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Suniti's Advice Corner

Top 10 Graduation Gift Ideas

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, Jun 16, 2017

 

Graduation season is upon us—how exciting! All of that hard work and studying has finally paid off, and high school graduates are now about to embark on an exciting new chapter in their lives. A milestone such as high school graduation deserves special recognition. Show the grads in your life that you care with a gift that they’ll find useful and will enjoy. Stuck on ideas? The list below can help.

1. Money 


college-budget-1.jpg

This is probably the most common and most obvious. What college student couldn’t use a little extra cash to put towards their tuition fund or to enjoy the occasional night out with friends? If you’re not sure what to get for a grad, you certainly can’t go wrong with money. 

2. Gift Cards

On a similar note, you can get the grads in your life gift cards to places they might be frequenting over the next few months or years. Such venues might include Amazon, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Walmart, and Starbucks. You can find these kinds of gift cards at your local grocery store, Walmart, convenience store or on their websites. 

3. Public Transportation Cards and/or Flight Tickets

transportation 2.jpg

Most undergrads (at least in their first year) won’t have cars with them on campus, and depending on where they’re going to school might need a way to get around. Many colleges have their own free shuttle services to get around campuses or places very nearby, but in the case that a student wants to venture out a little further, a public transportation card could be helpful. Depending on how far they are from their hometown, a plane ticket to get home for the holidays could also come in handy. Many major transportation companies give you the ability to send vouchers and prepaid tickets to another person, or local transportation systems often sell prepaid cards on their websites. 

United Airlines hosts a travel crowdfunding platform. This allows people to get help from friends and family with funding a trip. Check it out here. 

4. Subscription & Streaming Services 

netflix.png

After a hectic week of classes, sometimes it can be nice for students to just sit back, relax, and catch up on the shows you they might have missed during the week. Subscriptions to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, and GameFly can help students decompress.

5. College-Branded Paraphernalia 

3a15c090cfbc8c6e169a056b9136e84b.jpgSend your grads to school in style! College book stores have a wide selection of school-spirited clothing, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, jerseys, scarfs, sweatpants, shorts, hats, socks, and gloves. College-branded key chains, lanyards, coffee mugs, banners, and stuffed animals can also make great gifts and let students show off their school pride. You can also usually find college paraphernalia at major sporting goods stores, and on Amazon or other online stores. 

Checkout Fanatics where they have over 500 different collegiate licenses and sell a ton of nice clothing. 

6. Subscription Food Services

Keep the freshman 15 off with healthier snack options. Eating healthy is tough in college. The dining halls don't always serve the most healthy options, there's a lot of processed snacks around campus, and students don't always have the money or means to venture outside of campus. 

That's why we suggest a healthy and wholesome food service like Graze or UrthBox. Graze is a portion controlled and nutritionist approved monthly service. UrthBox is similar but provides healthy, gluten free and organic snacks. These services are great because they will ship right to the student at college and will continue each month as long as you keep them subscribed. So it's one less thing they need to worry about while getting used to the college lifestyle. 

7. Books 

Another idea you can’t go wrong with. Sure, students will be reading plenty of course material while in college, but taking some time to read for fun is good for their mental wellbeing and gives their mind a chance to rest. Plus, it’s always nice to have new books to look forward to during the holidays.

We recommend the following books for high school graduates:

A Short Guide to a Happy Life: This short and simple book by Pulitzer Prize Winner, Anna Quindlen, is meant to show readers how good we have it. It is a book that will stay on the coffee table for generations.

P.S. I Love You - A book of inspirational quotes filled with wisdom and life advice. This is a great read and keepsake for young adults heading into the real world.

graduation idea books for college.jpg

Lifes Little Instruction Book -This book is a great morale booster. When school or life is getting tough Lifes Little Instruction Book provides great advice to move forward with living a happy and rewarding life.

The 5 Ingredient College Cook Book - Cooking during college gets a little difficult, but a students' got
to eat. This cook book can help a student make delicisious healthy meals with only 5 ingredients. 

Why Didn't They Teach me This in School? - Let's be honest high school doesn't teach us all there is to know about the real world. This book lays out 99 personal money management principles to live by. 

8. Laptop, iPad, or Tablet 

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For those students needing an update on any of these devices, graduation might be the perfect occasion. These devices will help students stay connected and organized during the year. A lot of stores like BestBuy or Walmart have discounted items for college students. Covers or cases for these devices could also make good gifts.

9. Personalized Stationery 

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Some classes prohibit using electronic devices. So sometimes students need to go back into time and use some old fashioned stationery. Stationery gift ideas include pens, notebooks, post-it notes, and calendars. Journals also make great gifts, as it gives students a space to express themselves and reflect upon their journey. At the end of the year, they can look back on their reflections and feel proud of all that they accomplished.

Personalized stationary is a hot trend right now. At Minted they give you the ability to createinteresting designs for thank you cards and letters. A big trend right now is monogramming. It's a cute and subtle way to stamp your name on things. Then your student will have a nice way to write thank you letters to their teachers and counselors. 

10. Personalized Travel Gear 

14993-33753.jpgCollege students do a lot of traveling. Whether it's coming home for breaks, going on trips with clubs or doing semesters abroad, there's a lot of travel. A nice gift idea is to get the student new travel bags with their name or monogram embroidered on it. You can get it done through the site Personalization Mall. 

