Monday, September 24, 2018

The Truth About SAT “Superscoring”

High school students throughout the country (and even the world) all want to get the highest scores possible when taking the SAT as it greatly impacts college admissions and scholarship awards.  Students get two separate scores on an SAT exam: Evidence-based Reading and Writing and Math.  (There is also an “optional’ essay that is only required by some colleges.)  The scores for each of these two areas range from 200 to 800.  Students often add their scores together for a “combined” SAT score in the range of 400 to 1600 points.

Many colleges report that they “superscore” and will consider the highest Evidence-based Reading and Writing score from one SAT exam and the highest Math score from another.  Problems arise when students misinterpret this policy.  Students often believe that when it comes time to submit their SAT scores they can choose to send their highest section scores from different SAT dates, and that is all the testing information colleges will receive.  With that premise in mind, some students will take an SAT exam and only focus on the Evidence-based Reading and Writing sections, not putting any effort into the Math sections. On a subsequent SAT exam, they flip their strategy and focus heavily on the Math sections, not worrying about their Evidence-based Reading and Writing score.  Their thinking is that they will ultimately “superscore.”

Monday, September 17, 2018

“Early” College Application Deadlines Are Looming

What greater holiday gift is there for college bound students than to receive a fat acceptance letter, or a congratulatory email, from their college of choice? But in order to have a chance of getting such good news by the holidays, students typically need to submit their college applications by the “early” deadline of November 1st or 15th.

Students can apply to as many colleges “early action” as they like and, if accepted, they are not required to attend.  This differs from an “early decision” application which can only be submitted to one college and binds the student to attend, if accepted.

Aside from the obvious emotional advantage of hearing back from colleges earlier, there is another key advantage to filing early applications.  Colleges are well aware that many students apply to eight or more colleges. It’s somewhat of a guessing game for college admissions officers to try to figure out which students, if accepted, would actually attend.  So many colleges, including some of the most competitive institutions, accept a substantially higher percentage of their early decision candidates knowing they will definitely enroll.  To a lesser extent, colleges also tend to favor early action students who have demonstrated a strong interest in their school.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The FAFSA Now Offers a Mobile Application

Parents concerned with paying for college will soon find out that the “paperwork” is about to get easier.  The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is going mobile.  This is the form that is vital for students and parents to file in order to be considered for college financial aid, including federal loans, grants, and work study opportunities.  It’s best for families to file a FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1st (when the latest FAFSA launches each year) as some colleges have early grant deadlines and some distribute aid on a first-come, first-served basis.

The FAFSA has been available online for years, but students and their parents generally needed to complete the form on a computer as it didn’t work smoothly on mobile devices.  But as of October 1st, 2018, the digital options are expected to work flawlessly, allowing anyone with a smartphone to successfully complete the form.  The MyStudentAid app can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or from Good Play for Android devices.