…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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  • 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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  • Underclassmen: How do you measure your chances for admission?

    my chances copy

    How competitive for admissions will you be at a given school? This is based on several factors. Some factors are more objectively measurable in the college applications process than others. The easily measured factors include: 

    • Your GPA 
    • Your tests scores on ACT, SAT, Subject Tests and AP.   

     Less measurable, but equally important in your college application process are: 

    • The quality (rigor) of your course schedule 
    • Your resume of activities, work, and other experiences 
    • Contributions you made to your community 
    • Your love of learning 
    • Your life’s experiences 

     Using Measurable Factors 

    Check admissions data for each college on your list.  Look at the range of SAT or ACT scores, and GPA’s. Your test scores will put you in one of three zones for the college: green, yellow or red. 

     What puts a school in your GREEN zone? 

    • your test scores are in the top 25% of students 
    • the college has acceptance rates of 60-100% 

     What puts a school in your YELLOW zone? 

    • your test scores are in the mid 50% range, along with most other students 
    • the college has an acceptance rate of 20-60% 

     What puts a school in your RED zone? 

    • your test scores are lower than the average scores at the college 
    • the college has a low acceptance rate (typically under 20%)  

     How many schools should you have in each zone? 

    • 1-4 in the GREEN zone.  These are your SURE BETS or SAFETY colleges. For schools in this zone you can often expect to receive merit scholarship awards. 
    • 2-5 in the YELLOW zone.  These are your EXPECTED or TARGET colleges. A majority of your college list should be in this zone. It is your sweet spot for college admissions. 
    • 1-3 in the RED zone.  These are your REACH colleges. This is where immeasurable factors can be very influential. 

     Take Action
    As you start building your college list, keep in mind the different zones. You should have a balance of colleges from each zone on your list.  The My Chances tool in your GuidedPath can give you an idea of what zone your fall in for each school on your list. Your ACT or SAT scores generate your My Chances zones. If you haven’t taken the ACT or SAT yes, use PSAT or PLAN scores as alternatives to get My Chances zones. 

    Follow these steps to check your zones: 

    1. Enter test scores from tests you have already taken into Guidedpath. 
    2. Explore college profiles, using GuidedSearch. 
    3. Click on My Chances in each college profile.

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  • Underclassmen: How do you get money for college? (FAFSA!)

    government building

    Your eligibility for financial aid starts in January of your junior year.  Now is the time to learn what information you and your parents will need in order to file a FAFSA.  

    What is the FAFSA? 

    The Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form students and parents must complete and submit to the federal government to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid? 

    Who files the FAFSA? 

    Since this is an application federal financial aid, it is for US citizens or students with a legal status in the United States. International students are not eligible for federal student aid. 

    What kind of aid does the federal government offer? 

    There are three types of aid offered by the US government: 1) Grants, 2) Student Loans, 3) Work-study. 

    Take Action 

    1. Complete the EFC Calculator in GuidedPath.  Review the results with your parents. 
    2. Read Tackling the Basics of College Affordability to learn how colleges award financial aid. 

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