Another popular trend right now is custom passport holders. It's a nice way of keeping their travel memories organized and stylish! Etsy does a lot of personalized passport holders. Check it out here

What are your favorite graduation gift ideas? Tell us in the comments below!

From all of us at TestRocker, congrats to the grads!


If you are a student who still needs to take the SAT or ACT, or a parents with teens who will soon need to take these tests, then it's time to start preparing. These tests are a huge factor in college acceptances. TestRockers average increased scores are +180 (SAT) and +4 (ACT). We've found that the students who score the best after using TestRocker have watched the most amount of our videos. With 2000+ videos there's plenty of content to improve you or your students SAT & ACT scores. 

Give the free trial a try to watch some videos & try some practice quetions. 

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For information on which test is easier click here. If you are thinking about studying over the summer you can learn about that here

Tags: For Students, For Parents, Graduation

NCAA SAT & ACT Requirements

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, Jun 09, 2017

Student Athletes.jpg

Are you ready to be a student athlete in college? As you probably know by now, your athletic ability, while important, isn’t the only requirement for being on a collegiate sports team. Your grades and your test scores are also important.

For Division I and Division II sports teams in the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), there are different GPA and test score requirements for eligibility. Essentially, your test scores and your GPA need to balance each other out. So if your GPA isn’t the highest, you’ll need higher test scores in order to compensate. 

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Here’s a quick review of NCAA definitions.

Division I

These schools have the largest student bodies and the most funding due to large scale television contracts, alumni funding and the sheer size of the school. In addition, the NCAA grants Div. 1 programs the most scholarships. However, the high school GPA and test score requirments are most rigorous in this divison. 

Division II

These schools are smaller and there are fewer funds for their athletic departments. The NCAA grants fewer scholarships than Division I teams. Students who don’t meet all the academic requirements for Division II may be eligible for partial qualification. Partial qualifiers may do all of the same things as full qualifiers except for compete during the first year of college.

Division III

This division has the largest number of particpating schools. The majority of high school student athletes going on to compete in college end up in Div. 3. The NCAA has no set GPA or test score requirements, but it is left up to the school and their athletic department to decide on academic elibility. So for more information on that see your prospective schools website.

Redshirt Athletes

Student athletes participation is delayed or suspended in order to lengthen their eligibility period. They may attend and take classes at the college or university, practice with the team, and dress for play, but they may not compete in games. One reason that students might be redshirted is low GPA. In the case of Division I sports, students with a GPA below 2.3 are eligible for redshirt only.

Note: The NCAA does set their own GPA and test score requirements for Division III.

The tables below will show you the NCAA SAT and ACT requirements for eligibility. Note that the NCAA doesn’t look at your composite (average)ACT score between sections, but rather your total score added up. Learn more about the ACT here. Additionally, the SAT is looked at as a total score added up between each section as well. Learn more about the SAT here. 

You might not be sure whether to take the SAT or ACT. Find out which one might be better for you here. 

TABLE: Division I GPA and Test Score Requirements

GPA

SAT Total Score

ACT Total Score

3.550 and above

400

37

3.525

410

38

3.500

420

39

3.475

430

40

3.450

440

41

3.425

450

41

3.400

460

42

3.375

470

42

3.350

480

43

3.325

490

44

3.300

500

44

3.275

510

45

3.250

520

46

3.225

530

46

3.200

540

47

3.175

550

47

3.150

560

48

3.125

570

49

3.100

580

49

3.075

590

50

3.050

600

50

3.025

610

51

3.000

620

52

2.975

630

52

2.950

640

53

2.925

650

53

2.900

660

54

2.875

670

55

2.850

680

56

2.825

690

56

2.800

700

57

2.775

710

58

2.750

720

59

2.725

730

60

2.700

740

61

2.675

750

61

2.650

760

62

2.625

770

63

2.600

780

64

2.575

790

65

2.550

800

66

2.525

810

67

2.500

820

68

2.475

830

69

2.450

840

70

2.425

850

70

2.400

860

71

2.375

870

72

2.350

880

73

2.325

890

74

2.300

900

75

2.299

910

76

2.275

910

76

2.250

920

77

2.225

930

78

2.200

940

79

2.175

850

80

2.150

960

81

2.125

970

82

2.100

980

83

2.075

990

84

2.050

1000

85

2.025

1010

86

2.000

1020

86

Note: GPAs are from a 4.0 scale, and below 2.3 qualify for redshirt only.

TABLE: Division II Full Qualifier GPA and Test Score Requirements

GPA

SAT Score

ACT Total Score

3.300 and above

400

37

3.275

410

38

3.250

420

39

3.225

430

40

3.200

440

41

3.175

450

41

3.150

460

42

3.125

470

42

3.100

480

43

3.075

490

44

3.050

500

44

3.025

510

45

3.000

520

46

2.975

530

46

2.950

540

47

2.925

550

47

2.900

560

48

2.875

570

49

2.850

580

49

2.825

590

50

2.800

600

50

2.775

610

51

2.750

620

52

2.725

630

52

2.700

640

53

2.675

650

53

2.650

660

54

2.625

670

55

2.600

680

56

2.575

690

56

2.550

700

57

2.525

710

58

2.500

720

59

2.475

730

59

2.450

740

60

2.425

750

61

2.400

760

62

2.375

770

63

2.350

780

64

2.325

790

65

2.300

800

66

2.275

810

67

2.250

820

68

2.225

830

69

2.200

840 and above

70 and above

Note: GPAs are from a 4.0 scale, and below 2.3 qualify for redshirt only. 

