Collegewise: How important are PSAT scores?

Collegewise: How important are PSAT scores?

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Tips : Stress-free SATs

Stress-free SATs


1. “Get” the test
2. Make the Net your friend
3. Choose a target date
4. Take the PSAT
5. Get a study guide (or two or three)
6. Consider classes, in person or online
7. What about tutors?
8. Take a practice test
9. Don’t study the night before
10. When the big day arrives, take it easy

Book: U.S. News & World Report America’s Best Colleges (2010 Edition)

Only 2.9% of students applied to 12 or more schools.

For fall 2010, Department of Education projects the ratio of collegegoers to be 57% girls to 43% boys.

  • Programs to Look For (page 34-35):
    • Internships
    • Senior Capstone (ask students nearing the end of their college years to create a project of some sort that integrates and synthesizes what they’ve learned)
    • First-Year Experience (first-year seminars or other academic programs that bring small groups of students together with faculty or staff on a regular basis)
    • Undergraduate Research Creative Projects
    • Learning Communities
    • Study Abroad
    • Service Learning
    • Writing in the Disciplines
  • Turning Two Years Into Four (Community Colleges) (page 42-43) – http://www.usnews.com/commcollege
    • More than 100 2-year colleges have more than 3,000 students and offer campus housing.
  • Chapter 3: How to Get In (page 44-59)
    • 5 Keys to an Awesome Application
      • Grades do matter. Don’t succumb to senioritis.
      • Don’t do well on certain tests? Consider the ACT instead of SAT.
      • Polish your essay until sings. Make sure your authentic voice comes through.
      • Pick your teacher recommendations carefully.
      • Rejected by the schools you applied to? May is not too late to start over.
    • Stop Selling Yourself Short (page 46-48)
      • Making the grade.
        • academic risk takers
        • challenged themselves
        • rigorous curriculum
        • has it prepared them?
        • What we want for students is the feeling that they’re looking for the next great thing they need to know. We like to see a sense of joy and curiosity.
      • Express yourself.
        • doesn’t  have to be a week in Africa. It can you were a clerk at Safeway for the summer and that changed the way you view race relations or the environment.
        • one in which “a student travels in a few swift paragraphs from one perspective to another and has seen the deeper meaning, learned the lesson, or found the humor.”
        • We are looking for a thoughtful, earnest presentation that shows complicated interests and thinking.
        • Always, always, always be honest.
      • Show a little love.
        • demonstrated interest – showing genuine enthusiasm for each school on your list is a must.
        • No college wants to play second or fifth or 15th fiddle.
        • We want kids who want us.
        • Tailor each application individually, with concrete examples of why you can see yourself there.
      • Find your fans.
        • The best choice isn’t always the teacher whose class you aced.
        • Better to pick the one who can describe what you’re like as a person.
        • Ask if they can write you a strong recommendation and if the teacher hesitates, back off.
      • Depth beats breadth.
        • It’s important to be well lopsided rather than well rounded.
        • Focus on what you’re good at.
        • Doing less but doing it well.
        • Avoid being one dimensional.
        • Anything you’re passionate about has merit, including an after-school job.
      • The interview.
        • Some are informational and some are evaluative.
        • One-on-ones are a way to underscore your desire to attend.
        • Rehearse your questions and talking points with an adult.
        • Communication not just your strengths but also your enthusiasm.
        • Say clearly and politely, “This is what I’ve achieved, and I am proud of it.”
      • Full Disclosure.
        • from whatever tipped you up, accepted the consequences, and done what you could do to make amends.
        • You’ve got to show that you learned something.
        • Don’t whine.
      • Acing the Essay.
        • Brainstorm – Ask family and friends what to write about. Focus on what matters to you and why. How you spend your free time is a good place to start.
        • Show; don’t tell – use examples and anecdotes.
        • Be polite but not too humble.
        • Seek feedback – ask someone to read your essay and ask, “Does this sound like me?”
        • Take your time and don’t do it at the last minute.
      • Killer Extracurrics.
        • Choose wisely.
        • Lessons – what drew you in, and what did you learn?
        • Details, details – president of the poetry society? Say how many members the club has and what you do.
        • Commitment – show how much work you put into the water polo team.
    • Taking Charge of Your Test Scores (page 49)
      • SAT Score-Use Practices guide – http://www.collegeboard.com which breaks down many schools’ specific policies.
      • Make a chart that refers to each college’s rules so you completely understand each school’s requirements.
      • College Board’s SAT-Skills Insight which identifies skills that are needed for the test and poses sample questions.
      • Science section of ACT tests your scientific reasoning skills (40 questions).
      • 1.4 million fro ACT versus 1.5 million for SAT Even though the SAT or ACT is preferred in dif...
      • http://www.usnews.com/sat
    • Rocketing Past the Blunders (page 50-51)
      • Sanitize your e-mail address.
      • keep nicknames private.
      • Follow directions.
      • Recruit enthusiastic recommenders.
      • Extracurrics: Don’t overdo it.
      • Shun jargon.
      • Explain changes.
      • Know thy college. – say something specific about the school.
      • Keep schools straight.
      • Think twice before tugging at heartstrings. – unless you can use a sorrowful story to reveal something about yourself, it is a tale best not told.
      • Keep it clean.
      • Don’t use those “texting” words.
      • Explain easy courses. – Took honors English through 11th grade then slid down to a standard class. “Burned out” is not a good answer. “Decided to focus on my real love – science” is much better.
      • Own up to bad behavior. – Don’t lie. Take on the experience, show contrition or lessons learned.
      • Optional essays aren’t optional.
      • Be electronically savvy.
      • Handwriting counts.
      • Don’t assume your counselor will handle it.
      • Don’t be cocky.

