Tag: standardized tests

Teachers, School Boards Seek to Drop Standardized Tests

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Dozens of parents told legislators Wednesday that the entire Common Core curriculum ought to be scrapped.

But even those who support the new education standards, such as school boards and the state teachers union, said the standardized tests scheduled this spring should be dropped since they’re not based on the new curriculum.

Local Schools Announce National Merit Semifinalists

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For the fifty eighth year running, the list of semifinalists in the annual National Merit Scholarship Program has been announced. Kids at local schools, both public and private, make the list.

The MCAT Gets Revamped; Students Everywhere Panic

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If you’ve ever dreamed about getting into medical school, this is the stuff of your nightmares:  last year, around 44,000 people applied for about 19,000 spots. Medical school admissions committees look at many different factors when evaluating prospective students, but everyone knows that test scores matter quite a bit — namely the scores on the Medical College Admission Test, more commonly known as the MCAT. So when the Association of American Medical Colleges recently announced that they were revamping the test for the first time in 22 years, biology majors worldwide started anxiously nibbling on their number-two pencils.

The MCAT will continue to test students’ knowledge of basic science. But because “the public had great confidence in doctors’ knowledge but much less in their bedside manner,” according to AAMC president Darrell Kirch. So the new test, which will go into effect in 2015, will add sections on social and behavioral sciences, and critical analysis and reading. (It’s also getting rid of its writing requirement.) “The goal is to improve the medical admissions process to find the people who you and I would want as our doctors. Being a good doctor isn’t just about understanding science, it’s about understanding people,” Kirch said.

Prepping for the SAT

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Taking the SAT is not the hardest part about the SAT.  Deciding how many times to take the SAT, well that is a challenge.  Deciding when to take the SAT also requires strategy, and thoughtful consideration.  Figuring out when to send scores to colleges and which colleges to send to, well it’s not obvious.  Here are a few pieces of information that might help you along the way.

The SAT is a standardized test designed to “assess your academic readiness for college.”  There are three main test areas:  Critical Reading, Math, and Writing, each with a possible 800 points.  Most of the test is presented with multiple choice answers, bubbles you fill in with a No. 2 pencil.  An example question:

“Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Those scholars who believe that the true author of the poem died in 1812 consider the authenticity of this particular manuscript ——- because it includes references to events that occurred in 1818.

  1. ageless
  2. tenable
  3. suspect
  4. unique
  5. legitimate”

The test is made up of ten sections:  a 25 minute essay, six 25-minute sections (mathematics, critical reading and writing), two 20-minute sections (mathematics, critical reading and writing), and a 10-minute multiple-choice writing section, for a total test time of 3 hours and 45 minutes.

For the price of registration ($47), you will have the ability to send your scores to 4 colleges.  For each additional “score send”, you pay $10.  However, many people decide to take the SAT more than once, in the hopes of improving performance.  According to Patti Whalen, Director of College Counseling at Bryn Mawr, “The general rule of thumb, well supported by anecdotal and statistical data, is that students should plan to take the SAT I Reasoning test at least twice and not more than three times.”

For those students who take the test multiple times, there is “Score Choice™”, the program through which one can choose which scores to send to colleges, and when.  This option can allow a student to send only his or her best scores — not section by section, but by test date.  So, if your total score from May testing is better than your total score from January testing, you may choose to send only your May score.  However, Ms. Whalen cautions that “Some colleges will allow students to use [the Score Choice] option; many others, including some of the more competitive schools, will still require that a student’s complete testing record be submitted and they will then use the highest scores from each area (Verbal Reasoning, Math, & Writing) in their deliberations.”

Ms. Whalen reminds students that they should also consider the ACT, which is becoming increasingly popular as an addition or alternative to the SAT. “The ACT is a more content/curricular oriented test and includes sections in English (usage and rhetorical skills), Mathematics, Reading Comprehension, and Scientific Reasoning — many students say it feels like a cross between the SAT I Reasoning &  SAT II Subject tests and prefer the more straightforward, concrete testing style.” All colleges will accept ACT in lieu of SAT, although most colleges tend not to “mix-and-match” ACT scores, and only the test scores you request are sent.

Want more information? Go to:   http://sat.collegeboard.com/home, or www.ACT.org

(correct answer:  c)

The first SAT testing of the fall is scheduled next Saturday, October 1.  Registration is closed but stand-by testing is still available.  See the College Board for more information.

 

 

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