TABLE: Division II Partial Qualifier GPA and Test Score Requirements

GPA

SAT Score

ACT Total Score

3.050 and above

400

37

3.025

410

38

3.000

420

39

2.975

430

40

2.950

440

41

2.925

450

41

2.900

460

42

2.875

470

42

2.850

480

43

2.825

490

44

2.800

500

44

2.775

510

45

2.750

520

46

2.725

530

46

2.700

540

47

2.675

550

47

2.650

560

48

2.625

570

49

2.600

580

49

2.575

590

50

2.550

600

50

2.525

610

51

2.500

620

52

2.475

630

52

2.450

640

53

2.425

650

53

2.400

660

54

2.375

670

55

2.350

680

56

2.325

690

56

2.300

700

57

2.275

710

58

2.250

720

59

2.225

730

60

2.200

740

61

2.175

750

61

2.150

760

62

2.125

770

63

2.100

780

64

2.075

790

65

2.050

800

66

2.025

810

67

2.000

820 and above

68 and above

Note: GPAs are from a 4.0 scale, and below 2.3 qualify for redshirt only.

Source: From the NCAA website.

Dreading your Test Prep? Here's a secret - you don't have to study everything. We can help you increase your score by targeting specific areas so that you study smarter rather than longer! Start a free trial to see what your areas of study need to be:

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Tags: For Students, For Counselors, sat, act, International Students

Which is Easier : The SAT or ACT?

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Thu, Jun 01, 2017

is the sat or act easiest?

College prep season is upon you, and you’re working extra hard to keep up your GPA, participate in extracurricular activities, and write strong college essays. Of course there’s also the dreaded college admissions standardized test. With everything else you have going on, you probably want to take whichever test is easier, right?

Which is easier?

We hate to break it to you, but one isn’t easier than the other. They’re equal in difficulty. In addition to being at the same level of difficulty, they are also judged equally by colleges. The content they test is also similar. Below is a table showing the similarities and differences between the tests, and each tested section.

Table: Breakdown of the Sections of the SAT and ACT

Section

 Time/# of Questions

SAT

ACT

Writing/English

Time (Minutes)

35

45

# of Questions

44 

 75

Math
(With Calculator)

Time (Minutes)

55

60

# of Questions 38

60 

Math
(No Calculator)

Time (Minutes) 

25

None

# of Questions

13

Reading

Time (Minutes)  

65

35 

# of Questions  52

 40

Essay (Optional)

 Time (Minutes) 

50

40

Science

 

 Time (Minutes) 

None

35

 # of Questions

40

 

Which test should I take?

The good news is that since the tests are so similar in terms of level of difficulty, content tested, and judgment by colleges, you really can’t go wrong with either.

If we needed to pick out a few, the biggest differences between the two tests are the scoring systems, the time allotted per question, and the ACT has a Science section that the SAT does not. See below for more information on these differences. This means if you really want to choose one or the other you will want to consider these differences and see which best suits you. Keep in mind we really do recommend trying both tests, because despite these differences they are very still very similar.

Try this 5-minute survey to find out which test is best for you.

Scoring

Because the tests are scored differently, one may end up working out better than the other for a particular student. The SAT is a total composite score of all of the sections out of 1600. The ACT is an average composite score between 1-36. Therefore, with averages versus totals a student could benefit more from one or the other depending on their strengths and weaknesses.

Sections & Timing

As seen in the table above, the ACT gives less time per question than the SAT does. This means that if you struggle with answering questions quickly then the SAT could benefit you more. However, most of the sections in the ACT have shorter overall time allotments. So if you struggle with longer concentration, or get fatigued by longer sections then the ACT may be better for you.

The Science Section of the ACT

The science section of the ACT is not optional. If Science was a struggle of yours during high school then you might want to avoid the ACT. However, the questions in the Science section deal more with reading, data analysis, and science terminology. You should not expect any science math problems. Keep this in mind when deciding which test to take, because if the ACT is generally more for you, you might have nothing to worry about with the Science section.

You can learn more about the Science section here.

I really don’t want to waste my time and/or money on two tests.

We understand. So if you really need to choose one or the other and you’re feeling stuck, we’ve created a survey that can help you out. In less than 5 minutes, you should have a better idea of which route you want to pursue. Answer these questions as honestly as possible—after all, they’re designed to help you.

Whether you choose to take the SAT, the ACT, or both, be sure to check out TestRocker as you prepare. When you use TestRocker’s unique and innovative test prep methods, it should be smooth sailing when you take the test.

Find out which test you should take. 

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Any additional Questions? Write it in a comment below and we'll get back to you.

Tags: For Students, For Counselors, sat, act, International Students

5 Reasons Why You Should Prepare for the PSAT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, May 26, 2017

PSAT-2.jpg

Guys, this is really important information! While it is all public information, it is not common knowledge. You could be missing out on free money for college, and beneficial college recruitement resources. So take notes, use the resources we mention, and take this important advice to the bank.

