Karen Fong is a college admissions expert with specialized knowledge of the collegiate rugby landscape. She is a credentialed guidance counselor backed by a team at Dunbar Educational Consultants with over 130 years of combined experience in this field. She is also a former Division I Rugby player at University of California at Davis, National U-23 Team player, currently on the USA Rugby Referee circuit, and the new academic advisor for the USA Rugby High School All-American Program.
Welcome to the second installment on standardized testing advice for college-bound students. For those of you new to the college application game, the tests to which I am referring are the SAT and ACT. As I noted in the previous column, next to grades (in rigorous classes), test scores are the biggest factor in a college application.
One piece of the testing strategy that is often overlooked is the appropriate time to take a test. First, throw out the notion that there is a “best time” to take the test. There is no magical date where the test is easier or where students score higher than any other date. There are two main things I would advise you to consider in creating an appropriate test taking time table:
A) What level of English and Math are you in?
B) Which test date allows you to spend at least 6-8 weeks to prepare?
English & Math Levels (A)
Since the SAT Math section tests you in areas of arithmetic, data analysis, algebra I and II, functions, geometry (formulas are provided), and the ACT Math tests you in areas of arithmetic, algebra I and II, functions, geometry, trigonometry (no formulas are provided), this may help you determine a good time to take a test.
For example, if you are already in Geometry as a freshman, you may not want to wait until you are a junior and well into Pre Calculus. However, if you are in remedial English as a freshman, it would make sense for you to wait until you are through at least your junior level English class to take this test. Find the right balance of what you know and what will be tested to find the best date.
Test Date (B)
Take note of your own schedule (sports, work, etc.) and find a test date that allows you to prepare properly.
For example, if your rugby season is in the spring, it would not make sense for you to take a test smack dab in the middle of your season or on a weekend where your team may make playoffs or a championship.
It is important for students to understand that this can be a “learned test.” The SAT and the ACT regularly recycle their content and/or ask essentially repeat the same style questions. If you do not have the independent motivation or focus to study on your own with a test prep book, it may be a wise investment to hire a reputable test prep tutor in your area for assistance.
Technological support for test preparation is growing! Here is a short list of some of my favorite resources, both online and via downloadable applications for your phone or tablet (for on-the-go studying):
- I Need a Pencil www.INeedaPencil.com
- Quizlet http://quizlet.com/standardized-tests/ (Free Online Flashcards)
- Free Rice www.freerice.com (Fun Vocab Game)
- Khan Academy https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/sat-math (SAT Math Only)
- Princeton Review’s SAT Score Quest for iPad (free)
- SAT Vocab Challenge for iPhone ($5)
- Kaplan SAT Flashcubes (free)
- SAT Connect ($10 for Apple).
- Adapster ($10 on Apple) Math Only.
Good luck and always go forward!
I know college admissions. I know rugby. I want to get to know you!
With her deep knowledge and strong ties to the collegiate rugby world, Karen is the best resource for families searching for the best fit college for their young rugby player. Various packages are available to suit every family’s needs. To schedule a consultation and discuss client options, please call Karen at (310) 497-0619 cell or email