Category Archives: PSAT Test Scores

Every Year of H.S. Matters in College Admissions!

Most experts consider junior year to be the most consequential in college admissions, and this may well be true. But senior year is nearly as important since it’s the year that you finalize and submit your applications. In both years, you face many choices that have ramifications beyond college and into your career.

It’s not just your years as an upperclassman that count. All four years of high school contribute to your ultimate success. The more you accomplish in the first two years, the less your burden will be in the last two years. The stress can be intense coming down the stretch, so we advise that you plan for each year of your high school career so that, at its culmination, you’re confident and looking forward to what’s ahead.

1. Start Strong Your Freshman Year

 A study by the Brookings Institute found that 9th grade is the most critical year in the College just aheadformation of a student’s potential. Your academic performance as a freshman sets the tone for the rest of your education.

A. Start Out with a High GPA

 Freshman year counts toward your cumulative GPA and has an impact on your final class rank. It’s great for your GPA to be an rising trajectory in junior year, but it’s even better if your record has been so excellent since 9th grade that a rise isn’t even needed.. A high GPA  that doesn’t need to be raised in junior year avoids much of the stress that can burden you as a junior.

B.  Meet with Your Guidance Counselor

 Guidance counselors play an essential role in your college admissions campaign. They’re busy people, so the responsibility is on you to schedule meetings with them. As a freshman, you can start a discussion about your admissions plan.  At this point, getting to know the counselor and giving them the opportunity to know you is your main objective. You’ll be in contact with them often in the coming years.

C. Make the Honor Roll

Making the honor roll in 8th grade will give you the opportunity to take honors courses in 9th and 10th grades. Success in honors courses is likely to enable you to take AP courses as a sophomore and upperclassman. The more AP classes that you successfully complete with a grade of 4 or 5 on the exam, the more likely that you’ll be accepted by the colleges that you target. You may also earn college credits at a number of schools.

D.  Begin Study in a Foreign Language

 Most selective schools require applicants to have two to four years of a single foreign language. Freshman year is the time to commit to the language that you’ll study through high school.

E. Experiment with Extracurricular Activities

 Immerse yourself in several activities that appeal to your interests. Join clubs, organizations, and intramural teams as you see fit. You’ll need time to identify those activities that truly interest you and for which you may also have an aptitude.

F. Use Summer to Your Advantage

The summer after your freshman year is a great time to find a job. If you’re still too young, you can volunteer for a non-profit that appeals to you.  A productive activity is to prepare for the PSAT exam. You may wish to begin to research into which types of colleges represent “best-fit” schools for you.

2.  Take Tests Your Sophomore Year

In your sophomore year, we recommend that you select honors classes in your strongest subjects. You should also assess your extracurricular activities and drop those in which you’re not too interested. Try new ones if necessary. Refine your admissions plan to focus on real choices that you’ll need to make as an upperclassman.

A.  Take the PSAT

 Taking the PSAT prepares you for the SAT in junior year and helps you identify your weak areas so that you can work to improve in them. If you release your name, address, and email to colleges, you’ll receive marketing communications from them.

B.  Practice for the ACT

 Pursue the PLAN Assessment Program offered by American College Testing if you plan to take the ACT exam instead of the SAT. This program assesses the efficacy  your study habits, your academic progress to date, and the intensity of your interests. It also prepares you for the ACT exam itself.

C.  Learn About College Admissions

 Become familiar with college entrance requirements, especially at schools you may feel are potential best-fits. The sooner you know this the better prepared you’ll be. Your guidance counselor’s office will have information about admission requirements, as will libraries, college websites, magazine rankings, and articles in the mainstream media.

 D.  Proceed on Your Academic Path

 Work with your guidance counselor to make sure that you’re enrolled in the courses that best suit your educational goals. You’ll also want to be sure that you’ll have all of your graduation requirements, except senior English,  completed by the end of junior year.

E.  Use Summer to Add to Your Admissions Credentials

 The summer after sophomore year is a good time to find a job. Stead employment every summer appeals to colleges. Use your spare time to prepare for the SAT or ACT exam. You may want to take an elective summer course at your high school or at a local college in the field that you’re considering as a major. Admissions officials will look positively on this as an indication of your desire to learn and work hard.

3.  Steps to Take in Junior Year

Your junior year is the most important in your admissions campaign because it’s the last full year of high school that colleges will see complete data when you apply. It represents you as a more mature student. Colleges use it as source data in their predictive models to project how well you’ll perform as a college student.