You might say to yourself “The PSAT is just a practice SAT, so I don’t need to worry about it, right? It’s the SAT that really matters, isn’t it?” or “I don’t even want to take the SAT—I’m preparing for the ACT.”

The PSAT is not just a practice SAT and you absolutely should be taking it seriously. In fact, the PSAT opens many doors to you that you may not have otherwise been aware of. Below is a list of reasons why you need to take the PSAT seriously. Check it out and get an immediate edge over your peers, who don’t realize just how important the PSAT is.

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1. The PSAT helps prepare you for the SAT/ACT.

Preparing for the PSAT will kickstart your prep for the SAT and ACT. This reason might seem the most obvious, but it’s true. The PSAT is a shortened version of the SAT, so it will give you an idea of what will be on the SAT and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Why is this important? These are not normal tests that you're used to taking in school. They are longer, more time-intensive, and they cover a lot more content at multiple levels of difficulty. In addition to preparing for the content, it is important for you to learn about these aspects of the test. More preparation over a longer period of time leads to higher score improvements. 

2. Doing well on the PSAT can equal thousands of dollars and scholarship opportunities!

For many students, the PSAT can end up being even more important than the actual SAT/ACT. The PSAT is the only way to qualify for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Program. You can become a National Merit Semi-Finalist by outscoring other students in your state. Many colleges will offer scholarships to students who qualify as semi-finalists, even if they don't qualify as finalists! Other scholarship opportunities that might be available to you based on your PSAT scores include the National Achievement Scholarship Program and the National Hispanic Recognition Program, along with many others. Not preparing for the PSAT means you might be leaving free money on the table.

Here's an example: Baylor University provides a full scholarship to National Merit finalists if they select Baylor as their 1st choice. 

3. Taking the PSAT puts you on colleges’ radar.

College Radar.jpg

When you take the PSAT, you can indicate which colleges you’re interested in as well as your academic and personal interests, which will put you on colleges’ radar. The College Board’s Student Search Program allows over a thousand colleges to identify prospective students based on factors such as intended major, GPA, and state residency. Scoring well on the PSAT can lead to being recruited by colleges and learn about colleges you may not have otherwise considered. Some colleges may even offer you scholarships based on your PSAT scores.

 

4. Your PSAT score will be used to identify your target university list.

The process of sitting down with your high school counselor to start the college application process is exciting. Your counselor will help you create a list of safety, target and reach schools. This list will largely be based on your current GPA and how you scored on the PSAT. It is important for your PSAT score to be as realistic as possible, which can only be achieved through preparation. You don't want to end up with a target list that doesn't accurately reflect your potential. 

5. Not preparing for the PSAT has no benefits.

Think back to any test you have ever taken; whether it was a final exam in school, or your driver's test. Did you walk in to it unprepared? Probably not. The PSAT that you take in your Junior year is almost 3 hours long. It is a big time commitment, and there are no retakes. Your score counts and has potential ramifications regarding your future without you even realizing it. So take control of your PSAT score and walk in to the test prepared. 

Most students underestimate the importance of taking the PSAT. Now that you’ve read this, you won’t be one of them.

If you’re looking to get the highest possible PSAT score, check out TestRocker, which will give you access to a fun and interactive personalized study plan.

Give it a try now for free and no credit card required.

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Next Post: PSAT, SAT & ACT Terminology [Must Know Terms]

Tags: For Students, For Counselors, International Students, psat

What International Students Need to Know About The SAT and ACT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, May 19, 2017

must-know-about-sat-act-for-international-students.jpg

Applying for college in the US as an international student comes with a unique set of challenges. There’s some getting used to how the US college application system works, in addition to getting up to par on your English if it’s not your native language, and getting ready to transition to life in a new country.

There will be much needed SAT and ACT preparation, and you’re probably feeling more than a little overwhelmed at this point. We get it. That’s why we’ve prepared this list especially for international students on how to prepare for the SAT and ACT.

Get free practice questions and videos right now. 

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Decide Which Test to Take

If you’re not sure whether to take the SAT, the ACT, or both, take TestRocker’s self-assessment to help you figure out which test is a better fit for you. 

If you have the time and resources, we recommend that you take both tests. The method of questioning and language used varies between the tests, and one might suit you better than the other, leading to a higher score. 

Know Where and When The Test is

Note that the test dates for international students are not always the same as those for US students. It is easy to be confused between the International and US test dates on the testing sites. The following tables include upcoming test dates and deadlines for international students. Remember that you can (and should) take the tests at least 2 times (max 3 times) so that you can get the highest combined superscore

TABLE: SAT Dates and Deadlines for International Students

Test Date

Registration Deadline

October 7, 2017

September 8, 2017

December 2, 2017

November 2, 2017

March 10, 2018

February 9, 2018

May 5, 2018

April 6, 2018

 

TABLE: ACT Dates and Deadlines for International Students

Test Date

Registration Deadline

September 9, 2017

August 4, 2017

October 28, 2017

September 22, 2017

December 9, 2017

November 3, 2017

April 14, 2018

March 9, 2018

June 9, 2018

May 4, 2018

Check online to find SAT and/or ACT test centers nearest to you. Keep in mind that the test center might not be in your school.

