3 points, math shot up 7 points, reading increased by 6 points, and science jumped up 4 points. 

ACT Student Score Increase.jpg

2017-2018 School Year: Mock ACT/SAT Class Dates

Vint Hill Educational Services offers mock testing for the ACT and SAT. These administrations are hosted in the Northern VA area and the Richmond VA area. We supply the test booklet, essay booklet, answer sheet, testing timer, extra pencils, and a proctor. Students will need to bring: a calculator, two No. 2 pencils, snacks, and a drink. 

Each student receives a 9 page diagnostic report using our test scoring software. We only use official ACT and SAT practice tests. Students that take both an ACT and SAT will receive a student scores comparison chart. This will reveal which test the student is scoring higher on, ACT or SAT.
 
Northern VA area: Click here to register for a mock ACT or SAT
ACT - 09/30/17, 11/11/17, 02/03/18, 03/24/18, 05/19/18
SAT - 09/16/17, 10/21/17, 01/27/18, 02/24/18, 04/28/18

Richmond VA area: Click here to register for a mock ACT or SAT
ACT - 01/13/18, 03/03/18, 04/21/18
SAT - 10/14/17, 02/17/18, 04/07/18

View our sample ACT/SAT diagnostic reports and student scores comparison chart: 
ACT report - http://www.vinthilles.com/s/PracticeACTReport-Sample17.pdf
SAT report - http://www.vinthilles.com/s/PracticeSATReport-Sample17.pdf
Student ACT vs. SAT chart - http://www.vinthilles.com/s/VHES-SAT-Scores-Versus-ACT-Scores-Julia.pdf

For those that have only taken a PSAT or SAT, a practice ACT is a must, and we can compare the results to see which test the student is scoring higher on. 

Mock ACT/SAT Registration
Online: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0b4aabab2fa3f49-free
Phone: 540-428-5379
Email: contact@vinthilles.com
Cost: 
$25 for 1 test (ACT or SAT) 
$40 for 2 tests (ACT and SAT)
ACT/SAT diagnostic and comparison chart will be emailed to parents. 

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the ACT or SAT. 

The FAFSA Application

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) lets students receive aid that includes loans, work-study programs, and federal or state student grants. 

Web (Online): fafsa.ed.gov/FAFSA/app/fafsa?locale=en_US
Print (PDF): studentaid.ed.gov/PDFfafsa 
Mail (Post Office): 1-800-433-3243

Attending College From
July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017: You can submit the FAFSA from January 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 and use income tax data from 2015.
July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018: You can submit the FAFSA from October 1, 2016 – June 30, 2018 and use income tax data from 2015.
July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019: You can submit the FAFSA from October 1, 2017 – June 30, 2019 and use income tax data from 2016. 

 

Additional Information
-    You don’t have to apply to a school before listing it on your FAFSA.   
-    Choosing the renewal option allows you to carry over last year’s FAFSA information. Only the basics will carry over; thus, income and taxes will have to be re-entered.  
-    Even if your family’s income has changed, you still have to report the required year the FAFSA asks for. 
-    Some schools will make offers earlier than others. Be sure to read through all of the information. You should try and file as close to October 1st as possible. This is the first day in which you can file the FAFSA. You should also review your schools’ financial aid deadlines.  You’ll have your bases covered if you file as early as possible. 
-    The FAFSA asks for current marital status. Meaning, what is your status while you’re filling it out. Depending upon the situation, a spouse’s income may need to be updated. It may need to be removed or added. 
-    Students may complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1st every year. The FAFSA was available on January 1st in previous years. Students have been able to file since October 1, 2016. 
-    Students can use income from an earlier tax year. Starting with the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students will use income from two years ago. Students will use 2015 income information instead of 2016 income information. As long as you can find your 2015 tax year data, the information should already be saved and ready to go! 
-    All 2016-2017 FAFSA applications must be submitted by midnight, June 30, 2017 (CT).

 

After You Apply 
-    Student Aid Report (SAR) - You’ll receive a student aid report from the U.S. Department of Education. This could come via email or postal mail. This report contains all of the data that you entered on the FAFSA. Review any errors and submit necessary corrections. 

-    Expected Family Contribution (EFC) - The student aid report will encompass an expected family contribution number. The number is representative of your family’s financial strength. It’s sent to the schools listed on your FAFSA as well as the state scholarship organization. The number is used to determine your financial aid. 
 

ACT Science Overview

Format:
•    40 questions
•    Multiple-choice
•    4 answer choices
•    Passages with charts/diagrams

Content:
•    Biology
•    Chemistry
•    Physics
•    Geology
•    Astronomy
•    Meteorology

Time: 35 minutes

The ACT science section does not test specific science facts. Instead, students will need to understand how to use certain skills of scientific reasoning. Nearly every question can be answered by referring to the material in the passage. Yet, somewhere between 1 and 5 questions on every ACT test, will concentrate on science-based knowledge not given in the passages. There will be a few questions that require some arithmetic. You may have to find an average or utilize your algebra knowledge. 

