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The latest news on SAT Exam from Business Insider

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    FEBRUARY 05: Pupils at Williamwood High School sit prelim exams on February 5, 2010 in Glasgow, Scotland As the UK gears up for one of the most hotly contested general elections in recent history it is expected that that the economy, immigration, the NHS and education are likely to form the basis of many of the debates. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

    Conversations about SAT and ACT scores are ubiquitous among high school students applying to colleges.

    Increasingly, however, many colleges and universities have begun to eschew mandatory standardized test scores as requirements for their application processes.

    Amherst College, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Vassar College, and Williams College have all dropped requirements that students take SAT subject-matter tests, also referred to as the SAT II, for admission, The Boston Globe reports.

    The elite schools' reasoning: The exams are not reliable indicators of students' performance in college and may harm low-income students.

    "We want to make the application process as fair to all students as possible," Mary Dettloff, a spokeswoman for Williams College, told The Globe. "We felt like we weren't getting any valuable data from the SAT II scores to help us."

    The news comes on the heels of similar pushes to drop the regular SAT and ACT exams from college admissions.

    Last year, George Washington University — with 11,000 undergraduates and 25,500 total students — became the largest private university in the US News and World Report's list of best colleges to forgo rigid testing requirements in favor of a more holistic application review process.

    And more than 800 other schools do not use SAT or ACT scores for admitting substantial numbers of students into bachelor's degree programs, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which tracks the schools with open testing policies.

    Many of the schools on that list, however, are less selective private schools. The move to drop SAT II exams from admissions requirements signals that more elite schools are starting to rethink the merits of standardized testing.

    SEE ALSO: 6 refugees are suing their US school district for allegedly forcing them to attend an 'underachieving' high school where students aren't allowed to bring feminine products

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why law school is a waste of money unless you get into a top school


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    Rebecca Kantar Imbellus

    Rebecca Kantar was two years into Harvard when she dropped out.

    "I just felt like a lot of the same brain development was happening to me throughout my classes," Kantar recalled to Business Insider.

    As with most students, Kantar had spent most of her academic life learning information and then being quizzed on it through multiple-choice tests or essays. Even when she went to Harvard, she said, she felt stuck cramming knowledge and then bubbling in letters on a sheet for a score.

    "I think across the education system right now, we still have a focus on content-based learning. Can you learn more stuff about whatever domain?" Kantar told Business Insider.

    "What I was more interested in was could I apply concepts that stem from understanding a domain to real-world situations? And what I found during my time at school was that there were fewer environments to bring something to life in a project-based way."

    With the SAT celebrating its 90th birthday this year, Kantar believes it's time for a radical update of standardized testing — one that doesn't just reward rote memorization but one that can assess how your brain works and how you put that knowledge to use.

    To do so, she started Imbellus in 2015. Today, she's announcing that the company has now raised $4 million from investors including Upfront Ventures and Thrive Capital to try to upend one of the foundations of the education system.

    "Our hope is to measure how people think instead of what people know," Kantar said. "There's a better way instead of using multiple choice, and that's to take advantage of technology."

    What a new SAT could be

    Right now, much of what Imbellus is building is under wraps. Kantar started the company last year and is realistic about how long it will take to change a national education standard.

    Imbellus' approach will be closer to showing your work on a math test than to just writing down the solution. She said the company's process would track how you solve a problem — not just whether you get the answer right.

    "We've been using content as a proxy for a lot of skills that we need this century, like analytical thinking, like problem solving, and we've been doing that because our assessments haven't known how to measure anything outside of multiple choice or essays," she said.

    Imbellus team

    And she's not doing it alone, as Imbellus is partnering with CRESST, the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. The education innovation arm is helping Imbellus craft some of its psychometric testing frameworks and is also analyzing the data.

    "We hope that in the next two years we can show the world that measuring someone's process is possible and you can understand how people think," Kantar said. "It'll give us much better insights on how to place people in the right career and the right school over time."

    Jobs first, SAT second

    To start, Imbellus plans to tackle the entry-level job market rather than go straight to the SAT.

    Instead of career aptitude or placement tests, Kantar envisions people taking Imbellus tests to guide their job search, so they'll know whether their skills are the right match for a particular employer.

    It's a hard challenge: For starters, Imbellus has to build profiles for different companies, down to different roles. Certain companies will attract different skills like imagination and creativity versus analytical thinking, or they'll want a mix. It will also need to take into account that companies want a mix of employees who think in different ways.

    "We're not trying to say, 'Here hire the same type A person over and over and over again,'" Kantar said.

    Rather, it plans to start small to replace certain content-based tests for entry-level jobs, helping to show recruiters which skills and cognitive abilities the person has rather than how much they've memorized information about the job. The goal is to help employers to find the right fit for the right role.

    If that proves successful, Kantar hopes it will trickle down to becoming the standard for fitting students to schools, too.

    "The SAT and most other assessments have made the mistake of comparing everyone to an average that is no one," Kantar said. "The problem is that grading model doesn't take context into account. You don't necessarily need the same set of skills to apply for a job at Goldman Sachs as you need to be successful at the Rhode Island School of Design."

    SEE ALSO: The 17 best colleges for startup founders

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: These animations will help you understand the math concepts you never got in high school


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    Shaan Patel

    Shaan Patel, a 27-year-old entrepreneur from Las Vegas, had an envy-inducing high school résumé.

    He was the valedictorian of his class, was crowned homecoming king, and even shook President George W. Bush's hand in 2007 as a White House Presidential Scholar, a program that recognizes two academically gifted students from each state.

    He also scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT.

    And yet, every Ivy League school that he applied to rejected him: Harvard, Princeton, and a special medical program at Brown. Patel also received a rejection from Stanford.

    Rather than allowing these rejections to discourage him, Patel used them as motivation and parlayed his perfect SAT score into a thriving SAT test-prep company, Prep Expert, elevated in large part because of his appearance on "Shark Tank" in January 2016.

    "'Shark Tank' was definitely the catalyst behind a lot of our growth at Prep Expert," Patel told Business Insider in October. "To have the exposure to 10 million people in a weekend really made a difference in our company."

    While Patel founded the company in 2011, he won the backing of billionaire investor Mark Cuban on the show. The two have now partnered to bring SAT and ACT prep course to classrooms and online. Patel received $250,000 from Cuban for a 20% stake in his company.

    Before Patel went on the show, the company achieved some moderate success, doing about $1 million in sales a year. When Patel went on "Shark Tank," however, sales exploded. Since his episode aired about 10 months ago, the company has achieved $6 million in sales.

    "We're doing almost 10 times the sales we used to do," Patel said. "I really believe 'Shark Tank' is the most powerful marketing engine in the world."

    Now Prep Expert offers classroom instruction in 20 states across the US and online programming.

    Patel's success in business wasn't always guaranteed, though. He spent his formative years in the Sky Ranch Motel, a self-proclaimed budget motel in Las Vegas that his family owned and operated as well as called their home.

    "At a young age I saw, like, drug deals and prostitutes," Patel told Business Insider last year.

    The motel is a source of embarrassment for his mother, he said, but Patel embraces it and doesn't try to downplay its existence in his life.

    Ivy League rejections

    Sky Ranch Motel

    When Patel applied to colleges, he had high hopes for acceptance into the Ivy League. But soon the rejections started to pile up.

    "I do think that Asian-Americans have a disadvantage applying to college," Patel said.

    Patel, who is Indian-American, was referring to both his own rejections as well as recent news stories about Asian-Americans who say they face discrimination in college applications. In fact, some admissions officers acknowledge that Asian-American applicants may have a harder time getting into top schools, as they may fall into a group of peers with relatively high test scores.

    Not one to dwell on disappointments, Patel took a spot at the University of Southern California on a full scholarship.