Register Early!

The number of SAT and ACT test centers internationally is not high enough to accommodate the increasing number of test takers. Also, many test centers are being shut down due to cheating scandals etc. For this reason, register for your desired test dates as soon as possible to secure your spot. You don't want to be in a situation where the test date you want or need is unavailable. 

Don't Try to Memorize or Study Last Minute

Many of you are probably used to memorizing content and studying last minute for exams. We know this strategy works well for a large number of tests you've had to take so far. Unfortunately, the SAT/ACT cannot be aced through memorization and last minute cramming. You have to give yourself enough time to learn/re-learn the concepts that are being tested, in addition to familiarizing yourself with a new testing format. You also have to get used to answering questions in under a minute. 

Get Comfortable With English

For many international students English is not their first language. If this is the case for you, start reading as much as possible in English, whether it be through novels, news articles, or essays. You can find plenty of works in English online. If you’re reading something that’s not in English, try translating it into English in your head. This will help you tremendously not only on the Reading section, but even on the Math section.

Study Vocabulary in Context

If you’re a language nerd, you might have fun memorizing the definitions of obscure vocabulary words. For the purposes of the SAT and ACT, however, this is a waste of time. These tests do not assess your ability to memorize the definitions of words, but rather your ability to use them correctly in context. To see a simple way of learning vocabulary, check out this video about TestRocker’s vocabulary game.

 

 

The reason this is particularly important for international students is because the vocabulary used in the US and tested on the SAT, may not be as commonly used overseas. This could be because there's no translation in the cultures language, or even translated it might just not be commonly used. 

Prepare for the Optional Essay Sections

The SAT and ACT offer an optional Essay section. For the ACT they call this the writing section. If you’re applying to colleges that require these sections, then you should definitely take it. Even if the schools on your current list don't require the Essay section, we recommend that you take the test with the Essay. If, at a later date, you decide to add on a college that does require the Essay, you won't have to go and take the test all over again. 

At TestRocker, we help you prepare for the essay section by hand-grading your work and providing line-by-line feedback so that you can get the highest possible essay score. 

Know What you Need to Bring to the Test

Whether you’re traveling to the test center from near or far, there are fewer things that will spike your probably already high anxiety levels than realizing you don’t have what you need. Review the checklist of what you’ll need and keep them all in one place the night before.

If you need some extra help studying, TestRocker is here to support you.

Tags: For Students, For Counselors, sat, act, International Students, tips, sat prep

7 Tips to Reduce Test Anxiety For The SAT & ACT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Thu, May 11, 2017

7 tips to cope with test stress and anxiety for the sat and act

Fact: Taking tests is stressful. Combine this with the college application process, and test-taking anxiety tends to take on a stronger presence than ever before.  A certain amount of anxiety leading up to the SAT or ACT is normal. But beyond a certain point, anxiety can hinder your performance. Don’t let your stress get the best of you. There are tons of measures to take to reduce your anxiety.

Using these 7 stress management tips to reduce test anxiety will ensure that you get through your test as anxiety-free as possible.

1. Create a test-taking plan

Before you go out and purchase a big test-prep book, take a step back and make your test-taking plan. Creating a plan and knowing what you're working towards will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. It is a good idea to create this plan with a counselor or parent; someone to help you stay organized and accountable. Your test-taking plan should answer questions such as:

- Which test am I taking? SAT or ACT? (Click here for an easy way to find out)
- Which test dates am I working towards?
- How do I plan to prepare?
- When do I need to register for the tests by?

For a quick-start guide on how to create your test-taking plan, click here

2. Study!

This may seem like a no-brainer, but preparing for the test is the best way to know what to expect and to go in feeling confident. Don’t cram; give yourself a few months’ time to prepare. The SAT and ACT don't consist of curveballs or surprises; if you prepare, you will know what types of questions you will encounter, the topics being tested, and the level of difficulty you should expect. The more you familiarize yourself with the tests, the less anxious you will feel. Remember that preparing doesn't mean exclusively taking full-length practice tests. To effectively prepare, you need to first identify your weaknesses and learn/re-learn the concepts.

Not sure where to start? Take a free diagnostic test to instantly view your customized study plan. 

3. Stay organized, specially the week of the test. 

This will ensure that you’re not scrambling and panicking the night or morning of the test..

Learn everything you need to know about the week of the test here. You will want to follow these tips to ensure you are on top of everything in advance of the morning of the test. 

 On Friday night, pack everything you’ll need in one place. Make a checklist of what you will need. That way you’re not second-guessing whether or not you remembered to pack something. This list should include:

  • Your admission ticket
  • Your photo ID
  • Two sharpened No. 2 pencils
  • A good eraser
  • An approved calculator (with extra batteries)
  • Snacks (for the break)
  • Water

Click here to learn all about what you should or should not bring.

Also make sure that you know exactly where the test site is and get there early.

4. Exercise & practice deep breathing

Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which reduces feelings of anxiety and leaves you feeling good. Whenever you feel stressed, go for a run, do some yoga, jump on your bike—whatever appeals to you. While you’re taking the test, stretch whenever possible, and during the breaks, get up and move.

