The Edge Prep Blog
A procedural update pulls the ACT into the 21st century.
The ACT Goes Online
As you may have heard, after a brief delay the ACT is going to be converting to an internet-based test (iBT) format in the near future. This has created a lot of questions regarding which one people should take, what will the new test look like, and how best to prepare if your going to take the new version.
Let's take a quick look at what is changing and what is staying the same.
Staying the Same
The Question Structure
The ACT will maintain its current structure of English, Math, Reading, Science, and the Essay.
The Number of Questions and Time Allowances
Despite the initial announcement stating the new iBT would be an adaptive test, which could have made the total time required on the test variable based on performance, the ACT, at least initially, will be a standard non-adaptive test. This means that you will still have the same 60 questions in math, 40 questions in science, 40 questions in reading, and 75 questions in English as you do in the current format of the test.
In addition, the same time allowances will apply to each of these sections as students currently see.
As mentioned, the primary medium which the test is taken on is changing to iBT format from the current paper-based testpBT ) format. This is being done as a step towards removing the rampant cheating which has caused the last minute cancelation of tests over the years.
The first iteration of the iBT format of the ACT may be a straight port from paper to computer, but ACT.org has stated that they will be moving to an adaptive format similar to that which you see on the GMAT in the coming years. Not only will this be a more secure way to take the test, it will also be a game changer in how you approach the test.
Thankfully, there are test prep providers like The Edge Prep and The Edge Tutors who are not only able to prep for the current test, but also able to better prepare you for the future changes to the format.
For more on the upcoming changes taking place on the ACT you can look at the official ACT blog.
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In the old days, students taking the SAT incurred a "guessing penalty." If you got a problem wrong, 1/4 of a point would be deducted for each incorrect answer. Painful, huh? This added an element of strategy and gamemanship to the test, but this is no longer a feature of the test. The SAT has gotten soft in its old age.
If your parents are sharing strategies they honed to master the guessing penalty, politely inform them that the SAT no longer has a guessing penalty. This kind of old people rambling will do you no good. There is probably other wisdom your folks can share, this just isn't it.
In conclusion: you should expect to guess on the SAT. Don't leave those bubbles blank!
Don't believe us? OK, we checked with the official sources to make sure. Here is the official word from the College Board itself.
No Penalty for Guessing
On the SAT, you simply earn points for the questions you answer correctly. So go ahead and give your best answer to every question—there’s no advantage to leaving them blank.
-Our friends at Kaplan provide guessing tips.
-Princeton Review also provided a nifty overview of the test changes after the latest version of the SAT was released.
New students and parents will often ask us about what kind of math is tested on the SAT. Fortunately there is no high-level calculus and fewer brain teasers than in the past. However, students may have to apply math skills they've learned in a different way. You're being tested on the math you learned in high school, but you may not quite realize it.
Have a look at the question below. This is a medium level difficulty question from an actual SAT practice test. (SAT Practice test 3, section 4, problem 8) This section does not allow calculators, so try this one without a calculator.
The average number of students per classroom at Central High School from 2000 to 2010 can be modeled by the equation y = 0.56x + 27.2, where x represents the number of years since 2000, and y represents the average number of students per classroom.
Which of the following best describes the meaning of the number 0.56 in the equation?
A) The total number of students at the school in 2000
B) The average number of students per classroom in 2000
C) The estimated increase in the average number of students per classroom each year
D) The estimated difference between the average number of students per classroom in 2010 and in 2000
This is one of the SAT problems beginning students frequently miss, but it's not because it involves any complex calculations. This question tests whether a student can apply the y=mx+b formula in another context. The math in this problem is not complex, but having the ability to step back and utilize what you've learned in high school algebra may be an unfamiliar sensation.
The correct answer is C. If you have difficulty visualizing this problem, try drawing a line using y=mx+b. It should look something like this:
This is the kind of problem students will need to get right if they plan to take a statistics course in the future. Statistics courses are often requirements for business and economics majors. Students majoring in other social sciences should seriously consider taking statistics if they hope to be competitive for graduate school.
If this explanation wasn't enough for you, here are a few other explanations you can refer to:
1. MathCabin explanation (video)
3. Here is the official explanation. Sometimes these explanations are clear, sometimes they are not.
We're introducing a new series at The Edge Prep. We're calling this series "Chats with Admissions Officers."
When I ask my students at the beginning of the application process what they think of admissions officers, they think of frightening people who are out to make their lives miserable. The admissions officer is cold and out to make your life miserable. His years of professionally rejecting thousands of qualified applicants have made it nearly impossible to excite him. You must impress him with your scholarly mind and incredible feats outside of the classroom, but mostly he yawns at your accomplishments and will eventually reject you.
This is funny, but understandable. Admissions officers have a well-earned reputation as rejection machines. And for good reason! If you flip through any college catalogue, you’ll notice that admissions rates are shockingly low. The admissions officers we’ve met with tend to be very warm people who like helping young people. If you speak with most of them, you hear stories about students they’ve pushed for and profiles that they found compelling. Rather than being heartless, a surprising number of them are caring, decent people who are trying to improve young people’s lives through education.
Students searching for scholarships will often find it difficult to find scholarships online. Schools may post scholarships, but it's difficult to determine whether you have a realistic shot. We'll try to push these admissions officers on exactly what they're looking for so you can determine whether you can realistically get a scholarship.
The other problem is that college websites and catalogues tend to look the same after awhile. There are usually shots of a green campus and vaguely diverse student body. You’ll see the words “learning” and “community” a lot. These interviews will try to cover ground that you can't find on the website or in the university catalogue.
We hope this series will allow you to get a closer look at colleges and universities from across the globe. There are a lot out there!
Is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (DP) Accepted at Singapore Universities?
The short answer is yes, Singapore universities accept the International Baccalareate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP). For more detailed information about individual universities, see below for a summary and links.
- The National University of Singapore accepts the IB. Applicants (regardless of nationality) seeking admission to NUS should present the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. This includes full-time National Servicemen (NSF) with IB Diploma who have a course reserved in NUS, but wish to apply for a change of course.
Applicants will be considered for admission based on the strength of their academic achievements and additional interviews/tests if required.
For courses that require additional interviews/tests, applicants will also be assessed based on their performance during interviews and/or tests.
All applicants are strongly encouraged to authorise International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) to release their International Baccalaureate (IB) transcripts to NUS. Applicants can do so by informing their school’s IB coordinator.
- The Nanyang Technological University also accepts the IB.
We emailed Yale-NUS to ask about their IB requirements. This is the response from David Royster, the Senior Admissions Counsellor:
"No specifics on curriculum (IB or otherwise) – our students tend to score on the higher side, but we practice holistic admissions. If you’re asking about transfer credits: transfer credit is not awarded for any courses completed prior."
- For The Singapore University of Technology and Design, regardless of your nationality, if you are applying with a International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), St. Joseph’s Institution, School of the Arts (SOTA), and Singapore Sports School, you may refer to the admission requirements below and apply using this application form. If you are not from any of these schools, please apply through International Baccalaureate Diploma (International) listed under International Qualifications. https://sutd.edu.sg/Admissions/Undergraduate/Application/Admissions-Requirements/International-Baccalaureate-Diploma-(Singapore)
- The Singapore Managament University requires a good IB diploma. https://admissions.smu.edu.sg/admissions/ib-diploma