    At USC, he pursued a joint bachelor of arts/doctor of medicine program that had always piqued his interest. In high school, Patel's volunteering in the emergency department of a hospital developed into a passion for medicine and the desire to become a doctor.

    The joint-degree program at USC offered a way into medical school and ensured he'd be able to realize his dream of becoming a practicing physician.

    More disappointment before finding success

    Shaan Patel

    Patel has always been the type of person who embraces having a full plate.

    "I like being busy," he said.

    But "busy" seems to be a bit of an understatement.

    After finishing his undergraduate studies and nearing the start of his first year in medical school, Patel wrote an SAT prep book to help students prepare for the exam using the same methods he did. But his attempts to find a publisher were unsuccessful.

    One editor even went as far as to give him the brutal feedback that he didn't have an engaging personality and wasn't a great writer no matter how well he scored on the SAT.

    Undaunted, Patel used the last of his scholarship money — $900 — to launch his SAT prep website, then called 2400 Expert. He advertised the SAT prep course as the only one taught by a student who earned a perfect score in high school.

    The initial course ran during the summer before Patel started medical school and grew exponentially from there. He had only a handful of instructors at the time, but word caught on after his pilot course showed an average improvement per student of 376 points.

    Now that the test is scored on a 1600-point scale, the average improvement for students after taking Patel's course is 210 points. That kind of improvement is unheard of in the test-prep industry, according to Patel.

    After that first summer, Patel trained qualified instructors and managed the company remotely from California. And more satisfying, McGraw-Hill, one of the education publishing giants, saw the momentum 2400 Expert was gaining and offered Patel a book deal.

    Patel's book "SAT 2400 in Just 7 Steps" was published in July 2012.

    More college aspirations

    While juggling a growing SAT prep business, Patel was also studying for medical licensing board exams and taking on 36-hour surgical rotation shifts at the hospital. He still loved the medical profession, but was also highly interested in learning how to scale and grow his business.

    Shaan Patel

    In 2014, he decided to take a two-year leave of absence from USC to pursue business school at Yale's School of Management. He credits business school as a major reason for his current success.

    "It was the best thing that ever happened to me," Patel said. "If I wasn't in business school, I wouldn't have made that hour-and-a-half trip from Yale to New York to go to that 'Shark Tank' audition."

    Patel earned his MBA from Yale in May and has reenrolled in the fourth year of his medical program at USC. Still, his sights are set on continuing to grow Prep Expert, the name his company took on in 2016. He aims to make Prep Expert one of the largest test prep providers in the country.

    Those are lofty goals for someone currently applying for a residency programs — in his case, a dermatology residency. Patel, however, has no plans of slowing down, and is currently writing a book with Cuban that teaches kids how to start their own business.

    "We want to foster entrepreneurship in kids," Patel said.

    SEE ALSO: How to answer the only essay question on the Harvard Business School application

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Wheaton College

    High-school students all over the country are putting the finishing touches on their college applications.

    Chances are, they all want to know the secret to increasing their chances of gaining acceptance into college. The answer is actually quite simple: go to the same school as one of your parents.

    While legacy status — the term used to indicate a family member attended the same school — has been recognized anecdotally as providing a benefit to college applicants, education startup AdmitSee has used data it collects to definitively prove this correlation.

    Admitsee is a platform that has 60,000 profiles of students who have been accepted into college. In addition to admissions essays, and test scores, the students list other data points for prospective students to browse.

    The company analyzed the profiles of students who indicated their legacy status, and found that legacy students scored lower on the SAT than nonlegacy students.

    Of the 3,478 profiles which responded to the legacy question, legacy profiles scored 1870 on the SAT versus 1943 for nonlegacy students.

    The trend remained for students who were accepted into top 25 schools (as ranked by the US News & World Report), where legacy students scored 2133 versus 2156 for nonlegacy students. 

    Preferential treatment for legacy students has been studied before. Michael Hurwitz, a Harvard doctoral student, conducted a study at 30 highly selective colleges and found that legacy students had seven times the odds of admissions as nonlegacy students.

    But the issue of awarding an advantage to legacy students remains a contentious issue, especially in the face of push back over affirmative action policies in college admissions.

    "It's fundamentally unfair because it's a preference that advantages the already advantaged," Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, told The New York Times in 2011. "It has nothing to do with the individual merit of the applicant."

    SEE ALSO: A former Ivy League admissions interviewer says getting rejected from college should feel like being turned down on a dating app

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: TONY ROBBINS: What you need to do in your 20s to be more successful in your 30s


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    Shaan Patel

    Shaan Patel, a 27-year-old entrepreneur from Las Vegas, had an envy-inducing high school résumé.

    He was the valedictorian of his class, was crowned homecoming king, and even shook President George W. Bush's hand in 2007 as a White House Presidential Scholar, a program that recognizes two academically gifted students from each state.

    He also scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT.

    And yet, every Ivy League school that he applied to rejected him: Harvard, Princeton, and a special medical program at Brown. Patel also received a rejection from Stanford.

    Rather than allowing these rejections to discourage him, Patel used them as motivation and parlayed his perfect SAT score into a thriving SAT test-prep company, Prep Expert, elevated in large part because of his appearance on "Shark Tank" in January 2016.

    "'Shark Tank' was definitely the catalyst behind a lot of our growth at Prep Expert," Patel told Business Insider in October. "To have the exposure to 10 million people in a weekend really made a difference in our company."

    While Patel founded the company in 2011, he won the backing of billionaire investor Mark Cuban on the show. The two have now partnered to bring the SAT and ACT prep course to classrooms and online. Patel received $250,000 from Cuban for a 20% stake in his company.

    Before Patel went on the show, the company achieved some moderate success, doing about $1 million in sales a year. When Patel went on "Shark Tank," however, sales exploded. Since his episode aired about 10 months ago, the company has achieved $6 million in sales.

    "We're doing almost 10 times the sales we used to do," Patel said. "I really believe 'Shark Tank' is the most powerful marketing engine in the world."

    Now Prep Expert offers classroom instruction in 20 states across the US and online programming.

    Patel's success in business wasn't always guaranteed, though. He spent his formative years in the Sky Ranch Motel, a self-proclaimed budget motel in Las Vegas that his family owned and operated as well as called their home.

    "At a young age I saw, like, drug deals and prostitutes," Patel told Business Insider last year.

    The motel is a source of embarrassment for his mother, he said, but Patel embraces it and doesn't try to downplay its existence in his life.

    Sky Ranch Motel

    Ivy League rejections

    When Patel applied to colleges, he had high hopes for acceptance into the Ivy League. But soon the rejections started to pile up.

    "I do think that Asian-Americans have a disadvantage applying to college," Patel said.

    Patel, who is Indian-American, was referring to both his own rejections as well as recent news stories about Asian-Americans who say they face discrimination in college applications. In fact, some admissions officers acknowledge that Asian-American applicants may have a harder time getting into top schools, as they may fall into a group of peers with relatively high test scores.

    Not one to dwell on disappointments, Patel took a spot at the University of Southern California on a full scholarship.

    At USC, he pursued a joint bachelor of arts/doctor of medicine program that had always piqued his interest. In high school, Patel's volunteering in the emergency department of a hospital developed into a passion for medicine and the desire to become a doctor.

    The joint-degree program at USC offered a way into medical school and ensured he'd be able to realize his dream of becoming a practicing physician.

    Shaan Patel

    More disappointment before finding success

    Patel has always been the type of person who embraces having a full plate.

    "I like being busy," he said.

    But "busy" seems to be a bit of an understatement.

    After finishing his undergraduate studies and nearing the start of his first year in medical school, Patel wrote an SAT prep book to help students prepare for the exam using the same methods he did. But his attempts to find a publisher were unsuccessful.