Deep breathing is an excellent way to calm your nerves. Breathe in and out through your nose. Feel your diaphragm expand as you inhale and feel it sink as you exhale. Breathing works wonders for your body and your mind. It helps keep yourself centered and gives you the focus needed to rock the test.

5. Be your own best friend

If your best friend were feeling anxious about the upcoming test, what would you tell him or her? You’d probably tell your friend that she’s smart and she can do it! On test day, be your own best friend.

Anytime a negative thought tries to enter your mind, kick it out and replace it with a positive thought. If it helps, repeat a mantra to yourself in your head. This can include “I am calm,” “I am smart,” “I know this material,” or “I’ve got this!”

6. Focus on yourself

There will be other people in the room with you when you’re taking the test, but they don’t matter right now. Only you do. As much as you can, try to block the other people in the room out and focus on the task at hand. Don’t worry if they finish before you do. Just worry that you do finish. You’re not trying to outscore them—you’re just trying to do your best.

7. Keep things in perspective

Yes, the SAT and ACT are certainly important tests and you should take them seriously, but they are not the be all and end all. First of all, if you’re not happy with your scores, you can take the test again. Pain in the neck? Sure. End of the world? Not at all.

Secondly, remember that your college application also comprises your personal statement, your grades, your recommendations, and your resume. 

Finally, remember that it’s only a test. Your scores on the SAT and ACT do not determine your self-worth. Keeping it all in perspective helps take much of the pressure off.

What do you do to cope with test anxiety?

Let us know in the comments what you do to be stress free during a test, because let's be honest - anxiety stinks and we don't want anybody to go through it. 

Are you still feeling stressed? TestRocker is here to help. Ask us anything below and we are happy to help. Get started with your studying now and give our free trial a try.

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Tags: For Students, For Counselors, sat, act, International Students, tips, sat prep

What to Do the Week of the SAT/ACT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Tue, May 09, 2017

What to Do the Week Leading Up to the SAT/ACT

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Your test date is soon approaching, and you’ve probably been working hard these past few months. The week of the test is an important one, as you want to make sure you’re on your A-game the morning of. Below are some suggestions for how to prepare in the final week leading up to the big day.

  1. Don’t Cram

Cramming won’t help you on the SAT and ACT. At this point, you know what you know. Instead of trying to learn new material from scratch, which won’t do you any good, set aside 30 minutes to an hour a day to do some practice questions and review your concepts. On Friday, don’t study test content. Take a look at these 20 SAT strategies. Covered in the 20 strategies are question structure tips, timing advice, calculator hints, and much more to help you improve your score instantly. No matter what you do, do not take a full length practice test on the Friday before the test! You will end up burning yourself out. 

  1. Stay Active & Have Fun!

It’s a good idea to exercise at least 30 minutes a day this week. You might be wondering how exercise will help you on a standardized test. As it turns out, getting enough exercise helps relieve stress, improves memory and concentration, and helps you sleep better. It also helps boost your immune system, so you can go into the test feeling your best. Additionally, remember to relax and have some fun. Constantly thinking about the test 24/7 is not going to help you stay calm or perform any better. So give your mind some time to switch off and think about something else, specially the day before the test!

  1. Eat Well During The Week

Make sure you get enough fruits and vegetables. Just like staying active, a healthy diet gives your immune system a boost and keeps you energetic and alert. Stay away from highly caffeinated/energy drinks - they might make you feel energized for a few hours but you will definitely crash shortly after.

  1. Get Enough Sleep

We know that sleep might be a foreign concept to many of you. But if you had to choose one week out of the year to pay attention to your sleep, this might be it. Try going to sleep an hour earlier than you normally would each day this week. Your body and your mind will thank you for it the morning of the test. 

  1. Get Organizated the Night Before

That’s right—you want to do this the day before the test. Not the morning of. The last thing you need the morning of the test is to scramble and panic, realizing that you don’t have something you need. On Friday, gather all of the following and keep them in one place: 

  • Your admission ticket
  • Your photo ID
  • 5 sharpened No. 2 pencils (non-mechanical)
  • A good eraser
  • An approved calculator (with backup batteries)
  • Snacks for the break
  • Water

 

 

Important! Learn more about what stuff you will need to bring, and what stuff you may want to bring, and what NOT to bring. 

Also make sure that you know exactly where your test center is and how you’re going to get there.

  1. Wake Up Early the Morning of

It’s recommended that you wake up early the morning of the test so that you’re not rushing and scrambling. Since you should be going to sleep earlier this shouldn’t be too hard for you. Get yourself together in the morning, and perhaps do some meditation or something relaxing to keep you calm and centered. If you're not a morning person, ask a parent or sibling to make sure you're awake so that you don't accidentally sleep through your alarm!

  1. Have a Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is important on test day, because you will be testing for over 3 hours with limited breaks. Eating before hand in the morning is the only time you’ll have to get in a full meal. This will keep your brain and your body going. Try going for a breakfast that’s rich in protein and fruits. Avoid foods with too much refined sugar, as this will lead to a crash in the middle of the test. Learn more about test day breakfast here. 

Don't do these 5 things while studying.  

See these 20 must know strategies to instantly increase your score!

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Tags: For Students, For Counselors, sat, act, International Students, tips, sat prep

What to Bring on SAT / ACT Test Day

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, May 05, 2017

Sign up for a Free Trial below to access some extra practice questions before test day!

