Test Prep

The SSAT: Planning, Preparation, and Practice

If you're interested in attending an independent school, you may have heard the term SSAT and may now be wondering how to study for the test. In this article, we'll briefly cover the basics of what the SSAT is and does and offer key SSAT prep strategies and tips. 


What Is the SSAT?

The SSAT, or Secondary School Admission Test, is a standardized test required by a number of independent schools worldwide as a part of any hopeful student's application.
It's offered at three levels:

  • Elementary, for students currently enrolled in Grades 3 or 4
  • Middle, for students currently enrolled in Grades 5 through 7
  • Upper, for students currently enrolled in Grades 8 through 11

What Does the SSAT Test?

The SSAT measures verbal, quantitative, and reading skills, all the while emphasizing critical thinking and problem solving.
The quantitative section tests things like basic operations, basic fractions, and ordering numbers (for the elementary-level students) and algebra, geometry, and data analysis (for the upper-level students). 

The verbal section consists of responding to synonym and analogy questions at an appropriate level for the student's age.

The reading section is focused on answering comprehension and analysis questions related to short passages from a variety of genres.

The test is almost entirely multiple-choice, with the exception of one 15-25 minute free-response writing exercise. Younger students will be asked to write a short story, while older students will have the choice of constructing an essay if they prefer.

The SSAT is designed to measures skills rather than achievement; in other words, it's not intended to rely on your mastery of specific material. This is supposed to help keep the test fair across all different backgrounds from which a student might originate.

How Is the SSAT Scored?

The SSAT is norm-referenced, meaning your final score is based on how well you do compared to other test takers. You will receive a scaled score and a percentile ranking. The scaled score's range will depend on the student's grade level:

  • For Elementary, the range is 300-600 per section, or 1200-1800.
  • For Middle, the range is 440-710 per section, or 1320-2130.
  • For Upper, the range is 500-800 per section, or 1500-2400.

The percentile ranking is always on a scale of 1-99, and it represents your performance as compared to students of the same grade who tested on the SSAT for the first time within the past three years in the US or Canada.

While the test is designed to be of "middle difficulty," this is a very competitive group of students against which you're being scored—these are the select students applying to the finest independent schools. 
 

SSAT Practice Tests

Use practice tests to familiarize yourself with the format, instructions, time constraints, and content. They're a great opportunity to practice as well as to ease the uncertainty you are likely to feel when facing a test of unknown characteristics.

Practice tests also provide the perfect opportunity to assess your own strengths and weaknesses. From there, you can ask a tutor, teacher, or parent for help on the specific areas where you struggle.

VHES offers a free in-home baseline practice test to help students familiarize themselves with the SSAT and prepare for the official exam. Click here for more information about our SSAT Prep service and diagnostic reports.  
 

How to Study for the SSAT: 5 Steps

#1: Take an Official Practice Test 

You should start prepping at least three months before you plan to take the SSAT. The first step is to take a practice test and then analyze your performance: what are your strengths and weaknesses, and what growth will you need to see in order to reach your goal? Quantify where you are and where you want to be. Note your performance in each of the three scored content areas. 
 

#2: Study Regularly

Having a regular study schedule is vital to raising your score, since you need to put in real time and effort to improve. 

Are you way behind your goal—say, more than 200 points? Think about scheduling at least an hour or two a week for Elementary students or up to three or four hours a week for Upper students. 

Are you looking to make a more moderate score increase of 100 - 200 points? You'll still want to study regularly, but can cut down to an hour or less per week for Elementary-level or roughly two hours per week for Upper-level.

Are you right about where you need to be in your score? You don't need to put in quite the same level of sustained SSAT prep, but we still recommend taking one or two more practice tests to keep your scores stable (or even improve them!).
 

#3: Focus on Your Weaknesses

In your prep, focus in on the topics that were hardest for you, but don't forget to dust the ones you've mastered off pretty routinely, too.

For the quantitative section, pay close attention in your math class; especially review/practice the topics that are slated to come up on the test, according to the Official Guide.

For the verbal section, make a game of playing with synonyms and analogies in everyday life. Get your friends and family in on it, too, if you can!

For the reading section, the best thing you can do is actively engage with reading on a daily basis. Draw from multiple genres, and force yourself to answer questions (your own or someone else's) about the text you've read.

For all sections, complete practice problems as often as you can. 
 

#4: Take Another Practice Test—In Fact, Take a Few

Take a practice test every four weeks or so—more often if you are uncomfortable with the test and want a greater improvement, less often if you feel at ease testing and are near your goal score.

Use these practice tests as a time to increase your familiarity with the format and feel of the test. Also perform a check-in to see how your trouble areas are progressing. Ask where your focus needs to be at this point in time.
 

#5: Slow Down About a Week Before the Test

Give yourself plenty of time to relax; cut down on your study time, and get plenty of rest. Stop studying altogether a day or two before the test. You need to start storing up sleep for the big day!

 

Please let us know if you have any questions about the SSAT.

Email us at contact@vinthilles.com for a free SSAT diagnostic report. 

 

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. 

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. 

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! 

Conquer SAT Reading Passages

The SAT reading test measures the student’s skills in reading, comprehension, and analysis. The passages are 500-750 words and the questions are divided into three areas: synthesis, rhetoric, and information/ideas. The SAT reading test contains 5 total passages and each passage has 10-11 questions. The student has an average of 13 minutes to spend on each passage. It’s best for the student to spend about 5 minutes reading the passage and 45 seconds to answer each question. The passages range from high school to college level content. 