    One editor even went as far as to give him the brutal feedback that he didn't have an engaging personality and wasn't a great writer no matter how well he scored on the SAT.

    Undaunted, Patel used the last of his scholarship money — $900 — to launch his SAT prep website, then called 2400 Expert. He advertised the SAT prep course as the only one taught by a student who earned a perfect score in high school.

    The initial course ran during the summer before Patel started medical school and grew exponentially from there. He had only a handful of instructors at the time, but word caught on after his pilot course showed an average improvement per student of 376 points.

    Now that the test is scored on a 1600-point scale, the average improvement for students after taking Patel's course is 210 points. That kind of improvement is unheard of in the test-prep industry, according to Patel.

    After that first summer, Patel trained qualified instructors and managed the company remotely from California. And more satisfying, McGraw-Hill, one of the education publishing giants, saw the momentum 2400 Expert was gaining and offered Patel a book deal.

    Patel's book "SAT 2400 in Just 7 Steps" was published in July 2012.

    More college aspirations

    While juggling a growing SAT prep business, Patel was also studying for medical licensing board exams and taking on 36-hour surgical rotation shifts at the hospital. He still loved the medical profession, but was also highly interested in learning how to scale and grow his business.

    Shaan Patel

    In 2014, he decided to take a two-year leave of absence from USC to pursue business school at Yale's School of Management. He credits business school as a major reason for his current success.

    "It was the best thing that ever happened to me," Patel said. "If I wasn't in business school, I wouldn't have made that hour-and-a-half trip from Yale to New York to go to that 'Shark Tank' audition."

    Patel earned his MBA from Yale in May and has reenrolled in the fourth year of his medical program at USC. Still, his sights are set on continuing to grow Prep Expert, the name his company took on in 2016. He aims to make Prep Expert one of the largest test prep providers in the country.

    Those are lofty goals for someone currently applying for a residency programs — in his case, a dermatology residency. Patel, however, has no plans of slowing down, and is currently writing a book with Cuban that teaches kids how to start their own business.

    "We want to foster entrepreneurship in kids," Patel said.

    SEE ALSO: How to answer the only essay question on the Harvard Business School application

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Forget the Apple Watch — here's the new watch everyone on Wall Street wants


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    Anthony-James Green

    Conversations about SAT and ACT scores are ubiquitous for high school students applying to college.

    Still, although most student understand the high-stakes nature of the exams, many are still unsure what their study schedule should look like to ensure top results.

    Anthony-James Green, a $1,500-an-hour SAT and ACT tutor, says he knows the key to a successful standardized test schedule: beginning much earlier than most people realize.

    "The trick is beginning really early, and I recommend freshman year," Green told Business Insider. "But then keep it to 20 minutes a day — that's really all it takes," he said. "You can even split it up: 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon."

    The idea, he said, is to make the exam a "non-event" rather that worrying about this huge exam at the end of high school. And starting years in advance means you will see every imaginable math, grammar, or reading problem that you'll encounter on the real exam.

    As for what concepts to focus on, Green, who says his students improve 310 to 320 points on average on the new SAT, explained that you should actually spend very little time on the concepts you already understand.

    "On these tests if you're pretty comfortable with reading and grammar and you hate math, then you should be spending 95% of your time on math," he said. "Obsessing over your weakest points is way more important than looking at what you're good at."

    SEE ALSO: An SAT tutor who charges $1,500 an hour explains what everyone does wrong preparing for the test

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Anthony James Green PhotoGaining acceptance into selective colleges seems harder today than ever before, leading an increasing number of students to turn to test prep for high-stakes standardized tests.

    Anthony-James Green, a New York City-based SAT and ACT tutor, experiences firsthand the lengths to which families will go to improve their students' scores. His $1,500-an-hour price tag may seem hefty, but to the families who want to see significant improvement in test scores, it's worth the cost.

    "My average ACT students usually goes up by around seven points, and on the old SAT they were going up around 420, 430 points," Green told Business Insider. On the new SAT, Green said, his students average 310- to 320-point increases.

    But for families who cannot afford such test prep costs — and he says he will work only with families for whom his rate doesn't cause a financial burden — Green offers his advice on how to prepare to succeed on the exam.

    1. Start early 

    The SAT is getting an overhaulStarting early, taking it slow and steady, and focusing on weaknesses are the cornerstones of Green's philosophy.

    "The trick is beginning really early, and I recommend freshman year," Green told Business Insider. "But then keep it to 20 minutes a day — that's really all it takes," he said. "You can even split it up: 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon."

    2. Focus on weaknesses

    The content areas students focus on is also highly important, according to Green.

    He suggests students obsess over their weak points, rather than spending time on problems they feel comfortable answering. "There's a tendency among everyone to continue [studying] what you enjoy and what you like," he said. 

    3. Take practice tests

    Most people probably know that studying old SAT questions is an essential part of studying for the exam. But Green says you must go a step further and take realistic practice tests to really ensure you will perform well on the real day of the exam. "The more realistic practice tests you take, the better," he said.

    That doesn't mean that you must go to a testing center and take the exam multiple times. Instead, wake up early after a full night's sleep and take the exam exactly as you will have to on the day of the real test. "Taking plenty of practice tests improves your familiarity with the exam, enhances your confidence, allows you to calibrate your prep activities, and tells you exactly when you should take the real thing," he said.

    4. Take it one concept at a time

    Harvard University Widener LibraryWhen students come to a test question they don't know how, they must drill on this area until they master it. 

    "If you get something wrong, whether it be a reading comprehension trick, a math problem, or a grammar issue, make a flashcard out of it, study your errors, and review it until it's second nature," Green said. 

    That even means that they shouldn't continue on to attempting to learn other new concepts until they have the old concept down first. "I'd much rather have a student review and master a single ACT than take ten ACT practice tests without reviewing them," he said.

    5. Get some sleep

    The last tip may sound obvious, but that doesn't mean it's not extremely important. "Most high-school students are ludicrously sleep deprived," Green said. And while that may not seem like cause for concern, Green said sleep deprivation has a dramatic impact on standardized test scores.

    "If most students just added one hour to their sleep schedule each night, they'd see their scores rise ~5-10% almost automatically, even without studying," he explained.

    SEE ALSO: A New York SAT tutor who charges $1,500 an hour says college admissions have become an 'arms race'

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Stressed Law Students

    The SAT and ACT are some of the most high-stakes tests a high-school student can take. So it's understandable why many students experience anxiety surrounding the exams.

    Still, freaking out while taking a test isn't ideal, since it normally means you lose some focus and risk hurting your score.

    New York City test-prep expert Anthony-James Green has a strategy to battle stress during an exam: Make it boring.

    "You cannot be freaked out by something that bores you," Green told Business Insider."In other words, if you're scared of these tests, spend so much time with them that they become boring and anxiety will become impossible," he continued.

    Green used the analogy of riding a roller coaster at at theme park to clarify his point. "It's like riding a roller coaster; the first time, it's horrifying," he said. "The second time, it's so-so. By the fifth time, you're wondering if you're allowed to play Angry Birds to pass the time during the ride."

    To make the exam boring, he advises students to start studying as soon as possible — ideally their freshman year in high school, but keep it to 10 minutes a day. By they time they are ready to take the test, they'll have " seen every type of problem 500 times," he said.

    That, combined with taking plenty of practice tests and getting the right amount of sleep the week before, will ensure you are in the best position possible come test day.

    SEE ALSO: A New York SAT tutor who charges $1,500 an hour shares his top pieces of advice for nailing the exam

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's how much you could save under Trump's proposed tax overhaul


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    ucla college students campus

    Most parents know to have any chance at acceptance to elite schools like Harvard and MIT, students need to get high scores on the ACT or SAT.

    But there are so many questions about how to study for these tests, how to motivate your student, and how to get through this process without yelling or tears.