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What to Bring (And Not To Bring) The Day of the SAT/ACT

Fewer things are worse than showing up at your test center and realizing that you don’t have everything you need. This checklist goes over everything that you’ll need to bring as well as things that are nice to have and things that you cannot bring.

What do I need to bring to the SAT or ACT?

Your Admission Ticket

When you register for the test online, you will receive an admission ticket in your email. This includes important information such as your name, test center, and test you’re taking. Print this out ahead of time and bring it with you to your test center. You will not be allowed in without it.

Acceptable Photo ID

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Acceptable photo ID will typically be government-issued and can include your passport, driver’s license, state ID, or school issued ID’s. The name on your admission ticket must match the name on your photo ID. Just like your admission ticket, you will not be allowed in without your photo ID. 

If you are taking the test outside the United States, check with your test center. Most likely, you will need to show your passport or a valid national ID card. 

5 No. 2 Pencils with Erasers

You will only be able to complete the test in No. 2 pencil, so don’t bother bringing pens or any other types of writing utensil. Make sure that your pencils are sharpened, and have good erasers just in case you make any mistakes. Any errors need to be completely erased—otherwise your score might be affected. Bring four or five pencils so you don't waste time sharpening or asking others for spare pencils during the test. 

An Approved Calculator

You will only be able to use your approved calculator for the math sections. Any scientific calculator and most graphing calculators are acceptable. Four function calculators are also acceptable but not recommended. Only battery-operated, handheld calculators can be used. No power cords are allowed.

Approved calculator brands include:

  • Casio
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Radio Shack
  • Sharp
  • Texas Instruments

Click here for a full list of SAT approved calculator models.

Click here for a full list of ACT approved calculator models.

The following types of calculators are NOT permitted:

  • Laptops, other computers, tablets, cellphones, smartphones, or iPads
  • Models that can access the Internet and/or have Bluetooth, wireless, audio/video recording or playing, camera, or any other smartphone-like feature
  • Models that have a typewriter-like keypad, pen input, or stylus
  • Approved calculators with additional hardware features
  • Models that use electrical outlets, make noise, or have a paper tape
  • Some models with touchscreen capability (e.g. Casio ClassPad)

The possession of any non-approved devices during the test will result in your being dismissed from the test and your scores automatically being cancelled. Find out more about calculators on test day.

Nice to Have (but not required)

Watch (without an audible alarm)

Having a watch can help you keep track of the time and therefore help you pace yourself. A watch with an audible alarm is not allowed and can result in your dismissal from the test.

Extra Batteries and Backup Equipment

These can be helpful just in case something happens to your calculator and you’re not left stranded without one. Note that you’ll need permission to access them. You won’t be able to keep them on your desk during the test.

A Bag/Backpack

Bringing a bag makes it possible for you to keep organized and have everything in one place. You can also pack your bag the night before the test so you don't forget anything you really need.

Snacks/Water

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There will be a couple of 5-minute breaks during the test during which you can have snacks. Snacks can be eaten outside the testing room. You will not be allowed to eat while you’re actually taking the test. The test is at least 3 hours long, so having some snacks can help sustain you. Getting enough water is also important for optimal memory, focus, and concentration.

What Not to Bring

Possession of any of the following items during the test can result in your being dismissed from the test and your scores automatically being canceled. Note that there are few exceptions in the case of test takers with disabilities, and any accommodations must be approved ahead of time by the College Board’s or ACT’s Services for Students with Disabilities.

ANY Electronic Devices

This includes cell phones, smart phones, iPods, iPads, tablets, laptops, other computers, cameras, devices that can transmit and receive audio, photo, or video, or any other texting or personal computing device. The only exception is a CD player if you’re taking an SAT Foreign Language Subject Test with Listening (only offered once a year).

Notebooks, Cheat Sheets, Scratch Paper, Books, or Pamphlets

Scratch paper and any other information you need to know will be provided to you in your test booklet. The SAT and ACT are not open-book or open-note tests. You have hopefully spent ample time preparing and have the tools you need to answer the questions.

Dictionaries

No exceptions, even if English is not your first language. If you don’t know the meaning of a word, you should be able to figure it out from context, just as you have hopefully spent the last few months practicing.

Protractors, Compasses, or Rulers

You will not need them and you may not use them anyway. Any measurement information will be provided to you in your test booklet.

Colored Pens, Highlighters, Colored Pencils

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Any writing or scratch notes you make during the test may only be done in your test booklet, and any markings in your test booklet must be done in pencil.

If you have any questions about what you can and cannot bring, please contact College Board or ACT ahead of time so that you are not taken off guard the morning of the test.

Find out what not to do the night before the night of the SAT by clicking here. 

To learn more about the ACT click here.

Find out what you should eat for breakfast the day of the test. 

 

Is your test coming up? Take a look at a few sample questions to prepare last minute using a TestRocker Free Trial. 

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Tags: For Students, For Counselors, sat, act, International Students, tips, sat prep

The New August SAT Test Date

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Thu, Apr 27, 2017

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*The new test date only applies to US based students. 

New SAT Date in August 2017

 Not sure you’re ready to take the SAT in June but don’t want to wait until the fall either? Well, there’s good news. There’s now going to be an SAT date in August. Here’s what we know so far.

