Grand Ol Opry“This goes to eleven” – Nigel Tufnel

It has been 11 years since the CollegeBoard last redesigned the SAT.

Our own Patricia von Trapp attended a local College Board Counselor Workshop on Wednesday October 1, in the hopes of learning about the new SAT.  True to form, there will be another workshop in December or January to reveal the new secrets of the revised SAT.

In addition to offering the SAT, AP exams, and other college planning advice, the College Board hosts counselor workshops throughout the year.

The presenter provided highlights of the new SAT; is the source for information about the new format.

  • Scoring returns to the 1600 format (Critical Reading and Math)
  • There will be an optional essay
  • There will be no penalty for incorrect answers
  • The writing prompt will always be the same but there will be different text to analyze
  • If a student opts to take the writing portion, the length of the test will be the same as current tests

College Board will be working with Kahn Academy to provide SAT prep free of charge. They did not elaborate on the depth of the assistance Khan Academy will offer.

The current 10th grade class will be the first exposed to the new format next October for the PSAT.

Information regarding the redesigned PSAT is available at the CollegeBoard web site, RedesignedPSAT tab.

Interesting tidbit

Less than 50% of the students who take the SAT are considered to be college ready, only 43% meet what is considered a “passing” bench mark.


SAT fee waivers are now sent to the student and a few to the high schools. They are also automatically available to the student for application fee waivers and CSS Profile, up to four but the rules are less rigid than before as to the number of waivers available. One new College Board mantra is “apply to four or more” in order to provide more opportunity for students.

AP Testing

There are some changes in AP: For the current academic year 2014-2015, there will be Physics 1 and Physics 2; both algebra based courses will replace Physics B. The US History curriculum will be different to allow more freedom to explore areas in depth.

For the next academic year: 2015-2016

Art History will limit the required works of art to study to 250.

European History, same as US History, allows more freedom to explore concepts in greater depth.

AP Capstone

A relatively new program popping up at a few high schools in each state.

AP Capstone will offer two routes to recognition. One will have an emphasis on critical skills and the other more in depth study of the subject matter.

One is called AP Research, the other AP Seminar.

As Paul Harvey used to say, this is from the “For What it’s Worth” department!



Graduating High SchoolEach year we are asked about the importance of visiting prospective colleges specifically with regards to the impact a campus visit might have on the admissions process.

While the real value of a campus visit lies in the ability of the prospective applicant and his/her parents to actually be present on campus and feel the “beat” of the campus, that visit at many colleges is a “tip factor” in the admissions process. In other words, the campus visit is a quantifiable measure of a student’s interest in that college. Like it or not, at many colleges, the visit could be the factor that tips the scales one way or the other. However, it’s not always possible or affordable to visit every college on the list.

What then?

The next best opportunity to interact with college admissions officials this Fall is to make good use of their visits to you.

In otherwords, this is “travel season” for the college admissions representatives. They are visiting high schools, libraries, students at coffee shops, etc. As a high school Sophomore, Junior, or Senior looking at a particular college, it would be a wise move to seek out some time with the respective admissions official. It’s “OK” for the younger high school students to use these opportunities to see what college is all about.

Check your high schools guidance calendar for the schools that will be visiting your high school. If you don’t see one you’re looking for, see if a neighboring town has a college fair you can attend (for example, Waltham High School and Westwood High School in Massachuetts have an open fair in the Fall and Spring, respectively.

A college fair is an opportunity for you to meet with the regional admissions officers at colleges in which you are interested, get additional information about the colleges and let your colleges know you are interested in them.

Here’s a time-saving hint: It is smart to take mailing labels with the student name,snail mail, email and cell contact information with you. That way, you can just put that on the individual college contact form. That saves time so that you can actually speak to the college rep.

Don’t forget to think a little bit outside the box. Yes, there are college fairs in Boston, Providence and in most major cities in the country. But what if you are interested in colleges in the Washington, DC area? It might make sense to fly to Baltimore. Rent a car. Visit the colleges you can, and see the others at the college fair.

Kill two birds with one stone!

Seniors – good luck continuing to refine your college lists and come to the final set to apply to.

Juniors – this is a taste of what is to come in the next several months.



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College Essay Writing Workshop – How To Shine!

September 8, 2014

Tweet Tweet Ah, the College Essay. Some high school Seniors are angst-ridden by the freightening prospect of having to tell a college admissions officer about themselves. Other Seniors might be basking in the glory of already being done with their narrative about themselves. For the latter, great job! For the former, here’s an upcoming workshop we […]

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