…from GuidedPath Edge Guru

  • SAT Subject Tests

    SAT Subject tests are based on curriculum you have in class.  It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of a particular subject. According to the College Board, 

    “The SAT Subject Tests offer you an additional opportunity to show colleges what you know and what you know you can do. Many colleges use the SAT Subject Tests for admission, for course placement, and to advise students about course selection. Some colleges specify the SAT Subject Tests that they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take.” 

    Only a handful of colleges require SAT subject tests from students, but many will use SAT Subject test scores as a part of your admissions profile or for placement purposes (especially in foreign language). 

    What subject tests can I take? 

    There are 20 subject tests to choose from.  A majority of the tests are in foreign languages, with English, History, Math and Science thrown in too. The subject tests are broken down as follows:

    Are the subject tests the same as the AP tests? 

    No. There are more AP tests than there are subject tests.  For example, there are five Arts AP tests, and no Arts Subject tests. 

    What about the ACT? 

    The ACT does not offer Subject tests. They are only offered by the SAT/College Board. 

    When should I take the Subject tests? 

    The best time to take a subject test is right after you finish the class. It is also good to take the subject test at the same time you are taking an AP or other subject exam.  Schedule subject tests in May of your sophomore or junior year, and November of your senior year. 

    How long is a subject test? 

    Most subject tests are 1 hour in length. 

    How many Subject tests can I take at a time? 

    You can schedule and take up to 3 tests in one sitting.  Most colleges will use your best two scores. Some colleges will use 3 subject tests for admissions.  Check college website for testing requirements. 

    When are the subject tests offered? 

    They are offered 6 times each year: August, October, November, December, May and June.  Subject tests are NOT offered in March. Only the SAT is offered then.  

    Are all subject tests offered six times a year? 

    No.  Not every subject test is offered six times a year.  Plan carefully when you want to take any of the following tests: 

    Which tests can I take on any date? 

    The following seven tests are offered every time a Subject test is offered.

    Can I see my scores before I send them to a college? 

    Yes. You can use score choice to see your scores and decide which scores to send to colleges.  Remember to check college policies. Some colleges require you to send ALL your test scores. 

    What is the latest date I can take the subject scores in my senior year? 

    The latest you should schedule subject tests in your senior year is December.  If you are applying to any of your colleges early (Early Action or Early Decision) you should schedule them for October or November. 

    Do all colleges require the SAT Subject tests? 

    No. Many colleges do not consider Subject tests for admission purposes. Check the college website carefully for each college’s policy on Subject tests. 

    Do I need to take specific Subject tests for my major? 

    Sometimes.  Many colleges have specific subject test requirements for specific majors.  Engineering, science and math majors often require or highly recommend subject tests.  This is particularly true if you are applying to any of the University of California campuses. UC’s can’t require a subject test, but if it is highly recommended for your major, you will be more competitive if you take the recommended subject test. 

    How can I prepare to take the SAT Subject tests? 

    You can prepare for the subject tests in many ways. The CollegeBoard website has subject test prep.  Check for local SAT Test Preparation options. Check online. Check with friends and create your own subject study groups. 

    Take Action 
    Update your Testing schedule in GuidedPath with all your tests: ACT, SAT and SAT Subjects. Include PSAT, AP, or other tests you are planning to take. 

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  • Underclassmen: What is your “Perfect College”?

    When you think about the “Perfect College” what comes to mind?  Bucolic hills, palm trees, or urban energy? Classes with 12 students or with 120? Going to a football game, a political debate, an art show – all of the above?  How do you know which college is perfect? You need to know what is important to YOU. 