A.  Start on Your College List

College Made SimpleEstablish a set of criteria to guide you in building the list of schools to which you’ll apply. Your criteria can include factors such as the size of the student body, faculty-to-student ratio, total annual expenses, core curriculum, majors, degrees granted, geographic location, the nature of the local community, campus setting, campus amenities, work-study programs, and any other factors that you may consider important. By the end of junior year, you’ll narrow the list down to a predetermined number of schools. You should  plan to visit as many of them as possible over the next year.

B.  Plan for Exams

 You’ll be taking the SAT or the ACT and you’ll probably be taking AP exams. Register and mark the dates. Juniors should take the SAT or ACT the in spring so you can take them again in the fall of their senior year if you need to improve your scores. Don’t take them too early to “get it over with.”

C. Hone Your Abilities in Extracurricular Activities

 By now, you should know which activities you’ll list on your applications. Colleges look for commitment and depth, so just one activity is all you need if it fits that description. If you can attain a leadership role or garner an award in your activity, so much the better. Your talent or skill can serve you well, especially if it’s in a niche that colleges seek to fill.

D.  Learn Your Options for Financial Aid

Review the financial resources that will be available to you with your family.  Learn about saving on college costsfinancial aid from public sources, individual colleges, and corporations. High-school sponsored financial aid nights, independent financial aid counselors, and the media will be helpful in your research.

E.  Register for the Optimal Curriculum for Senior Year

 Meet with your guidance counselor to select classes for your senior year. Make sure that you’ll graduate with all the courses that you’ll need for admission to specific schools on your list. Colleges consider the rigor of the curriculum of seniors as well as their grades when they’re available.

F.  Reach Out to Letter of Recommendation Writers

Most requests for letters of recommendation are directed to guidance counselors and a small subset of teachers. These individuals receive an enormous number of requests. If you wish to obtain a letter from one of them, ask them as a junior so that they’ll have notice before the fall semester crush. Be sure that they’ll have only positive comments and that you won’t be “Damned by faint praise.”  You can also elicit a letter from a coach, the leader of one of your organizations, or an employer, as long as they know you well.

G. Visit Colleges

Campus visits require planning, especially if you wish to arrange for an admissions interview. Contact the admissions office to set up an interview, a guided tour, and a meeting with a faculty college visitsmember and a student in the department of your planned major. There will be opportunities later to visit campuses, but it’s a good idea to start as a junior, especially with schools where you may want to apply through an Early Admissions program.

H. Make the Best of your Junior Summer

 Admissions officials are impressed by applicants who have worked within their planned field of study as interns or employees. If you have an opportunity to secure such a position, then by all means do so. It’s also time to start working on your essays and personal statements.

If possible, take a summer college course in your planned major to demonstrate your commitment to your planned field of study and to prove that you’re capable of college work.

4.  How to Master Your Senior Year!

Seniors who plan to attend college are very busy people! What has seemed far in the future is now upon you — crunch time to prepare applications that will secure your admission to your best-fit schools.

A.  Finalize Your College List

 For most students, the final list should be pared down to a predetermined number of schools. With too few schools on the list, you won’t be spreading your risk sufficiently. With too many schools, you’ll dissipate your focus and effort. A good number to reach for is 8 to 10 colleges that are a good Fit and Match for you.

B. Paying for It

 When finalizing your college list, ask a very important question — can you handle it Paying for collegefinancially? October 1 is the first day that a student applying for financial aid can access, complete, and submit the FAFSA and CSS/PROFILE forms. These forms require a great deal of effort by you and your parents. The deadlines vary by college, but a head start is helpful.

C. Write Your Essays

 Allow plenty of time to brainstorm topics, outline, draft, and polish your essays and personal statements. This is crucial, especially if you are applying to schools that require supplemental essays. Essay questions are broad, which can make it difficult to know how to relate the topic to your life. Obtain input from others on your topics and approach. Be wary of having too many adult editors.

 D. Complete and Submit your Application 

 Work hard on your applications. If you’re applying for Early Admission to any schools, the usual  deadline is November 1. For Regular Decision, the deadline is usually January 2.

You may be able to choose which application platform to use. If possible, use only one. The Common App is accepted by nearly 900 colleges and many schools that accept other apps also accept the Common App.

E. Submit Senior Fall Semester Grades

 As soon they’re available, send your fall semester grades to the schools to which you’ve applied. This will be after you’ve submitted the application, but admissions officers want to be able to incorporate the data into their decision.

F.  The Decisions of Your Colleges

 Acceptance, rejection and waitlist letters arrive between late February and  early April. You college decisionsusually have until April 30 to accept an offer of admission. Don’t put too much faith in waitlists. Among the colleges that use them, only a small percentage of waitlisted students ever receive an acceptance letter.

