FAQ: Test Training and College Admissions
Mrs. Ahn has served as MEK’s Head Academic Counselor for 20 years! Over time, she noticed that students typically share similar issues or questions. This is especially true when it comes to SAT and ACT prep. The college application process can be stressful, and MEK is here to help!
Mrs. Ahn has answered several of the most common questions students ask about preparing for SAT and ACT exams. We would be happy to answer any other questions regarding our programs at (855) 346-1410!
Q: When should I take the official SAT or ACT?
A: While there is no magic formula for when students should take the SAT or ACT, your second test should come soon after your first one so you maintain your strong foundations. The length of time between both tests depends on your current progress and your goal score. Typically, 4-8 weeks between exams is sufficient.
If you have a busy fall schedule that prevents you from electing a short time period between official tests, you should plan for 10-15 additional test training sessions to keep exam content, skills, and strategies fresh in your mind.
Q: But what about test curves?
A: Some students base their test timelines on speculated curves which supposedly make the exams easier. However, it is much more important to choose your official test date based on your prep. Depending on how many weeks you need to reach your goal score, you might take the test at a different time than some of your peers. The SAT is a reasoning test that can overwhelm students during a challenging 3-hour period.
A consistent and enduring attention span is necessary to perform well on such tests. If the student gets tired or lazy half-way through, a projected curve will do little for his or her score. It is far more important to develop strong time management skills, a long attention span, and engage in consistent practice over a predetermined number of weeks. Test training schedules help students outline their goals, stay on track, and evaluate their skill levels.
Q: How many times should I take the official SAT or ACT?
A: We highly recommend that all students take the official SAT and/or ACT at least twice so they have room to improve. Doing so gives you a selection of test scores to choose from when submitting your college applications.
Students who are further from their goal score and who need additional prep may elect to take the test more than twice, but it is important to be wary of burnout. If you prep too much, you will become exhausted and may earn scores below your initial goal.
Q: When will I show improvement with Test Training?
A: It is rare for students to have to focus for 3-4 hours straight in the classroom. Strengthening your attention span to perform well on the SAT or ACT takes time and practice. It usually takes about 3 weeks of training to see a positive change in attention span. By weeks 4 and 5, students typically gain a better understanding of how to handle problem solving and the test format.
Students see the most significant improvement after 10-15 weeks of training. This time period allows students to break inefficient study habits, facilitate time management, learn time-saving problem solving skills, and know exactly what to expect on the SAT or ACT.
Test Training the MEK Way:
- 3 weeks for orientation/break in
- 3 weeks to familiarize students with exam format and content
- 3-4 additional weeks to boost all skillsets and maximize overall improvement
Click here for more information on our Test Training programs.
Q: Can an honors student get a low score on the SAT?
A: Yes! This is actually more common than you’d think. Honors students are sometimes overconfident in their testing abilities, and do not prepare adequately as a result. Students who obtain excellent grades in the classroom with little effort are the ones who face this issue most often. Students who do little to learn outside of what is required in the classroom might have weak inference skills, which negatively affect test scores.
Ironically, many honors students have poor time management because they do well without much effort in school. The same ease in the classroom does not translate well to timed standardized tests—slow thinking and reading along with weak confidence can lower students’ SAT scores. Proper test training and preparation takes time. Rushing will minimize the benefits of practice and negate the process altogether.
Q: Are my GPA and SAT score important during college admission?
A: The short answer is ‘Yes’—I believe that most college admissions committees consider the GPA and SAT score connected. However, they also take great care to get to know each individual student’s traits, skills, and background. Relevant information is also very important when evaluating a prospective student—the high school you attended, your class rank, your weighted GPA, the difficulty of your classes, and your teacher recommendations.
Unfortunately, a low GPA often projects a low SAT score. SAT scores are used as an indicator of study skills, student confidence, and the challenges students tackle in the classroom. On the other hand, high GPAs usually project high scores.
But what if a student with a high GPA earns a low SAT score? This could indicate that the student is unprepared, underperforms in testing situations, or does not care enough about the admissions process. In many cases, these students do well in traditional school settings, but have not matured their problem-solving skills. The reverse situation shows that the students are smart but have poor motivation or discipline in school.
Regardless of his or her testing situation, the student can improve admissions chances with a strong college essay that shows personality and ambition.