Test Prep Timeline: February 2019

Here’s what you should be thinking about as your child prepares for the SAT or ACT this year.

Sophomores should be…

Continuing to focus on grades. Although you can be thinking ahead about what your sophomore will need to do to get ready for the SAT/ACT next year, the best thing you can do right now is to focus on supporting them as they learn and earn high marks in their classes.

Juniors should be…

(1) Registered for a paired set of SAT/ACT tests this spring. Because most kids end up taking two tests, we recommend scheduling them one after another.

As a reminder, if you’re interested in taking the March 9th SAT, the late registration deadline is February 27th.

Or if you’re taking the ACT, the April 13th test deadline to register is March 8th.

(2) Taking a mock test. Practice tests tend to be an afterthought for most families, but in our experience it’s the number one way for kids to improve their SAT/ACT scores.

Not only will it help your child identify their weaknesses and learn where they need to improve, it’ll also help them reduce test anxiety on the day of the actual test, because they know what to expect.

We offer these for free in the community. You can register for one of our upcoming Mock Tests here

Register Here

Also, if you haven’t picked whether you’re going to take the SAT or the ACT, now’s also the time to do that. Feel free to contact us or call (703-934-8282) and we can help you determine which one would be best based on your child’s practice test scores.

Test Prep Timeline: January 2019

Here’s what you should be thinking about as your child prepares for the SAT or ACT this year.

Sophomores should be…

(1) Reviewing PSAT scores (if they took it) as well as any practice test scores to determine areas of strength and weakness. Ask questions like:

  • Did they have enough time to finish?
  • Did they score particularly well in any of the four areas (reading, writing, math no calculator, math with calculator)?
  • Did they do poorly in any area?

(2) Thinking ahead about what type of test preparation they’ll need moving into Junior year. Mostly though, just continue to focus on grades.

Juniors should be…

(1) Taking a mock test. We offer these for free in the community. It’s the best way to get prepared to “peak” in the mid-to-late spring, which is historically the best time for students to take either test.

You can register for one of our upcoming Mock Tests here:

Also, if you haven’t picked whether you’re going to take the SAT or the ACT, now’s also the time to do that.

Feel free to contact us or call (703-934-8282) and we can help you determine which one would be best based on your child’s practice test scores.

(2) Registering for a “paired” set of tests in the spring if you haven’t already. Because most kids end up taking two tests, we recommend scheduling them one after another (for example, registering for the March 9th SAT followed by the May 4th SAT).

As a reminder, if you’re interested in taking, for example, the March 9th SAT, make sure you’ve registered by the February 8th deadline.

Or if you’re taking the ACT, the February 9th test deadline to register is this week on Friday, January 11th.

After you’ve knocked those items off the list, if you’re looking for a systematic, one-on-one program to get your child as prepared as possible to maximize their score this spring, our Test Prep Program might be right for you.

Click the link below to reach out and let us know, and we’ll walk you through the process, step-by-step.

Contact Us

Testimonial: Morgan Improves Her SAT Score, AP History Score, and Self-Confidence

“I cannot stress how wonderful the entire experience was. They took what was a very stressful year, and made it much more bearable… to the point where she enjoyed learning.”

Ellen’s daughter Morgan came to Educational Connections as a Junior because she was struggling… and understandably so. Junior year is, for most kids, the most stressful year of high school.

She was taking her first AP class (U.S. History) and wasn’t getting the grades she knew she could.

She had also previously taken an 8-week group SAT/ACT prep class, but took a practice test and didn’t do well.

She wanted to do better.

We got the chance to talk to Ellen about her experience with our tutoring and test prep programs, and asked her:

  • Why did you first reach out to Educational Connections?
  • What was your experience like working with your tutors?
  • What kind of results did you and your daughter experience?
  • What advice do you have for other parents in a similar situation?

Our test prep tutors are committed to helping both you and your high-schooler navigate the entire SAT/ACT process and develop a tailored plan that suits your student’s needs.

And that’s exactly what we were able to do with Morgan:

“Upon completion of the tutoring sessions, Morgan scored a 1300 on her SAT and a 4 out of 5 on her AP History exam… Those two scores not only are fabulous, but they really helped Morgan’s self-esteem and her self-confidence, and you can’t put a price on that.”

If you’re in the process of figuring out your child’s test prep plan, but think they could benefit from a customized, one-on-one program, I encourage you to contact us about our SAT/ACT Test Prep Program today.

Categories SAT

New SAT-ACT Concordance Tables Released

New SAT-ACT Concordance Tables Released

In the DC metro area, the SAT is the better known of the two college entrance exams, but nationally, more students now take the ACT than the SAT. With colleges accepting both the SAT and the ACT, a natural question to ask is: “how do SAT and ACT scores compare”?