 When is the first August SAT?

The August SAT will be administered for the first time on August 26, 2017. The following table shows the remaining SAT dates for 2017 with registration deadlines.

TABLE: Remaining SAT Dates and Registration Deadlines for 2017

SAT Date

Available In

Registration Deadline

August 26, 2017

US only

July 28, 2017

October 7, 2017

Worldwide

September 8, 2017

November 4, 2017

US only

October 5, 2017

December 2, 2017

Worldwide

November 2, 2017

Register for the SAT here, and then start a TestRocker Free Trial to start prepping here

Still need to study? 

Download this last minute August SAT calendar to get ready. 

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Where will the August 2017 SAT be available?

The August 2017 SAT will be available in the US only. International test centers will not be offering the August 2017 SAT.

Why should I consider taking the August SAT?

There are several reasons to consider taking the SAT in August. Some of these reasons are listed below.

1. You have the entire summer to prepare

During the summer, you’ll be able to study for the test without the additional pressure of classes and afterschool activities. Furthermore, getting the test out of the way before the start of the school year will give you more time in the fall to focus on other parts of your college application. If you need ideas for studying over the summer read this blog on How to Prepare For the SAT/ACT This Summer. 

2. Perfect if you’re applying early

If you’re planning on applying to any colleges early decision or early action, you’re probably looking at an application deadline of mid-October. If you take the SAT in August, you’ll have your scores in time for the October deadline. Learn about Early Decision and Early Action applications here. 

3. Free up your time in the Fall to focus on other things

Getting your SAT testing out of the way frees up additional time for you to spend on the rest of your college application in the fall. Still need to take a subject test or two before you submit your application? Now you can use the October test date to get those done! Remember, you can take up to 3 subject tests in one day, but you can't take the SAT and subject tests on the same day. 

August is perfect to start studying for the August SAT. Get started on your prep right now.

Improve Your Score

Tags: For Students, For Counselors, sat, act, International Students, tips, sat prep

5 Things NOT to Do When Studying For The SAT or ACT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Wed, Apr 26, 2017

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Studying for the SAT and ACT is tricky business, and quite often, students find themselves using ineffective study techniques. Below is a list of 5 things you shouldn't do as you prepare for the SAT/ACT.

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  1. Waiting Until the Last Minute

Getting comfortable with the ACT and SAT takes time, and waiting until the last minute just adds more anxiety to an already stressful situation. Give yourself a few months’ time to prepare. If the test date is approaching and you only have a few weeks left, then click here to download a free last minute SAT prep calendar. As a next step, make sure you register for the next available test date far in advance so you can prepare over a longer period of time. 

  1. Skipping Particular Sections You’re Strong In

You might think that if you’re strong in one subject/topic, you are better off skipping that section during your test prep to save time. However, in addition to understanding the content, the ACT and SAT are also about how to be a good test taker. You might know how to answer a question correctly, but do you know how to answer it correctly in under 1 minute? So yes, if you know a topic well, you should spend less time on it - however ignoring it completely isn't a good idea either! Not sure which topics you're strong vs. weak in? Click here to take a free diagnostic test and instantly view your customized study plan.

  1. Relying on Memory Tricks 

Memory tricks are all about memorizing associations and are often used as shortcuts to pass a test. These memory tricks can work in the short term, but they don’t actually help you to learn the material, and they are certainly not effective for the SAT and ACT. However, there are highly effective strategies that can be applied for these tests. Get 20 free SAT strategies that will improve your score here. 

  1. Making Flashcards

Flashcards may be effective in helping you memorize definitions of words. Many students feel that spending time making flashcards is an effective way to study for SAT vocabulary because the action of writing down  a word and definition can help in retention of the word itself. Truth? This is one of the biggest time wasters! The SAT doesn’t test your ability to regurgitate definitions. Instead, they test your ability to understand vocabulary in context (i.e. knowing how to use it in a sentence). Instead of wasting time making flashcards, spend time learning how to apply words in sentences. Watch this quick video to see how TestRocker’s vocabulary game helps you strengthen your vocab without being a complete bore!

 

  1. Taking Too Many Full-Length Tests

A full-length SAT or ACT will take you over 3 hours, plus grading and figuring out what you got wrong. Multiply that by however many practice tests you plan on taking, and that’s a whole lot of hours that could be better spent elsewhere. Significant score improvements come from learning the concepts being tested, not just from doing the same things over and over. Only once you have a solid understanding of the concepts should you start taking full-length practice tests so that you get used to the test format. 

Tags: For Students, For Counselors, sat, act, International Students, tips, sat prep

About Suniti

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Suniti is the creator of TestRocker, an online learning platform that helps you unlock your dream PSAT, SAT and ACT scores. TestRocker is based on Suniti’s highly successful and proven method of teaching thousands of students how to maximize their PSAT, SAT and ACT scores for over a decade.

TestRocker is an award-winning PSAT/SAT/ACT program that empowers students to take control of their test preparation. After taking a diagnostic test, students receive a customized study plan, individualized to their strengths/weaknesses. Students practice and learn concepts through videos. Each of the 2000+ questions on TestRocker is accompanied by a video explanation from Suniti. TestRocker has the largest video library in the world for PSAT/SAT/ACT preparation. 

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