    You want to know how to help your kid get their best possible score without all the screaming and fighting to get them to study.

    I got a 35 on the ACT in one shot and a 1530 on the SAT with two. I want to share with you the tips I used and I’ve helped my students use to increase their test scores and leverage them into acceptances and scholarships.

    1. Great scores = lots of scholarship money

    It can be really hard to motivate a junior or senior to study for and take these tests. Yet another thing for their ever expanding to-do list. This is especially hard when there is so little intrinsic value in learning to take these tests.

    One great motivator can be the lure of substantial scholarship money that can make their dream college actually attainable from a financial perspective. If they want to go to that really pricey liberal arts school, make it clear that they need to get a lot of merit aid from them. The absolute best way to do that is with outstanding, near-perfect scores or becoming a National Merit Semi-Finalist or Finalist. A $250,000+ carrot is nothing to sneeze at.

    2. School does not prepare students for these tests

    As much as the test-takers want to tell you the tests are meant to measure what your kids are learning in school, they simply don’t. There’s no credit for showing your work. When was the last multiple choice math test your student took in class? Grade school? Schools simply do not test your child this way, so, if they are not studying HOW to take these tests, they will be at a severe disadvantage even if they know all the content.

    Be sure your student practices with official exams in real test-taking environments. Shaan Patel of Prep Expert shared with me on the Dream College Summit that his students take at least six official exams under real conditions to prepare for the test. Shaan got a perfect score on the SAT, so he’s someone I definitely listen to when it comes to SAT prep.

    3. The math is less advanced than you think

    With sophomores frequently taking calculus in school, as a parent you might think the SAT and ACT test on advanced math. They don’t. There’s zero calculus and very little trig.

    This can be a double-edged sword. Especially for students who are very advanced at math. These students will need to review their algebra and geometry. They’ll need to review basic probability and statistics. Don’t think just because your student is a math whiz that they can skip their math review. They may not have studied some of these topics for years.

    4. It’s important to learn all the ‘tricks’

    These tests do not test your student’s aptitude, college readiness, or “smarts.” They simply test how well they can take the particular test. It’s important to understand that for two reasons:

    1. Doing poorly on these tests is not at all a reflection on how smart a student is. It just means they need to study how to take these tests better.

    2. It means you need to help your student learn as many tips and tricks for solving these problems as fast and accurately as possible.

    Some of my favorite tricks apply to the math section and include plugging in the answers and substituting numbers for variables. This aspect of the test is why it is so important to study specifically for these tests. These tricks can be gleaned from tutors, test prep books, or online or in-person classes. The important thing is that your students learn them, practice them, and are super comfortable using them come test day.

    5. Help comes in many forms — and everyone needs some

    As I hope I’ve hammered home by now, these tests require very specific studying. Personally, I did all my studying on my own with test prep books. If you’re student has the discipline to set their own study schedule (and actually follow through), this is a great option. Just be sure to get them only practice exams from the official makers of the tests.

    If your student needs more help than self study, take a look at the offerings online and around you that get the best results, work for you and your student’s schedule, and fit your child’s personality. It’s important to look for programs, classes, or tutors that have track records of significant score improvements. That means a few hundred points on the ACT or three or more points on the ACT, depending on your student’s starting point. It’s easy to promise “an increase.” It’s much harder to guarantee a 400-point increase.

    6. Youd be smart to focus on one test

    I took both the ACT and SAT. I got a 35 on the ACT with one shot and minimal studying. The ACT was obviously my better test, but at the time the schools I was applying to didn’t all accept it. This is no longer the case, so, if the ACT is better for your student, focus on that one, unless they qualify for National Merit.

    If your student is in contention for being a National Merit finalist, they’ll need to focus on the SAT. It can also be complementary to studying for the PSAT, the National Merit qualifying exam, since the PSAT and SAT are so similar now. If they end up qualifying for one of the national scholarships or a school scholarship, this work will more than pay for itself.

    If you want even more test prep tips to help your student get into and pay for their dream colleges, get your FREE ticket to the online Dream College Summit, running August 28-31, 2017, and learn from 26 top experts in college admissions, test prep, and financial aid. As a thank you, you’ll receive my newly updated Ultimate Guide to the Common App with your ticket.

    Jessica is a graduate of Harvard and MIT with over ten years of tutoring experience. As a senior in high school, she gained acceptance to Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, and Columbia. She is the founder of Impress the Ivies and host of the Dream College Summit. Her students have gotten into elite schools, like Harvard and Carnegie Mellon, and received over $180,000 in scholarships. 

    SEE ALSO: I graduated from Harvard and MIT — here's the smartest thing I did on my applications

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    college exam

    (Reuters) - ACT Inc, the maker of the United States' most popular college entrance exam, said on Thursday it has canceled the ACT exam scheduled for Saturday at some of its international test centers due to a breach of the test materials.

    ACT, which has been the target of widespread cheating at overseas centers, has notified affected students, who will receive instructions on how to reschedule their test, a spokesman said.

    ACT said it could not give specifics as to how the test materials were leaked because the incident was still under investigation.

    The breach and cancellations were confined to specific international test centers, company spokesman Ed Colby added in an email.

    Separately, ACT said it was busy working to reschedule some tests scheduled for Saturday in U.S. states such as Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, that are affected by hurricanes Harvey and now Irma.

    "This has been a huge effort, and our goal has been to make sure that every single student in those impacted areas can cross the ACT test off their list of worries, as so many of them have much bigger issues to deal with now," Colby said.

    Would-be test-takers from countries including China, Thailand and Australia expressed outrage on social media over the international cancellations because the test, the first of the new school year, was to be used by high school seniors applying to colleges this fall.

    The ACT and its rival, the SAT, are used by thousands of U.S. colleges to help choose among millions of student applicants. Both have been swamped by cheating abroad.

    ACT, an Iowa City, Iowa-based nonprofit, has suffered major security setbacks in the past year. After the October sitting of the exam, ACT canceled scores for an unspecified number of students in Asia and Oceania on the writing section of the test because of a leak. Last June, the exam was canceled for all test takers in South Korea and Hong Kong due to another breach. 

    (Reporting by John McCrank in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

    SEE ALSO: There's a surprising correlation between students' SAT scores and the amount of loans they take on

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    Student SAT Test Studying

    The SAT doesn't just test how good you are at math, reading, and writing — it tests how good you are at taking the SAT.

    Preparing for the math section of the test requires lots of practice and memorization of some formulas, but it's also important to know how to recognize trick questions, sift through unnecessary details, and remember simple tricks like reading the entire question through before starting to work on it.

    Here are eight math problems from the SAT that people usually get wrong — with step-by-step explanations for how to solve them.

    SEE ALSO: 18 high-paying jobs for people who hate math

    Many people misread this question about the original price of a laptop.

    When people read this question in a rush, they assume that it's asking about the cost of the laptop with the discount plus tax and pick "C," says SAT blog Love The SAT. But look carefully, — it's asking for the original price of the computer.

    Alma is paying 8% sales tax, which can also be expressed as 108% of the price. There's also a 20% discount, meaning she's paying 80% of the price, or 0.8.

    So if p is the total amount Alma paid to the cashier and x is the original price of the laptop, the equation reads as follows:

    p = (1.08)(0.8)(x)

    Now solve for x by dividing both sides by (1.08)(0.8).

    p/(1.08)(0.8) = x

    The correct answer is "D."



    This question requires you to write out all the steps, even though the math itself isn't too complicated.

    You're trying to figure out the price per pound of beef (b) when it was equal to the price per pound of chicken (c). In other words, when b = c, or 2.35 + 0.25x = 1.75 + 0.40x. So you need to find the value of x in order to plug it back into the "b" equation, writes Dora Seigel of PrepScholar.