If you do opt to stay on a wait list, write or call with any new info you think will help: a stellar final transcript, a special award or achievement. And let your college know you’re not just toying with it.

  • In early May, NACAC’s survey of space availability lists schools that report spots remaining for qualified applications. It stays online until mid-August.
  • Chapter 4: How to Pay for College (page 60-71)
    • 5 Keys to Finding the Money
      • Look at education as an investment.
      • Spread your net wider. Seek out new sources of cash. Apply to good, cheap colleges.
      • More students are getting federal grants. and federal student loans are now bargains.
      • Parents should shop around, especially for bank loans.
      • Best value schools (page 67) – % receiving grants based on need; average cost after receiving grants based on need; average discount from total cost.
    • Target colleges’ admission statistics – http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
    • Web sites: BabyMint, LittleGrad, Futuretrust, Upromise, SAGE Scholars

Students who request extra help (and can document their need for it) are far more likely to get aid these days.

    • Compare loans:
    • It’s What You Didn’t Think Of (page 66)
      • Storage containers.
      • Gym membership.
      • Parking and car registration fees.
      • The latest iPod incarnation.
      • School pride gear.
      • Formal wear.
      • Flu-fighting vitamins.
      • Paper costs.
      • Food storage – rent a small fridge each semester.
    • Out of State at In-State Rates (page 71)
      • Know no boundaries.
        • 4 geographically based programs: The Midwest program; Academic Common Market (South); Western Undergraduate Exchange (West); New England Board of Higher Education Regional Student Program
      • Escapes – vacations.

Other Links

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How many people get perfect 2400 in SAT test?

According to this article, “Over 100 Score Perfect 2400 in New SAT”:

  • as the 300,000 students who took the first sitting of the new test March 12, 2005 began receiving scores, the College Board reported that 107 scored a perfect 800 on each of the three sections – writing, critical reading and math. [That is 1 out of 2803, 0.000356%]
  • Of the 1.4 million 2004 high school graduates who took the old SAT, 939 scored a then-perfect 1600 [That is 1 out of  1490, 0.00067%]

According to this article, “Michigan Teen Gets Perfect Scores On SAT, PSAT, ACT Tests” (April 27, 2009):

  • The College Board has reported that roughly 1 in every 5,000 students taking the SAT gets a perfect score.
  • The ods for the PSAT are 1 in every 1,000
  • The ods for the ACT are 1 in every 14,000
  • 17-year old Willa Chen, a senior at Canton High School in Canton, Michigan, has made history by getting a perfect score on all 3 of her exams (PSAT, SAT, and ACT).

According to this article, “Willa Chen is one in a million. And then some” (April 27, 2009):

  • She was accepted to the University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology but will attend Princeton in the fall. She fell in love with Princeton’s campus on her first visit and always considered the university her first choice. She plans on studying applied math or computers, but she’s keeping her options open.

According to this article, “Willa Chen scores perfect on her ACT, SAT and PSAT”:

  • The College Board reports approximately one student in 5,000 taking the SAT gets a perfect score of 2,400, while the odds are a little better, one in 1,000, on the PSAT, The Detroit News reported.
  • The other major college entrance test, the ACT, which comes from a contending organization, states the odds of a perfect finish are one in 14,000.

According to this article, “Willa Chen scores perfect on her ACT, SAT and PSAT“, she also participated in the Math Olympiad and loves jazz, tap and ballet dancing.

To see a photo of Willa Chen from 2009, read this article “2009 Michigan Junior Miss winner – first runner-up Willa Chen of Plymouth Canton

Willa Chen’s LinkedIn Profile (with photo) shows she is currently working for Google.

She also has a page on Quora,a website and a Facebook page – Willa’s World Cartons.

According to this article, “How many people have gotten a perfect score on the SAT”:

  • Of the 1.5 million students who took the SAT in 2008, only 294 students earned a perfect score.

According to this article, “Four area students score 2400 on SAT — perfect” (September 5, 2009):

  • Profile for: Tom Hui is a self-described video game lover. Michelle Liu calls herself a nerd. Marissa Pan simply likes books, and Tanya Nguyen prefers balance in her life.
  • What do they have in common? All scored 2400 on the SAT, putting them in the elite company of 297 nationwide and 10 in Georgia earning perfect scores last year (2008).

According to this article, “Perfect score on the SAT?” (link to PDF file):

  • 294 college bound seniors out of a total of 1,518,176 who took the test in the year 2008 got 2400
  • 5683 college bound seniors out of a total of 1,518,176 who took the test in the year 2008 got 2300 or more
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