G.  Make Your Decision

 If you’re accepted to more than one school, weigh all options. Talk with parents, other family members, teachers, mentors, and friends. Examine available financial aid and the total expenses at each school. If possible, visit the campuses of your two finalists to compare them closely.

H.  Final Steps

Colleges have a deposit deadline of May 1st. Once senior year is over, send your final high school transcript to the college you’ll be attending. These grades may help you secure a scholarship or qualify for a competitive academic program. If you took AP classes during senior year and have passed the national exams with a score of 4 or 5, you may be able to earn college credits and skip a required course.

Conclusion

Seeing the number of steps above, you, as a student or parent, might think that this is more than enough to do to prepare for admission to college. In fact, this is a partial list consisting of major tasks. Lesser tasks requiring little time have been omitted. But, just because they’re minor doesn’t mean these small tasks can be omitted.

The best way to accomplish all tasks that will lead to acceptance at your best-fit colleges is to hire Klaar College Consulting. Dr. Charlotte Klaar takes a no-nonsense, no-excuses approach as she works with students to make the entire college admissions process, including college search, application completion, and essay-writing, a delightful adventure of self-discovery and personal growth. Along the way, she helps students learn to make more informed decisions and to own the results.

Why Any Score Can be a Good Score on a PSAT

Did you just get handed the results of your PSAT test and think “YIKES?!”

The thing is, even a low score on a PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) can be good if it motivates you to focus on what you need to learn before taking the real test.

Think of your results as a valuable document that shows you what you still need to learn or re-learn prior to the real SAT.

First, analyze your results to see what questions you answered incorrectly. Is there a pattern? Are you missing a basic concept? Is there a series of silly errors because you were rushing? Or, did you not take the test seriously enough? Why? A certified college planning professional can help you answer these questions and provide valuable insights into the testing and college admissions process.

If you scored high, are you in contention for the National Merit Scholarship? If so, what do you have to do to get the designation?

Once you have your 11th grade PSAT in hand, take a Mock ACT (American College Test), under real testing conditions. Once you have those results, have them compared to the PSAT results and see which test better highlights your abilities. Then work out a reasonable testing schedule for the preferred test. Finally, use your results, along with your unweighted GPA, to begin to develop a list of colleges that represent a good Fit and Match for you! If you need help with this, call me!

NEW!  To help you get going on your college planning, we are offering a 10% discount on these popular services:
  • Developing your strategy…and your college list10% discount
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About the PSAT

Students in any high school grade can take the PSAT test, which is paid for by school districts nationwide. Unfortunately, not all schools explain the relative importance of the test, or of how the results can and should be used in preparing for the SAT and their college search activities.

PSAT testsFew students are told that the highest score on the PSAT is 760 and not 800, as on the SAT. Freshmen and sophomores may be especially disappointed when they see scores well below their school performance to date. (I discourage taking the PSAT before your junior year, but if you do, keep in mind that your percentile – how you rank compared to other scores – is the key statistic to look at).

Also, you may not be informed that this test is designed to be less difficult and shorter than the SAT. That might lull you into a false sense of security that disappears when you take the real test!

If you’d like help interpreting your PSAT scores, estimating your unweighted GPA, or helping you find a college that’s a good Fit and Match, please email me at [email protected] or call 803-487-9777.

For more information on our 10% off sale, which runs through March 15, 20019, click here. 

Limited Time 10% Discount Available on Our Most Popular Programs

For the first time ever, from now through March 31, 2019, Charlotte Klaar, 10% discountPhD, is offering a 10% discount on three of her most popular services!  Take advantage of this special and save up to $500!

EXTENDED THROUGH MARCH 31!

1. Developing Your Strategy…and Your List!

Regular price – $2,700.  Now through March 31 – just $2,430!

This includes:
– Review prior academic accomplishments
– Advice on which upcoming courses would be best for your senior year
– Important advice for extracurricular involvementPlaying sports
Review of recommendations for testing (SAT or ACT)
– In-depth interview on college preferences (with both student and parent)
– Career planning using a career assessment/
personality inventory
– Refine choices of college type and major
– Advice on making successful college visits that count
– Prepare a selected list of colleges that are uniquely suited to your student

The approximate duration of this service is 6-8 weeks. It is suggested that
it begin in the fall of junior year, after the student’s PSAT scores have arrived.

2. Completing Your Applications

Regular price – $2,700. Now through March 31 – just $2,430!