    Subtract 1.75 from each side: 

    2.35(−1.75) + 0.25x = 1.75(−1.75) + 0.40x

    That leaves you with 0.6 + 0.25x = 0.40x. So subtract 0.25x from each side:

    0.6 + 0.25x(−0.25x) = 0.40x(−0.25x)

    0.60 = 0.15x

    The last step is to reduce the equation:

    0.60/0.15 = x

    4 = x

    Now that you know the value of x, you can put it into the equation for the price of beef:

    b = 2.35 + 0.25x

    b = 2.35 + 0.25(4)

    b = 2.35 + 1

    b = 3.35

    The correct answer is "D," $3.35.



    Here, people often solve the wrong part of the equation — a common mistake.

    This question is tricky because it gives you lots of numbers and letters and it's not entirely clear what you're supposed to do with them. It's crucial to figure out what the question is asking before you start doing pointless calculations that won't get you any closer to the answer. PrepScholar suggests reading the entire question through, circling the important information, and determining what you're being asked before doing any work.

    In this case, you're looking for the value of sinF

    Start with what you know: triangle ABC is a right triangle, and angle B is the right angle. That means that AC is the hypotenuse and BC is one of the sides.

    You can use the Pythagorean theorum to figure out the length of the last remaining side:

    A+ B= C2

    A+ 16= 202

    A = 20- 162

    A = √(400)−(256)

    A = √144 = 12

    The problem told you triangle DEF is similar to triangle ABC. That means C and F are corresponding vertices: sinF = sinC

    If you know the acronym SOHCAHTOA, you'll know that sin = opposite/hypotenuse.

    sinC = 4/20 = 1/5.

    The problem told you that F is 1/3 of the length of C, and "of" means "divided by." Fractions are divided by turning them upside down and multiplying.

    1/5 x 3/1 = 3/5 = .06.

    The answer is 3/5 or .06.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Students take a university entrance examination at a lecture hall in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, September 15, 2009. Students in Spain must pass the exam after completing secondary school in order to gain access to university. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo (SPAIN EDUCATION SOCIETY)

    On Saturday, March 5, the SAT is changing its format for the first time in over a decade.

    In 2005, the College Board, the company that owns and publishes the SAT, began scoring the SAT out of 2400.

    The College Board is now reverting back to scoring the exam out of 1600. 

    And better yet for high school students, the changes will also impact the content of the test and make it the easiest version of the SAT ever, according to Shaan Patel, founder of SAT-prep company Prep Expert.

    Here's why:

    1. No Obscure Vocabulary

    The new version of the SAT will be easier because there will no longer be obscure vocabulary to trip up test takers, Patel told Business Insider. High school students will no longer have to memorize words they've never heard and will likely never use.

    Instead, the College Board made the measured decision to focus on vocabulary words that students will encounter on a regular basis in college and in future jobs. On the College Board's website it reference its decision saying, "No longer will students use flashcards to memorize obscure words, only to forget them the minute they put their test pencils down."

    2. Fewer Answer Choices

    Shaan Patel

    The new format will have four answer choices, rather than five, as the exam does today. This update will benefit test takers in two highly important ways, according to Patel.

    First, test takers will save time, as they will have one less answer choice to read through on each question. Second, test takers have better probability of getting the question right as they have a 25%, rather than 20%, chance of choosing the right answer.

    3. More Time

    Patel says one of the biggest complaints students have with the current version of the SAT is that there is not enough time to take the exam. That will change with the new version of the test.

    There will be more time per section on the new version, and students will even have double the amount of time to write their essay. Additionally, the new 1600 version of the test will have 16 fewer questions that the old version.

     4. No Penalty for Guessing

    On the previous version of the SAT, students were penalized for guessing the wrong answer. For that reason, Patel's test prep company used to provide students with strategies to know when they should guess and answer or leave a question blank.

    But the new system doesn't penalize students for choosing the wrong answer. If you're taking the new SAT, Patel advises you to make sure to answer every single question.

    SEE ALSO: A perfect SAT couldn't get this guy into the Ivy League — but he persevered and now runs a business that makes millions

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    SAT test prep exam

    (Reuters) - At least five times in the past three years, U.S. high school students were administered SAT tests that included questions and answers widely available online more than a year before they took the exam, a Reuters analysis shows.

    Reuters reported last month that the College Board, the not-for-profit that owns the college entrance exam, had often reused SATs overseas after first giving the test in America and even after some test questions began to circulate online.

    The news agency also reported that the organization had sometimes recycled exams in the United States, including last January. That was during a regular Saturday exam sitting, the day most Americans take the SAT.

    But the College Board has recycled SATs more frequently than the occasional Saturday. Reuters found that tests were also reused in the United States during special midweek sittings, on Sundays and during makeup exams, even though some questions and answers from those tests had been discussed online.

    A test given on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, for example, previously had been administered in June 2013, Reuters determined. A copy of that test booklet was available in advance on a website called CrackSAT.net. Between the time the booklet was posted and early 2015, the website reported that the document had been downloaded more than 53,000 times.

    It’s unclear how many students took the exam during the five sittings Reuters identified. The College Board has said that it’s unable to assess how many test-takers may have seen recycled exam material online before taking the test.

    Reusing test items is common in the standardized test industry. It helps ensure that scores on different versions of an exam are comparable. It also reduces costs.

    But if some test-takers see the exam beforehand, they may gain an unfair advantage and a better chance to secure coveted spots at top universities. That leaves college admissions officers concerned about the validity of scores.

    During a conference call scheduled for this Thursday with the College Board, a group that includes university admissions officers and high school counselors plans to discuss the reuse of SATs.

    “I would say that the Reuters articles will be front and center as a part of that conversation,” said Anne Richardson, who chairs the international advisory committee of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The organization has more than 15,000 members.

    Brown University Students Graduation

    “What I am hearing is there is a growing and vocal voice that is urging the College Board not to recycle tests,” said Richardson, who is director of college counseling at Kents Hill School in Maine. “I think that is becoming the number one issue in terms of test security.”

    The College Board has reused SAT test material overseas even after being warned that the material had leaked, Reuters reported last month.

    In some cases, the College Board acknowledged that it also used test materials that it considered to have been compromised. The breakdowns in test security – particularly in Asia - were more pervasive that the College Board has disclosed publicly.

    The SAT is used by thousands of U.S. colleges to help select applicants. A redesigned version of the exam debuted last month, but College Board officials told Reuters they plan to continue the practice of recycling exam material.

    SAT School Day

    A growing number of high school juniors now take the SAT during midweek sittings. Schools in more than a half-dozen states - including Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Michigan and New Hampshire - and in cities such as New York, Seattle and Washington now offer the exam on what is known as SAT School Day. The College Board states on its website that “during the 2015–16 school year, over 500,000 students” will take the SAT on a school day.

    Zach Goldberg, a College Board spokesman, declined to comment on the use of recycled tests in America. “It is the College Board’s long-standing policy that in the interest of test security we do not comment on specific test content or the test form schedule,” he said.

    In addition to SAT School Day, the College Board also has given recycled tests during other special U.S. test sittings, including on Sundays and makeup test days, according to online discussions among test-takers.

    For example, some students who took the SAT on Sunday, October 19, 2014, reported online that the exam was the same test given on a Sunday in June 2013.

    taking exams

    “What makes you think it was the same test?” a test-taker asked on College Confidential, a website popular with college applicants.

    “Because if you look at the answer thread for the June 2013 Sunday tests, it's all the answers of the test I just took,” another test-taker responded.

    A discussion thread in June 2013 contained a long list of questions and answers on the test given at the Sunday sitting that month, including math problems and reading passages.

    One test-taker reported that the test previously had been given several times before: “The November 2008 was the same test as the Sunday June 2013. Also the December international 2012 and January 2011 international are also the same as the June 2013 Sunday test.”