Back in 2016, the College Board (the makers of the SAT) released a concordance table that allowed students, families, and educators to equate their SAT score with an ACT score and vice versa. Recently, the College Board and ACT jointly released new concordance tables with updated data from recent test takers.

Here are a few key insights related to the update:

A perfect score

Under the old concordance tables, a score of 36 on the ACT was equivalent to a score of 1600 on the SAT. Logically, that made sense because those are the highest possible scores for each test. Under the new tables released in 2018, however, a 36 on the ACT is equivalent to the 1570-1600 range of scores on the SAT, with the “most appropriate” score equivalent listed as 1590.

Upper and lower range shifts

When comparing the 2016 and 2018 concordance tables we find that there is a larger discrepancy on the outer ends of the score spectrum than in the middle portion. To illustrate this point, see the chart I made below which plots an SAT score and the old and new concorded ACT score. Blue points with an orange ring remain unchanged between the two tables.

(Chart made using 2016 and 2018 College Board and ACT concordance table data)

For example, a score of 1180 equated to an ACT score of 24 under the 2016 standards and still equates to a 24 under the 2018 standards, while a score of 1470 equated to an ACT score of 32 under the 2016 standards and now equates to an ACT score of 33 under the 2018 standards. A similar trend is true with the lower end of the score range.

A key note about superscoring

With more and more colleges superscoring, or considering the highest combined score of individual sections across multiple test attempts, the updated document shares a key note about this practice. On page 5 of the linked document, the final bullet under limitations reads: “Institutions should not superscore across the SAT and ACT tests.”


These updates were announced June 14, 2018 and both the College Board and ACT have updated their websites with the new tables.

For the full guide on the 2018 concordance update please visit: https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/ACT-SAT-Concordance-Information.pdf

So what does this mean for students? One of the best things you can do is sit for a full-length practice test of each type and use the updated concordance tables to compare your scores. Educational Connections offers free practice tests, register for one here.

If you have any questions or would like to get started with test prep contact us today!


Webinar: Does The PSAT Count? Here’s what you need to know

All the time we get asked by parents of high school sophomores and juniors:

“Do we need to pay attention to the PSAT?”

And the answer is… it depends.

Now it is true that your score won’t be seen or count towards college admissions, but there are a few reasons why you may not want to give it a pass.

The PSAT is an opportunity to:

  • Prepare for the actual SAT and get direct feedback on where you need to improve before you do
  • Get used to the test format and the test environment
  • Get put into consideration for the National Merit Scholarship

So in that light, we decided to put together a free webinar this coming June 15th, hosted by Ann Dolin, M.Ed., to help you sort out how to best take advantage of the PSAT.

In the webinar with Ann you’ll learn:

  • When should my child take the PSAT (and why)?
  • Who sees the scores once they take it, and do they count for anything?
  • What’s the National Merit Scholarship and does my child have a chance?
  • Should you prepare for the PSAT, and how do the scores translate to performance on the actual SAT?

To register for the June 15th webinar (held from 12:15 to 1pm eastern), just click the link below and enter your name and contact information.

We’ll email you with a link and the confirmation details so you can easily join in on the 15th.

See you in the webinar!

Categories SAT

The August SAT: 3 Steps to Take Advantage of One of the Rising Senior’s Last Ditch Efforts…

For years, SAT and ACT exams took a summer break along with students, meaning that students could get away with taking a short break from preparation before taking an early fall exam.

But no more!  For the first time ever, the College Board has announced that there will be a summer SAT, which will take place on August 26th.

What does this mean for prep? If your child is a rising senior, it means that this is one of her last chances to take the test before she begins applying to colleges. She has likely taken the test once or twice already and is looking to get that score up in order to get into her target schools. If your child does not take advantage of the summer downtime and begin preparing for the test, the summer slump is likely to kick in and those scores can drop. So the pressure is on to recognize the urgency of preparing this summer.

Have your rising senior follow these 3 steps to ensure she is ready for the August test:

1. Prioritize your areas of focus.

This means that you have to decide which sections you need to review the most.  Do this by reviewing your previous score reports (and if you don’t have previous score reports, take a practice exam ASAP!!). See which sections you did the worst on and start reviewing concepts from these sections, since there’s the most room for improvement, waiting a couple of weeks to revisit the sections you did well on.

2. Start prep NOW and make a study calendar!

This means TODAY—not next month.  Remember that the first step to preparation is making a timeline and scheduling when you’re going to study, complete homework, and take full length practice exams. Treat your preparation like a class, penciling in a couple 1-2 hour study sessions on your calendar every week.

3. Take full length practice sections and exams multiple times.

Taking full length sections is the ideal follow-up to a study session.  Furthermore, taking a full length practice exam after every 4 weeks of prep is essential to conditioning you for the exam and giving you more information regarding your continued areas of struggle and improvement.  Don’t forget to add deadlines for taking full length practice exams and full length sections on your study calendar.  This will help hold you accountable to actually completing these tasks.