 

Question types and scoring
Students receive 1 raw point for every correct answer. There’s nothing lost for answering incorrectly. The raw score is calculated by tallying up the raw points. The overall raw score is then converted to a score on a 1-36 point scale. The ACT science score is 1 of 4 scores that's factored into the ACT composite. The ACT composite is an average of 4 section scores. Meaning, a lower science score will bring down the ACT composite, and a higher score, will help to increase the ACT composite. This, of course, relies on the scores from the other ACT sections: English, reading, and mathematics.  

Each ACT test contains:
•    6-8 Conflicting Viewpoints questions. These questions will present two or more scientific theories. Amongst all of the theories, not all of them can be correct. The questions may not ask you to prove which theory is correct, but instead, ask you to describe the viewpoints and how they relate to one another. 
•    12-16 Data Representation questions. These questions usually present charts and tables that display different variables. Students will find 2-4 variables and must be able to describe the relationships between the variables. 
•    18-22 Research Summary questions. These questions describe an experiment and the scientific findings. The passage will detail the results, makeup, and hypothesis. The questions will ask you about the experiment’s findings, design, and implementation. 

Every ACT test will include the same set of instructions for the science section. Master the instructions and you won’t need to read them when taking the test. This enables you to spend more time on the problems by skipping the instructions. 

ACT SCIENCE DIRECTIONS: There are seven passages in this test. Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary. You are NOT permitted to use a calculator on this test. 

 

Attractor answers
Watch out for attractor answer choices. The ACT anticipates the student making careless mistakes. The test will setup traps for students, and those most impacted, will be students who are not ready for them. The attractors mainly show up on medium to difficult questions. 


ACT science tips: 
•    Focus on one passage at a time
•    Learn which types of passages come easier for you
•    Tailor your strategies to each passage type
•    Don’t worry if the subject is unknown to you. Most of the information is in the passage. 
•    Work on timing and pacing by practicing passages
•    Know the directions, so that you can skip them
•    You have 52 ½ seconds per question
•    Adjust your pacing to the passage types
     o    Data Representation passages: spend 4 minutes
     o    Research Summary passages: spend 5 minutes
     o    Conflicting Viewpoints passages: spend 7 minutes
 

Comparing SAT Scores to ACT Scores

Students that take both the SAT and ACT can compare scores to see which test they’re scoring higher on. Some students will find that they’re actually scoring higher on one test over the other. We recommend that students take official SAT and official ACT practice tests. This means, taking a test created by the College Board or the ACT. We offer full-length mock practice tests in a group setting. Students that take both a mock SAT and ACT, with us, will receive an individualized comparison chart. This document accompanies the student’s SAT and ACT baseline reports. We determine which test is better, SAT or ACT, by comparing scores using a concordance table. We also ask the student how he or she felt about the tests: pacing, timing, comfortability, testing format, question types, ACT science versus SAT no-calculator math, essay section, etc. 

The ideal time to take full-length practice SAT and ACT tests are fall of junior year. If the family can find time during the summer months, then the summer going into junior year works well too. Juniors usually take their first official test during the winter or spring. Once a test is decided upon, SAT or ACT, a customized test prep plan is put in place, based upon the student’s strengths and weaknesses. If an action plan is put together during the fall of junior year then the student can prep for an official winter or spring test. The amount of prep needed is determined by the difference in the student’s SAT or ACT scores, compared to the interested schools’ middle 50% SAT and ACT scores. In addition, test prep programs need to be catered to the individual and his or her academic background. Is remedial work needed for math or grammar? Does the student receive standardized testing accommodations? Is the student currently enrolled in Algebra II or Trigonometry (taking a spring test might be better)?  

By using the chart below, you can decide which test is better for you. 

SAT Scores Versus ACT Scores - Concordance

Find out how we can help decide which test to prep for! 

Private School Admissions: SSAT & ISEE

Throughout the Washington DC area, parents often ask us, “When should we take a practice SSAT or ISEE?” or “When should we start SSAT or ISEE prep?” Current 7th graders should take a practice upper level SSAT or ISEE in the spring or the summer going into 8th grade. That’s for students looking to apply for 9th grade entrance to a private high school. The official tests are usually taken during the fall or winter of 8th grade. Taking a full-length official SSAT or ISEE practice test beforehand, will let the student know where to focus. The student may need more math, verbal, or reading support. Furthermore, the practice test will reveal what types of questions the student is struggling with the most. For example, on the SSAT verbal section, the student may do really well on the synonyms, yet have problems with the analogies questions. 

Here’s how the private high school admissions process works:  

1)    Create a school list during 7th grade year. Look over: 
o    Academic programs
o    Co-ed or single gender
o    Class size
o    Leadership opportunities
o    Location
o    Athletics
o    Safety procedures
o    Learning center
o    Matriculation list
o    Tips:
          Don’t have too many schools on your list
          Have reach schools, middle of the road schools, and safety schools

2)    Other factors:
•    Schools accept SSAT or ISEE
•    Financial aid and payment plans
•    Fine arts program
•    Student body diversity
•    Faculty background
•    Test scores
•    Campus facilities
•    Technology
•    STEAM

3)    Application criteria:
•    SSAT or ISEE scores
•    Student grades
•    Interview
•    Essays
•    Campus tour
•    Extracurricular activities
•    Volunteer work
•    Community involvement

4)    How to start:
•    Attend campus open houses
•    Research school websites
•    Call admissions offices
•    Look at a various schools
•    Take a baseline SSAT or ISEE
•    Plan for 2 months – 6 months of test prep
•    Review admissions deadlines for paperwork and test scores (usually, January or February due dates). 