    “I can’t believe they would repeat a test 4 times,” another person responded.

    Some students who took the SAT on two makeup test days last February reported online that they were given tests that had been used before. Questions and answers from those exams were discussed at the time the SATs were first administered - and can still be found online.

    'Real' SAT Tests

    The College Board instructs students not to disclose test questions after taking the SAT. But many American students go online immediately afterward to discuss questions and answers.

    Shortly after the SAT was administered on an SAT School Day in April 2015, for example, test-takers on College Confidential discussed creating a Google document they could share online.

    One soon did. “i would suggest opening this link incognito!!!!!!!!!” the document begins. “WHAT WAS THE ABSWER TO SECTION 3 NUMBER 20?!?”

    Another contributor said the test had been given before, in June 2013. The person provided a link from CrackSAT.net to a copy of the test. Participants in the online discussions said that same exam also had been administered overseas in June 2014. Chatter about some of the answers was in the shared Google document.

    The CrackSAT website offers SAT practice tests as well as what it calls “Real SAT Tests” for download. In February 2015, the site indicated that the test that soon would be given again in April 2015 already had been downloaded 53,671 times, according to archive.org, which archives websites.

    Reuters did not receive a response to an email sent to the contact email address on CrackSAT.net. The site’s Internet registration lists a non-existent physical address in Toronto, Canada, and a non-working telephone number. Until last year, it was registered at an address at a university in Beijing, China, according to DomainTools.com, a research service.

    The April 2015 midweek SAT test administration was not the first time test-takers reported online that an exam had been recycled on an SAT School Day.

    A posting on College Confidential in February 2013 stated: “Ok, so I took the test yesterday, February 27th 2013 in a school day testing. And today after searching for some SAT vocab words that appeared on the test, I discovered that the exact test that I took was used in 2006, 2010, 2011, AND 2012?!”

    The test-taker concluded: “If you just read past discussions of the SAT test before you take the actual test it might be easy to cheat! I’m concerned!”

    (Edited by Blake Morrison.)

    SEE ALSO: A student who got into all 8 Ivy League schools explains a trick for bargaining with colleges

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    taking notes

    Ideally, multiple-choice exams would be random, without patterns of right or wrong answers. However, all tests are written by humans, and human nature makes it impossible for any test to be truly random.

    Because of this fundamental flaw, William Poundstone, author of "Rock Breaks Scissors: A Practical Guide to Outguessing and Outwitting Almost Everybody," claims to have found several common patterns in multiple-choice tests, including computer-randomized exams like the SATs.

    After examining 100 tests — 2,456 questions in total — from varied sources, including middle school, high school, college, and professional school exams; driver's tests; licensing exams for firefighters and radio operators; and even newspaper quizzes, Poundstone says he found statistical patterns across all sources.

    From this data, he determined several strategies to up your chances of guessing correctly on any exam, whether you're stumbling through a chemistry final or retaking your driver's test.

    While Poundstone emphasizes that knowledge of the subject matter is always the best test-taking strategy and that "a guessing strategy is useful to the extent that it beats random guessing," he suggests you always guess when you're unsure. And guessing smartly will only improve your chances of being correct.

    Here are a few of Poundstone's tactics for outsmarting any multiple-choice test.

    SEE ALSO: 9 easy ways to simplify your life

    DON'T MISS: 13 great pieces of career advice you never hear

    1. Ignore conventional wisdom

    You've probably been given test-taking advice along the lines of "always guess the middle answer if you don't know" or "avoid any answer that uses the words 'never,' 'always,' 'all,' or 'none'" at some point in your life.

    However, according to Poundstone, this conventional wisdom doesn't hold up against statistics. In fact, he found that the answers "none of the above" or "all of the above" were correct 52% of the time. Choosing one of these answers gives you a 90% improvement over random guessing, he says.



    2. Look at the surrounding answers

    Poundstone found correct answer choices hardly repeated consecutively, so looking at the answers of the questions you do know will help you figure out the ones you're stuck on. For example, if you're stuck on question No. 2, but know that the answer to No. 1 is A and the answer to No. 3 is D, those choices can probably be eliminated for No. 2.

    Of course, "knowledge trumps outguessing," Poundstone reminds us. Cross out answers you know are wrong based on facts first.



    3. Choose the longest answer

    Poundstone also noticed that the longest answer on multiple-choice tests was usually correct. "Test makers have to make sure that right answers are indisputably right," he says. "Often this demands some qualifying language. They may not try so hard with wrong answers."

    If one choice is noticeably longer than its counterparts, he says it's likely the correct answer.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    school test

    Some parents are so angry with the testing regime facing their children that they have come together in an attempt to boycott primary school exams.

    Preparation by teachers for these standardized achievement tests (SATs) in England have involved a narrowing of the curriculum, including a specific focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar.

    Parents believe that their children should be stimulated instead by more enriching activities and projects. There is also a worry that the tests may cause undue stress and pressure on their young children to perform well. These beliefs are widespread: more than 49,000 parents have signed a petition to abolish SATs altogether.

    An awareness of pressure

    Teachers are under considerable pressure for pupils to perform well on SATs. Performance-related pay and position in school league tables depend on test results. Parents believe that exam results will have a bearing on their young child’s future and understandably want them to do well.

    But the children are also well-aware that their performance on the SATs is important to their teachers and parents. Teachers may unwittingly transmit the stress they are under to their pupils. Children can also pick up on their parents’ attitudes and associated behavior and feel under pressure to make them proud.

    This pressure from parents is perhaps the largest source of stress for children aged ten to 11 who are working towards their Key Stage 2 exams. One Year 6 pupil my colleagues and I interviewed described the source of the pressure he felt:

    You want to get them [SATS questions] right because other people want you to get them right and, like, you don’t want to disappoint people.

    Test anxiety

    Stressed Law StudentsStress and pressure about forthcoming exams can result in what education researchers have termed “test anxiety”. This can present itself via a number of symptoms.

    Children can suffer from negative thoughts such as: “If I don’t pass this test, I will never get a good job”. They can also suffer physiological symptoms such as tight muscles or trembling and distracting behaviors such as playing with a pencil. The effects of anxiety during a test can influence the child’s ability to process and understand test questions and perform at their best.

    It is well established that pupils with high levels of test anxiety perform more poorly in their exams. The overall prevalence of test anxiety in primary school children is on the increase and it is fairly common for children at the end of primary school. Year 6 pupils report experiencing anxiety either some or most of the time when asked two weeks prior to their exams.

    But there are differences in how SATs are viewed by different children. Some perceive them to be stressful, while others view them as a challenge. As well as pressure from parents, pupils in Year 6 have cited the demands of the testing situation as a cause of stress. This includes completing exams under timed conditions and having no contact with classmates or teachers. There are also concerns about exam results being used to influence which set a child will be put in at secondary school. Another Year 6 pupil my colleagues and I interviewed said:

    You look at your booklet and you’ve got like loads of questions left and you’re like, ‘I can’t do this’. You just want to just sit there and go ‘I can’t do this’ and walk off.

    The extent to which children aged six to seven, working towards Key Stage 1 exams, feel test-anxious, is unclear. Very little research has been conducted exclusively with them. Some younger children, however, have been found to display clear signs of anxiety or stress during the period leading up to the SATs.

    Reducing the pressure

    charter elementary school students kids How resilient a child is can reduce the negative effects of test anxiety on performance. Specifically, children who believe they can succeed, trust and seek comfort from others easily and who are not overly sensitive, can be better at combatting the problems associated with test anxiety. Parents may therefore help their children by attempting to nurture and boost their resilience.