And of course, don’t forget to make sure your child registers for the actual SAT exam here.

Worried your rising senior isn’t ready for her last ditch effort? Let us help!  Email our test prep manager, Payton, at [email protected] or submit a Get a Tutor form today.

New Summer SAT Date Announced! Should My Rising Junior Take This Test?

Your child just finished 10th grade and now he wants to prepare for the first-ever summer SAT—what?! Is this a good idea, or a wasted effort?

Now that the SAT has announced a late summer test date—August 26th—for the first time ever, you might be wondering if this should be your rising junior’s first attempt.

Taking the August SAT might be a good match if your child

1. Has Determined the SAT is the Right Test.

Before taking the SAT or ACT, you will want your child to take a practice SAT and ACT to determine the test that is the best match. Do not use the actual August SAT as a “practice” or “trial” run. Sign up here to take a free full length practice test of both the SAT and ACT before school is out to determine the right test for your child.

2. Took Pre-calculus/Trig as a Sophomore.

Math on the SAT goes up to trigonometry, so your child should not be taking the SAT unless he has already taken pre-calculus. You don’t want your child to take his first real exam before he has been instructed in all the content.

3. Is a Recruited Athlete.

If your child is a recruited athlete and tests must be completed prior to spring, then preparing for and taking the August SAT is a slam dunk move. Utilizing the summer for prep leading up to the August SAT will allow your recruited athlete the knock out an exam before school even starts, giving him another 1-2 chances to take the test again in the fall.

4. Has Heavy Spring Commitments.

For children with heavy spring commitments—including sports schedules, band or orchestra events, or other training and travel commitments for an extracurricular—taking the summer SAT as their first time and then subsequent tests in the fall will leave their schedules open in the spring. Taking the August SAT, or an early fall ACT if that is the test of choice, would alleviate stress for your child who will need and want to devote time and energy to his extracurricular activities come spring time.

If we can be of help in designing a test preparation program best suited for your child, or if you are interested in learning about the services our tutors can provide, email our test prep manager, Payton, at [email protected] or submit a Get a Tutor form today!

Learn the Basics of SAT/ACT Preparation

If your child is in 11th grade or headed into 12th grade soon, it’s time to start thinking about the SAT or the ACT.

But where to start?

Should your child take the SAT, the ACT, or both? When should preparation begin? How many times should the test be taken?

If you’ve got questions like these and are early in the test preparation process, listen to Ann Dolin on WTOP giving an overview of the basics of the test preparation process or read the transcript below.



These tests are on a lot of kids minds this time of year. When exactly should students be taking the SAT or ACT?

Most juniors will take the test twice, in the spring of their junior year and if they’re not happy with their score, in the fall of their senior year. Usually, they take it the two to three times just to make sure that they can get the best score possible.

We’ve got the SAT is coming up again on May 6th, June 3rd, August 26th. And the ACT dates are April 8th, June 10th and September 9th. Most students give themselves about three months leading up until a test date to prepare.

Should kids take both tests?

No, students should pick one and just study for that test, otherwise, they’re splitting their focus. Every single college in the country that requires testing accepts both tests, so there’s no need for kids to put added stress on themselves studying for two very different exams.

It used to be that most kids took the SAT, but that’s not the case any longer. In 2011 the ACT overtook the SAT for more tests administered. And since the SAT changed their format last year and there was so much uncertainty, we saw even more students elect to take the ACT, and we’ve seen that trend continue.

What is the difference between the ACT and the SAT?

The ACT is a faster paced test and includes a lot of questions in a shorter amount of time, but the questions are straight-forward. There’s a math, reading, writing, and science section (which mostly reading comprehension and data interpretation). A perfect score is 36.

The SAT is more a test of critical thinking skills. Although there are fewer questions on the SAT, they are longer and a bit wordier and take more time to answer. Like the ACT, there’s reading, writing and math (which includes a section in which kids cannot use a calculator), but there’s no science section. The highest score you can earn is 1600.

What is the best way to prepare for these tests?

There are three ways for kids to prepare: buying a book and prepping on their own, taking a group class or getting one-to-one tutoring.

In addition to practicing the content and strategies, one of the best way to boost your score is to take practice tests. We (and many other organizations in the community) offer these for free on the weekends.

Practice under simulated conditions are beneficial for a number of reasons. When kids are just starting to think about preparing, taking a practice SAT and ACT can help them determine which test is their natural strength. And once they decide, taking a few of these mock tests along the way helps with fatigue issues – because these tests are four hours long — and this type of practice decreases anxiety because kids know what to expect when they go to take the actual test. And when kids are less stressed and more prepared, they score better.

If you are interested in having your child take a free diagnostic ACT and/or SAT, sign up here or call us at 703-934-8282.