This includes:
– Action plan with organizational timeline
– Plastic file tote to use as an organizational tool
– Essay brainstorming session(s)
– Edit common application essay
– Edit the activities résumé
– Edit up to five additional essays (subsequent essays charged at hourly rate)
– Recommendations and practice for college interviews, if requested
– Review applications for up to 10 colleges
– Help with making your student’s crucial final choice when decision letters arrive

This contract covers up to 10 applications using two unique applications, i.e. The Common Application plus a state school, or the Common Application and Coalition Application. Additional applications beyond 10 colleges, or using multiple application types, may be assessed an additional fee of up to $500 each.

The approximate duration of this service is 10 months. It is suggested that it begin in the summer before senior year, as most early decision/early applications are due in November of senior year.

3. Comprehensive Service – includes the above two programs – ordinarily $5,000 – and there is:
– No limit on the number of essay edits!
– No limit on the number of application reviews!

When you pay in full you ordinarily get a 10% Discount and save $500! But, with our limited time offer, you’ll get a 15% discount and save $750! 

Ordinarily, the Comprehensive Program with the payment plan is not eligible for a discount. But through March 31th, you receive the 10% discount and save $500!  Here’s how it works:

Comprehensive payment plan is $5,000 with a 10% discount = $4,500.
$1,500 is pre-paid before starting. Then make four subsequent payments of $750 each to your credit card.  Contact Dr. Charlotte Klaar at 803-487-9777 or [email protected] for questions and a contract.

Act now!  Dr. Klar can only accept a limited number of students, and her calendar will fill up quickly! Download this fillable pdf now!

Your Student’s PSAT Scores are in: Now What?

Many families have received or are about to receive the PSAT results for their 11th grade student. Most high schools present the results to students PSAT test scoresin their English classes and ask that the score report and booklet be taken home to parents. Unfortunately, most families will have no idea what to do with it. Read on for some suggestions.

1. Consider your student’s score: During my 21-plus years of practice with high school students, the most consistent response I get to “How did you do on your PSAT?” is “Awful!” No one explains to students that they still have almost two full years to go before the end of high school and that the number score is much less important than the percentile into which they fall.

For example, if a student sees a 540 on the Math section, he or she assumes that this is not a good sign for the SAT. If the student looked at the percentile for this score, 73 percent, she or he would have realized that this percentile puts him or her in the top 27 percent of the country.

Although there is no longer a penalty for guessing on either the PSAT or the SAT, what most families are not aware of is that the PSAT has a maximum score of 1520, not the 1600 of  the SAT. My message is: Don’t stress about this score – use the information to address your student’s weak areas prior to taking the SAT.

2. Understand what to do with the booklet: The booklet is the actual test, and your student can compare it to the right and wrong answers on the score report. Doing this shows whether incorrect answers were a careless mistake, or if your student doesn’t understand a concept in order to do better on the SAT.

Once this analysis is done, make a list of the missed questions that s/he doesn’t understand and go to the appropriate teacher for an explanation of the concept. Frankly, the PSAT does this online for you if you know which buttons to click.

3. Know that the PSAT is not identical to the SAT: The discrepancy between the two tests lies in the Writing section. There is no essay on the PSAT. The PSAT Writing section is simply a grammar test. Therefore, students who do not understand grammar will do quite poorly on this section of the PSAT.

On the other hand, your student may have respectable essay writing skills in the sense that s/he can make a point and support it in a written argument, which will raise the Writing score on the SAT.

This is not to say that grammar is unimportant; it’s very important. Unfortunately, we have not stressed grammar in schools for many years, and students are bearing the brunt of this decision. I advise students who want to do well to get a basic grammar book and study. Ask your English teacher to help you if you don’t understand. Practice writing a standard five paragraph persuasive essay and apply this skill to the SAT.

4. Realize that if you don’t read regularly, you will not do well on the Critical Reading section: Reading is a skill that must be developed over time. When students proudly announce to me that they “Hate reading” or “Never read,” I suggest that they do 20 minutes of reading each night before bed and build up to at least 45 minutes of sustained reading in order to build the skill.

It doesn’t matter what your student reads, just that he or she is reading. Just PSAT test scoresas muscles will be weak without working out, reading will be weak without practice. Unless the student reads regularly, she or he will not be able to read quickly or with understanding and this will have a profound effect not only on the SAT score, but also on the likelihood of success in college where there is so much reading to be done often without feedback except for the test on the material.

The PSAT is a great tool but, like many tools, few understand how to properly use it for maximum effect. I hope that you will use it correctly and enhance your skills before the SAT. If you’d like more information on the PSAT or SAT/ACT tests, please contact me today!