    Keeping SATs “low-key” is crucial to minimizing anxiety and stress among children. Parents should reassure their children that results are not critical and that the most important thing is that they try their best. In the classroom, teachers should direct time and effort towards familiarizing children to the format and procedures involved in standardized testing. For instance, practicing with past test papers while children sit at individual desks, could help.

    Both parents and teachers could also keep a conscious check of how they may subconsciously transmit feelings of stress or tension to young children. Pupils who display signs of test anxiety require more space and understanding, both at school and home – this includes increased tolerance during the testing period.

    These strategies may go some way to reducing the pressure of tests on young children. It is essential that schools and teachers take the time to focus on the social, emotional and mental health and development of children.

    Laura Nicholson, Researcher, Faculty of Education and Associate Tutor, Department of Psychology, Edge Hill University

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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    Students take a university entrance examination at a lecture hall in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, September 15, 2009. Students in Spain must pass the exam after completing secondary school in order to gain access to university. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo (SPAIN EDUCATION SOCIETY)

    As the summer winds down and students prepare for the fall semester, the issue of college admissions will undoubtedly begin to weigh heavily on the minds of high-school seniors.

    One of the biggest questions surrounding this topic is whether an applicant will do better on the SAT or ACT.

    Business Insider talked to Dr. Gary Gruber, a theoretical physicist and educator who has dedicated his life to understanding the critical thinking skills essential in test-taking, to answer that question.

    Surprisingly, he said the two exams resemble each other today than at any time before.

    "The SAT is much closer to the ACT," Gruber, who has dozens of books published on standardized test taking, explained.

    "The reading is almost identical, and the math section is almost identical except the fact that its a little more tedious on the SAT," he continued. "The ACT is slightly more straight forward."

    Gary GruberBy tedious, Gruber explained that the questions on the SAT math section often have more material (reading or referencing a graph) that students must make their way through before answering.

    On the ACT you are more likely to find straightforward math questions, like simply solving an equation. 

    He gave an example of a tedious question that you'd be more likely to find on the SAT.

    Mary is a computer expert. Each week she is handed a number of computers that needs to be fixed. The following equation represents the number of computers at the end of the day that needs to be fixed: C = 16 – 2D, where C is the number of computers left and D is the number of days Mary has worked that week. What is the meaning of the number 16 in the preceding equation?

    (A) Mary will finish fixing all the computers in 16 days.

    (B) Mary fixes the computers at the rate of 16 per hour.

    (C) Mary fixes the computers at the rate of 16 per day.

    (D) Mary starts each week with 16 computers to fix.

    Choice D is correct.SAT v. ACT

    In terms of test format and content, there are also subtle differences between the two exams. The ACT, for example, has a science section while the SAT does not.

    "You don't need any science knowledge — like what is an enzyme — but you have to know how to interpret charts and graphs and data," Gruber said.

    Even though, the exams are really close in content, Gruber still said he thought one was slightly more difficult than the other. "Personally, I would say the SAT is a little more difficult," he said.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how to master questions on the new version of the SAT

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    Students take a university entrance examination at a lecture hall in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, September 15, 2009. Students in Spain must pass the exam after completing secondary school in order to gain access to university. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo (SPAIN EDUCATION SOCIETY)

    As the summer winds down and students prepare for the fall semester, the issue of college admissions will undoubtedly begin to weigh heavily on the minds of high-school seniors.

    One of the biggest questions surrounding this topic is whether an applicant will do better on the SAT or ACT.

    Business Insider talked to Dr. Gary Gruber, a theoretical physicist and educator who has dedicated his life to understanding the critical thinking skills essential in test-taking, to answer that question.

    Surprisingly, he said the two exams resemble each other today than at any time before.

    "The SAT is much closer to the ACT," Gruber, who has dozens of books published on standardized test taking, explained.

    "The reading is almost identical, and the math section is almost identical except the fact that its a little more tedious on the SAT," he continued. "The ACT is slightly more straight forward."

    Gary GruberBy tedious, Gruber explained that the questions on the SAT math section often have more material (reading or referencing a graph) that students must make their way through before answering.

    On the ACT you are more likely to find straightforward math questions, like simply solving an equation. 

    He gave an example of a tedious question that you'd be more likely to find on the SAT.

    Mary is a computer expert. Each week she is handed a number of computers that needs to be fixed. The following equation represents the number of computers at the end of the day that needs to be fixed: C = 16 – 2D, where C is the number of computers left and D is the number of days Mary has worked that week. What is the meaning of the number 16 in the preceding equation?

    (A) Mary will finish fixing all the computers in 16 days.

    (B) Mary fixes the computers at the rate of 16 per hour.

    (C) Mary fixes the computers at the rate of 16 per day.

    (D) Mary starts each week with 16 computers to fix.

    Choice D is correct.SAT v. ACT

    In terms of test format and content, there are also subtle differences between the two exams. The ACT, for example, has a science section while the SAT does not.

    "You don't need any science knowledge — like what is an enzyme — but you have to know how to interpret charts and graphs and data," Gruber said.

    Even though, the exams are really close in content, Gruber still said he thought one was slightly more difficult than the other. "Personally, I would say the SAT is a little more difficult," he said.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how to master questions on the new version of the SAT

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    FEBRUARY 05: Pupils at Williamwood High School sit prelim exams on February 5, 2010 in Glasgow, Scotland As the UK gears up for one of the most hotly contested general elections in recent history it is expected that that the economy, immigration, the NHS and education are likely to form the basis of many of the debates. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

    Conversations about SAT and ACT scores are ubiquitous among high school students applying to colleges.

    Increasingly, however, many colleges and universities have begun to eschew mandatory standardized test scores as requirements for their application processes.

    Amherst College, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Vassar College, and Williams College have all dropped requirements that students take SAT subject-matter tests, also referred to as the SAT II, for admission, The Boston Globe reports.

    The elite schools' reasoning: The exams are not reliable indicators of students' performance in college and may harm low-income students.

    "We want to make the application process as fair to all students as possible," Mary Dettloff, a spokeswoman for Williams College, told The Globe. "We felt like we weren't getting any valuable data from the SAT II scores to help us."

    The news comes on the heels of similar pushes to drop the regular SAT and ACT exams from college admissions.

    Last year, George Washington University — with 11,000 undergraduates and 25,500 total students — became the largest private university in the US News and World Report's list of best colleges to forgo rigid testing requirements in favor of a more holistic application review process.

    And more than 800 other schools do not use SAT or ACT scores for admitting substantial numbers of students into bachelor's degree programs, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which tracks the schools with open testing policies.

    Many of the schools on that list, however, are less selective private schools. The move to drop SAT II exams from admissions requirements signals that more elite schools are starting to rethink the merits of standardized testing.

    SEE ALSO: 6 refugees are suing their US school district for allegedly forcing them to attend an 'underachieving' high school where students aren't allowed to bring feminine products

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    Rebecca Kantar Imbellus

    Rebecca Kantar was two years into Harvard when she dropped out.

    "I just felt like a lot of the same brain development was happening to me throughout my classes," Kantar recalled to Business Insider.

    As with most students, Kantar had spent most of her academic life learning information and then being quizzed on it through multiple-choice tests or essays. Even when she went to Harvard, she said, she felt stuck cramming knowledge and then bubbling in letters on a sheet for a score.

    "I think across the education system right now, we still have a focus on content-based learning. Can you learn more stuff about whatever domain?" Kantar told Business Insider.

    "What I was more interested in was could I apply concepts that stem from understanding a domain to real-world situations? And what I found during my time at school was that there were fewer environments to bring something to life in a project-based way."

    With the SAT celebrating its 90th birthday this year, Kantar believes it's time for a radical update of standardized testing — one that doesn't just reward rote memorization but one that can assess how your brain works and how you put that knowledge to use.