SAT NEWS FLASH: The Accommodations Process Just Got Much Easier!

SAT LogoIf you know anything about what it takes to go through the approval process for accommodations on the SAT, you’ll be thrilled to know that things just got simpler.

Accommodations refer to adjustments made to the administration of the SAT based on a particular student’s needs.  Common accommodations include extended time, extra breaks, large-print testing booklets, and even multi-day testing.

In the past…

In order to be approved for accommodations like the ones listed above, you had to have your child go through psychoeducational testing, which takes time, money, energy, and can cause stress.

But here’s the good news…

If your child receives accommodations at school (like through an IEP or a 504 plan) and the school will vouch for this, your child will qualify for those same accommodations on the SAT without the need for any additional paperwork. A representative from the school will just need to communicate with College Board to certify that the student receives accommodations.

Also, if English is not your child’s first language, College Board is offering additional accommodations including the option of reading directions in the student’s native language and receiving assistance on vocabulary.  By fall of 2017, non-native English speaking students can also get extra time and the option of testing in a space with fewer distractions that the main testing room.

Check out the original College Board announcement here.


Choosing & Preparing for the ACT or SAT

Our Test Prep Tutors evaluate students’ strengths and weaknesses during their first session. Each session targets areas where improvement will have the greatest impact on test scores. But what happens if you’re unsure of which test your child to take? When do you start preparing for these exams? What even is the difference between the two!?

Our Test Prep Coordinator, Payton Marshall, let’s us in on everything you and your child needs to know when preparing for college entrance exams.


What is the difference between the ACT and the SAT?

The ACT and the SAT are two very different tests.

The ACT is a much faster paced test and includes a lot of questions in a shorter amount of time. It is formatted similarly to tests your child takes in school right now. The content is information they have learned throughout their high school career.

The SAT is more of a strength test and tests your child’s critical thinking skills. She has to use the analytical side of her brain. Although there are fewer questions on the SAT, they are longer and wordier and take more time to answer.


Should my kid take both tests? How do I know which one is better for them?

There is no need for your child to take both the ACT and the SAT. All colleges across the country take either the SAT or the ACT, and one is not looked at as better than the other when determining your child’s acceptance.

Some parents will ask, “Does it matter what my son wants to major in? If they’re going to be an engineer, should they take this test over that test?” It makes no difference. Both tests are looked at equally, so your child should pick the test that is better suited for him or her.

To find out which test is better suited for your child, it’s best to look at a practice ACT or SAT score, his PSAT result, or other practice tests he may have. Our Test Prep Coordinator works to compare scores from different tests to determine which test has a higher score. Some kids also know which test they would like to take because they have a preference for one over the other.

Once the preferred test is selected, your student can begin preparing and channel all of their focus on that one test, which is must more advisable than dividing attention and energy over preparing for both tests.


When is the best time to take the test? How many times should my kid take the test?

Most Juniors will take the real test for the first time in the spring of their Junior year. Usually, Juniors will take it anywhere from two to three times later that spring and early summer. Sometimes they’ll take it one more time in the fall of their Senior year. Typically, if you can get all two or three tests out in the spring of their Junior year, it’s best, because most kids aren’t extremely diligent about preparing over the summer for a fall test. Usually, they take it the two to three times just to make sure that they can get the best score possible. Maybe one day the testing room was too cold, or they had a bad headache or something like that. By taking it two to three times, they can maximize their score. By the spring of their Junior year, they have learned all the academic content that they need to be prepared for the test.


What is the best way to prepare for these tests? When should you start if you want to take a test in March or May?

The first step is to determine where your child is in the process and where he wants to be. Take note of which schools he wants to apply to and what kind of exam requirements they have. Have a conversation with him about what his score goals are and where they are regarding completing that goal. If he is planning to take the test in March, for example, then January – after the holidays – is the best time to start preparing. Our test prep tutors would encourage him to take the test in March, then again in June to compare scores. Since slow and steady preparation is the best approach, doing one session per week leading up to the test is one of the best options. He can sleep on it overnight, practice throughout the week and then meet with the tutor the next week to review.

Obviously, there’s more than one way to prepare for tests. You can, of course, prepare on your own. If your kid is good at self-study, she can pick up a book and prepare herself. There are plenty of free online sources out there that help with this kind of test preparation. While most high school Juniors are not that self-driven, some are indeed able to do this.

You could also sign up for a group class. There are plenty of group classes available. However, group classes are at the mercy of the group. Everyone gets the same curriculum, and the instructor goes through the class at the group’s pace, not the individual student’s pace. There is also the one-to-one approach, where the tutor focuses directly on your student to find his or her strengths and weaknesses and work on their weaknesses to try and increase scores.


If your student needs guidance on which test to take, contact us at 703.934.8282 to speak to our Test Prep Coordinator.