Category Archives: Testing

Is studying for the PSAT important?

Wendy Williams of Williams Educational Consultants asked Edison Prep to explain why the PSAT is important. Brian and Sylvia Eufinger, Co-Founders of Edison Prep, give great insight about this test for all families.

Before we get to the why, it’s important to define what the PSAT is for parents who may be unfamiliar with it.
1) The PSAT is an abbreviated version of the SAT with easier math (no Algebra II content) and lacks the writing sample that is included on the real SAT.
2) The PSAT is 130 minutes long and contains 125 questions; the SAT is 225 minutes long and contains 170 questions plus one essay.
3) The PSAT is a one-shot deal and takes place on a Wednesday each October; the SAT is offered seven times each year.
4) The average Sophomore scores a 129 out of 240; the average Junior scores a 144 out of 240. (link)

Two critical truths:
1) For 85-90% of students, the PSAT is fantastic practice that helps students familiarize themselves with SAT-style test questions. It cannot hurt a student in college admissions decisions.

2) For the students who score in the top 10-15% on their Sophomore PSAT (165-170 or higher) and who are willing and able to study before the Junior PSAT test, the test serves another purpose. It is the sole entry point to the National Merit Scholarship Competition. The top 50,000 Junior PSAT test-takers (approx. 3%) receive National Merit recognition.

It’s a great honor to earn either Commended or Semifinalist status. Scholarship money can also be earned from the NM Corporation itself and/or from some universities who designate merit scholarship dollars for National Merit-recognized students. Prestige is attached regardless. What’s quantitatively rare and restricted in admissions is valued in an era in which grade inflation is rampant and other subjective factors are hard to compare across high schools.

All students should take the PSAT every year that their school offers it. Some schools now charge students $14 to take the test (prior to 2009, most schools covered the fee). Skipping the PSAT would be a very unwise decision.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at or call 404-333-8573.

5 ways to determine whether to take the SAT or ACT Test

Wendy Williams reached out to Olu Sanya, owner of Success Prep regarding how families should determine which standardized test to take for college admissions. Olu’s points are wonderful and should be considered when thinking about which admissions test is best for your student!

Parents ask me all the time if there is ONE way of determining which college entry test (SAT or ACT) their student will do well on. My answer to this million dollar question is, tell me about your student, including their strengths, weaknesses and any learning challenges and then I can help you determine if your student has an advantage with one test over the other. The reason I answer this way is because the SAT and ACT tests are two tests measuring the same person’s abilities but in two different ways. Therefore, the academic personality of the student weighs heavily into which test will be more appropriate for him or her.

At this point I’d like to caution that for many students there is no way to tell which test is best.
Below are the 5 steps I use to determine whether your student should take the SAT or ACT test.

1. Take a practice test

a. Taking a practice SAT and ACT test under timed conditions is one way of exposing your student to both tests. One misconception many Parents have is, whichever test my student scores higher on from a practice test is the test to focus on. The issue with this approach is about 70% of students statistically score the same when comparing an SAT & ACT practice test score; the reason is most students don’t take a practice test seriously, as a result I am skeptical about making a judgement call based on the practice scores alone. What I like however about a student taking both practice tests is that it allows me to ask the student a critical question; “Now that you have experienced both tests, which one do you like and why”? This rather unscientific question allows me and the student to highlight aspects about the SAT or ACT test he or she feels comfortable with, which is a strong indicator of which test would produce the most success.

2. Which test has approved you for extended time?

a. For students with learning or processing challenges and those who have been approved for extended time (Time and a half or Double time), getting approval for one test and not the other is the one strong indicator you should prep and stick with the test that has approved you for extended time. Taking a test without the extended time when you have learning challenges, usually is a recipe for disaster and almost always guarantees a lower score on that test.

3. Are you a fast reader with strong comprehension skills?

a. If your student is a fast reader with strong comprehension skills, then the ACT is most likely the test for you. Three of the four sections (English, Reading & Science) of the ACT all utilize a student’s reading and comprehension skills. Success on the ACT is heavily determined by how quickly you can read, comprehend and answer questions based on the passage or experiment given. The layout of an ACT question is straight forward but it requires the student to be very fast and efficient with their answer. If your student is a slow reader without extended time, they will struggle finishing the test and will not get a chance to show all that they know on the ACT.

4. Do you possess a strong vocabulary and are you good at problem solving?

a. If your student has a strong vocabulary and is great at problem solving, then the SAT is a better test to take. A major focus of the SAT is to identify how well a student applies their critical thinking & problem solving skills to solve Math and English questions. The layout of the SAT isn’t as straight forward but it is very coachable. If your student is great at acquiring information and applying it on a test, then the SAT test is the test to focus on.

5. Still not sure? Take both Tests

a. if you are still not sure, take both tests. This recommendation is the best way to filter which test is best for your student if there isn’t a clear advantage on SAT or ACT based on the previous 4 points stated above. If a student follows Success Prep’s recommendation of starting prep in the Spring of his or her 10th grade year and completing all tutoring and testing by spring of his or her 11th grade year, there will be enough time to take an official SAT and ACT test to determine which test the student prefers and then focus on the preferred test for a third testing.

Olu Sanya | Executive Director | Email | Website
404-351-4955 | Office
Remember, the KEY to SUCCESS is PREPARATION!

PSAT Information

What is the PSAT?

It is a standardized test that sophomores, juniors and some freshman take in their high school.

Why is it offered?

The PSAT is a preliminary standardized achievement test. It is a great indication on how your student will do on the actual SAT. This is an opportunity to gear up your student for the college process especially when it comes to standardize testing.

When is the PSAT offered?

Most students will take the PSAT in October. This year it will be offered on October 17th.

When will the scores be released?

The scores will not be released until mid-December. However, most high schools wait until after the holiday break to distribute the scores.

What is a good PSAT score?

Students will receive three scores on their report. The sections will include Critical Reading, Math and Writing. Each section ranges from 20 to 80. This range is very similar to the SAT. In addition to the three sections score, you will find your student’s Selection Index, which is the sum of all three sections. This index is a piece of what qualifies students for the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Georgia’s minimum required PSAT score for NMSQT for the class of 2012 was 218.

The average score for juniors last year was around the 46 percentile.

How To Qualify for the NMSQT?

1. A U.S. Citizen

2. Enrolled Full time in high school

3. Taking the PSAT junior year

4. Have a strong academic record

5. Going to complete the NMSC Scholarship application.

6. Scored high on the PSAT

How to Prepare for the PSAT?

According to Teresa Shell, owner of Bespoke Tutoring, completing practice problems from the College Board’s book, The Official SAT Study Guide, can give students a great idea of what to expect on test day. Become familiar with the types of problems you will encounter on the PSAT and read the directions for each section prior to test day. Reviewing for the test will save you time on the actual exam. Remember, wrong answers only cost a quarter of a point so it’s best to guess if you can confidently eliminate even just one answer choice. Now RELAX, and get a good night’s sleep the night before.

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