    Here are the Top 10 factors to consider for your “Perfect” college: 

    1. Academics: If you know your major, that should be a requirement. But what about special programs such as honors, study abroad, co-ops or senior projects? Also consider the learning environment. Is the campus on semesters, quarters, or offer a May or January term? How do you learn best? 
    2. Climate: Think about what climate you will want to live in for at least three seasons of the year while at college. If you have never lived through winter in New England, think about how you will feel about months of snow, rain and later a very muddy spring. Or visa versa, how will a lot of heat and humidity feel for days on end. Will you melt? Believe it or not, climate can impact your experience. 
    3. Size: Think about what size college you would like to attend. Attending a school with 20,000 undergrads is not for everyone! What is your comfort zone? 
    4. Location: Think carefully about what type of area are looking for. Can you live without a movie theater in town? Do you need open spaces and access to nature? How about a variety of restaurants?  
    5. Financial Aid: Finances can make or break a decision. Be sure to discuss this with your parents before you fall in love with a specific college. (Take the College Affordability Survey in GuidedPath to see what your family contribution would be.) 
    6. Campus Activities:  Does it need a sports team? Or orchestra? Clubs, music, outdoor activities. Think about how you want to spend your time when not in class. 
    7. School Spirit: Do you want to attend a school with lots of school spirit? Or does your style lean more toward favoring a school with a school spirit focused on weekend music or club activities. 
    8. Social Scene:  What is fun to do with your friends? Go to a big concert in the city, or hang out with friends informally in cafes, sipping lattes? How important is having a greek life (sororities or fraternities) to you? What social life will be most comfortable for you? 
    9. Student Body:  When you walk on campus, do you feel you fit in?  Are you seeking diversity in the student body? Do you want a student body that is conservative, liberal or a mix of everything? 
    10. Housing:  Where will you live? What are the dorms like? How are the bathrooms set up? Co-ed or single sex dorms?  

    Take Action

    Using the Design a College Survey in GuidedPath will help you identify what is most important to you and your family in a college.  Find the Design a College Survey in GuidedPath Edge: 

    • log into your account 
    • Click on the SURVEYS tab 
    • Select Design A College from the drop-down menu 

    Use the College Match Survey along with the Design a College Survey to get the most complete picture of your perfect college.

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  • Seniors: A Novel Idea – A Gap Year!

    marie_schwartzGuest Blog:  Marie Schwartz, CEO and founder of TeenLife.  Visit the TeenLife website to find “the web’s most comprehensive directory of STEM, gap year, pre-college, overnight summer and community service programs for students in grades 7-12.” Learn more about Gap year opportunities.

    A Novel Idea

    It’s high season for college applications. Students are polishing off college essays, waiting on final test scores, pushing for that last GPA point. Meanwhile, parents are biting their nails and wrestling with financial aid forms. 

    So, let’s talk about postponing college. 

    What? Is that insane?! Not at all. This is the perfect moment to take a deep breath and consider taking a break from school before plunging into the next pressurized step. Now is the time to think about a gap year or semester that allows time and opportunity to refocus, polish skills, explore an interest, or simply re-energize. 

    Gap years are more common in places like the United Kingdom where up to 25 percent of students who go to college take a year off. In the United States, that number is closer to 1 percent, according to the nonprofit Higher Education Research Institute. The statistics don’t tell why students take off a year, but the American Gap Association (AGA) reports increasing interest and attendance at the gap year fairs it holds around the country to familiarize students with gap programs. 

    Why even consider a gap? For starters, researchers in Australia found that taking time out from school helped with motivation once students got to college. Gap benefits even outweighed other variables for college success, such as gender and socio-economic status. Researchers even argued that their 2007 survey of 338 gap year students showed that taking a break helped students focus on what they were going to do after college. 

    And more than 90 percent of 600 gap students responding to a 2015 AGA survey said their time off from school increased confidence, maturity, communication skills, or the ability to get along with people with backgrounds different from their own. 

    A gap gives teenagers that important chance to be independent outside of the structure of school and athletics and away from the watchful eyes of the usual mentors – parents, teachers, and coaches. It can help develop the grit that students need to be independent and resilient once they get to college. 

    Gaps have become so acceptable that some colleges, such as Princeton, have set up their own fully-funded programs to encourage students to explore the world and themselves before entering college. 

    Don’t be swayed by some of the myths about “gap years.”  

    Myth: A gap lasts a year. 

    Fact: A gap can be whatever length works with your plan. It could be just a semester or quarter of work and travel, interning, or participation in a political campaign or community service program. Many colleges offer January start dates. 

    Myth: A gap is exotic. 