Important tips to consider while reading SAT passages:
-    Ask yourself questions while you read.
-    Understand the question first then look at the answer choices. 
-    Review to make sure you’ve found the best answer. Usually, SAT reading passages will contain a few answer choices that seem right, but they’re not the correct answer. Most of the difficult questions will try and throw you off. 

As you read the passage, be sure to stay engaged. Don’t read the passage passively and wait for information to come to you. Try to think about what the author is saying. Ask questions about the passage. Also, be sure to map out the passage by finding a main idea for each paragraph. Ask yourself: Why did the writer choose to write about this topic? If you come across a paired passage, read the first passage and then answer the questions pertaining to it. Next, read the second passage and answer the questions that follow. Lastly, answer the questions that go over both passages. 

SAT reading passage strategies:
-    Don’t skim over the passage.
-    Focus on one question at a time.
-    Use the two-pass approach.
-    Don’t read the questions before reading the passage.

Each SAT reading test includes the following:
-    1 U.S and World Literature passage (from classic and contemporary)
-    2 History/Social Studies passages (from founding documents and political life)
-    2 Science passages (from historical discoveries in Earth science, chemistry, biology, and physics)

Attacking the SAT reading test:
-    Read the passage first. Resist the urge to rush ahead. Taking time to read the passages thoroughly will pay off in the end. Students must actively read the passage first.
-    Don’t skim the passages. The reading questions require a strong understanding of the passage. Students must understand the author’s role and perspectives. A brief look is not enough to answer the questions with accuracy.
-    Only read one passage at a time. Answer all questions pertaining to a specific passage before moving forward. In order to maximize your score, spend your time focusing on the easier questions first. Each question is worth 1 raw point, regardless of the level of difficulty. 
-    Focus on a single question at a time. Don’t feel the pressure to rush through the test. Relax and don’t think about the next passage. Be patient and you will find yourself working more accurately. 

Vint Hill Educational Services offers one-to-one SAT prep focused on the individual. Our program is customized and designed for each unique student. Unlike a group SAT prep class, we concentrate on individual student needs. 

Learn more about our SAT prep program.

Best ACT Prep & SAT Prep Northern VA: Vienna, VA - Falls Church, VA - Arlington, VA - Oakton, VA - Reston, VA - Great Falls, VA - Chantilly, VA - Centreville, VA - Fairfax, VA - Herndon, 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. Vint Hill Educational Services ACT/SAT tutors reside in: Vienna, VA - Oakton, VA - Fairfax, VA - Falls Church, VA - Arlington, VA - McLean, VA - Great Falls, VA - Reston, VA - Herndon, VA - Chantilly, VA - Sterling, VA - Centreville, VA - Alexandria, VA, and many more!   

Here’s one of our ACT prep students that went up 3 ACT composite points, after only 6 sessions of one-to-one prep. English went up 2 points, math shot up 4 points, reading increased by 3 points, and science jumped up 3 points. 

 Northern VA: ACT Prep, SAT Prep, ACT Tutor, SAT Tutor. Vienna, VA - Oakton, VA - Fairfax, VA - Falls Church, VA - Reston, VA - Great Falls, VA - McLean, VA - Arlington, VA - Sterling, VA - Herndon, VA - Centreville, VA - Chantilly, VA - Alexandria, VA 

Contact us to start your customized prep program today!

Best ACT Prep & SAT Prep: Henrico, VA - Short Pump, VA - Glen Allen, VA - Tuckahoe, VA - Midlothian, VA - Lorraine, VA - Bon Air, 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. Vint Hill Educational Services ACT/SAT tutors reside in: Henrico, VA - Glen Allen, VA - Richmond, VA - Midlothian, VA - Tuckahoe, VA - Short Pump, VA - Mechanicsville, VA - Lorraine, VA - Ashland, VA, and many more!  

Here’s one of our ACT prep students that went up 3 ACT composite points, after only 6 sessions of one-to-one prep. English went up 2 points, math shot up 4 points, reading increased by 3 points, and science jumped up 3 points. 

 ACT Prep, SAT Prep, ACT Tutor, SAT Tutor - Richmond, VA - Henrico, VA - Short Pump, VA - Glen Allen, VA - Tuckahoe, VA - Midlothian, VA - Lorraine, VA - Bon Air, VA

Contact us to start your customized prep program today! 

Average SAT Scores for 2014-2015 School Year

Here are the 2014-2015 average SAT scores for the United States. These are for the official SAT administrations held October through June.

2015 average scores: 
Average overall score: 1490 (down 7 points from 2014) 
Reading: 495 (down 2 points from 2014)
Math: 511 (down 2 points from 2014) 
Writing: 484 (down 3 points from 2014) 

2015 average scores by gender:
Reading:
Males – 497
Females – 493
Math:
Males – 527
Females – 496
Writing:
Males – 478
Females – 490

2015 average scores by ethnicity: 
American Indian or Alaska Native: 1423
Asian, Asian-American, or Pacific Islander: 1654
African-American: 1277
Mexican or Mexican-American: 1343
Puerto Rican: 1357
Latin-American, Central-American, South-American, or Other Latino: 1345
White: 1576
Other: 1496

In the fall of 2014, 3.8 million students took the PSAT/NMSQT, up from 3.7 million in 2013. A record 1.7 million students from the class of 2015 took the SAT, compared to 1.67 million students from the graduating class of 2014. A little over 712,000 students, which is 42% of SAT takers in the class of 2015, reached the SAT college and career readiness benchmark.

With the upcoming redesigned SAT, these numbers will look significantly different next year. Reading and writing will be combined into one section. The overall scale score will be going back to the 400-1600 point scale. 

Let us know how we can help you get ready!