    To do so, she started Imbellus in 2015. Today, she's announcing that the company has now raised $4 million from investors including Upfront Ventures and Thrive Capital to try to upend one of the foundations of the education system.

    "Our hope is to measure how people think instead of what people know," Kantar said. "There's a better way instead of using multiple choice, and that's to take advantage of technology."

    What a new SAT could be

    Right now, much of what Imbellus is building is under wraps. Kantar started the company last year and is realistic about how long it will take to change a national education standard.

    Imbellus' approach will be closer to showing your work on a math test than to just writing down the solution. She said the company's process would track how you solve a problem — not just whether you get the answer right.

    "We've been using content as a proxy for a lot of skills that we need this century, like analytical thinking, like problem solving, and we've been doing that because our assessments haven't known how to measure anything outside of multiple choice or essays," she said.

    Imbellus team

    And she's not doing it alone, as Imbellus is partnering with CRESST, the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. The education innovation arm is helping Imbellus craft some of its psychometric testing frameworks and is also analyzing the data.

    "We hope that in the next two years we can show the world that measuring someone's process is possible and you can understand how people think," Kantar said. "It'll give us much better insights on how to place people in the right career and the right school over time."

    Jobs first, SAT second

    To start, Imbellus plans to tackle the entry-level job market rather than go straight to the SAT.

    Instead of career aptitude or placement tests, Kantar envisions people taking Imbellus tests to guide their job search, so they'll know whether their skills are the right match for a particular employer.

    It's a hard challenge: For starters, Imbellus has to build profiles for different companies, down to different roles. Certain companies will attract different skills like imagination and creativity versus analytical thinking, or they'll want a mix. It will also need to take into account that companies want a mix of employees who think in different ways.

    "We're not trying to say, 'Here hire the same type A person over and over and over again,'" Kantar said.

    Rather, it plans to start small to replace certain content-based tests for entry-level jobs, helping to show recruiters which skills and cognitive abilities the person has rather than how much they've memorized information about the job. The goal is to help employers to find the right fit for the right role.

    If that proves successful, Kantar hopes it will trickle down to becoming the standard for fitting students to schools, too.

    "The SAT and most other assessments have made the mistake of comparing everyone to an average that is no one," Kantar said. "The problem is that grading model doesn't take context into account. You don't necessarily need the same set of skills to apply for a job at Goldman Sachs as you need to be successful at the Rhode Island School of Design."

    SEE ALSO: The 17 best colleges for startup founders

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    Shaan Patel

    Shaan Patel, a 27-year-old entrepreneur from Las Vegas, had an envy-inducing high school résumé.

    He was the valedictorian of his class, was crowned homecoming king, and even shook President George W. Bush's hand in 2007 as a White House Presidential Scholar, a program that recognizes two academically gifted students from each state.

    He also scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT.

    And yet, every Ivy League school that he applied to rejected him: Harvard, Princeton, and a special medical program at Brown. Patel also received a rejection from Stanford.

    Rather than allowing these rejections to discourage him, Patel used them as motivation and parlayed his perfect SAT score into a thriving SAT test-prep company, Prep Expert, elevated in large part because of his appearance on "Shark Tank" in January 2016.

    "'Shark Tank' was definitely the catalyst behind a lot of our growth at Prep Expert," Patel told Business Insider in October. "To have the exposure to 10 million people in a weekend really made a difference in our company."

    While Patel founded the company in 2011, he won the backing of billionaire investor Mark Cuban on the show. The two have now partnered to bring SAT and ACT prep course to classrooms and online. Patel received $250,000 from Cuban for a 20% stake in his company.

    Before Patel went on the show, the company achieved some moderate success, doing about $1 million in sales a year. When Patel went on "Shark Tank," however, sales exploded. Since his episode aired about 10 months ago, the company has achieved $6 million in sales.

    "We're doing almost 10 times the sales we used to do," Patel said. "I really believe 'Shark Tank' is the most powerful marketing engine in the world."

    Now Prep Expert offers classroom instruction in 20 states across the US and online programming.

    Patel's success in business wasn't always guaranteed, though. He spent his formative years in the Sky Ranch Motel, a self-proclaimed budget motel in Las Vegas that his family owned and operated as well as called their home.

    "At a young age I saw, like, drug deals and prostitutes," Patel told Business Insider last year.

    The motel is a source of embarrassment for his mother, he said, but Patel embraces it and doesn't try to downplay its existence in his life.

    Ivy League rejections

    Sky Ranch Motel

    When Patel applied to colleges, he had high hopes for acceptance into the Ivy League. But soon the rejections started to pile up.

    "I do think that Asian-Americans have a disadvantage applying to college," Patel said.

    Patel, who is Indian-American, was referring to both his own rejections as well as recent news stories about Asian-Americans who say they face discrimination in college applications. In fact, some admissions officers acknowledge that Asian-American applicants may have a harder time getting into top schools, as they may fall into a group of peers with relatively high test scores.

    Not one to dwell on disappointments, Patel took a spot at the University of Southern California on a full scholarship.

    At USC, he pursued a joint bachelor of arts/doctor of medicine program that had always piqued his interest. In high school, Patel's volunteering in the emergency department of a hospital developed into a passion for medicine and the desire to become a doctor.

    The joint-degree program at USC offered a way into medical school and ensured he'd be able to realize his dream of becoming a practicing physician.

    More disappointment before finding success

    Shaan Patel

    Patel has always been the type of person who embraces having a full plate.

    "I like being busy," he said.

    But "busy" seems to be a bit of an understatement.

    After finishing his undergraduate studies and nearing the start of his first year in medical school, Patel wrote an SAT prep book to help students prepare for the exam using the same methods he did. But his attempts to find a publisher were unsuccessful.

    One editor even went as far as to give him the brutal feedback that he didn't have an engaging personality and wasn't a great writer no matter how well he scored on the SAT.

    Undaunted, Patel used the last of his scholarship money — $900 — to launch his SAT prep website, then called 2400 Expert. He advertised the SAT prep course as the only one taught by a student who earned a perfect score in high school.

    The initial course ran during the summer before Patel started medical school and grew exponentially from there. He had only a handful of instructors at the time, but word caught on after his pilot course showed an average improvement per student of 376 points.

    Now that the test is scored on a 1600-point scale, the average improvement for students after taking Patel's course is 210 points. That kind of improvement is unheard of in the test-prep industry, according to Patel.

    After that first summer, Patel trained qualified instructors and managed the company remotely from California. And more satisfying, McGraw-Hill, one of the education publishing giants, saw the momentum 2400 Expert was gaining and offered Patel a book deal.

    Patel's book "SAT 2400 in Just 7 Steps" was published in July 2012.

    More college aspirations

    While juggling a growing SAT prep business, Patel was also studying for medical licensing board exams and taking on 36-hour surgical rotation shifts at the hospital. He still loved the medical profession, but was also highly interested in learning how to scale and grow his business.

    Shaan Patel

    In 2014, he decided to take a two-year leave of absence from USC to pursue business school at Yale's School of Management. He credits business school as a major reason for his current success.

    "It was the best thing that ever happened to me," Patel said. "If I wasn't in business school, I wouldn't have made that hour-and-a-half trip from Yale to New York to go to that 'Shark Tank' audition."

    Patel earned his MBA from Yale in May and has reenrolled in the fourth year of his medical program at USC. Still, his sights are set on continuing to grow Prep Expert, the name his company took on in 2016. He aims to make Prep Expert one of the largest test prep providers in the country.

    Those are lofty goals for someone currently applying for a residency programs — in his case, a dermatology residency. Patel, however, has no plans of slowing down, and is currently writing a book with Cuban that teaches kids how to start their own business.

    "We want to foster entrepreneurship in kids," Patel said.

    SEE ALSO: How to answer the only essay question on the Harvard Business School application

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