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Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
    (1964-1969)
  • Stanford University
    (1969-1984)
  • Princeton University
    (1988-2003)

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    (1966-1977)
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    (1977-1987)
    International Office Director
    (1987-2002)

Dealing with the Pressure of Test Day

SAT
Guest Columnist

When it comes to taking a standardized test, many students feel the pressure with startling results. For a great number, the future could be quite literally hang in the balance. There is certainly no shortage of programs available to help increase vocabulary and test taking abilities, but even the strongest individuals have been known to cave under pressure. Continue reading strategies for dealing with test day stress and anxiety.

Dream Big – Visualize Success

This is a practice used by people the world over. See yourself taking the test and breezing through it effortlessly. You have studied and worked hard for this very moment and it is your time to shine. Tune all of the pressure out and focus on what dreams will come once you have performed well on the test. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Disconnect, Disengage, and Focus

This may at first sound counter-intuitive, but it is a great thing to do before getting ready to take a standardized test. Stay at home, disconnect, and focus on what needs to be done. Don’t engage in any activities besides taking care of yourself the night before and the morning of your test. Turn off the cell phone, stay off the internet, and refrain from participating in anything that could ultimately distract you.

Get Plenty of Sleep the Night Before

While it may be very difficult to get sleep the night before something as important and life-changing as a standardized test, it is very important to get eight or more hours of sleep. A well-rested mind could mean the difference between success and failure and a tired mind will operate clumsily in the cloud of fatigue.

Eat a Good Breakfast

Food can help ease your nerves, regardless of your fear of nausea being a main result of eating. Oatmeal, nutrition bars, or just plain cereal are better for you than showing up to take a stressful test on an empty stomach. Don’t allow hunger to be your main distraction come test time.

Silence is Golden

Take a few moments to yourself at the testing center to sit quietly and get your bearings. Stay calm and get in line when you’re ready. If you’re early, do your best to refrain from idle chatter by staying out of the way until the line starts moving and people are being sent to their respective rooms.

Any time throughout the test that you are feeling stressed, remember to take some deep breaths and realign your focus as necessary. The test may be scary, but it will be over soon enough.

By-line:
This post was contributed by Holly McCarthy, who writes on the subject of a recognized online university. She invites your feedback at hollymccarthy12 at gmail dot com

Rethinking College Prep Costs in Tough Times

Eric Barnes

A recent article in the New York Times highlights the dilemma today’s parents face as they prepare their children for college during these tough economic times. The author describes the suite of consulting and test prep services that are almost obligatory to ensure that our children have the best chances of gaining admission at selective colleges. Just as we’ve heard the saying “you never got fired for hiring IBM,” many parents previously overlooked the $1,000+ price tag of an SAT classroom course (we won’t name names :) without researching alternatives. That was then, this is now.

“My friends and I smugly tell one another that all we needed to be prepared for the SAT in the late 1970s were two sharpened No. 2 pencils. And campus tours? The first time I visited the University of California, Berkeley — one of two universities I applied to — was when I moved there. But that was about three decades ago.”

While parents today will not (and should not) abandon the notion of test prep for their children, they are no longer willing to secure such services without regard to cost and without due diligence. This is where ePrep comes in and takes center stage. We at ePrep have built a company around the notion of delivering premium test preparation products and services directly to students of all income levels through the power of online video. Uncontroverted studies show that ePrep’s learning model is significantly more effective than traditional classroom learning models. Yet, ePrep deliver’s its products and services at a fraction of the cost of classroom courses. As the economy weeds out companies with overpriced and inferior products and services, ePrep will continue its rise to the head of the proverbial class. Thanks for your participation.

Some Colleges Reject “Score Choice”

Karl Schellscheidt

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comIt seems that Stanford and a few other colleges have rejected Score Choice — the College Board’s new policy that will allow students who take the SAT multiple times to send colleges only their best scores. Stanford’s Dean of admissions claims that Score Choice gives students who can afford to take the SAT several times an unfair advantage over those who cannot afford to do so.

Harvard University and The University of Chicago, among other colleges and universities, have accepted Score Choice.

A few thoughts:

1. It seems that Score Choice will make taking the SAT a less stressful experience for students. (In other words, it allows students to “have a bad day.”)

2. The College Board offers fee waivers for students with limited financial resources.

3. The ACT Corporation has always maintained a similar score-reporting policy.

Admissions and the Global Financial Crisis

Karl Schellscheidt

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comA few of my private-tutoring students recently asked me whether colleges today are strongly considering the financial need of applicants when making admission decisions. My response: With college endowments plummeting across the nation, I don’t see how most schools can ignore the financial need of applicants. After all, colleges and universities are businesses.

When I recently asked Peter Van Buskirk of The Admission Game to comment, he offered to share a blog he recently posted on his website. His blog post appears below:

How Should You Check the Financial Aid Box?
The line on applications for admission that makes parents shudder most is the one that reads, “Do you plan to apply for financial aid—Yes or No?” As eager as one might be to check “yes” with the hope of receiving some type of assistance, there is a growing reluctance to do so for fear that checking “yes” might compromise the student’s chances of gaining admission.

This conundrum hits close to home in the current economy when even families who live in relative comfort are suddenly faced with uncertainty regarding cash for college. As the need for some type of assistance (merit scholarships, loans, campus work study) becomes more acute, so does the angst with regard to how that expression of need might be interpreted in the admission process.

