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By Elizabeth LaScala

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About this blog: I post articles to offer timely and substantive college admission guidance on important topics and issues. Originally from New York, I have a B.S. from Hunter College in NYC and advanced professional degrees from the University of...  (More)

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Take Full Advantage of Free Standardized Testing Opportunities

Uploaded: Apr 21, 2014
May and June are important months for constructing college success at earlier grade levels. Most students think about standardized testing in the junior year, but building test credentials can exist at all grade levels, often without the need for test preparation specialists and their accompanying high fees. At Doing College, we see the biggest gaps happen at the end of the sophomore year. This is the grade level when the heaviest toll is taken on the strength of college applications due to missed testing opportunities.

Do not let these important grade level opportunities slip you by:

1. Use your sophomore PSAT scores to design your own personalized study guide. Log onto the College Board website and create a free account. Then enter the 10-digit code found on the hard copy of your PSAT score report. This directs you to My Organizer and, when there, click on the link to get to your on-line score report. Here you can analyze your results from the different sections of the exam and learn what content you need to bone up on, test taking strategies and much more.

2. Strong SAT Subject Test scores earned at the end of the sophomore year (or even freshman year if the student has taken relevant coursework) can support college applications. For example, students who take and excel in a rigorously taught biology course at an earlier grade level and, who do not plan to take AP Biology, can take the SAT Subject Biology Test. If s/he tests well, the score can add strength to college submissions in the future. Similarly, the strong math student who takes algebra 2/trigonometry (in particular at the honors level) as a freshman or sophomore may consider taking the SAT Math Level II Subject Test. Since math level II requires an excellent command of algebra 2, but not calculus, it is a mistake to postpone taking this exam until the junior year, when the same excellent math student is likely to be fully immersed in calculus. Calculus covers far different material and develops very different skills than algebra coursework.

There are some exceptions. The most common one we see at Doing College involves foreign language exams. Generally, these exams require a high degree of fluency to score well and may be better put off until the highest academic level of language is achieved.

For many subjects, practice tests are available. If available, the student should take a practice exam to help ascertain readiness and use testing results as a study guide.

To determine your readiness to take a particular exam contact Elizabeth for a free phone consultation.

Elizabeth LaScala Ph.D. guides college, transfer and graduate school applicants through the complex world of admissions. She helps students identify majors and programs of interest, develops best match college lists, offers personalized essay coaching, and tools and strategies to help students tackle each step of the admissions process with confidence and success. Elizabeth helps students from all backgrounds to maximize scholarship opportunities and financial aid awards. For more information visit Elizabeth Call (925) 891-4491 or email her at elizabeth@doingcollege.com

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