    Fact: Of the students surveyed by AGA, the largest percentage spent their gaps in the United States. A teenager could work on language skills, for example, tutoring in a local immigrant center. 

    Myth: A gap is out of reach financially. 

    Fact: A student might work part of a year or semester and use that money to travel or pay for a structured gap program. Some programs or schools offer financial aid or fellowships. And crowdfunding gives students more options to raise money to support time off from school. 

    Myth: A gap is just for kids who are unmotivated or unsure about college. 

    Fact: All students can benefit from a break to learn problem-solving, dealing with conflict, understanding their own limits, managing time, and being responsible for themselves in ways that are so very, very important freshman year. 

    If you’re considering taking a “pause” from your studies, go through the college application process but ask about deferral policies both for academics and financial aid. Thinking about those things now provides time to decide if a gap is a practical option. In the meantime, start exploring gap programs and options. Do you want something structured or freewheeling? Do you want to climb a mountain or work with children? Is this a time to work in a lab or volunteer at an animal hospital? Would you like to become fluent in a language, understand the inner workings of health care, or meet decision makers in Washington, D.C.? You can do all those and more on a gap. 

    College application season is a stressful time but it’s also the moment to be expanding your world and thinking about what you want out of life. Isn’t it worth some time to explore?

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  • When do you select a major?


    Many college applications require you to select a major or state that you are “undeclared”. But what is the best way to choose a major? Here are 5 ideas to guide you. 

    1. Start early.  It’s never too early or too late to start exploring your interests and connecting them to majors or careers.  
    2. Learn about yourself. Take advantage of career surveys, interest inventories or other questionnaires or resources available to you. The more you understand yourself, the better prepared you are for next steps.  
    3. Research.  Use the Internet and other research tools available to you to explore what majors are needed for careers you are interested in.  Taking classes in subjects required for a major or profession helps you learn more too. 
    4. Try it on. Arrange to do a job shadow or to interview someone in careers you are interested in.  
    5. Make a short list. Once you have done your research and talked to people in professions, narrow your list of majors to pursue. Often there are many majors you can select from to get to a chosen career or area of interest.  

    Ode to the Undeclared Major  

    One of the most popular majors at universities is the “undeclared” major. Many universities or colleges recognize you may not be ready to declare a major when you start as a freshman. Often you do not have to declare your major until sometime in your sophomore year.  There are a few universities that don’t offer “undeclared” as an option. You will know which colleges require majors from their websites and applications. 

    Take Action 

    Take the Find My Spark survey in GuidedPath. Use it to learn more about your personality and preferences. Use the list of majors or careers to explore professions in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. 

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  • Underclassmen: When should I take the SAT?


    When should you take the SAT or the ACT?  Identify which statement below applies to you to help determine the best timing for the test.  


    Using the test dates for your personality type, plan your testing schedule for the next year.

    Sophomores and Freshman

    You will have the opportunity to take the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT later (11th grade)- so you will get lots of exposure to taking a standardized test. But, taking the real test is always a benefit! Which of these approaches works for you?

    To Do:

    Use GuidedPath to view test dates and create a testing schedule based on your personality type.

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  • Seniors: 5 Tips for Making College Applications Easier

    checkered flag

    You are on the home stretch!  Only a few more weeks and your college applications will soon be done. Here are 5 ways you can keep sane during these last few weeks! 

    1. Set up Application Plans. Know what is needed to make a complete application at each college you are applying to.  Need recommendations? Transcripts? Essays? Make a list to keep track of. 
    2. Check Application Deadlines.  How many Early Action, Early Decision or Priority applications are you submitting?  Don’t forget – you can only apply to one school as an Early Decision applicant.  
    3. Organize your calendar.  Create a calendar with due dates for applications and other tasks you need to complete for your applications. 
    4. Track Progress. Feel a sense of pride and relief as you check off each task, knowing you are one step closer to getting in to college. 
    5. Keep in touch with an advisor or teacher.  Enlist the help of others. Your school or advisor may have deadlines or processes for you to follow. Check in with them often. 

    Take Action 

    Use the application dashboard for a “summary view” of your applications and status.  Never miss a deadline! Keep track of your college application deadlines on your Calendar! 

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