A New De-emphasis on SATs in the Ivy Leagues?

There appears to be a new trend emerging at elite universities to focus less on SAT score and more on an applicant's general academic context.

While the top Ivy League schools -- colleges like Yale, Harvard, and Stanford -- don't seem to be changing their admissions standards just yet, the trend to de-emphasize the SAT is working its way upward. Smith College, for example, known for its students' economic diversity, has switched to a system of evaluating students in the context of the opportunities available to them in high school. Dean of enrollment Audrey Smith explains that SAT scores are more a reflection of a student's family income than actual merit or potential. In fact, the College Board reports that in 2007, the median SAT score for students with incomes greater than $100,000 was 1637, while students with incomes less than $50,000 had an average score of only 1462.

This certainly makes sense when considering that students from more wealthy financial backgrounds can afford college luxuries like standardized test tutors and high-priced admissions consultants.

Common acceptance of the ACT was born out of a growing distaste for the SAT at many universities. If the trend of analyzing test scores within a greater economic context becomes more common (which I believe it will), we will in all likelihood see a de-emphasis on SAT scores in the top Ivy Leagues.

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How to prepare for the SAT essay

The essay is dreaded by almost every SAT taker.  Writing a polished persuasive piece in only 25 minutes seems like a nearly impossible task at first glance.  Fortunately, there are some ways to make it easier.

This website has several tips for maximizing your essay score.  You should first read some general points at the SAT writing section article, then read the specific strategies you will need in 25 Minute Miracle: How to earn a 12 on the SAT essay.

Before you sit down to start practicing, though, you should read sample essays.  The College Board website has nine sample essays that you can read, one example each of essays scoring 1, 2, and 3, and two examples each of those scoring 4, 5, and 6. You should read all of them to get a good idea of what the graders are looking for. Focus primarily on the difference between a score of 4 and 5, and especially on the differences between a 5 and 6.

I am willing to help out with your essay.  Just head over to the contact page and paste an essay you have written.  I recommend writing it in pencil first and then typing it, otherwise you won't get an accurate view of how much you can actually write in 25 minutes.

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SAT Answer Plan: How to optimize your score

The SAT is a game of trying to be a smarter test-taker than ETS, the company that makes the SAT, is a test-maker. Self-identified "bad test takers" can learn to beat the SAT simply by practicing better testing habits.

For tips on how to outsmart ETS and optimize your SAT score, including specific strategies for each section, click here to read the full article

Should I take the SAT or ACT?

When it comes to standardized tests for college admissions, most people are still stuck believing that the SAT is the only option. The truth is that most colleges and universities nationwide also accept a different test: the ACT.

For a detailed look at the differences between the SAT and the ACT, as well as some tips to help choose which one to take, click here to read the full article.

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