Though the new school year has just begun, the season for standardized tests is already well underway. According to college counselor Debi Hudson, about 98% of STA students take the ACT and about 25-30% of students take the SAT. This means that almost all students at this school will be taking a least one, if not more, national standardized college entrance exams.
According to Hudson, this year, to help prepare students for the ACT, STA will be implementing the Method Test Prep program, an online program used to prepare students for the ACT. The program will include online lessons and videos that can usually be done in small increments over a 20 week period of time according to math teacher Ashley White.
“It doesn’t apply to every discipline but we’re encouraging teachers to incorporate this new program into their classes,” White said. “In the math department, we’ll start using it as a supplemental instruction.”
The math department used to allow students to come in during frees or during activity period to study for the ACT, according to White.
“We weren’t able to reach as many students as we would’ve liked,” White said. “It was hard to schedule students to come in during frees and activity periods during the week.”
As a solution, they decided to implement the Method Test Prep program to try and reach a greater number of students. The method Test program will be incorporated into several classes according to White.
ACT prep takes place in other classwork as well, according to White.
“In math classes we incorporate old ACT problems into things like in-class problems and quick quizzes.” White said.
Quick quizzes are short, one problem quizzes that students will do several times a week in White’s math classes for extra credit. According to White many of these problems are taken directly from old ACT problems.
This year, juniors will also have the opportunity to take part in a College Board study Oct. 29 during advisory and both activity periods.
“The College Board is trying out different problems and this will give them exposure to some of these new [types of] problems.”, White said.
As an incentive to participate in the study, juniors who participate will be given one “problem pass” which will allow them to receive full credit for a single problem on a semester final that they can choose not to solve.
According to White, because not as many STA students take the SAT, not as much class time or funding goes into SAT preparation. However, this year, there have been many changes to the SAT.
“The SAT is undergoing drastic changes starting in March of 2016.” said Hudson. “The College Board (producer of the SAT) has paired up with The Khan Academy where students will have access to free online prep for the redesigned SAT.”
The Khan Academy SAT prep is free, online, and available to all STA students.
According to Hudson, there will be several opportunities for juniors to take the ACT and SAT, some of the opportunities will be held at STA.
“Juniors should begin testing in the winter for the ACT or SAT for college admissions’” Hudson said. “We will discuss the registration process for the tests at the November junior class meeting. We encourage all juniors to take the ACT twice in the junior year, preferably the Feb., April and or June test dates. St. Teresa’s is a test site for the April and June tests. There are also opportunities to retest in the fall of senior year.”
Senior Meredith Raymer, who has taken the ACT three times and the SAT twice, offers advice to juniors preparing for the ACT and SAT.
“Find out what testing style works best for you,” Raymer said. “The only way to do that is by taking practice tests and experimenting.”
Raymer also stated that the things students might hear about but not do, like getting a good night’s sleep and eating breakfast can have an impact on their testing abilities. She advises juniors to start testing as soon as possible.
“I wish I had started taking [entrance exams] earlier,” Raymer said. “…I could have been done in February so I think juniors should just register now.”
According to White, STA does a good job of incorporating test prep into its curriculum.
“I think that STA’s curriculum and high standards benefit students as they start to prepare for standardized tests,” White said .“As a faculty, we are focusing on ways to help our students improve their critical thinking and reading skills. I believe these skills are very important when working with standardized tests.”