5)    SSAT: 
•    Offered 8 times per year on predetermined national testing dates.
•    Students can also take a flex test one-to-one or in a small group setting (usually setup through an IECA member).
•    Students can take all national testing dates and a flex test (meaning they can take the SSAT more than once).

6)    ISEE: 
•    All students will have the option to test once in each of three four-month long testing windows; meaning, students can test up to three times in a 12-month admission cycle.
•    There are no national testing dates. Tests are setup through approved testing site member schools.
•    Students may take the ISEE at approved ERB member school test sites, Prometric locations worldwide, or at ERB’s main New York City office.

We can help you get prepared for the SSAT and ISEE. Get started with your customized test prep program today! 
 

SAT Math Overview

Format
58 total questions
25-minute no-calculator section (20 questions)
55-minute calculator section (38 questions)
Contains multiple-choice and grid-in questions

Content
Problem Solving and Data Analysis (19 questions) sample topics: percents, proportions, and statistics
Heart of Algebra (17 questions) sample topics: algebraic equations, systems of equations, graphs of linear equations, and linear models
Passport to Advanced Math (16 questions) sample topics: functions, quadratic equations, and polynomials
Additional Topics in Math (6 questions) sample topics: angles, triangles, circles, trigonometry, and complex numbers

Tips

  • Put time and energy into questions within your capabilities.
  • Don’t waste time on a hard question when there are still easier questions left to answer.
  • Be sure to check your answers on harder questions. Suspect an answer that comes a little too easily.
  • In each math section, consider doing the first few grid-ins prior to doing the last few multiple-choice questions.
  • The questions on the calculator section are usually more complex than the ones on the no-calculator section.

Scoring
You’ll receive a math section score on a 200-800 point scale. Also, you'll receive a second math section score, but weighted on a 10-40 scale. There are three math subscores: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. The three math subscores will be reported to you on a 1-15 scale for each. Additionally, some math questions will count towards a cross-test score. There are two reported cross-test scores, one for Analysis in Science and one for Analysis in History/Social Studies.

Your score is calculated using the following: 1 raw point for a correct answer. There is no penalty for answering incorrectly, so you should answer every question on the SAT. Your raw score is calculated by adding up your raw points. Your raw score is converted to a scale math test score from 10-40. The score you receive on the 10-40 scale is converted to a math section score from 200-800.
 
Tackling SAT Grid-In Questions
13 of the 58 math questions are grid-ins. There are 5 at the end of the no-calculator section and 8 at the end of the calculator allowed section.

  • Grid-in questions are like multiple-choice questions, but they do not contain multiple-choice answers to choose from.
  • Grid-in questions progress in level of difficulty. The first grid-in question will be much easier than the last grid-in question. For some students, it is best to answer the grid-in questions first before attempting the most difficult multiple-choice questions.
  • You should always write your answers in the boxes even though you only receive credit for bubbling in the ovals.
  • Start gridding in the far-left column first.
  • Grid-in questions will never have negative numbers as answers.
  • You should grid-in mixed numbers as improper fractions or decimals.
  • If you grid-in an answer as a decimal, you should do so with the highest degree of accuracy possible. For example, an answer of 0.6666 should be gridded as .666 or .667 or 2/3. If you gridded .66 or .67 your answer will be marked incorrect.
  • You may find that some grid-in questions have more than one answer. You need to grid-in just one of the correct answers.
  • Always check your work. With the grid-in questions, there are no answer choices provided to check against your answer. Be sure to check your work before filling in your answer.

Contact us to learn more about our SAT prep program! 

FREE College Planning & SAT Prep Workshops

For Parents and Students

Your College Planning Coach and Vint Hill Educational Services will hold workshops on Saturday, April 1st (Richmond VA) and Saturday, April 29th (Manassas Park VA), from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Both parents and students are welcome to attend. The parent workshop will go over college planning information. The student workshop will focus on SAT prep for the math and reading/writing sections. 

FREE Parent Workshop
- Help with scholarships and financial aid
- When to start planning for college
- How school selection can save you money
- Proven tools to guide career and school choice
- How to navigate through the application process
- And much more!

FREE Student Workshop
- Learn SAT tips, tricks, and strategies
- Understand the SAT format, timing, and structure
- Introduction to the SAT math, SAT reading, and SAT writing sections
- Work through sample problems with the teacher
- Comparison to ACT

Registration
Online: Manassas VA - http://tinyurl.com/znnv47d  Richmond VA -  https://tinyurl.com/hs44xhh
Phone: 703-928-9036 / 540-428-5379
Email: luanne@yourcollegeplanningcoach.com / michael@vinthilles.com