Will institutions discriminate in the admission process with regard to a family’s ability to pay? Sure. However, they are not likely to do so based solely on the response to the “Yes/No” question. Rather, they will discriminate at the back end of the process when they have a full view of all the candidates they like as well as the respective financial needs for those candidates. It is at this point when they can see the big picture that they determine how to use available funds to leverage the enrollment of the students whom they value most.

Discriminating against students solely on the basis of who checks “Yes” to the financial aid question would be foolish. Roughly one-third of applicants for admission who check “Yes” indicating that they intend to apply for financial aid either never apply—because they realize they don’t need it—or they do apply and demonstrate that they don’t need it! Discriminating based on a “Yes” response means an admission committee will arbitrarily eliminate one-third of its applicants—many of whom would not have required institutional assistance.

So, what do you do? First, respond honestly. If you think you need assistance, say so. By acknowledging the possibility you enable an admission officer who is interested in your candidacy to track the progress of your financial aid application. If anything is missing, late, or incomplete, s/he can let you know in a timely fashion. And second, trust in the fact that colleges that value you for what you do well will admit you and give you what you need financially in order for you to enroll.

What you DON’T want to do is scheme the process. Don’t pretend to be “rich” by putting all of the money you have saved for college into your first year in order to improve your chances of getting in—and then expect to receive financial aid in subsequent years because you’ll be so darn poor you need it! Colleges budget financial aid for years two, three and four of your enrollment based on the expectations of year one. If you look “rich” when you apply, they expect you to be “rich” in the years that follow. If you plead poverty after your first year without evidence that something catastrophic (serious illness, injury, death, or loss of employment) has affected your family’s financial picture, don’t be surprised if the response of your financial aid officer is simply, “That’s your problem.” This is when families—and students in particular—start borrowing beyond their means to stay in school.

I would like to offer a couple of related thoughts. One, if you know you don’t require institutionally funded need-based assistance but anticipate applying for a Guaranteed Student Loan (Stafford) or you hope to secure a part-time job on campus, be prepared to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as institutions will use that to determine your eligibility for federally subsidized programs on their respective campuses.

Two, if you would like to be considered for any merit scholarships offered by a college or university, look for evidence that the school in question may actually offer such awards. If they do, find out about the eligibility criterion and protocols for placing yourself into consideration for an award. Most schools will have separate evaluation processes in place to determine merit scholarship recipients apart from the “Yes/No” question discussed previously.

Finally, when in doubt about what to do, check with the financial aid officers of the school(s) in question. It is better to move forward with good information than to discover too late that you have misinterpreted the process.

Special Note! The Best College Fit Membership program is about to launch! Watch for details to learn more about how you can go inside the college planning process with me to find and get into the schools that best fits for you! www.theadmissiongame.com

Get Lucky on the SAT

ePrep  SAT
Catherine

Feeling lucky? Relying on luck is not a recommended SAT preparation strategy, but you can certainly “feel lucky” by winning one of our daily giveaways to ePrep’s SAT study program. Every day from November 1 until the end of the year, ePrep will be giving away one full subscription to our acclaimed ePrep for the SAT (Standard, Download Test Edition). That means 61 students will be given the tools to ensure their improvement on the SAT. Simply enter your information here and everyday ePrep will randomly select a winner. Check ePrep daily to see our lucky winners here. No purchase is necessary to enter and win. Go ahead…see how lucky you are!

Defending the SAT

SAT
Karl Schellscheidt

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comArticles bashing the SAT are published every day. Most do not provide new insights or opinions. Every once in a while, however, someone steps up and defends the SAT. Such articles, in my opinion, are typically more insightful than the others. Whether or not you agree with them, they serve to further the public dialogue.
Click here for one written by a Columbia University student that I found very interesting.

New Prime Number Discovered!

Math  SAT
Karl Schellscheidt

eprep test prep video Mathematicians at UCLA have discovered a 13-MILLION-digit prime number. It took a network of 75 computers to discover the number. To read more about this humongous number click here. The article is brief, but pretty interesting.

SAT Online Resources

SAT
Karl Schellscheidt

eprep test prep video SmartTeaching.org recently posted “The Ultimate Guide to the SAT:100 Helpful Sites and Resources.” I hope some of our visitors find it useful. Good luck!

SAT Tip of the Day

Math  SAT
Karl Schellscheidt

eprep test prep video Most students know the distributive property:

a(b + c) = ab + ac

Here’s an example that involves distributing, however, that I’ve seen many students mess up.

The wrong way:

(x + 3) – (3x + 4) = x + 3 – 3x + 4 = -2x + 7

The right way:

(x + 3) – (3x + 4) = x + 3 – 3x – 4 = -2x – 1

For some reason, when there is a negative outside the parenthesis, many students (under the pressure of a timed test) forget to distribute the negative. If you stay conscious of this common pitfall, you are sure to avoid an “avoidable” error on the SAT. Good luck!

SAT Tip of the Day

Karl Schellscheidt

eprep test prep video Confused about I/me? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Here is a simple rule that might get you out of a confusing situation on the SAT:

When it’s the object of a preposition, choose “me.” Examples follow:

above me
below me
for me
from me
to me
at me
between you and me
among Jessica, Tim, and me
over Carlos and me
under Sandy and me

If you keep this in mind, you will surely score higher on the SAT and become a better writer. Good luck!

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